Arguably the most compelling component of a wedding celebration is the dining experience offered to guests.  Think about it: what does food actually do?  It forces us to come together, to engage.  It has the power to evoke memories… to take us back.  Or perhaps to take us to a place we’ve never been with new concepts and flavors.  When done properly, it provides the diner with an exciting experience they will never forget.  And that is perhaps one of – if not the most important take-aways when attendees share the memory of a celebration.

So when planning a wedding reception menu, designing a concept that brings meaning to the food experience is essential.  Reviewing current menus from your preferred caterer is one way to get a feel for what you would like for your event;  and if the caterer were to elevate that to actually infuse your story into your customized wedding menu, it takes the event to a whole other level, creating even more engagement and meaning as guests gather together.

Below are some inspiration prompts to encourage story-infusion into the crafting of your menu:

  • Roots What parts of the country (or the world) are each of you from?  Your families?  Consider a thoughtfully-tailored “station” meal experience with menu descriptions and take your guests on a culinary tour to your hometowns (or family heritage)
  • Local Spotlightwhether you have a destination wedding or a homespun one in your backyard, what are the local cuisine favorites and specialities of the area you are in?  Highlight these for your guests – many of whom may be coming from outside the area and eager to experience something different.
  • Traditions & Heritage:  Sometimes long-time favorite family dishes can be included at your reception:  whether “mini” or whole versions of them – from sweet to savory -if it has been a long-time family tradition, consider making it part of your menu. Likewise, if there is a food or beverage business in the family, ensuring that product is included in the menu would a natural step (see photo below where family business was incorporated into Signature Cocktail at the bar).
  • First Date or Courtship Rituals:  from fish-n-chips to sliders -n-fries, pizza, and more, these can often make for a fabulous surprise to guests later in the evening passed as late night snacks after lots of calorie -burning on the dance floor and drinking.
  • Proposal Inspo: did your proposal happen over a special meal or dessert? Consider including that as an appetizer, main meal or dessert.
  • The element of surprise:  for real foodie guests, consider presenting them with the menu of what they just experienced after they’ve eaten (rather than a traditional menu card display with a plated meal), with a detailed description and story of each menu item and its relevance to your life and event (kind of like a blind tasting experience). This creates opportunity for further engagement and great conversation at the dining tables.

And of course no dining experience is complete without staff who knows exactly what they are serving and the story behind the “why” of each thoughtfully crafted item.  The serving team is part of the story-telling, too – particularly with customized menus and serving finesse.

Food is who we are, where we come from, and perhaps even provides insight into where we are going.  But more than anything, it brings us together.  And after a year of not being able to gather and be together, it would appear that this may be the opportunity of a lifetime for creating some pretty spectacular menus for life’s best celebrations going forward.