Select Local Ingredients
Whether you’re planning a destination wedding or hometown celebration, the freshest locally sourced ingredients and regional specialties make memorable selections for your menu.
For example, Southern California is well-known for its nearly year-round supply of avocado. Featuring locally sourced avocado in a salad or appetizer enhances your guests’ sense of the setting.
The chef who helps plan your menu can suggest creative ways to highlight the dish’s locality in its name. This also adds an intriguing topic of table conversation for guests.
Choose Seasonal Menu Items
If you have a favorite seasonal ingredient, incorporate it into your menu. Each season brings timely, signature ingredients to the table, but autumn is a particularly bountiful time for seasonally inspired dining. During the harvest season, you will find the best of flavorsome butternut squash, pumpkin, beets, persimmons, beans, corn, and heirloom tomatoes.
An example of an autumn-inspired menu starts with corn-and-crab bisque, or beet salad with goat cheese and fresh baby arugula. Roasted heirloom tomatoes fit nicely into salads or side dishes. For the entrée, scalloped butternut squash roasted with sage makes a seasonal alternative to traditional potatoes.
Consider customizing your menu with family recipes and dishes from your heritage. From Asian to Middle Eastern to European cuisines, the menu itself can be part of the wedding traditions you share with guests.
Fuse food traditions from different corners of the globe if this approach best represents your culture, interests, or history as a couple. Whether you met in a place with rich food traditions or discovered a favorite dish while traveling together, let your epicurean experiences inspire the menu.
Choose the Right Format
Your menu also hinges upon the dining format. Some dishes work best plated or tray-passed, while others shine when served buffet style. You can consider a mix of courses, some plated and others served from a buffet. For example, an eye-catching dessert station encourages your guests to rise from the table and mingle leisurely with guests from other tables after a multi-course plated meal. When you are making menu decisions, listen carefully to your culinary team’s advice on format, so your guests enjoy the best possible dining experience.
Create a Timeline
In preparing and presenting food, timing is everything. Preparing a synchronized meal for a large group requires careful advance planning. The kitchen works very diligently behind the scenes to meet your desired timing and ensure that your guests enjoy the beautiful meal.
Be realistic about your dining timeline and other festivities planned around it. A speech or toast can often wait, but food and specialty drinks cannot if you wish them to be served at the ideal temperature.
Consider Special Requests
As a courtesy to your guests, provide options and plan for special requests through the RSVP process. At minimum, offer a vegetarian selection. Your guests will appreciate the opportunity to communicate their preferences discreetly ahead of time, and the kitchen will gladly plan in advance for gluten-free meals or other special requests.
Taste Everything Before the Big Day
Once the menu is planned, always take the time to taste it. In my experience, menu tastings occur two to three months before the wedding. This is the perfect time to ask questions, make adjustments, and clarify your vision.
Make sure everything tastes good and looks good. In fact, use all five senses to assess the aromas, textures, and sounds of your menu selections. Dining is a sensory experience, and that’s what makes it so incredibly memorable.
Photo by Michael Segal Photography