Does it seem that every other decision you’re making about your wedding involves food? There’s the bridesmaids’ luncheon, the rehearsal dinner, the reception after the wedding, the brunch the next day – it’s no wonder you’re nearly ready to serve everyone Gatorade and Saltines! But there’s no reason to worry. As a caterer for many weddings throughout the Carolinas, I’ve learned more than a few tricks that you can use to help make the decisions manageable and the meals wonderful.
Plan your biggest event first. The reception or party after the wedding is usually the focal point of your weekend, so you should start out by determining the menu for your big bash. We have found that most brides want a formal, served meal with multiple courses. If that’s what you’d like, make the rehearsal dinner an informal get-together, so there’s a distinction between the two.
For a rehearsal party with flair, consider petit food. One hot trend is to serve lots of appetizers rather than a conventional sit-down meal. Imagine slivers of juicy beef tenderloin atop truffled mashed potatoes, drizzled with sweet pea emulsion – all offered up on individual spoons. Or a petit lemon meringue pie baked in a hollowed-out Meyer lemon.
Let your location lead. Match your food to your party venue. For example, at the Levine Museum of the New South, which presents an edgy, modernist look at the post-Civil War South, you’d probably want upscale, contemporary dishes rather than the traditional down-home Southern cooking you might choose for a dinner in a lovely old plantation house. An elegant soirée at The Mint Museum of Art calls for a sophisticated Asian or fusion menu. Having a laid-back gathering at a nearby lake house? Casual cuisine is the order of the day.
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Surprise and delight. Choose some foods that people don’t typically eat on a regular basis. Oysters, mussels, and sushi have an exotic feel, because most people don’t prepare them at home. If your event features food stations, have one where guests can design their own creations, such as a mix-and-match three-cheese-and-chive risotto with a variety of sauces, such as gorgonzola, curried chicken or wild mushroom.
Let brunch be intimate. If family and friends are gathering one last time after the wedding, send them off with foods that combine comfort and glamour. Think eggs Benedict, beautiful Scotch eggs, or frittatas. Forget diets during a celebration – offer banana-stuffed French toast or peach pancakes with peach syrup.
Help Mom understand. When your mother got married, it’s likely her mother did all the wedding planning, including the menus. These days, brides are more sophisticated and want their own signature looks. Know before you begin that what you like isn’t necessarily what your mom has in mind. Ask your caterer for samples of the dishes you want. You just might win Mom over with a taste!
Special thanks to Scott Atkinson, director of business development for Side Porch Catering, a full-service catering company for weddings, private and corporate parties and other special events.
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