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The revolutionized weddings of 2016

Spring is here and wedding booking season is in full swing. The new season also brings new brides, grooms, and a plethora of new wedding trends. These couples have fresh ideas, out-of-the-box requests, and plenty of culinary inclinations to keep caterers on their toes.

Roulade of whole Joyce Farms Chicken (aka, Brick Chicken), Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Bacon Jam with Baby Arugula, Roasted Garlic Aioli and Basil Vinaigrette served with prosecco garnished with fresh berries and purée. Photo: Blue Ridge Catering

Local, small, unique menu options

Among the 2016 trends, which reflect 2015 trends, there seems to be a common theme: local beverages such as craft beer remain popular, as are small portions, plenty of hors d’ oeuvres and most importantly, a unique reception in both menu and décor.

Greg Shapiro, chef and owner of Tastebuds Custom Catering, Inc. in Naples, FL, has noticed some distinct trends arising in the menus of his 2016 weddings. “Couples tend to want themed food stations, small plates, locally sourced seafood, craft bars, pickled foods, progressive plated dinners instead of standard three course menus, and extensive after hours parties.”

These extensive parties often include street-inspired foods, gourmet snacks, and creative beverage options. Trending desserts are often just smaller versions of the originals, and chef Shapiro noted that many include dark chocolate and exotic fruits.

Lisa Epstein, president, and executive vice president Karen Epstein Chioccariello of Encore Catering located in East Hanover, NJ, have also observed this dessert trend. “Passed petite desserts with various mousse cups, homemade mini ice cream pies, and lots of chocolate” are popular choices as well as fewer traditional options such as “Bacon and tomato stations,” the two observed.

Small, culturally diverse bites are in demand now like these lettuce wraps served on vintage plates. Photo: Tara Lilly Photography

Natural, simple décor with personal flair

Epstein and Chioccariello also noted that décor often incorporates “a lot of wood and floral,” even using “wooden food tables with no linen and handmade bars from wood pallets.” Couples are eager to distinguish their wedding from others in addition to imbuing their personalities into every detail of the festivities, from the walk down the aisle to the last dance or drink.

“Cognac/whiskey bars and hand-rolled cigars have been popular at outdoor weddings,” says Epstein and Chioccariello, and other caterers agree.

Hand-rolled cigar bars are becoming increasingly popular at receptions. Photo: Encore Catering.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in cigar and cigar/scotch bars,” remarks Mark Baldwin, owner of Blue Ridge Catering, Inc. in Roanoke, Virginia. Baldwin also observed that crossovers between themes and trends are popular with décor like “Vintage furniture, farm chairs and tables, unique lighting... [and] custom furniture pieces.” In particular, Baldwin has seen couples use bourbon barrels as alternative guest books, and even refurbished doors as an entryway for an outdoor ceremony!

Menus incorporating culture

Couples also are honoring their cultures through their food, whether it be sticking to their Southern roots or highlighting their Korean heritage. Baldwin, whose company is located in the south, sees this regularly.

Baldwin says his 2016 clients enjoy showcasing “local/southern favorites along with any cultural influences they wish to incorporate,” including “variations on southern classics, low country cuisine, Cajun, lettuce wraps, Korean BBQ, taco bars, and chicken and waffles.”

Epstein and Chioccariello are seeing this trend in New Jersey, too, having noted an increase in themed stations based on the couples’ heritage. It looks like this is a nationwide trend here to stay.


Tastebuds Custom Catering, Encore Catering, and Blue Ridge Catering are proud members of the ICA. To learn more about the ICA, visit


International Caterers Association

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