As much as food trends continue to impress more and more each year, wedding food still has a negative connotation: Expectations are often low, with guests envisioning dry chicken cutlets and under-salted steamed veggies on their plate.
We have LOTS of ideas on how blow your guests away with your menu, but perhaps the first step is to bend the rules and have a bit of fun! There's no etiquette book that says you have to serve certain foods in keeping with age-old wedding traditions.
Instead, consider the kind of food you enjoy in any setting—what do you really want to eat on the best day of your life? Skip the huge, fondant-covered cake and replace it with cupcakes in your favorite flavors (it seems like wedding receptions are the only places where fondant still rears its flavorless head, anyway). Want to avoid frosting altogether? Opt for pies instead. And a general PSA: Bite-sized food is always fun and is not reserved for children. Even at an adults-only reception, one-bite passed hors d'oeuvres will be a huge hit.
From cocktail hour to cake-cutting, any menu item that adds whimsy and fun to an already awesome day should be embraced. Without further ado, here are our favorite fun food ideas, inspired by real weddings.
As wedding traditions become increasingly flexible, bending to personal taste and style, we see more and more couples choosing to swap out the multi-tiered wedding cake for a playful assortment of cupcakes and smaller desserts. This might still garner critical commentary from the super-traditional Negative Nancy that weasels her way onto every guest list, but as long as your and your soon-to-be spouse are happy with your choices, that's all that matters.
If wedding cake purists reserve a side-eye for cupcakes, they'll definitely have something to say about cookies, but be honest: Sometimes you don't want to navigate the cake-to-icing ratio. Or you're torn between grabbing dessert and joining in on the Electric Slide. With cookies on the dessert table, your guest have another, simpler option for after-dinner sweets.
Don't assume doughnuts are out of the question just because your wedding isn't at brunch time. In fact, the impact of doughnuts on your dessert table will be even greater if your guests show up expecting traditional dinner, cake, and dancing. Doughnuts are another one of those handheld sweets that you can take back onto the dance floor and munch on during the Cha Cha Slide.
Alright, maybe we like doughnuts a little too much—if that's possible. Doughnut holes are really unconventional for a wedding or any special occasion, but similarly to any other bite-sized dessert, they're fun and low-commitment: Everything you ever wanted from food, especially something with so many flavor combinations to choose from.
Mini Grilled Cheese
In a way, all mini food could be considered "fun" but something as nostalgic and comforting as a gooey grilled cheese with a teeny slice of tomato is undeniably enjoyable. Plus, you'd have to eat something close to a dozen for them to add up to a single full-sized sandwich, so they're basically guilt-free.
Yes, these are drinks, which technically don't count as food, but can certainly add to the whimsy of whatever fun menu items you choose. These are Hand Grenades, melon-flavored drinks served frozen or on-the-rocks, with a top-secret mixture of juices and liqueurs. One couple chose to serve them at their New Orleans wedding as a nod to the five French Quarter bars where the drink is sold.
Snack foods dominate this list for good reason: while you plan for guests to come expecting dinner, you forget about the in-between times when there are lulls in food. Whether it's between hors d'oeuvres and the first course, or between the entrée and the cake cutting, there will always be a few guests on the hunt for food. A great way to keep everyone fed all night is to have snacks on hand. Assorted popcorn (think: the classic Chicago trio of cheese, caramel, and butter) is pretty close to perfect.
Perhaps the best part of serving pie at your wedding is how personal it can be. Where wedding cakes will always have the pressure of high expectations, there's a homeyness to pies that almost requires you to include a nod to your Great Aunt Mildred's chocolate crunch and your mom's zesty lemon with graham cracker crust. It's a great option for further personalizing your reception and making special people in your life feel included.
Of all things you could serve on a skewer, this might just win the award for most confusingly delicious. At first glance, you're repulsed, right? But with a signature cocktail in hand, and that magical feeling that comes with weddings, your guests will be willing to try it. Sweet, smoky, salty—all the best flavors are there.
Ratchet up the sugar levels with some of your favorite childhood candy. Cotton candy gets a grown-up boost when you use it as garnish for cocktails or let it float atop your champagne coupe. And if you want to update the self-serve candy station trend for customized party favors, set up the candy on a bar cart. Include your favorite old-timey candy and cutesy decorations for a super-personal, memorable feature at your reception.