What do guests look forward to the most at a wedding? (Aside from celebrating you and your partner’s everlasting love, of course.) Your food and beverage offerings! A good meal and a solid drinks program is a crucial planning pillar for any celebration. But this doesn’t always mean a sit-down, formal affair that’s become a staple of wedding receptions. In fact, today, more and more couples are selecting unconventional options in lieu of plated dinners and towering cakes.
In 2023, there are more choices than ever when it comes to what you serve your guests – or what they serve themselves. From build-your-own margarita stations and mashed potato bars, you can get as adventurous as you desire, and chances are, your guests will remember you for it. Here, Walters Wedding Specialists weigh in on some of the most exciting food and beverage trends they’ve been seeing in the industry – and how to put your own spin on them.
1. Unique Food and Beverage Stations
In addition to your typical buffet-style or plated service, consider adding thoughtfully planned food stations, which offer guests a more extensive range of items within a particular category. “For example, couples can select from different ones such as a mashed potato station or a fried rice station,” Walters Wedding Specialists say. “It’s a fun twist for their guests to personalize what they want.”
While buffets typically feature long tables, culinary stations can be placed all around the room, each boasting a different theme and interactive elements. And it’s not limited to food, either. As an enhancement to the traditional bar format, you can offer up a build-your-own cocktail station, with various drinks and garnish options. Guests can select what they like, and a mixologist can stir, shake, and mix it all together.
2. Late-Night Snacks
Who said the food has to stop after everyone’s on the dancefloor? After moving and grooving for hours, your guests are going to need some sustenance, and some tray-passed late-night nibbles will ensure they keep their energy levels up. “We’ve been loving late-night offerings like our honey-butter chicken biscuit,” Walters Wedding Specialists say. “This is a fun treat typically towards the end of the night for guests to have after they’ve danced the night away!”
Some other fun ways to keep the party going: putting together a street taco bar (complete with lime wedges, cilantro, pickled veggies, and all the trimmings), serving up quesadillas, and passing along bite-sized handhelds like sliders. Alternatively, offer them individually wrapped treats to take home at the end of a long day. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
3. Grazing Tables
“Another really fun food trend we have been seeing is grazing tables,” Walters Wedding Specialists say. “Charcuterie boards have been all the rage these days, which is why we love the trend of grazing tables!” What are grazing tables and how are they different from your typical charcuterie board, you ask? As Walters Wedding Specialists put it: “They are basically very large charcuterie boards that your guests can snack on between the ceremony and reception time.”
Bonus point: They can be as big of a feast for the eyes as they are for the appetite. When done right, grazing tables can become one of the most aesthetically pleasing spreads at your wedding. Leave it up to the professionals to orchestrate a beautiful scene with tiers and tiers of bread and an assortment of specialty cheeses and meats. Cascading fresh fruits add depth of flavor as well as an element of color, while providing guests with something sweet to nibble on.
4. Dessert Tables
Towering, multi-tiered wedding cakes are still a wedding staple – but this doesn’t mean they’re the only option on the menu. Some couples are selecting dessert tables as an alternative (or addition!) to the classic wedding cake, offering guests a wide variety of flavors to choose from. When displayed correctly (read: beautifully), they can also end up being one of the focal points of your reception.
For example, if you’re fond of cupcakes, you can organize a table full of these portable treats in different flavors and colors. Love cookies? Ask The Jenny Layne Bakery at Walters Wedding Estates’ Texas venues to stack different types of cookies in an aesthetically pleasing cookie tower. Incorporate cake pops, small pastries, mini pies, or cheesecake bites. There are endless possibilities and ways to personalize your dessert offerings.
5. Cocktails With a Flair
Today, there’s more artistry involved with cocktails than ever before. Cocktail culture has evolved from simple libations to highly visual and one-of-a-kind experiences. Whether you and your partner are novice enthusiasts or seasoned home bartenders, a good way to show your love for the art of mixology is by setting up unique, bespoke experiences that go beyond the basics.
If your venue space allows it, plan out a dedicated cocktail lounge where guests can kick back and enjoy a few inventive drinks between ceremony and reception times. Offer up a short-but-sweet list of signature drinks with fun and personalized names. From smoke-infused and chilled libations to eye-catching glassware, you can offer your guests a sipping experience they’ll remember for years. Most importantly, whatever trend you decide to adopt for your big day, make sure that you have fun with it!