How to Create a Crowd-Pleasing Wedding Menu

A wedding reception table set with plates and menus.

Food by no means should be the centerpiece of your wedding, but it will definitely be one of the key highlights. Thus, creating the perfect crowd-pleasing menu can be a major source of stress—one that you might not even realize until you actively deal with it.

When it comes to finalizing your wedding menu, you have to remind yourself that it’s impossible to please everyone. Either way, you should be more focused on enjoying your big day rather than spending the time meeting other people’s expectations. Fortunately, there are several tips and tricks that will make the process easier, while assuring your guests “ooh and ahh” over every bite.

Ask, but Don’t Obsess

It’s polite to ask your wedding guests about food preferences, but you shouldn’t let it add extra stress. You’re bound to encounter at least one picky eater and you can’t let them ruin your special day. As long as you have a variety of foods that cater to common diet restrictions, everything should be okay.

If any guests mention a food allergy or intolerance, you should prioritize that point first. To make things easy, have at least two appetizers or snacks, and one meal that is free of all allergens and intolerances that your guests mentioned. Believe it or not, there are plenty of delicious recipes that are vegan, gluten-free, and suitable for anyone to eat.

…But Respect Their Choices

A group of wedding guests eating appetizers at a reception.

Should you encounter a picky eater, you’ll quickly realize what a pain it can be. Therefore, make sure you’re not being one, either. While you should plan your menu around yourself to some degree, you should avoid imposing your food preferences on your guests. For example, you may feel strongly about your vegan diet, but it sends a strong message of respect if you have at least a few non-vegan choices available.

Don’t Be a Foodie

Likewise, don’t make your menu too complicated. It helps to always consider your crowd. If most of your guests are conservative eaters, now is not the time to pull out recipes and ingredients from your exotic trips abroad. If you have too many intimidating items, people may be afraid to taste them. And should you serve something outside of the norm, at least provide a simple explanation of what it is. Not everyone knows that “coq au vin” is chicken. Avoid 12-course programs and opt for a simple menu instead. After all, people came to a wedding and not a food tasting.

…But Be Creative

A buffet at a wedding reception.

Even though you don’t want to get too crazy with your menu, you also don’t want to play it too safe. Not only will you find it boring, but your guests will likely be unimpressed. Even if you opt for classic dishes, make sure each one has a small twist on it that’ll make them memorable. To assure that you create a good mix, have at least one item for every taste bud. This means you offer something salty, something sweet, something savory…etc. No menu should be monotone. However, make sure all of the food and drinks pair well together. A great caterer can help you create a menu where every plate builds upon one another.

Aesthetics Are Everything

In addition to having a great taste, the food should also have an appealing appearance. When doing taste tests, make sure to ask your caterer how each item will look when its served. Whether hiring a caterer or not, opt for colorful dishes instead of ones that are all the same color. Add a drizzle of sauce and a touch of garnish. And don’t ignore how things are plated, either. A square plate in sub of a plain round one can instantly transform everything.

Tapas Always Work

Small tacos on a platter at a wedding reception.

Instead of having a rigid food menu, opt for a dozen small plates, or host an extensive cocktail hour before the main course. This will give you a chance to get creative and offer a lot of different choices. With numerous small plates, it’ll be surprising if you end up having anyone that isn’t satisfied. In addition, most guests prefer to snack and nibble during festivities rather than indulge in a heavy multi-course meal.

Minimize the Mess

When deciding what to serve, imagine eating it yourself in an all-white outfit. This is especially important when it comes to finger foods. Because most people will be dressed in their finest, they will likely shy away from items that might result in disaster.

Keep ‘Em Coming

A basket of cheese and other snacks at a wedding reception.

No guest should feel neglected at a party or leave hungry, so make sure there are some snacks available at all times, especially if you’re serving alcohol. Even after dinner, make sure you offer some sort of light bites throughout the evening. This is also key if you want to keep the party going all night!

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