Written by Harmony Walton, The Bridal Bar.
Spring has almost sprung and wedding planning is in full swing for many of you, which means menu planning too! Have you considered what you’ll serve as your first married meal? Wedding menu planning is part of the fun, but it’s also an important part to creating a successful flow to the night and making sure your guests don’t go hungry. So we asked a few of our Omni Hotels & Resorts experts for their insider takes to serving up a spectacular wedding menu, one your guests will never forget.
1. Mix it up at different events
“When planning menus, I always remind the bride and groom to serve something completely different from the rehearsal dinner. I recommend they keep in mind their guests that have food allergies and make sure to account for their vegetarians and gluten-free guests. You never want to make them feel uneasy about what they eat.” – Georgia Graugnard, Director of Catering, Omni Houston Galleria Hotel
2. Offer a variety:
“Selecting the menu is crucial. Select a minimum of five passed hors d’oeuvres and one or two display stations. The stations should be more substantial and the passed items lighter. This will help ensure they enjoy their full meal.” – Lora Peluso, CMP, Director of Catering and Convention Services, Omni William Penn Hotel
3. Keep your schedule of events in mind
“One of the most important details when planning your wedding menu and the flow of the evening is to keep your guest’s experience in mind. After a ceremony which can take up to one hour, then getting to the venue, standing for a cocktail hour eating and drinking, the last thing you should do is go into a full-blown wedding program with speeches then a heavy meal. This type of flow will ensure your guests are sluggish and tired by the end of the dinner. Instead, make them a part of the celebration. Instead of taking their seat when they enter the main room have the band call them to stand around the dance floor during introductions. They get a great view of your first dance! Then invite them to dance to the next song. Pick the tempo of your wedding back up for a few songs to get your guests’ blood flowing again. This will help to ensure they are more lively and ready for the night to commence.” – Peluso
4. Consider a combination
“The wedding program usually takes 40 to 50 minutes from introductions, dance, welcome speech, toast and first course. If you are offering a combination entrée such as surf and turf, that makes it a little easier on you when planning. There is less changing amongst the guests, and less information you have to gather and place on the meal card. This also pleases a good majority of guests. However, if your guest does not eat fish or does not eat meat, please make sure they have an option for just beef or just fish, and, of course, offer a vegetarian option.” – Peluso
5. Plan for the unexpected
“Guests will often change their mind and request what someone else at their table is having. This leads to a shortage of a meal-type and a guest who may have pre-ordered their entrée will have to wait. Also, venues are now charging for changes. If they have to make additional meals to accommodate guests changing their minds or the counts being wrong on the meals, you could end up paying for more entrées than you have guests.” – Peluso
6. Make it personal
“I recommend that they personalize their wedding with things they like. It’s their day. Serve that specialty drink they like to drink. Serve THEIR favorite foods. A lot of people come from all over to attend their wedding, so serve some food that is grown in that area. Maybe a Texas wine and Texas cheese station with a little background sign explaining where it came from. Something that people can learn about that region and that is something they will always remember. It is a great topic of conversation.” – Graugnard
7. Incorporate family traditions or family heritage
“If it is an ethnic wedding, bring some of their specialty desserts and cookies that their guests may have never experienced. This is a great late-night snack after the cake is cut, along with a specialty coffee station with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or espresso and cappuccinos. After the dinner you don’t want the excitement to stop – you want people thinking, what are they going to do next?” – Graugnard
8. Don’t forget about the cake
“I suggest making their cake stand out. It is such a beautiful and decorative item; I think it should be raised on a stage or under a canopy so when the bride and groom cut the cake all the attention is on them. It also gives that WOW factor when walking into the room. When serving the cake we will sometimes pass chocolate milkshake shots as an addition. It is small and cute and not too much and you can add a liqueur to it too.” – Graugnard
And when all the details are selected, don’t forget to share them on your wedding menu card or at the stations, so guests know exactly what’s being served. What will you dine on during your big day?
Harmony Walton is the founder of The Bridal Bar and host of Bridal Bar Radio on iHeartRadio. Harmony also expanded the brand into her passion of destination weddings with Jet Fete, a destination weddings and honeymoons blogsite dedicated exclusively to weddings abroad and romance travel. Her company has been recognized around the world as a trendsetter in weddings and featured in 100+ media outlets, including The Associated Press, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, and many more.