Catersource is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

‘Tis the Season… For Engagements: Prep Your 2023 Wedding Season Strategy Now

Did you know that 26% of all engagements happen in the months of December and January? The holiday season sparks joy, happiness and a whole lotta love! So, those wedding inquiries are going to start filling up your inbox very soon!

This past year, Zola found that couples are splurging on their catering experiences, embracing upgrades and enhancements and adding fun little extras like whiskey tastings. It’s no longer a cookie-cutter celebration with a filet plated meal and a tiered cake. While we love tradition, the way you’re going to land more wedding business in the next year is by offering inventive extras and ingenious, interactive menus that can’t be ignored.

Naturally, we have a few International Caterers Association members who are mastering the art of innovation when it comes to weddings and remixing what’s considered “traditional.” Today, we’re featuring a few CATIE Award-winning celebrations to spark a little bit of inspiration to get your 2023 wedding planning packages rolling.  

Photo courtesy the JDK Group

"Pastoral Paradise" by The JDK Group - Winner 

Our CATIE Award winner for Best Catered Wedding this year was an experience crafted by The JDK Group. They effortlessly transformed the couple’s estate into a literal paradise destination for a group of well-traveled international guests. The couple’s number one request was that the guests have distinct flavors on every plate, with opportunities to indulge throughout the celebration, literally from start to finish. 

Photo courtesy the JDK Group

Upon arrival, guests received champagne and citrus infused water and were welcomed by a lemon drop Jell-O shot pipette boxwood wall installation. This was complemented by four small-bite hors d’oeuvres before the ceremony began. Immediately following the ceremony, eight more hors d’oeuvres hit the scene, from honey habanero seared sea scallops to chicken and waffle bites to miniature BLTs with fried green tomatoes. There was also a luxe raw bar with specialty Russian caviar the family asked them to source.

Then, to give guests more variety for dinner, they opted for five fully composed, small plate stations including roasted pheasant and grilled bison medallions alongside more traditional menu items of pan seared Chilean sea bass and chicken tikka masala tacos. But it didn’t end there. Dessert was warm, individual cookie and brownie skillets. And to conclude the evening, after dancing the night away, guests indulged in a gourmet grilled cheese station with two types of soups and a pickle station featuring over six different types of pickles. Why pickles? They’re the bride’s favorite. It’s so crucial to customize based upon the couple’s favorite things! 

Photo courtesy the JDK Group

An incredible culinary experience was served up, each dish more impressive than the last. While the plates themselves were diverse, to tie the theme of the wedding into the entire menu, each dish was served atop a gorgeous collection of gold, glass and mirror serving vessels to align with the aesthetic.

"Thomas Wedding" by Partyman Catering - Finalist

Speaking of personalizing for couple’s interests and passions, our next finalist did just that as well. But it was a bit trickier, because the couple requested a totally blind menu. Now, this may sound non-traditional, but the groom was Partyman Catering’s executive chef, and he trusted his team. He, his wife, and their guests got the most delicious surprises all night long with a Land & Sea themed menu. The team’s goal was to honor the couple’s passion for the outdoors and all things fishing and hunting. 

Photo courtesy Partyman Catering

The highlight was an interactive “Bobbing for Ramen” bar that took a typical station to the next level. Held in a galvanized tub with water to temperature, guests fished out their own ramen bowls with strainers. They then moved along to the toppings bar and added all the fixings like duck, shrimp, veggies galore, and more! 

Beyond the ramen, though, there was another super special touch we’d be remiss not to mention. The groom’s mother worked with the team to bring her family cookie recipes to the masses for dessert. They baked fourteen different kinds of cookies, each with the signature family recipe the groom grew up baking. How sweet is that?

The creativity in each facet of the design and cuisine was so intrinsically designed to exude the couple’s story and personality.

"Rustic Elegance" by Simply Fresh Events - Finalist

The devil is in the details, they say!  

Photo courtesy Simply Fresh Events

This Simply Fresh Events’ couple’s priority was for guests to walk in and immediately be stunned by the incredible beauty of the venue. The designers transformed the Bluebird Manor to enhance the natural features of this gorgeous historic building. 

So, how did they do it? A delightful combination of ethereal linens, draping, an assortment of candles and lighting features, along with an impeccable collection of hanging flower boxes and lush greenery. The lighting hung from rafters was pointed directly at each table’s centerpiece, but set to a lower setting—just enough to draw attention to the beautifully constructed floral centerpiece. Placement and direction make all the difference! Beyond that, they draped white linens between rafters. This added texture and depth and doubled as a way to cover the “less appealing to the eye” structure of the roof. 

Photo courtesy Simply Fresh Events

The menu was just as artfully designed as the decor, featuring the couple’s favorites like mini crab cakes, manchego crostini with fig jam, poke wonton tacos, a mobile sushi bar, and more. After a duo entree featuring filet mignon and miso glazed sea bass, guests were treated to a sweet ending. The dessert bar offered a selection of pumpkin cheesecake dessert shots, chocolate mousse dessert shots, apple pie tarts, seasonal fruit tarts, chocolate dipped strawberries, and double chocolate brownies.

Talk about inspiration in both menu and design! 


International Caterers Association

For motivated caterers, International Caterers Association is a resource that provides Education, encourages peer to peer Relationships and Inspires creativity while embracing all segments of the catering industry. For more information, visit