Mindy Weiss, wedding planner to the stars and Wedding Paper Divas style partner, is our go-to expert for all things wedding. With more than 20 years of wedding-planning experience and events for top Hollywood personalities (think Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, and many more), her best-selling The Wedding Book, and specialized jewelry and wedding stationery lines, Weiss is the ultimate authority to answer all your burning wedding-planning questions.
Listen up, brides! Today, she’ll be giving you the scoop on everything you need to know regarding one of the best parts of your big day: food! Here, Weiss tackles five of your most burning questions about your wedding menu.
1. Is it necessary to serve hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail hour, or can we just serve welcome drinks?
I wouldn't recommend serving alcohol to your guests on an empty stomach without offering some snacks to tide them over. Trust me, that might not end well. There are a few factors to consider though—if your cocktail hour is only 30 minutes long, you might be able to get away with it. That said, keep in mind that the cocktail hour will set the tone for the rest of the wedding so offering a few light bites would be the best way to go.
2. What are some fun and unique foods I can serve at cocktail hour?
This is a great opportunity to be a little creative with what you’re serving. The ambience of the cocktail hour is a bit more relaxed, so feel free to have fun with the food you serve. A few of my favorite bite-sized concoctions:
- Soup Shooters: Perfect for a fall or winter wedding, this shot sized bite will be sure to keep your guests warm. My favorite is tomato soup with a small triangle of grilled cheese.
- Oyster Bar: This classic snack is the perfect touch for your elegant wedding, especially if it's on the water!
- Chicken & Waffle Sliders: Now who doesn’t love some chicken and waffles?! Add a touch of Southern charm to your big day with this sweet and savory bite.
3. I know it's customary to have a vegetarian option on the menu, but should I also have a gluten-free option? Dairy-free? Vegan?
It’s not an absolute necessity to add one of these options to your menu, but I do think you should try to accommodate your guests as best as you can. If you know of any guests that are gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan (especially people in the bridal party/groomsmen/close family) I would recommend working with your caterer in advance to make sure you have options for them prepared, because accommodating these types of requests is no longer the struggle it once was. It’s impossible to accommodate every dietary restriction so at the very least, clearly call out any allergens in the food you are serving.
4. Are there any foods I should avoid serving?
Avoid overly messy foods like whole lobster or crab. Guests want to look their best and not worry about staining their clothes. On a similar note, lots of people have an aversion to fish, so I wouldn’t serve it as a main course unless you’re giving guests a choice of entrée. I also recommend avoiding overly spicy dishes, unless you’re sure everyone is okay with it. Finally, take the seasonality of your wedding into account. Piping-hot soup at an outdoor wedding in July, for example, is probably not appropriate. There are always exceptions to all of these guidelines of course, but they’re good to consider as a general rule of thumb when planning your menu.
5. Do I need to serve a late-night snack after dinner?
Serving a midnight snack is one of my favorite ways to keep the party going. It’s definitely super trendy these days and a big crowd pleaser, but not at all a necessity if your budget won’t allow it. If you can swing bringing in some burgers and fries, milk and cookies, or something similar, great! If not, don’t worry—it’s not at all expected.