J and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Five years! One of the things we both remember, and that people still talk about, was the food. Of course, I am biased because it was our wedding, but we all know this isn’t always the case. Lackluster food at weddings is fairly standard. It was important to us to have our menu set the tone for the event and be reflective of our tastes and the backdrop of Vermont. We found ways to meet this goal by saving money in creative ways that didn’t impact the overall casually elegant feel. I hope these tips are helpful to those currently planning weddings and in the midst of looking at pages of menu options.
1. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on a caterer/new venue.
This may sound like a risky tip. Going with inexperience is often the opposite of what you should do in many cases (photographer). We found our caterer through our wedding venue. He had a few enthusiastic references, and was a recent graduate from a prestigious culinary school. His prices were much less than other caterers, but we were still skeptical about going with someone so new. He offered to do a tasting dinner for two, and the food totally convinced us. It was one of the best decisions we made. If you can find someone starting out, with a few excellent references that will let you do a tasting, this may be a good option to pursue. Everyone starts out somewhere!
2. Go Vegetarian!
We aren’t vegetarians, and most of our guest weren’t either. However, we wanted to have choices for the few that were, while offering something a little different and save a bit of money! We had a couple vegetarian appetizers and started with a pumpkin bisque. It was perfect for an early fall wedding, and a little different from the standard salad. There were only two choices for dinner a Cornish Hen or a Vegetable Napoleon. We were surprised how many people chose the vegetarian option and loved it. This brings me to number three…
3. A buffet isn’t is always cheaper.
We, like many couples, were on a budget. I assumed a buffet would be the less expensive option. Our caterer said we could actually do a sit down plated dinner with two choices for about the same cost. We were a little worried about having only two options. When you are planning a wedding, I think there is a tendency to worry about pleasing everyone. So, your uncle is expecting beef? He really will understand that it’s a wedding and not a restaurant…and that’s why there is an open bar!
4. Don’t feel tied to tradition.
I didn’t care about having a wedding cake. Wait, I have a baking and cooking blog, right? Well, I originally had visions of baking the cake or cupcakes. With the out of town location of our wedding, the logistics of that were just not going to work. We had our caterer bake chocolate and vanilla variations of simple cupcakes. They looked cute and tasted really good. We all know many wedding cakes are pretty but sometimes leave a bit to be desired in the taste department. Were cupcakes a trendy choice? Sure, but I really don’t think you need to serve a timeless dessert. Pies or even platters of your favorite cookies would be fun.
We also had s’mores and mini-icecream cups at our rehearsal barbeque. We didn’t do any actual rehearsing, but it was a great chance to allow our families and friends to get to know each other before the wedding. Roasting marshmallows and open flames get people talking.
5. Offer something familiar.
I think people like food they can recognize. This doesn’t mean boring. Sometimes, there is a temptation to impress, and it can fall flat. I was at one lavish party where they served incredible fois gras. Well, not everyone eats fois gras. There were a lot of untouched plates sent back. However, I have seen people devour dressed up versions of pigs in a blanket. The lesson? Yes, it is your wedding, but it is also a party. To please the picky masses, we included flatbread pizza canapes as one of our four passed hors d’ouevre. They were familiar but still looked elegant. When in doubt, make a printed menu for dinner if your venue doesn’t provide one.
I will admit I didn’t go into the planning process blind. I had organized more than a few corporate events and parties. Somehow wedding planning seemed more complicated. I wanted every choice to feel like us…and also be in our budget. Remember to have fun, accept help and enjoy the day!
Wedding Photos by Corey Hendrickson Photography, S’mores photo by my Father-in-Law