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Surprise and Delight: Late Night Menus

The concept of surprise and delight started in the business world as a way to engage customers and stand out among competitors. Within the world of events, it has gained popularity over the last few years as hosts have searched for ways to creatively customize the guest experience.

One way to incorporate the element of surprise and delight in your events is through memorable late night menus. Choose unusual and fun food combinations for weddings or celebrations that hold significance to the hosts and foster a connection with guests on a personal level. Late night menus give you an opportunity to think way outside of the proverbial box and take your events to entirely new levels.

Photo courtesy Sunshower Photography –

Choose something personal

Late night menus usually have the vibe of bar food, but that doesn’t mean that your only option is serving sliders. In fact, when the food selection is unique to the client, it is more fun for everyone—especially guests. We once featured cereal as a passed snack at a wedding because the groom was known for eating it every night. The guests loved it.

Photo courtesy Stephanie Yonce Photography –

The more personal a late night snack is to the celebration, the better it will be received.

Have a couple who spent their courtship in a favorite coffee shop? Serve café au lait shots with a beignet or donut. Does your client hail from the Windy City? We once flew in real Chicago deep dish pizza for a client! Guests were amazed when we served it late that night.

Photo courtesy Sunshower Photography –

Late night options

Anything can be served as a late night snack: French fry boats with toppings, grilled cheese sandwiches with shooters, milkshakes, or tacos with avocado fries. Lucky Dog Carts are popular in New Orleans. We feature these hot dogs frequently so guests get a taste of the city and culture. Look for personal details about your clients’ favorite foods from childhood, or family staples and then use these as your inspiration.

“Make sure to serve late-night snacks about 30 minutes to an hour before departure. Space them out well after the cake cutting at a birthday or wedding or dessert at any other celebration.”

Prioritize presentation

A great idea falls flat when you serve it on a plain tray and a standard white table cloth. You can be as creative with presentation as you are with the food choices. Present foods on sticks, in ballpark boats. Have a food truck come to your site and serve small portions. Pass them via a waiter who shares the story with each guest. Have a cart wheeled around for guest engagement.

Grab and go stations are fun and convenient for late night snacks meant to be taken for the road—pack to-go bags or containers so guests can grab them as they leave. Ultimately, you should avoid making your surprise a standard station as it could be easily missed.

Make sure to serve late-night snacks about 30 minutes to an hour before departure. Space them out well after the cake cutting at a birthday or wedding or dessert at any other celebration.

In New Orleans, late-night snacks are a popular surprise-and-delight addition as guests generally leave events on their way to an after party. You don’t have to be in NOLA to keep the party going, though! Start by incorporating a late-night snack during your next event and help your clients keep their celebration alive!

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Emily Sullivan

Owner, Emily Sullivan Events

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.