FOOD FOR THOUGHT … Picking the right approach for your wedding menu




Ok, so I am a self –proclaimed “foodie”… I know, I know …. Everyone is a foodie these days, posting lunch pictures on Instagram, up-to-date on obscure items (like ghee?!) and into cool street foods (Mongolian tacos anyone?).

So maybe I’m not a “foodie” in that sense of the word. I’m definitely not that trendy, but really, I just love food! And I love how food brings people together. A unique appetizer can make a wedding fun, a good meal can get people talking and a delicious dessert can bring you pure bliss. So, when it comes to talking about menus with my clients… well, let’s just say I get a little excited!


First and foremost picking the right format is essential. Really think about what type of atmosphere you want to create – casual and fun? Edgy and modern? Classic and sophisticated? There are variety of different ways to go when it comes to your wedding day menu, each creating a vibe – here are some of my favorite approaches:

Plated – Obviously this is the standard format that we see at most weddings – cocktail hour, plated meal and wedding cake. It’s been done time and time again, and for good reason… it almost always works! It may not be the most unique approach, but if you pick a great caterer and some excellent entrees, your meal can be delicious and elegant. If you’re looking for a traditional classic wedding, then this approach may be the perfect fit. It allows plenty of time for guests to mingle, everyone has a place setting and there is a clear timeline.

Family Style – I keep seeing this format popping up more and more at weddings. For those of you who aren’t familiar with family style – think big Italian dinner or Thanksgiving. The meal is brought out to each table on a variety of platters and guests pass around them around the table and serve themselves. This is more casual, encourages conversation and evokes those big family meals that we all grew up with. While this is a twist on the standard “wedding meal”, it still fits in well with the traditional wedding timeline.

Stations – If you’re looking for a unique meal experience, stations could be the right direction for you. Instead of one buffet, you have a few different stations that guests can visit during dinner time and/or cocktail hour. With this format, the way you set the room is just as important as the items you pick. Instead of standard round/rectangular tables, mix it up with different size tables, lounge furniture and kiosks. The idea is that guests don’t have an assigned seat and can sit or stand as they mingle. While this can be a fun format, it’s not always the right fit for everyone. This creates less of your traditional wedding timeline and a much more casual atmosphere.


Regardless of the format you pick, there are a few other things to consider:

When thinking about your menu, think about your guests. Are they more traditional? Are they a vegan gluten free crowd or more meat and potatoes? While you don’t have to tailor your entire menu to fit your guests needs (it is about what you like too!) make sure you have a few items on there that will please everyone.

Late night snacks, unique appetizers and fun desserts can be a great way to add excitement to your meal. Maybe you are staying with the more traditional route for your dinner, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun late night snacks – sliders & fries or a mac & cheese bar! It’s the small touches like that that will leave an impression on your guests.

Local and seasonal – yeah, I know – it seems like we’re seeing those two words everywhere now. It’s almost as trendy as Pinterest! But honestly a delicious strawberry tart eaten at a wedding in May can not only be delicious but help set the mood. Similarly, eating local cheeses while at a Sonoma wedding is something that your out of town guests will appreciate.

Finally, talk to your fiancée and decide what you both like to eat! Obviously you can’t bring in every single favorite but a signature cocktail that you both love is a great touch, or a special family recipe for your wedding cake can make the event all the more special. The menu should reflect the two of you and things you enjoy!