8 Ways to Marry Your Menu to Your Wedding Theme

Whether you’re planning a big, festive concept or your theme is merely “elegance,” make sure the food reflects the day’s vibe.

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An Extra-Special Menu

At your wedding, your food and drinks don’t just fuel the party; they also provide an opportunity to inject personality and style into your reception. Taking cues from your palate is a given, but to really make your menu stand out, look to your wedding’s overall theme for inspiration.

Consider the Mood

Even if you don’t have a theme per se, you’ve certainly thought about how you want your wedding day to feel. Will it be formal or casual? Classic or offbeat? Use your chosen vibe as a guideline for your menu. Barbecue might be great for a backyard reception, but could feel a little messy for a black-tie affair.

Of course, we love a clever exception to any rule, and you might have the most fun with your food if you embrace an unexpected juxtaposition. For instance, a late-night snack of sliders and fries might not feel formal, but it might be just the surprise your guests crave.

Take Cues from Your Setting

Your venue and its locale can help dictate your decor and your menu. For a vineyard celebration, you might offer wine pairings with each course. Planning to get hitched on the beach? Seafood is a natural fit. Or simply embrace regional specialties for instant authenticity — your guests will be excited to enjoy Philly cheesesteaks, Maryland crab cakes, Georgia peach pies or any other famous local flavor.

Start on a Thoughtful Note

Set the mood from the get-go by treating guests to pre-ceremony sips and snacks. Infused waters, tart lemonade and iced tea are perfect for summer soirees, while hot cocoa and mulled cider make great additions to fall and winter celebrations. For something with a bit more of a glam factor, pop champagne, or offer a signature cocktail or two.

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Craft Creative Cocktails

Since many classic mixed drinks have a storied past, offer a signature cocktail with a theme-appropriate origin. Serve up stylish sips with mid-century flair, like the dirty martini or the Manhattan, for a retro-glam party. Or, offer a tequila bar for a Mexican-style fiesta.

Go Global

Whether you’ve planned a destination wedding or just feel inspired by a memorable trip, you can share your experience with your guests by offering food and drinks that remind you of your favorite travel adventures. Specialty dishes or spices can take guests on a culinary trip around the globe. If you go this route, your choice of caterer is key. Work with a vendor who has experience with global cuisines or is willing (and excited) to try something new.

Get Festive

If you’re planning on getting hitched around a holiday — Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, Christmas or even Halloween — get into the spirit with your menu. Trade traditional wedding cake for seasonal pies, kick off cocktail hour with blood orange margaritas, or treat guests to a mashed potato bar.

Pay Tribute to Your Roots

Many couples choose to incorporate cultural traditions into their ceremonies, but you can celebrate your heritage at the reception, too. Ask your caterer to re-create a beloved family recipe for dinner, serve a dish that’s iconic to your cultural background or do both.

Stay Local and Seasonal

If none of the previous themes really fits your big day, turn to the here and now when looking for menu inspiration. Have your caterer create a menu around the freshest ingredients available seasonally and source as much food from local farmers and producers as possible. The flavor (and your guests’ pleasant reactions) will be well worth the effort.