Planning your wedding menu is one of the most important tasks to check off your to-do list, and there are so many options to consider, from plated dinners to buffet-style receptions. And while the format of your dinner (or brunch) service definitely matters, the food you select is even more important.
When it comes to your summer wedding menu, you don’t want to serve something too messy or difficult to eat. And, especially in the summer, you may also want to feature the flavors of the season. To get the full scoop on the best wedding food for a summer wedding, we sat down with Stephani O'Connor, a wedding catering pro and former culinary director of The Peached Tortilla, to get her top tips and menu ideas.
Meet the Expert
- Stephani O'Connor is a culinary specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry.
Read on for tips and tricks on how to incorporate the flavors of the season, plus 33 summer wedding menu ideas to help get your planning started.
Make It Interactive
Look for ways to make your big day even more special with interactive food stations. Letting your guests get up and move around can go a long way. "Especially in summer, stations are a big deal for us, and they just keep getting more popular," says O’Connor. "We put together a lot of fun, interactive stations for weddings. The more interactive, the better."
Graze a Little
"There’s a big trend in grazing tables," says O’Connor. "Taking a whole table and filling it with a variety of food has become so popular." Select your favorite meats and cheeses and pair them with nuts, melon, berries, and more to create the perfect grazing table. Grazing tables give your guests the opportunity to nibble as the day goes on without making them feel like they need to sit down for a full, heavy meal.
Incorporate fresh flavors into your passed apps or stations, and consider greeting guests with something light as they come into the ceremony. "Summer always brings menus with fresh, seasonal food, incorporating more berries, melons, and a lot of fresh herbs," explains O’Connor. "Whatever is fresh in season at the time, we definitely use a lot of it."
Keep It Light
“We tend to sell more fish during the summer for a light option. Or, for pasta, we’ll use a browned butter sauce instead of a heavy sauce,” says O’Connor. “People tend to want things very fresh and very light.” Keep bright, colorful foods at the forefront of your menu planning. Apps and entrées should be on the lighter side, so your guests don’t feel too full in the hot sun.
With those key tips in mind, we put together a list of wedding menu ideas for inspiration while selecting options for your summer wedding feast.
Sushi. Bar. Need we say more? Work with your caterer to set up a gorgeous, refreshing option everyone will love. Be sure to offer vegetarian options for any guests who don't (or can't) eat raw fish.
Nothing screams summer like bright tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic. Caprese skewers offer a great, filling option without weighing down your guests.
If you’re opting for a sit-down dinner, consider fresh, light options for your main course, like pan-seared salmon. Use the protein as a base to incorporate other summer flavors, like citrus and bitter greens.
If you're thinking about doing a spread of pizzas but are worried it might be too heavy, a simple flatbread with prosciutto, greens, and lemon can be a great, lighter alternative.
Bright Berry Cups
Fresh berries are the perfect touch for warm weather. Opt for bright fruit cups with a mixture of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries to capture the flavors of the season.
Nothing says summer like fresh seafood. Set up delicious, light options with an array of sauces for a fun, interactive station.
Keep salads light and seasonal. Flavorful arugula, microgreens, edible flowers, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano can go a long way. Opt for dressings like lemon and olive oil or balsamic rather than heavier ranch or Caesar options.
Capture fresh, summertime flavors with these mini lobster rolls. If lobster isn’t your thing, ask your caterer for a spin on this app using crab, chicken, or tuna.
Set up a table with your favorite meats and cheeses, crackers, and fruits. Your guests will love the variety and the option to move around and make their own charcuterie plates.
Nothing embodies the taste of summer quite like sweet melons. Pair cantaloupe with prosciutto for a delicious, creative app.
Add a splash of color to your menu. Beets are the perfect earthy base for a summer salad or on their own as a side dish. Add goat cheese and honey or sweet berries to bring out their gorgeous flavor.
Summer is all about enjoying time in the sunshine, maybe even with a margarita in hand. Bring the flavors of the season into the mix with mini fish tacos, and don't forget the lime.
Keep your dishes light with the addition of fresh fish, such as tuna. We love the idea of a delicious tuna tartare appetizer.
Mini Ice Cream Cones
Who says you can't have ice cream on the menu? It is summertime after all! Serve mini ice cream cones in various flavors before or after dinner as a fun treat—the timing is all up to you.
Make flavorful vegetables the star of an appetizer, but top it off with the flavors of smoked bacon. These are the perfect appetizers for a rustic, outdoor reception.
Veggie Fresh Rolls
Your guests will love having access to bright, seasonal appetizers. Consider fresh rolls made with in-season vegetables, paired with a delightful sauce to top it all off.
Pineapple Pulled Pork Sliders
Nothing says summer wedding like a tropical luau. Combine island flavors such as pineapple and pork for a tasty slider option.
Chocolate on the Half Shell
Why not throw something sweet into the mix during a cocktail reception? Consider a chocolate treat served up in an oyster shell for a fun dish that screams summer by the beach.
Kale and Farro Salad
Who says salad needs to be simple? Offer a heartier salad option while incorporating the flavors of summer. Pair kale with farro and opt for a topping of juicy strawberries to finish off this seasonal dish.
Mozzarella With Candied Tomato Skewers
Take the fresh flavors of a Caprese dish and switch it up a bit. Pair marinated mozzarella with candied tomatoes for a lovely reception app.
Oysters can be such a fun treat to add to a summer wedding, especially one hosted outside on the lawn or at the beach. Set up a bar for your guests with oysters on the half shell, paired with a variety of sauces for toppings.
Sweet Pea Bruschetta
Utilize what's being harvested during the season. Peas are definitely on the list of summer vegetables, and we love the idea of using them in a passed app.
Fresh Bass With Seasonal Vegetables
Thinking about plated meals for a summer wedding means fresh fish and tasty vegetables. Pair a bass filet with red peppers, asparagus, and seasonal tomatoes atop creamy risotto for a lovely dish.
Bring the sweet flavor of figs to the party. Figs are in season right at the beginning of summer, and they're the perfect fruit to pair with goat cheese for a light, simple bruschetta.
Fresh seafood is perfect for any season, but it's especially delicious in the summer. Opt for grilled prawns and pair them with a lemon sauce to bring in the flavors of the season.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
The sweet flavor of corn, paired with the heartiness of black beans, just evokes all those simple summertime vibes. Consider a dish combining the two, served as a shooter or a larger plated salad.
Fresh Burrata Salad
Burrata is such a light, refreshing cheese that truly pairs perfectly with anything. Let bright, seasonal tomatoes shine in a simple salad dish.
Eggplant is at its peak during the summer months, but it's often thought of more as a fall vegetable for roasting. Turn eggplant on its head with a puree served with ripe tomatoes and basil.
The dimensional flavor of arugula goes perfectly with a balsamic drizzle. Pair both with a unique plated dish of cured, sliced meats and shaved cheese for a simple start to your meal.
These Rosé Popsicles are such a fun idea for serving up your favorite pink summer sipper in a unique way. Consider wine popsicles during your cocktail reception or even later in the evening as an after-dinner treat.
Steak on the Lighter Side
If you opt for a heavier protein, like this roasted bistro filet, pair it with light ingredients, such as this fresh tomato salsa. Flavorful components, like garlic and herbs, make for a satisfying meal that's bright enough for summer.
Fig and Blackberry Salad
For a sweet and savory starter, opt for a mix of greens and fresh fruit for your first course. This salad with mixed spring greens, seasonal figs, and juicy blackberries makes for the perfect palate tease before a plated dinner.
Dressed-Up Hot Dogs
For the whimsical couple, take this summer staple up a notch with high-quality buns, fresh herbs, and authentic Dijon mustard. These miniature Chicago-style hot dogs are the perfect tasty treat for a summer soirée.