Planning a Wedding Reception Menu

Planning the menu for your wedding reception may sometimes feel like a minefield. Finding something that keeps your guests happy and keeps the party going while adding style and personality to your event can be a challenge. Here are some helpful tips to help you design the ideal menu for your celebration.

Preparation is the Key

The key to planning the perfect wedding menu is to begin your preparation well in advance. This isn’t a job that you can do overnight and to make sure that you get your first choice of caterer, you’re going to need to start early. The first step is to establish your budget so that you don’t go off track and end up running up enormous debts. Determine the style of service you prefer, the type of food that you want to go for and how many guests you want to invite so that you can work out the costs up front and find something that fits the price that you can afford. Knowing your budget will enable you to determine an appropriate menu. If you want to serve an impressive spread, you may have to cut back on the guest list, but if you absolutely have to invite everyone you’ve ever met, you may well have to tailor your menu to reflect the larger numbers. Finding the right caterer takes time, so start your search at least a year before the big day, around the time that you’re searching for a venue. Some venues require couples to use the in-house caterer, or one of the professionals on their own shortlist so this is something that you may need to work around. Other venues charge extra if you want to bring in a caterer of your own, so this could be an extra cost to figure into your budget. If you are choosing your own chef, you should look for someone who is creative, inspired and flexible enough to experiment with original ideas so that you aren’t stuck with the boring wedding classics.

Remember Allergies and Dietary Restrictions

More people than ever have food allergies or dietary restrictions today, so remember that you need to bear this in mind when planning your wedding reception menu. Accommodating those who can’t eat standard foods such as those that contain gluten or those who have a vegetarian or vegan diet is very important to your guests’ enjoyment of the occasion, so make sure to ask about any food-related issues when issuing invitations and discuss the outcomes with your caterer so that alternatives can be planned well in advance. Even if none of your guests have food restrictions, it is still important to think about choosing foods that will be enjoyed by most of your guests. Try to include items that have a broad popularity and remember that not everyone loves spicy foods. Cover all the bases with something sweet, something salty, something savoury and something bitter, and choose a spread that encompasses a selection of popular products.

Choosing a Flavour and a Style

The style of your dinner service will set the whole tone of your celebration, so you need to decide in advance exactly what you want. Is formality an important part of your day? Then a sit-down dinner with several courses is the ideal choice. Would you prefer something casual with plenty of time and space for music and dancing? A buffet with finger foods is perfect and won’t leave your guests too full to hit the dancefloor. The flavour of your menu is also an important consideration. You will probably want to plan your choice of foods around seasonal produce if you want to capture the best taste, and locally produced produce is likely to be much fresher and tastier. Whatever you choose, make sure that you won’t run the risk of making your guests ill. Avoid adding anything to your menu that is notorious for causing food poisoning – raw meats, exotic animal products or unpasteurised dairy products are all no-no’s. A personal touch is a great way to create a bespoke menu for your big day and is a fantastic way of telling the story of your love. Choose dishes that relate to your favourite memories and moments – perhaps dishes originating from the country that you first holidayed in together, or a drink that was produced in the city where both of you first met.

Never Leave Them Wanting More

Whatever you do, make sure that your guests don’t leave your reception hungry. A wedding is an occasion where you should pull out all the stops, so never scrimp on the buffet and make sure that your caterer brings at least 10% more food than you think is necessary, just in case. Your guests want to be able to help themselves without worrying about leaving enough for everyone else, so make sure to listen to your caterer’s advice and be generous with portion sizes.