They say people will remember three things from every wedding: The bride’s dress, the music and if the food was good. While your menu is often determined by the venue you chose, it’s still an important aspect of your wedding planning process, and while you may not have a huge amount of wiggle room, your menu, drinks and snacks can still reflect your style.
Food for thought
While you likely wouldn’t book a venue that includes catering without first checking the menu, it’s important to make sure you look everything over before you sign your contract, and this includes getting a full breakdown of what you’re paying for food and drink-wise. Most banquet halls (if that’s the route you’re going) have a few cuisine options, though likely one of the most popular ones is going to be a basic appetizer-pasta-salad-meat combo that is generally a people-pleaser, if not a bit safe. If you’re really not sure what it’s going to taste like and you’re interested in getting a bit creative with the food, request your taste-test a bit earlier than you normally would (for us, our taste-test is in January for our July nuptials), but at least that way you have more than enough time to tweak the menu and save up any extra cash you may need. This may go without saying, but you should also make sure your venue can accommodate dietary restrictions like celiac disease or vegetarians. Some halls are okay with preparing a handful of these meals for on-the-day requests, but you’ll likely need to include some form of dietary restriction meal request on your invitations ahead of time (learned this the hard way).
Meet you at the (open) bar
I’m going to say this even though I’m running the risk of everyone hating me: if you aren’t doing open bar, why are you having a wedding? While it’s often the pricier option, it’s also the best option because when your guests are coming to celebrate you and your day, shelling out money for transportation, accommodations, new attire and, of course, a gift, they don’t want to have to watch their cash at the bar, too. This isn’t the club. If money is tight, consider cutting back in other ways (like flowers) or try to negotiate with your venue for a more basic bar offering that is unlimited (instead of going for the premium vodka). Your guests will absolutely remember (and secretly hate you) if you do a cash bar. If you want to get super fancy, consider opting for a signature drink that can be passed around during cocktail hour or made throughout the night! Something that highlights both of you in one bevvie, or put signs by the bar showing what the bride’s and groom’s faves are. Not sure where to start with the drinks? This “ultimate signature cocktail finder” is actually pretty comprehensive and has everything from cocktails to shots, including some old faithfuls (hello, margaritas!). If you want to make it extra special, ask your venue to help you personalize it a bit more and give it a fun name that represents you (for us, Kowapizzis!).
Let them eat cake
According to the internet and the lovely lady doing my wedding cake, you only need to account for cake for about half of your guests (especially if your meal includes dessert and other assorted sweets, like many do). Most cake companies just need your rough guest count and will help you choose the size, but you want to make sure you mention that you’re going to save the top tier of your cake for your one year anniversary. What about cupcakes, you ask? Well, that’s entirely up to you. If you have issues sharing and want everyone to have their own personal mini cake, then do you! This is your day! Just please, please, can we stop with the red velvet? As far as design goes, this all goes back to your own personal style. You can look at Pinterest (duh), but once you have a rough idea of what you want, let your cake person have some creative freedom. You’re paying them for their artistry and baking magic, so let them have some fun with it, too.
You know when the drinks have started to hit, dessert has long since passed, but everyone is still cutting a rug (do people still say that?)? Time for some snacks. While I’ve seen some very elaborate midnight snack bars (like that time there was a full seafood bar or sandwiches), you don’t need to go crazy if you’re planning on a budget. Consider something like candy (but throw in some carby stuff like pretzels) with you and your new hubby’s faves (ALL OF THE NIBS, PLEASE) for your guests to munch on in between bad dance moves. If you want to get really creative and go a little nuts (because, why not?) hot stations that offer up poutine and mini sliders are always a good idea and your not-so-sober guests will thank you for it the next day.
The Wedding Planner is an ongoing series where we give you some real-life wedding planning advice, from finding the dress to dealing with that ever-growing guest list, over the next few months as we figure it out ourselves.