Planning Your Wedding Reception Menu: Our Tips and Suggestions to Make Your Guests Happy

Our excitement about our new partnership with Wolfgang Puck Catering is off the charts!  After spending the day working on our new wedding reception menus we thought we’d share some menu planning tips and suggestions.

When it comes down to it, today’s weddings are all about hosting a fabulous party and FABULOUS begins with the basics – sensational food and a full-service bar. But contrary to popular belief, it is absolutely possible to have a well-designed menu and serve delicious food at your wedding.  Working with such famous restauranteurs-turned-caterers like Wolfgang Puck Catering only hammers that point home.  But where to start?  The first step a bride and groom should do is create their own ”foodie wish list” that details their personal food favorites, or the dreaded “ick, I hate that!” list, as well as foods that cause allergic reactions and foods that your families would expect to share at the wedding.  If you have trouble getting a handle on these items, start by writing down your favorite restaurants, cooking techniques, ethnic traditions or family recipes.  Have you discussed with each other or with your families what your guests would enjoy?  For instance, are your Italian relatives expecting to see some form of antipasto at the cocktail reception? What about your fiance’s Chinese grandparents, would they nibble on Wolfgang’s mini peking duck rolls or is a whole dim sum station a must-have?  And if your Uncle Joey only eats burgers, well, that’s certainly possible, even if they are slider-sized and oozing with melted cheese (see below and prepare to salivate).

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Something else to consider when conceptualizing your reception menu is the season in which you are celebrating the wedding.  A dramatic plated first course for Summer could be Wolfgang’s Roasted Beet and Herbed Goat Cheese Napolean!  (see below). Wow, what a first impression that makes on a crowd!  For Fall or Winter weddings you may want more hot hors d’oeuvres than cold, and including seasonal produce into the dinner service might be interesting.  For instance, we love mini shooters of butternut squash soup paired with grilled crostini. Wolfgang’s well-known philosophy is to design their catering menus with the freshest, organic and humanely-raised food they can get their hands on so sharing your seasonal preferences is not only welcome but crucial from the get-go.

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Aside from the types of foods you hope to enjoy at your wedding, you’ll also have to decide the service style.  Specifically, whether your reception will be buffet-style (large displays with multiple selections), food stations (several mini buffets) or a sit-down plated meal (tableside service).  Buffet-style tends to be more casual, food stations can be entertaining and sit-down is certainly the most formal.  Most wedding menus are designed with a mixture of these food service styles over the course of the 5-hour event.  For instance, during your cocktail reception a combination of passed hors d’oeuvres and food stations followed by a sit-down plated dinner keeps the grazers and talkers equally happy.  After dinner, why not repeat the cocktail-style service with passed mini-desserts, a plated dessert and a sweet dessert station?  Doesn’t this Chocolate Lava Cake look divine?

Philadelphia Weddings and Events

Once you have some idea as to your own personal food tastes and preferred service styles, it’s time to pour through the carefully crafted sample WPC menus.  Designing your wedding menu is a process and you’ll have to study the sample menus and compare them to your “wish list” before your final menu plan is realized.  Luckily, at ACE you have a fantastic team of professionals to help guide you through what could be a challenging process!  Particularly, when each hors d’oeuvre, stationery display and plated course tastes and looks better than the last!  Remember, the golden rule is to balance the menu with a variety of foods that have different flavors, textures, colors and temperatures to keep things enjoyable for all.  Ugh, it’s overwhelming, we know! But don’t fret!  Our ACE Planning Team will be able to take your ideas and preferences and use them to design a menu that is just right for your wedding.

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