The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding Menu


Photo by Freddy G on Unsplash

Wedding food might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about wedding planning, but it should be a priority. No celebration is complete without amazing food, and your wedding is no different. Serving delicious food to keep your guests happy and their bellies full is a huge part of hosting an unforgettable wedding. 

Choosing your wedding menu is a lot less straightforward than it might seem. Wedding food menus go beyond choosing the right food; it’s about how you serve it too. To help you plan the best wedding menu, we’ve got wedding serving styles explained, plus wedding food planning tips, right here. 

Wedding Food Serving Styles

Plated Sit-Down Dinner

Let’s start with the most traditional wedding food serving style, the plated sit-down dinner. Chances are you’re familiar with this serving style and have sat through a few yourself. Traditionally the plated sit-down dinner usually consists of three courses, which include the appetizer, entree, and dessert. This wedding food style usually gives guests an option from two or three choices, and the decision is made before your wedding day. 

Buffet Style

The buffet-style food serving offers up a lot more variety for your guest than the traditional plated sit down dinner. This is a great option for foodie couples who want to introduce their guests to a range of foods that can cover all types of diets, cultures, and more. Buffet style usually involves long tables or different sections, each with a server to explain the menu items and dish them out. 

Family Style Wedding Dinner

If you want to stick to a traditional wedding dinner, but also want to mix things up and offer your guests more variety, a family-style wedding dinner is a great option. After all, who doesn’t love variety when it comes to food?

For a family-style wedding, guests are still assigned to and seated at specific dinner tables, and servers deliver food. But with family-style dinners, guests don’t get a pre-chosen three-course meal. Instead, large portions of different menu options are placed in the middle of the table for everyone to share. 

Food Stations

As far as wedding food goes, serve yourself or make it yourself food stations are a newer trend, but they’re growing in popularity. Serve yourself food stations involve breaking up your wedding menu items by category, and giving each its own section in different parts of the venue space. Guests get to make trips to the various stations that provide an array of culinary displays and options, and they can serve themselves. 

Adding a little more fun and creativity to the mix, make it yourself food stations allow your guests to make their own food. For example, you can have a make your own taco station where guests get to fill tortillas however they like. 

These stations usually stay open longer than buffets too, ensuring no one goes hungry because of long lines or spending too much time on the dance floor. 

Food Trucks

Another modern twist on wedding menus is food trucks. If you’re going for a more casual free-flowing vibe, then hiring some food trucks to pull up to your reception will impress your guests, and get them fed too. Plus, food trucks will help make for a fun and unique wedding reception. 

Cocktail Style

Cocktail style wedding food is another more recent trend. Cocktail style is best suited for couples who want a wedding that revolves more around mingling, partying, and enjoying the music entertainment. For this wedding food serving style, instead of a sit-down meal or a designated buffet time, hors d’ oeuvres, small bites, and finger foods are served all evening long. 

This food serving style will make all your guests happy because they won’t have to wait for other people to finish eating or stand in long lines to get their food. Plus smaller bites mean your guests won’t feel bloated or too full, so they’ll have more energy for dancing, enjoying the wedding band or DJ, and partying. If anyone gets hungry later on, they’ll still have the option to enjoy some more small bites. 

Now that you know your wedding serving style options, follow these tips to bring it all together: 

Plan Ahead

Your wedding food menu shouldn’t be something you leave for the last minute. A perfectly crafted wedding food menu will take time, and your caterer will need to be booked in advance. So stay on top of everything by planning ahead. 

Know Your Budget

Wedding food can hugely vary in costs, so before you dive into it, you should figure out exactly what you’re working with. Determine your food budget, and then figure out what wedding food serving style and menu options will work with it. 

Settle on a Style

With many wedding menu serving styles to choose from, how do you decide? Figuring out what you want to be the focus of your wedding can help. 

For example, if you want to keep your wedding traditional or for your wedding to center around dinner, then opting for a plated dinner or family-style dinner might be the way to go. But if you want to mix things up, or revolve your wedding around a live wedding band or DJ performance, dancing, and partying then opting for food stations or cocktail hour is a great choice. 

Serve Seasonal and Local

Some foods are just better during certain times of the year, so the best way to ensure that the wedding meals you serve are the freshest and tastiest is by choosing to serve seasonal and local produce. Find out what ingredients will be freshest around your wedding date and what ingredients are local to your wedding location, and create your wedding menu around them.

Know Your Guests

While there are some food classics that most people can’t turn down, like pizza, for the most part, people have pretty diverse food tastes. Keep in mind where your guests are coming from, their ages, and their food preferences, and try to plan accordingly. The best way to do this is by providing a diverse food menu, and it’s easiest with buffet style or food stations. 

When considering your guests, make sure also to factor in any food allergies or restrictions and make sure your wedding menu caters to those too. 

Know Your HeadCount

Whether you’re opting for a traditional plated dinner or buffet-style serving, your caterers will do best when they know how many guests will be at your wedding. There’s a fine line between having too little food and leaving guests unsatisfied and having too much food leading to costly waste. 

Make it Personal

Personalizing a wedding adds a special touch of magic, and food is a great way to do just that. Every couple has a favorite food or food-related memory, and your wedding menu is your chance to share that with all your guests. Whether that means serving the first dish you ever had together, cuisine from your favorite travel destination, or the drink that inspired that one really wild night,  go ahead and share it with all your loved ones. 

Music and Food, the Perfect Match

There are two things that we are confident everyone loves, music and food. For your wedding get the best of both worlds by following our wedding food tips above, and contacting SPN Events for the music entertainment to match. Whether you’re looking for classically elegant string quartet, energetic live wedding band, or versatile DJ, we’ve got you covered. 


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