Wedding Food Will Never Be the Same

By Carolyn Stine July 17, 2019 

Wedding food will never be the same after we dig into these delicious new ways to serve it up on your special day.

We’ve all been there. Sitting down to a three-course wedding meal when you really want to be mingling at the bar, or kicking off the macarena on the dance floor. There’s that soggy salad, the overcooked chicken, and the bread basket rolls that feel like hockey pucks. In a sea of look-alike seated wedding dinners, we figured that there had to be another way. So we brought in one of our favorite resident Bashed experts, Kerri Rogers, who just so happens to be the Private Events Director at The Four Seasons. Now this is a woman who has seen her fair share of wedding dinners. From extended cocktail hours to late-night dance floor snacks, we picked her brain on all of the ways that your wedding food can be dreamed up and served in a way that feels personal to you and your partner, while still being ridiculously delicious and making all of your guests full and happy.

Q

We’re taking a wild guess that you’ve seen it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly of weddings and wedding dining. What have been some of the best experiences you’ve encountered?

A

I’ll focus on the positive, as the horror stories are best left to the movies! I think the most touching wedding experiences are the most personal and meaningful ones. I remember a wedding we planned between two true foodies, who created gift bags for guests containing all of their favorite food items, all the way from their childhoods to their favorite foods as a couple, and I thought that was so special. I am also a sucker for surprises - we had a bride once who revealed her pregnancy during the reception and I loved seeing everyone’s reactions - it was the best!

Q

Traditionally, wedding dinners follow a tried-and-true formula - the three-course seated dinner. Most likely a salad, an overcooked filet, and a slice of cake that gets neglected on our table as we hit the dance floor. Can you shed a little light on how this came to be?

A

I wish I knew! Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a three-course dinner format of classic dishes, but the key is that they need to be executed perfectly.  I do think couples today are more willing to step outside the box, which I think is fantastic. They want to do something no one has ever seen or done before, even if it is in the format of a three-course seated dinner. I’m hopeful that those days of predictable, cookie cutter dinners become a thing of the past.

Wedding Food | Bashed

Q

If we are married to the idea of the seated, coursed dinner, do you have any tips and tricks on how to do it right?

A

Honor the seasons and highlight what the location or venue is known for.  If you are having an upstate New York wedding during the fall, start with a pumpkin soup and finish with apple cider doughnuts from a local farm for dessert.  If you are at the Four Seasons Restaurant in the spring, I would recommend serving our amazing spring vegetable risotto with ramps and a classic entrée like our Dover Sole.  In my opinion, if you are fighting to make something work, then it doesn’t work. It’s more productive and beneficial to shift your focus, take some time and rethink your concepts. Better ideas are right around the corner.

Q

What are the other types of dining experiences that a couple can decide to share with guests at their wedding?

A

Family style - The pro here is that this is communal dining, so you’re encouraging your guests to share the meal in a very intimate way. The con is that you have to like sharing your food (I consider myself a decent sharer but not with food 😊).

Buffet style -  Buffets are great because they’re interactive, and it’s great for guests who have dietary restrictions to be able to pick and choose exactly what they like. What can be challenging is that it’s harder to  anticipate portions, so you may end up with not enough food or excess food. Note that you can always ask the venue or caterer to donate to a food shelter or offer the leftovers to the staff working your event, if there is extra!

Cocktail hour only -  Finger foods are universally beloved and this can work if the timing is right (read: no more than two hours and scheduled in between normal meal times). However, I feel strongly that you need to give your guests advance notice that it will only be cocktail foods so they can prepare accordingly, and keep in mind that they need to be HEAVILY passed.

Food trucks - This is definitely the more laid back option, and the casual vibe may fit in perfectly with your wedding. Food trucks also usually involve comfort food, which is definitely a crowd pleaser. Make sure to consider that guests may have to wait longer for food if you go this route, and if you’re in a city, you just need to check on street permitting (I am having a vintage pizza food truck at my wedding, so I am partial to this dining experience 😊).

The 4th meal - I love the idea of adding a 4th meal after dessert!  I’ve seen it done a few different ways- passed hors d’oeuvres on the dance floor, a food truck that pulls up outside as a surprise during dancing, and even a midnight pizza order.  Any way you do it, it’s a fun way to keep the party going and keep guests happy and full!

Q

How does the selection of how dinner is served (or not served) affect the flow of events at the wedding? How does it affect the overall feel of the wedding?

A

The selection of how you want to serve dinner affects the flow and feeling 110%.  A seated three-course dinner with china and waiters is inherently going feel more formal than a taco truck with paper plates and a DIY hot sauce station. The important thing to keep in mind is that one is not inherently better than the other.  It all comes down to what represents you and your future other half the most accurately. The last thing you want is to not feel comfortable or feel like yourselves at your own wedding.

Q

What are your feelings on cocktail hour? What has worked best with your clients in the past?

A

I’ve never met a cocktail hour I didn’t like. I highly recommend a mixture of passed and stationary for both food and beverage. It keeps the food varied, guests more involved, and drinks more accessible (always a win!).

Wedding Food | Bashed

Q

What are your feelings on dessert? From a slice of wedding cake to elaborate DIY ice cream sundae bars, we feel like this is an area that’s exploding with current wedding trends.

A

The more dessert, the better!  You just need to be conscious of how much sweetness you’re pouring onto your guests - a sugar buzz (and alcohol buzz) is good for the dance floor, but a sugar coma doesn’t help anyone.  More and more, I see guests moving away from traditional cake, and call me old fashioned, but I think a symbolic cake is a nice touch. You could even have a couple of faux layers thrown in or a smaller version made, if you want to pair the cake with a sundae bar, pie smorgasbord, or cotton candy station (the sky is the limit here!).

Q

With all of the weddings that you’ve experienced, do you have any general tips/tricks/hacks/takeaways to share with our readers?

A

I always say to plan your perfect wedding you need to envision your perfect party - not “wedding,” but “party”. The word “wedding,” although it should be beautiful can really put excessive pressure on those involved, but it doesn’t have to be this way.  If your perfect party is getting together for a family BBQ, a picnic for two on a mountain, having an intimate gathering at your favorite restaurant, or a four hundred-person ballroom gala, do what feels right for you. Don’t give into the wedding hype and the pressure to impress others - it can and should be an event unique to you and your significant other.

One other tip: don’t leave the grooms out because it’s their wedding too. After all, you wouldn’t be here unless they loved you enough to bring you both into this crazy whirlwind of wedding planning. My fiancé and I planned the majority of our wedding together without a lot of external input, because at the end of the day, being together is what’s most important.

How have you planned and executed the food at your wedding? From a caviar course to mini beers and sliders at cocktail hour, share your wedding food stories below!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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