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How to Plan Food For Your Wedding

Food is yet another large part of the planning process for your big day. But where should you start and what questions should you be asking?? Below are a few of the most commonly asked food questions to help get the ball rolling or to put the final touches on whatever you're planning.

Whether you're just starting to plan for your wedding or the big day is right around the corner, knowing the ins and outs of your menu and catering service are going to give you the peace of mind to really sit back and enjoy everything.


What are the different styles of wedding catering?

There are four main types, these are the differences below:

  1. Plated dinners → the most expensive and traditional form of wedding food. When you think of a classic wedding, this is definitely what comes to mind. Often guests have a choice between two or three entree options (fish, beef, or vegetarian) and waiters and waitresses deliver these meals to each individual guest.

  2. Buffet → This style is significantly cheaper but also more casual for guests. With this option, guests can help themselves to buffet-style options. The fact that guests can decide how much to serve themselves likely means that you will cut costs with the high amounts of food waste that comes with plated dinner options.

  3. Family-style → This is the most casual option but also the most chaotic, meaning that it's best suited for smaller weddings with smaller table sizes. Imagine you’re at a Chinese restaurant with your family passing around plates of food and you’ve nailed the image of the family-style option.

  4. Cocktail style → The last is the cocktail style option which is significantly cheaper than the plated dinners, less casual than the buffet and family-style options, and much more modern. The word you’ve probably all heard associated with this style is: h’ors d’oevures (small, savory, dishes) served in the place of full meals.

How do I know how much food to get for my wedding?

A good rule of thumb is:

  1. Meat or main entree: 6-8 ounce servings per guest. If you are serving more than one meat dish/entree, reduce it to 4-6 ounces each.

  2. Side dishes: 4-6 ounce servings per person if offering three side dishes.

  3. Fruit: 1 cup per person.

  4. Salad: 1 cup per person.

  5. Bread/rolls: 1 1/2-2 per guest.

  6. Dessert: One piece of cake per person.

What is the cheapest food to serve at a wedding?

You may be asking yourself this because having to feed however many guests you’re having at your wedding is bound to be expensive. To save some money on food choices, think about what foods are just generally least expensive and try to incorporate these into your big day in a fun and creative way. All the following foods are pretty filling as well, so if you decide to mix any of these into your menu, guests are likely to fill up fast meaning less food overall:

  • Eggs: Deviled eggs

  • Peanut butter: Gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pad thai, peanut butter + chocolate + oat bars, peanut butter and banana crepes (with Nutella)

  • Pasta: Stuffed shells, simple olive oil, and veggie pasta, red sauce pasta, carbonara (get those eggs in there too!)

  • Bananas: anything with peanut butter, banana smoothies in small cups, banana foster

  • Potatoes: roasted potatoes, french fry bar, mashed potatoes with veggies and a little meat, potato salad cups

  • Canned tuna: Tuna cake sliders (yes this sounds gross but is actually AMAZING)

  • Bread: breadsticks, bruschetta bar

Is a buffet wedding tacky?

  • Absolutely not! Yes, it is definitely more affordable than plated entrees, but it can also be a lot more fun and give your wedding a laid-back feel. A buffet wedding might have a connotation of feeling tacky only because in some social groups a plated entree meal is what is expected at the, often traditional style, wedding. So, if you’re not having a traditional wedding or don’t have a nagging social group that you think is going to ruin your day with their judgment about your decision to choose a buffet-style caterer - go for it! And if you're looking to cut costs and think you're other stylistic choices (like your music) would mesh well with a more laid-back dining option, then a buffet style will be perfect!

What is the cheapest food style to cater?

  • It all depends on your caterer, but most likely it will be the family-style or buffet-style. This is because guests can help themselves to their own food depending on how hungry they are and there aren’t the added costs of having to pay for a million servers to bring the food to each individual wedding guest. Also, the choices at family-style and buffet-style dinners are just generally cheaper (and more fun) than those served as plated entrees.

What should you not serve at a wedding?

  • Only meat or only veggies

    • Maybe you’re a big meat eater or maybe your a hard-core vegetarian/vegan, but it's pretty likely that not everyone at your wedding is going to have the same strong food preferences as you. That’s why making sure to keep some variety with veggies and meats is key to keeping your guests full and happy.

  • Food that is overly complicated

    • The spotlight should be on you and your partner for your big day. As appealing as having flaming pears or freshly made guacamole made in front of each table, it’s bound to take away from big moments and even cause a little chaos if your wedding is large enough. It’s just hard to coordinate each table getting each course prepared right next to them at the same time. If your wedding is smaller it may in fact be possible.

  • Raw food

    • Okay, this one is obvious, but still, it can happen. Make sure that your caterer knows what they’re doing in terms of serving raw foods. If you’ve decided to go with a menu that serves raw seafood, it’s best to really consider whether your caterer knows the ins and outs, of say Maine oysters. The last thing you want is for your guests to start getting sick on the dancefloor...

  • An eight-course menu

    • At some point, the elegance and classiness of your complex menu will turn into chaos and trouble. No vendor is good enough to successfully coordinate an eight-course meal (not unless you’re really looking to fork out the money). Probably after the fifth course, food is going to start coming out cold, late, raw, or overdone. The quality of your food is likely to decrease as the complexity of your menu increases. Also, having an eight-course meal means that your guests are likely to just be downright tired by the time they get to the eight-course. That’s not fun for anyone. As a good rule of thumb, try to keep the menu to three courses to allow for a good dining-to-dancing ratio.

  • Only adventurous menu items

    • You and your partner might be jet-setting, traveling extraordinares but not everyone will have the same knack for adventure that you do! You both may love octopus and escargot, but it's likely that most of your guests will want to play it safer when it comes to their food choices. At least that’s what you should plan for. If there are kids at your wedding, then having comforting and straightforward food will be the safest bet for them.

  • Only typical wedding foods

    • It’s your big day, so definitely do try to incorporate your unique flair into picking your menu. Having generic food will turn out great, but make sure that you really love what you’re serving too.

What questions should I ask my wedding caterer?

  • Have you ever catered a wedding at my venue before?

  • Do you also offer vendor meals?

  • Will you supply flatware and glassware?

  • Do you supply drinks and dessert/cake?

  • Is there a way to cut the cost?

  • What’s the most popular option you serve?

  • Do you offer options for guests with dietary restrictions?

  • Is the menu set or can we pick and choose what we’d like?

  • Are there options for guests to choose from?

  • Which catering styles do you offer?


Okay, that's it! It's a lot for sure, especially if you're expecting a ton of people at your wedding, but it should be so fun to create the menu for the best day of your life! If it's not, never forget that you can always (keep things simpler) and elope!


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