By Christine Boulton, owner of www.thinklikeabride.com
It is a well-known fact that your wedding reception is the largest single expense you will encounter in your wedding budget. The sad thing is that the food is usually mediocre at best. What is a girl to do?
Every bride wants to wow her guests and many try to do it with the food. That is a wonderful thought but the realities of catering for large groups don’t always allow for as much creativity as ordering in a restaurant does. The simple premise that you are trying to please a diverse group of tastes and restrictions in and of itself is limiting. In today’s hypervigilant atmosphere you have to do things like stay away from peanuts and offer something for the vegetarians. That doesn’t even begin to address your vegan or kosher friends. How are you to cope with all this and still express you personality in your food?
First and foremost, keep it simple. There are different parameters for quantity cooking and most times simplicity is the key. You have your heart set on that wonderful Charleston-style shrimp and grits that you and the boy bonded over during months worth of Sunday brunches — it just may not translate into 200 servings. The grits will get gummy, and the shrimp will turn into pencil erasers by the time everyone is served.
Rather than selecting specific dishes, think in terms of “flavor profiles." Think about the type of cuisine you want to share with your guests — Southern, Italian or Thai are just a few examples — then discuss with your caterer what you love about that cuisine and tell them about some of your favorite dishes. Having done that, step back and let them make their own kind of magic. They will know what will be in season at the time of your wedding and what types of dishes will present best with your guest count and type of service. From there they will write you a menu of choices from which to select.
So often couples try to think up over the top entrees to avoid the ‘rubber chicken’ syndrome when in fact it is the more complex choices that end up going badly. The simpler the dish the more easily it will translate into large numbers. Remember that food for the masses is not cooked to order like your favorite restaurant treats. Trust your caterer to have the know-how to put together a menu that will be fresh, seasonal, doable and utterly delicious.
In the end, your friends and family are there to celebrate with you, not just have a great meal. On this day more than any other it is the people that make the party. So relax, plan an easy menu and enjoy the day.
Christine Boulton has been a professional in the wedding industry for more than 20 years. She is the owner of www.thinklikeabride.com and currently serves as a marketing consultant to some of the industry’s largest vendors. Christine, who is known for her never-ending stream of research and always knowing and understanding what brides want, is published regularly in this and various other magazines and blogs.