Music. Decor. Food. Weddings are a chance for couples to tell their love story through a sensory experience: a strings cover of their favorite song at the ceremony, centerpieces inspired by a shared hobby, and a menu that captures the flavor of their romance. And since food and beverages are essential for any celebration, overlooking the menu is not an option.
“If we think of designing a menu like you would write a story, your dinner reception will become the centerpiece of your event,” explains Carin Hunt of Celebration Pros.
In the past, wedding menus have been defined by traditional dishes of chicken, beef, and fish. But the rise in personalized wedding details—and dietary restrictions—has transformed the wedding menu as we know it. Today, couples are curating flavor profiles and selecting ingredients that hold special meaning in their relationship.
Sheils reveals that, more than ever, couples are “tying in childhood favorites, menu items they've enjoyed together during travels, or maybe a special meal they shared.”
Other unique ideas include “themeing courses to each year they’ve been together, milestones accomplished, or places they’ve traveled,” Hunt offers.
The secret to a well-tailored menu is to start early and pull the couple into every step of the decision-making process. Here are six tips to craft a menu that perfectly reflects your clients’ personalities, preferences, and passions.
Learn their favorites
If you want to know what gets your couple drooling, start at the source. When it comes to food, it’s common to ask the first question: What do you like to eat? But House of Joy’s Samantha Leenheer argues that telling a story involves more than just preferences.
“Having a chat about their earliest food memories can unlock a connection to how they associate food with a memory,” she explains. “Is it Grandma's blueberry cheesecake pie for every birthday, Dad's smoked pork tenderloin, or cookies at Christmas? Pulling from those memories can give you the building block for a personal wedding menu.”
Storytelling is about creating a sensory experience, so help them plunge back into the flavors, aromas, and people that show up in their favorite culinary memories.
You can also learn a lot about a couple’s taste by “asking them where they love to travel and what they love to do,” says Cathy O’Connell of COJ Events. “Favorite places can spark ideas for menus (New Orleans gumbo), or favorite hobbies can be reflected in part of the wedding menu (campers and s’mores; baseball fans and mini-hotdogs).”
So whether you’re leaning into nostalgia or capturing a shared interest, let your couples show you the way.
Highlight their heritage
Weddings are a time for family, so look for inspiration in your couples’ cultures. After all, you can’t tell a love story without showcasing their backgrounds and how they came together! Get creative with menu items that infuse their family’s traditional cuisine, like Polish pierogies, Moroccan tagine, Greek dolmas, West African Jollof, or Chinese dim sum-inspired hors d’oeuvres.
“It’s time to gear up your game to create dishes representing global flavors at weddings,” says Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy! “Couples from diverse backgrounds would like to see their family backgrounds represented in their menus to acknowledge the family members from various cultures and countries and turn their new families onto the unionized flavors.”
For many, this attention to detail will be just as meaningful to their multicultural guests, who understand the significance behind such dishes.
Bite Catering Couture’s Elizabeth Goel notes that “bringing in elements that reflect each of the underlying families and their journeys often helps tell the story of a couple in ways that engage the attendees as well. These journeys can be reflected in food and make for fun ways to compose a highly personalized menu.”
Of course, some flavors don’t suit every palate, so it’s essential to offer various options for guests. Social Maven’s Syrie Roman emphasizes the importance of “balancing familiarity and adventure.”
“While it’s important to incorporate the couple’s preferences, it’s also necessary to consider the preferences of the guests,” she explains. “Strive for a balance between familiar crowd-pleasers and more adventurous or unique dishes.”
So, as you work on the menu, consult with your clients about their guests’ preferences. Do they enjoy cozy comfort foods? Or do they prefer big flavors with plenty of spices?
“Bring up how the couple wants to handle food substitutions,” encourages Julianne Smith of The Garter Girl. “Be sure to give them choices and various ways to handle it and let them decide ahead of time so no one is scrambling on the wedding day to throw a special meal together.”
It’s vital to include selections to appeal to different spice levels, allergies, and other dietary considerations like vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free. And those dishes shouldn’t be a bland afterthought stationed next to the “main” courses—challenge your team to craft an inclusive menu that doesn’t sacrifice quality or flavor.
Another way to capture your couple’s personalities is simply to look around! Locally sourced foods are healthy and eco-friendly, but they can also represent the couple’s choice to tie the knot in their hometown, current city, or favorite destination.
“Whenever possible, source fresh, seasonal ingredients from specialty farm-to-table purveyors,” encourages Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Events Design and Planning. She suggests focusing on “local ingredients that could add an extra layer of flavor and sophistication to the menu.”
But it doesn’t end with food! Beverages often play an equally important role in a wedding, so consider how to personalize the bar menu beyond signature cocktails.
“You can get very regional with your bar menu and incorporate regionally produced spirits, beers, and wine,” assures Janice Carnevale of Bellwether Events. So, find the nearby microbreweries, distilleries, and vineyards that your clients know and love!
Think beyond flavors
A great wedding meal isn’t solely about what’s on the menu. Remember to factor in how the food's display, presentation, and serving style can elevate the dining experience and influence the celebration’s overall vibe.
“Your couples’ personalities should be reflected in the serving style,” affirms Greg Carlyle of The Millennium Event Center. “A laid-back couple may prefer family-style seating and service or a buffet, while a couple who enjoys luxury will desire beautifully decorated round tables with floor-length linens and tableside service.”
To go the extra mile, Twickenham House and Hall’s Sarah Jobe recommends opting for unconventional elements like food trucks and unique dessert bars. “Not only are alternate meal ideas distinctive and add personality to the wedding, but they are also magnetic and attract the guests with energy and excitement at seeing a new wedding element,” she assures.
And let’s not overlook the power of language! How you describe a dish and its ingredients can add character to the plate—like the difference between a “rich consommé” and “herbal broth.”
“Consider the wording used on the menu,” says Kelley Nudo of Momental Designs. “Customizing the menu with the couple’s names and wedding dates will give a bespoke feel, but consider taking it a step further to use descriptions that are more playful for the fun-loving couple, such as feast instead of entrée or sweets instead of dessert.”
Help your clients with menu descriptions to align with their wedding vibe and personalities so they can share it with their stationer to set the tone for their event’s culinary experience.
For many couples, food is an integral part of their love story. Use your eye for innovation to weave in threads of personality throughout their wedding day with flavors, smells, and serving styles that create a one-of-a-kind celebration.