Food Porn Alert! How to Create a Modern Wedding Menu Your Guests Will Love

Food & Drink

The standard chicken, fish or vegetarian dish? Um, how about checking none of the above please! Nowadays, as Lead Event Planner Brian Reddick at Lisa Dupar Catering in Seattle points out, modern brides and grooms are expecting much more from their wedding menus than couples traditionally have in the past. "Long gone are the days of the tried-and-true salmon, beef and chicken plated dinner," he says. And thank goodness for that, right? Because you'd hate to leave a bad taste in your guests' mouths, here are five tips that will help you spice up your wedding menu and create some serious food porn.

1. Find a caterer that can bring your food porn Pinterest board to life.
Really do your research, ladies and gents. And before booking your venue, make sure you aren't locked into one specific caterer in case that person isn't the perfect fit for you or your vision. "It's imperative to partner with someone who can translate your Pinterest board, for example, into an executable menu that excites your closest friends and family," tells Reddick.

wedding food pairings grilled cheese and tomato soup

Photo: Pat Furey

2. Get inspired by everything but the wedding.
We know it sounds counterintuitive, but it's really not! According to Reddick, a great caterer should forgo wedding talk first and instead ask what you do for fun, where you met and where you love to travel. "Then from there, as the expert in food development and presentation, the caterer can start to create a menu that feels uniquely 'you' and anything but cookie-cutter." Take an east coast couple planning a Pacific Northwest wedding, for example. "They might want to translate their New York roots into an outdoor summer soiree on the opposite coast by focusing their celebration around their globetrotting adventures. So for passed appetizers, maybe we start with mini Dungeness crab patty melts, open face and garnished with Old Bay aioli (very Pacific Northwest), followed by a plated butternut squash gnocchi (an homage to the groom's favorite gnocchi dish back in New York." The point is, with the right idea and communication, most any vision, concept and dish can be presented in a modern way.

3. Don't be afraid to take risks.
Sarah Hall, President of Joel Catering & Special Events, knows how scary it can be to make a bold decision with your wedding menu when you're trying to make everyone happy, but that's the way to make it memorable and exciting, she says. "Think about the current food trends and work with some of those menu items, like flank steak instead of filet." You can still be unique without being too out there if you're dealing with a less than adventurous crowd.

wedding food pairings fried chicken and coke

Photo: Mel Barlow

4. Remember: Looks are (almost) everything.
Presentation is huge! After all, you want your food to make a great first impression, don't you? Whether it's seated, family style or a cocktail reception, Hall advises creating a wedding menu that's going to be just as beautiful as it is delicious.

See More: Wine and Meal Pairings Have You Puzzled? Our Wine Expert Is Here to Help

5. Give your caterer some creative freedom.
Sometimes it really is best to just leave it to the experts. Hall recommends asking your caterer, either working directly with the chef or through your contact, to put together some new, exciting menu ideas for your tasting. "You should be prepared with some thoughts, even examples of the direction you want to go in of course, and then let them be creative and do their thing."

6. Let them eat cake, but something else too.
Just like your wedding reception meal menu offers a variety of choices, so should your dessert menu, says Hall. "Many couples want a traditional tiered cake, but smart couples know there should be much more, such as mini-cupcake displays, gourmet cookies, butterscotch puddings or pass around handheld desserts like s'more bites and miniature toaster pastries." Not all desserts require a high sugar quotient though. For instance, you could offer something on the savory side like an array of fine cheeses and fresh seasonal fruit, she suggests.

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