Getting Inventive with Wedding Dining

Dreaming up the perfect menu for your wedding or party should be an experience in itself. We just love when our clients get as excited about creating their own restaurants, of sorts, for their guests, as we do. With endless possibilities for creativity, delicious foods and drinks and local flair, the dining element should truly be an experience for you and your guests.

We were recently chatting with our clients about coming up with an inventive, locally inspired {we’re talking Pacific Northwest fare} menu and dining experience for their clients, and they had a lot of feedback in regards to the dreaded line.

There’s a fine line between a well-thought out buffet and one where guests are standing. Lingering. Waiting. Hungry. You know us; we love to get ultra creative with our events, so recently we staged pre-set light fare plates {appetizers or amuse buche, if you will} on each table to welcome guests. The scoop: while the first round of guests were filing through the stations and buffet, the second group got to enjoy some nibbles and didn’t feel so left out {we kept the fare so light the first round could enjoy, too}. Brilliant? We kind of thought so.

License to Still Photography for Valley & Co.

Ready for more? Feel free to borrow our ideas to create your own ultimate wedding dining experience:

1. greet, greet, greet! Greet guests at your ceremony with something delicious, yet simple {sparkling lemonade, water with frozen berries or a little bite of fresh fruit or cones of some local trail mix packaged sweetly should do}.

2. don’t leave them hungry. Seems obvious, right? You’d be surprised at how many couples are interested in trimming out appetizers during cocktail hour. Keep in mind your guests have been away from home much of the day. Take the step to give them something to bite on. It needn’t be elaborate or decadent, but do offer something during this expected grazing time.

3. welcome guests to the table with a bite. This can be fresh fruit or cheese {though we like this apres-dinner, too} or something that’s perhaps a little introductory to your menu, or completely different like smoked salmon mousse or leek tarts that guests can share. What you’re doing is indicating quite the extraordinary experience to come.

4. devise a creative layout so you’ve created a delicious menu but your guests had to wait in line for 30 minute to enjoy it. Guess what they’ll likely remember? Think outside the box and break apart the style of service you offer. Perhaps serve salad at the table, offer stations with servers and bring dessert to the table yet again. Mix and match service styles to set and maintain a nice flow.

5. round out the meal with something unexpected and awesome to the palate. At last month’s amazing dinner in a field bash, guests ENDED the meal with the above plate of fresh goodness, brought to the table family-style by table captains. The fare: roasted beets, agrodolce {a creamy goat’s cheese}, a drizzle of honey and fresh blackberries and nectarines, oh my! Talk about a scrumptious and creative dessert. Not only do guests love something different, but it won’t pull them away to a dessert display in another corridor or outside of where other events will take place.

6. be wary of too many stations. We’re fans of having stations in lieu of one long buffet, but know that if they’re too spread out guests can just end up waiting and waiting while their food gets cold. So have a central buffet with cold goods {like salads or crudites and assorted breads and cheeses}, and then have a separate station for carving or a seafood bar. A happy medium right there!

5. don’t short yourself on service. that’s half of the dining experience right there! talk to you caterer about bringing in their sommelier, an expert carver or someone who can put on a show. Likely the cost is the same as a server but they’ll bring something extra special to the table {literally}. We’ve had chefs come and greet diners and explain seasonal and local menus, sommeliers pour wine table side and dessert carts roll out via the pastry chef.

6. deconstruct. Rather different? Yes. Creative? Absolutely! That deconstructed dessert salad we mentioned was possibly the biggest food hit we’ve had in ages. The guests loved having to do a little work by putting together their own menu with these scrumptious ingredients.

All it takes is some inventiveness!


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