Discover How to Plan a Menu That Represents You

Here's how to work with your caterer to serve dishes that show off your personality.

Heather Guthrie, director of catering and conference services at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla reveals clever ways brides and grooms have tweaked their wedding menus to complement their personalities.

Photo: Yvette Roman

After you've chosen your wedding venue, you'll either be tasked with hiring your own caterer, or you'll be able to utilize the property's onsite catering services. Either way, you'll likely choose from menu options in the chef's repertoire. At first glance, this may seem to provide little opportunity for you to put your own stamp on the menu. But by collaborating with the chef and finding unique ways to insert your personality into the food selections, you can create a wedding menu that is true to you as a couple, yet still fits within the parameters of your wedding package.

Heather Guthrie, director of catering and conference services at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, revealed some clever ways brides and grooms have tweaked their wedding menus to better complement their personalities. They still worked within the capabilities of the caterer, but the end result was an evening of delicious dishes that featured creative nods to their tastes! "The 'Eat, Drink, and Be Merry' philosophy is still so huge. Many people are following this mantra and really incorporating it into their wedding days," Guthrie explains.

Serve Dinner Family-Style

family style dish

Your reception will instantly feel more comfortable and homey if dishes are served family-style. Interacting with each other as they pass dishes and share food brings guests together in a way that buffets and served dinners often don't. Photo by Mischa Photography

Tweak the Presentation

grilled cheese

Even if you're choosing from your caterer's menu, you still may be able to personalize small aspects of the dish, like the way it's plated or an ingredient substitution. "We had a couple recently who wanted the caesar salad for dinner. Normally it includes a parmesan crisp roll; however, we custom-created a heart-shaped parmesan crisp for each salad," Guthrie says. See if your caterer is able to change up a single detail in the dish to make it more unique to you. Photo by Bob & Dawn Davis Photography

Get Inspired by Travel

pasta and lobster

Think back to your favorite vacation and request dishes and traditions that remind you of your travels. Not only will you love paying tribute to the happy times you spent at these special locales, but your guests will appreciate the meaning behind the meal. "We recently had a bride and groom who love European wine tours on trains," Guthrie explains. "Apparently on these tours the evenings are really special with truffles, chocolates, specialty cakes, and espresso. All of this was incorporated into the evening [at their wedding]." Photo by Robert Evans Studio

Toast with Specialty Drinks

craft beers

With so many unique types of beer on the market right now, and so many grooms proclaiming themselves to be beer afficionados, serving his favorite brew is a fun way to introduce guests to his tastes. It's as easy as ordering a few cases from your favorite brewery. Guthrie says The Lodge at Torrey Pines has even served Belching Beaver Brewery's Peanut Butter Milk Stout! Signature cocktails also allow couples to have fun with their drink offerings and are a cinch for bartenders to whip up. Photo by Mischa Photography

Recreate Restaurant Favorites

noodle dish

Your chef may be willing to work with the chef at your favorite restaurant and serve that dish you two always order. "We had a couple last year who had to have a specific ahi tuna tower from their favorite restaurant in San Francisco," Guthrie remembers. "Our chef and that [restaurant's] chef got together and collaborated, and the couple was so happy!" Photo by Jen Yuson Photography

Serve Late-Night Snacks

mini hot dogs

This is a great way to enjoy popular comfort foods, without changing the sophisticated dinner itself. Your caterer may be able to whip up treats like hot dogs, sliders, and French fries himself; or, you may be able to bring in dishes from outside eateries or food trucks. Check with your venue to see what's acceptable. Photo by Olivia Leigh Photographie