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Love is All Around

Over 40 wedding ideas for you

“You are what you eat” has never been a more apropos adage for the wedding couples of 2016. Where we may have seen location and décor as the hooks to bedazzle guests in past decades, today’s millennials are leaning more than ever on their sophisticated palates to convey their personalities, and tickle the tastebuds of their guests.

Photo courtesy Epting Events

Of course, the rise of food television of all ilk, social media, and the Internet itself has much to do with it. The sharing of unique food items on Pinterest, the draw of a twee dessert bar or a specialty cocktail or two is a way to make the flavors even more memorable than the vows and ceremony. A wedding guest might not remember the “I Do”s by next week, but will no doubt always remember that incredible oyster bar with a trio of mignonettes or those chicken skin chicharrons with the variety of sauces and salts, the heirloom Duroc pork chop, the vegetarian menu so delightful, no one realized until afterward there was no meat or fish.

Because we at Catersource are privy to events and event details, food, beverage, table sets—we spot trends new and ongoing. We get to peek into the lives of couples tying the knot in the deep cold of winter to the bright shining beauty of a spring day. What colors are they using? What food do they prefer? We have those answers.

Take a look at the many ideas in the next few pages. Use them, riff on them, take what you see here and apply it not just for the next wedding proposal, but also for a baby shower or an anniversary celebration. Love is all around. No need to waste it just on weddings, right?

One bite (wedding) wonders

While the photographer gets the last snaps after the ceremony, guests are looking for nibbles, while waiting for the happy couple’s appearance. Here are a few unique ideas to consider.

American caviar and horseradish panna cotta with toasted brioche offers a savory snack that appears dessert-like | Neuman’s Kitchen, New York, NY; Photo: courtesy Neuman’s Kitchen

Yellow tomato consommé triangles with diced red and yellow pepper | Eatertainment Hospitality, Toronto, Canada; Photo: courtesy Eatertainment Hospitality

Caprese tea sandwiches stand out due to the unique heart-shaped mozzarella | 24 Carrots, Irvine, CA; Photo: Studio EMP Inc.

Lobster pogo with wasabi cream | Eatertainment Hospitality, Toronto, Canada; Photo: courtesy Eatertainment Hospitality

Clipboard charcuterie, a novel containment for delicious meats and cheeses | Footer’s Catering, Denver, CO; Photo: D+L Photography

Pot pie grougere with micro sage is served in a unique style atop a twine-wrapped tray holding field daisies | JPC Event Group, Pittsburgh, PA; Photo: Christina Shields Photography

Chicken and waffles is turned on its head with the substitution of duck…and then is enhanced with maple pearls to keep syrup messiness at bay | Food in Bloom Catering, Portland, OR; Photo: Andy Petkus Photography

Macarons—not just for dessert anymore. Tuna tartar is sandwiched between a wasabi macaron | Legendary Events, Atlanta, GA; Photo: Lahcen Boufedji Photography

Raising the (salad) bar

A fresh start, be it greens or vegetables, is a colorful beginning to any meal.

Color blocked salad spread for buffet style serving | Agnus Dei, Montreal, Canada; Photo: Savitri Bastiani

Confit of mixed baby beets, shaved choggia beets, rhubarb gastrique, goat cheese, and candied pistachios | 24 Carrots, Irvine, CA; Photo: courtesy 24 Carrots

Moroccan salad with liquid nitrogen lemon cous cous | Thomas Caterers of Distinction, Indianapolis, IN; Photo: courtesy Thomas Caterers of Distinction

Guests delight over dressing their own salads, and makes serving much easier on staff as well | Purple Onion Catering, Vienna, VA; Photo: ©

Catering a walking reception? Here, celeriac remoulade, shaved fennel, and amaranth offer a colorful and toteable salad | LeBasque Catering, Miami, FL; Photo: courtesy LaBasque Catering

Tempura cauliflower with Romesco sauce, heirloom carrots, and asparagus | JPC Event Group, Pittsburgh, PA; Photo: Christina Shields Photography

Carrots, peas, buttermilk curd, carrot purée, carrot tops, pea tips, and wild rice puffs for a seated meal | FIKA at the American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, MN; Photo: Jon Dahlin

Crafty cocktails & beverages

The wedding beverage triumvirate of wine-beer-coffee has been tossed on its head as of late with the rise of the craft cocktail. Specialty cocktails are nowhere near peaking in popularity; however, as mentioned in recent issues of Catersource, craft beer and cider are also on the rise—which is good, as while cocktails are very much preferred, many venues do not have full liquor licenses. What does a happy couple want? Beverages that speak to their personalities, are special in flavor and appearance, and offer their guests a more intimate look at their preferences.

Champagne in vintage glassware combines with mini popsicles for a sweet and sparkly finish | JPC Event Group, Pittsburgh, PA; Photo: Christina Shields Photography

Pink lemonade cocktail for a late spring wedding | Mazzone Hospitality, Clifton Park, NY; Photo: courtesy Mazzone Hospitality

A beautiful non-alcoholic libation offers a fresh mint infused tea with cotton candy clouds | Zest Cozinha Criativa, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Photo: Rogerio Voltan

Spirit stations are growing in popularity, with couples customizing not just the beverage, but the presentation of the liquor as well | 24 Carrots, Irvine, CA; Photo: Kim Le Photography

House made tea liqueurs are a growing trend in mixology, such as this Earl Grey and blueberry liqueur with an Everclear base made by St. Louis, MO bartender Ted Kilgore. Combine it with champagne or bourbon | Tales of the Cocktail, New Orleans, LA; Photo: Luxco

The “Bitter Mayan” from bartender Neal Ramdhan, won Best Freestyle cocktail at the 2016 Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge in February. Serve this cocktail if you want to be ahead of the cocktail trends; Photo: House of Angostura

Bitter Mayan

45ml Angostura 7 year-old rum
5ml St. Germain
15ml beetroot nectar
15ml fresh lime juice
1 dash Angostura orange bitters
Garnish with ginger beer foam

Ice shake, fine strain into a cocktail glass and top with ginger beer foam


Setting the table

With plated meals on the rise, table settings must be impeccable and elevate the guest experience.

Blue stemware against an herb and plaid themed tablesetting makes great visual impact | JPC Event Group, Pittsburgh, PA; Photo: Christina Shields Photography

Twine wrapped napkins and bright jewel tones | LeCroissant Catering, Salt Lake City, UT; Photo: courtesy LeCroissant Catering

White wedding? White table | Culinary Crafts, Salt Lake City, UT; Photo: Alex Quijano

In an event of hundreds, keeping the tables neat, florals low, and chairs set with comfortable spacing is key to a great guest experience | Mazzone Hospitality, Clifton Park, NY; Photo: Elario Photography

Clear seating disappears, thus pulling the attention to the earthy table sets | LeCroissant Catering, Salt Lake City, UT; Photo: courtesy LeCroissant Catering

The soothing tones of Rose Quartz and Serenity (Pantone’s 2016 Colors of the Year) create a lovely backdrop; dinner menu fits cleverly into the chop plate; Photo: courtesy 24 Carrots

Enter the entrée

The option of chicken or fish is just the tip of the iceberg in today’s wedding entrée requests. Couples are eager to fulfill the litany of dietary restrictions for themselves and their guests, be it gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, nut free, as well as a more pointed emphasis on heritage cooking by way of nationality or twists on the favorites of their formative years. Here’s a look:

A pita pocket station for an October 2015 wedding included braised lamb shank, falafel, and turmeric-grilled cauliflower options with a side of crispy chickpeas | 24 Carrots, Irvine, CA; Photo: Studio EMP Inc.

For a plated meal, cedar plank salmon with frizzled onions and asparagus will please | JPC Event Group, Pittsburgh, PA; Photo: Kelsey Kradel Photography

Food that represents heritage, such as the quintessential Southern specialty, shrimp and grits (thought definitely shown here with a twist), are important to today’s wedding couples | Scranton’s, Pascagoula, MS; Photo: courtesy Scranton’s

Baked fish with corn salsa is garnished with edible flowers and lime wheels | Orange Clove, Singapore; Photo: courtesy Orange Clove

Pink peppercorn crusted filet with beet honey drizzle, fricassee of baby albino beets, Brussels sprouts and potatoes, braised Red Ace greens, and smoked beet salt | 24 Carrots, Irvine, CA; Photo: courtesy 24 Carrots

Dandy desserts

Miniature, totable edibles are here to stay. Consider macarons—they can be made in every color and flavor imaginable and fit perfectly into a palm or perched upon a petite plate. Mason jars filled with banana cream pie, apple crisp, and various puddings with edible flower decorations are still on an upswing; dessert tables offering a selection of sweets for guests will dazzle; and even cookie trays are popular. While you might think that the elaborate wedding cake is going away, we are also seeing movement toward chic, elaborate cakes again. Not necessarily over-the-top in decoration or height, but a three-tier wonder with buttercream icing as well as smaller cakes used for the photo op, paired with smaller cupcakes for the guests is on the rise. As always, a multi selection dessert table, with its varied textures and flavors is a perennial talking point at any event.

Here are some very clever treats Catersource likes the look of.

Cotton candy garnished with edible flowers | Zest Cozinha Criativa, South Africa; Photo: courtesy Zest Cozinha Criativa

Macarons in a variety of colors and flavors are still hot for wedding dessert buffets | Blue Ridge Catering, Inc., Roanoke, VA; Photo: Tara Lilly Photography

Mini grape ice cream cones with lavender sprinkles are a new 2016 dessert creation | Chef Nicholas Waters at Toque Catering, Victoria, British Columbia; Photo: Gwen Ewart Photography

Mini vanilla cannoli is a delicious and tiny treat | Purple Onion, Vienna, VA; Photo: courtesy Purple Onion

Petite s’mores cupcakes (dark chocolate with toasted marshmallow) were served on a dessert buffet with cinnamon sugar topped rice pudding, slices of classic wedding cake, chocolate covered bacon slices, and vanilla bean or chocolate crème brulée served in coffee cups and topped with berries | Forte Belanger, Troy, MI; Photo: courtesy Forte Belanger

Give it away, now

Guest gifts and favors, a thank you from the couple that allows for a remembrance after the festivities have ended, or are fuel for the road, are becoming more opulent and clever. From grab ‘n go snacks to useful, thoughtful products, couples are upping their games.

Oil and vinegar, a match made in heaven | Blue Elephant Catering, Saco, ME; Photo: LAD Photography

At the wedding of lead distiller of Wyoming Whiskey, Sam Mead, 375-liter bottles of his signature product were distributed to all guests upon departure | Wyoming Whiskey, Kirby, WY

Photo: Marshall Miller


Here’s the 2015 Wyoming Whiskey Bartender Shootout winning recipe from Chad Taylor, Zinc Bar @ Amangani, Jackson Hole, WY

1.5 oz Wyoming Whiskey
.5 oz Aperol
.5 oz Apple Brandy
1 oz Sage Honey Tea (3 oz sage tea, 1 tsp honey, lemon zest)
Mix all ingredients in a glass, stir, and garnish with a sage leaf.

A bag of freshly baked cookies and a bottle of milk with a paper straw are artfully arranged to draw the attention of exiting guests | JPC Event Group, Pittsburgh, PA; Photo: Kelsey Kradel Photography

Mason jar pickles and a cheeky message were the takeaways for this Utah-based wedding | LeCroissant Catering, Salt Lake City, UT; Photo: courtesy LeCroissant Catering

A vintage popcorn machine and various seasonings awaited guests, hungry for a snack for the ride home | Catering with a Twist, Round Rock, TX; Photo: courtesy Catering with a Twist




Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource, which includes print and digital content, as well as live education at both Catersource, the Art of Catering Food, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit.