Spring is all about new beginnings, so it's no wonder why this time of year kicks off wedding season! And your spring wedding menu should be just that—a reflection of fresh, just-blossomed ingredients that make your guests ooh and ahh with delight. For a spring wedding, you'll want to highlight fresh produce, bright flavors, and light dishes. To give you some tips on how to create a spring wedding menu, we enlisted the help of Claudia Sidoti, head chef at HelloFresh, who details how to capture the flavor and feeling of spring when you're serving a crowd.
Know the Must-Have Flavors
Where the winter months are often marked by heavy, rich foods, spring wedding menus should focus on fresh, bright ingredients to mimic the overall feeling of the season.
"For spring menus," Sidoti suggests, "celebrate the season with ingredients that are seasonally appropriate, like asparagus, peas, salad greens, and leeks."
These spring staples can be used to brighten every course and make each portion of the meal feel springy. For example, if you want to do an antipasto or similar food bar during cocktail hour, add asparagus, peas, and artichokes. You'll capture the seasonal flavors even as you execute a food moment that guests enjoy year round.
Keep Volume in Mind
To you, spring might mean whipping up pasta primavera with all the best vegetables in your garden. But when it comes to wedding menus, it's important to remember that your caterer will be sourcing and cooking ingredients for a crowd. They'll have to be strategic to get super-fresh produce in bulk.
"In order to feed larger groups successfully, you not only want to prepare dishes that are executable from a culinary production perspective," Sidoti says. "You also want to make sure you've factored in seasonality when doing menu selection, as well as making sure you've thought about allergies, food trends, and polarizing flavors like anchovy and mushrooms before creating a menu."
Embrace the Unexpected
Wedding food—and food in general—isn't just about serving what's appropriate for the occasion; you can also use food to highlight family traditions.
"I love roasting colorful rainbow carrots and just about anything with artichokes," Sidoti says. "Every year at Easter, my family makes stuffed artichokes and I know that spring is finally here." Even though roasted artichokes don't scream wedding, it can be nice to serve something that jogs the memories of your guests—and keeps them on their toes.
"Another one of my favorite foods that celebrates spring is lamb," Sidoti continued. "I love roasting a whole leg with plenty of garlic and fresh mint, or grilling baby lamb chops and serving them with a simple herb sauce like chimichurri, pesto, or salsa verde."
Bright sauces like these are a great way to use fresh in-season herbs. The cilantro needed for a chimichurri sauce is in its peak in spring (and parsley is year round), so it's great for adding to a steak that you might serve with mushroom sauce during the winter or grilled peaches in the summer. Just swapping out that one element can carry these wedding menu staples through the seasons.
Show Your Personality in All Things
Every detail of your wedding, from veil length to playlist to cake flavor, is an opportunity for you and your partner to highlight one or both of your personalities. "Try to make sure you've got crowd pleasers, but also try to remember that your menu, just like the venue, dress, and vows are an extension of yourselves," Sidoti says. "If you love chocolate cake, then you should serve it. I've known people who love pie more than cake, so rather than serving traditional wedding cake, they served pie.
If you're into BBQ and beer, then design a menu that features delicious BBQ paired with craft beer. My wedding was in Maine, because I've spent summers there my entire life. We wanted to celebrate the occasion with the best of the area and keep it fun and casual, so we chose to have a giant lobster cookout—complete with bibs!"
Be Inspired By What You Like
"Keep a list of your favorite foods, restaurants, and recipes so that when you are talking to your caterer you can share these examples," Sidoti says. "Always have a tasting and don't be afraid to offer honest feedback."
This is great advice, not just because it will ensure you're on the same page with your caterer, but also because it's another chance to show your couple style in the wedding food. Even if you're not super sentimental, you've got to admit it would be nice to sit down for your reception dinner and be reminded of your favorite meal from your favorite restaurant—whether that's black truffle pasta or a perfect slice of pizza. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it should be authentically you.
Don't Get (Too) Overwhelmed
Just like any other kind of wedding planning, figuring out your menu can be tricky and stressful at times. But Chef Sidoti has advice for how to make sure you're keeping in mind all the important things—seasonality, personality, and taste—without worrying yourself too much.
"The process of planning a wedding menu can be very intimidating. Dealing with planners and chefs can be overwhelming, but keep in mind, your caterer and chef will only be able to tailor something to your taste if they know what you like," Sidoti advises."Don't over-complicate. Sometimes less variety is better than more. Menus that are too big can sometimes miss the mark, so I say, keep it simple and focus on a few delicious favorites rather than a lot of mediocre dishes."