words Alexa Wang
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At their core, weddings are celebrations – celebrations of love, life and the merging of families and communities. And, traditionally, nothing drives that point home more than food.
Food brings people together, and good food signals that it’s a celebration. (After all, it isn’t every day that you get unfettered access to a buffet of gourmet food).
So, how do you plan the menu to maximize its impact? How do you ensure that it wows, warms and accommodates your guests? And importantly, how do you ensure there’s enough food to go around?
In this article, let’s explore the core steps involved in planning a wedding menu – from ideation to tasting.
Consider Your Guest List
Your guest list should help steer the menu in a few ways. Namely, as you skim through your guest list, consider the following:
- Number: The number of guests can affect the quantity and type of service you choose. If you’re planning for a sprawling 200-person wedding, perhaps buffet is the way to go, in which case you will provide a rough number to the caterer so they can make the right amount. If you plan an intimate, 15-person celebration, plated dinners might make more sense.
- Dietary restrictions: It’s best practice for the hosts to consider dietary restrictions. These may require omissions (gluten, dairy, eggs, etc.), alternative choices (vegan or vegetarian alternatives) or separate menus (Kosher, Halal, etc.).
- Ages: If several kids are attending, consider a few kid-friendly options.
- Cultural Significance: Is the bride or groom Italian, Indian, Chinese, French, etc.? If so, the family might feel more comfortable with food from their culture. Of course, this is only a consideration. Ultimately, you should choose the food you like best.
Upon considering your guest list, you can move on to the next step…
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Choose an Experienced, Quality Caterer
The heart of any successful, nourishing, crowd-pleasing wedding menu is the caterer. When choosing a caterer, look for three critical qualities: versatility, experience and emphasis on quality.
A versatile caterer knows how to take your guest list – the number, dietary restrictions and cultural significance – and run with it. They should be just as comfortable making an Italian braised short rib as they are with an Indian chicken curry.
Their experience lets you know that they are reliable and trustworthy. Planning a meal for 100+ people takes logistical chops to plan and execute; it’s a process you should only entrust to experienced companies like McEwan Catering.
Lastly, quality is imperative. It’s your big day, and you want your ideas to shine with superior ingredients and cooking techniques.
Get in the Collaborative Mindset
Once you’ve secured a quality caterer and provided them with information about the guest list, you can begin the collaborative process. Give the caterer a big-picture view of your vision – taste, look, vibe, etc. – along with specific suggestions for the menu. And ask lots of questions. They can advise you on service style (buffet versus plated), type of cuisine and specific dishes.
Those are the three fundamental steps to creating a perfect wedding menu. Follow them closely to ensure your big day is a meal to remember.