These menu suggestions for popular wedding themes will be perfect for getting your culinary inspiration going and are budget-friendly too.
Weddings are the celebration of love between two people yet, the first thing to pop into anyone’s head when they hear the word wedding is the food. Across all the different cultures in the world, the best culinary offerings are always reserved for weddings.
Choosing the menu for a wedding is a complicated process and is influenced by many factors. First and foremost is the wedding budget. Closely linked to this is the amount of guests expected to attend. The more guests you have, the less room for extravagance in your menu. You also need to consider foods in season and accommodate all the different dietary requirements of your guests.
However, a factor that has a decisive influence on determining a wedding menu is the wedding theme. Weddings have come a long way from the “traditional” western wedding. These days, weddings resonate stylistically (and culinarily) with the couple’s personal and cultural identities. A wedding theme also determines the serving style that the wedding will use. For example, a cocktail serving style might suit a festival-themed wedding better than a family-dinner serving style. A wedding theme essentially guides you in choosing dishes that match and represent the couple to the guests.
Here are five of the most popular wedding themes right now, along with their serving styles and a broad overview of possible menu selections for each one. Use these menu suggestions as a jumping-off point for your own creativity and personal foodie style.
1. A Rustic Wedding Menu
Rustic weddings typically incorporate nature’s freedom and freshness, which informs the menu and serving style. Guests can sit on bales of hay and be served from wooden trays. The menu is usually hearty foods with generous portions and can be efficiently served with a multiple-station buffet. It can also be served family-dinner style if the venue is set up with round tables and the guests are intimately related.
- Unstructured arrangements like crudités, bushels of fresh fruit and vegetables served with homemade dips are great options.
- Gourmet sandwiches and individual tartlets can also be just as great, especially in the colder seasons.
- Steak, BBQ, fried chicken, ribs, or meatballs can be served along with an abundance of potatoes.
- The potato sides can be roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, or you can even have a mashed potato bar.
- To keep it simple, you can also go with hearty little classics like Mac & Cheese puffs or miniature hamburgers, which you can dress up or down as you like.
- A naked cake or thinly covered with white icing will fit perfectly with the aesthetic of a rustic wedding. Just wrap lots of twine around it. As for the sponge underneath, a carrot or chocolate sponge will never be a let-down.
- Alternatively, an ice-cream sundae bar or different types of miniature dessert options might also work if you have a comfortable budget.
- Mason jars are the classical way to serve rustic beverages.
- Include wine, good craft beer, along with lighter drinks like lemonade, iced tea, and soda options, and you’re good to go!
2. A Traditional Wedding Menu
These traditional wedding menu suggestions will likely be a structured four-course meal served table-service style. There are, of course, hundreds of variations for putting a traditional wedding menu together. A simple way to narrow down your options is to decide on your menu based on the foods in season.
- A charcuterie board or a fruit cocktail bar are classicly traditional wedding starters.
- During warmer seasons, frozen fruit, crab cakes, or even a mixed green salad can also be served.
- In colder seasons, filo tarts, soup shooters, or light sandwiches are popular choices.
- Bacon-wrapped dates or asparagus wrapped in pancetta are slightly more expensive choices but guaranteed crowd-pleasers.
- Brisket, grilled rack of lamb, or fillet mignon coupled with mashed potatoes and vegetables are popular choices. Seared tuna steaks or lobster are also good options for mains, provided the budget is flexible enough.
- On a tighter budget, you might go with grilled or simply herb-roasted chicken with a side of seasonal vegetables, and your guests will still be happy.
- Most traditional wedding menus will include something hearty yet detailed like ravioli or risotto options if the cold has set in.
- Chicken pot pie or beef wellington are also good choices coupled with vegetables.
- A classical red velvet or a decadent chocolate cake will definitely please the guests of a traditional wedding.
- A hot chocolate or coffee bar with homemade treats like toffee or brownies is also a great option, especially in winter.
- A more top-tier traditional wedding might have macaroons, petit fours, lavender wedding cake, or gourmet ice-cream sandwiches for the lucky guests.
- Your lighter drinks can include mimosas, sangrias, and apple cider.
- Depending on the season, you can also have mulled wine, spritz punch, or mai tais.
- Alternatively, you may just have an open bar.
3. A Festival Wedding Menu
A festival wedding is a cheeky and rebellious wedding theme that differs entirely from a traditional wedding. These menu suggestions may be served from food trucks in the typical style of a festival. Within this wedding theme are many variations. For example, the food trucks could be action stations where the food is prepared and served by the catering staff.
- With a festival wedding, you can go as playful as you want. Mini burgers, corndogs, or even potato skewers could be a hit.
- Kebabs are also an excellent option for the festival mood because they can be prepared in many ways. You can use chicken, beef, or lamb with roasted vegetables and spices.
- You can also do vegetarian kebabs with options like halloumi or mushrooms.
- You can keep it simple by just having a BBQ-themed menu. This could include a buffet feast of BBQ wings, ribs, and sliders made with beef or pork.
- Alternatively, you can make it more individualized by giving your guests one or two protein options and toppings to choose from. Your side dishes can include:
- Chunky potato salad or mash.
- A spicy bean.
- Couscous salad infused with spicy flavors.
- A pig spit or hog roast with options of bread and rolls could also be a great success.
- If you don’t want to fuss too much but still want that festival wedding menu, go with a pizza-themed menu. Have guests assemble their own toppings across various stations.
- Add an ice-cream truck to the mix, and you have the perfect festival wedding.
- Eton Mess or a summery fruit salad are also options that will please your crowd.
- If your festival wedding takes place in the colder months of the year, serve artisanal donuts with warm beverages like hot cider, hot chocolate, fresh-ground coffee, or spiced tea.
- Hiring a mobile bar is an easy trick to edify a festival wedding. Mobile bars are booming businesses nowadays, and there are tons of options to choose from based on your theme and venue. Plus, if you select a very vibrant mobile bar, it could also be part of your entertainment.
4. A Beach Wedding Menu
When choosing a beach wedding menu, keep it light. Offer variety, take advantage of local delicacies and opt for water-rich options to keep your guests hydrated. The serving style is usually table-service, but a cocktail serving style may also be appropriate for a smaller beach wedding.
- A sushi or seafood bar is your most obvious choice. Include an abundance of sauces and maybe add Caprese skewers, and you will have delighted guests.
- A more cost-effective option could be a grazing table with various meats, cheeses, crackers, and perhaps flatbread topped with fresh greens.
- Fruit mixes like mixed berry shots or a simple fruit salad will also go down well.
- Your entrée can open with a garden salad made with seasonal greens.
- Steak, fillet mignon, tenderloin, or prime rib coupled with fresh greens is popular in approaching a beach wedding entrée.
- You could also opt for a more affordable dish like braised chicken or marsala.
- A more predictable option is the “surf and turf” combination. You can then serve with sides like wild or saffron rice and sautéed vegetables.
- To really be cost-effective, a pasta bar is also perfect, coupled with one or two BBQ protein options for your guests.
- You almost have no choice but to incorporate fresh fruit in your dessert because it’s a great way to keep your guests hydrated while they enjoy a sweet dish. A light angel fruit cake topped with ice cream or sorbet will be a sweet but refreshing cool-down for your guests.
- Alternatively, citrus-flavored tarts or coconut macaroons are also good options.
- To go along with the beachside mood, you can keep the drinks tropical and add vodka along with citrus flavors.
5. A DIY Wedding Menu
As a couple preparing your own food, you want the menu suggestions to be as simple as possible and adhere to your budget strictly. If you are preparing all the food yourself, you want menu suggestions that can be made before time, bearing in mind the amount of help you’ll have to prepare the food on the day. Using a cocktail serving style could be a great option to eliminate the need for catering staff.
- Simple cheeseboards with one or two affordable cheeses like cheddar or gouda with fresh bread could be a perfect starter.
- You could also serve pita bread or julienned vegetables with a homemade yogurt dip.
- Sandwiches or a sub with a simple fruit salad are also ideal as they do not require too many ingredients.
- A simple choice to prepare ahead of time and reheat on the day is a roasted protein. So, cooked roast beef, roasted turkey, or even barbecued meatballs are good options that can be frozen after preparation and still retain freshness.
- Add fresh bread, sautéed veggies, or a simple green salad, and you will have pulled off a real wedding entrée.
- For a DIY wedding, you can skip dessert and serve your wedding cake instead; this could be highly cost-effective.
- Alternatively, you can prepare cupcakes for dessert to freeze and then pipe and decorate on the day.
- Affordable wine and beer and lemonade and one or two soda options will be more than enough to satisfy all your guests.
The beauty of all these menu suggestions for popular wedding themes is that they can be made to accommodate any kind of budget. In fact, by having a clearly defined wedding theme, you can cut corners with your menu without it being noticed by your guests. The point is to make everything seem intentional and have a unifying thread running through all the wedding elements. Happy wedding planning!
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