In an age where “foodie” is a well-known term and eaters take post-worthy pics of their meals before digging in, fare has become elevated at events too. Guests love the new and the next. We checked in with top caterers across the nation to gather the latest trending wedding food ideas, and — unlike our favorite fancy restaurants — they delivered! From spirit tasting stations to cheesemongers, here’s our list of current wedding food trends that will wow your friends and family.
More than what we see, taste, or smell, we remember what we do — and, when it comes to wedding cuisine, interactive stations where we can build our own dishes or interact with the chef to customize our plate are most memorable of all. Sarah Kuhlberg, Executive Director, Colette’s Catering & Events, says of the trend, “We love creative food stations right now, especially with seasonal small plates and grazing stations for weddings. The couple can work directly with the chef to build a perfect menu and customize the stations, allowing guests to choose what they want with an array of menu selections to create an amazing progressive dinner-style reception!” Above, we see Colette’s chefs live prepping dishes for guests.
Planner, Jennifer Anderson of Jennifer Anderson Events, adds, “Interactive food stations are a highlight of some of my current celebrations. Whether it be a large s’mores bar with all types of toppings and a sterno-fed fuel source or a custom guacamole station with all kinds of mix-ins, that kind of hands-on, fun food is always a big hit!” One of Anderson’s recent weddings featured a fabulous gelato station from J & L Catering, with self-serve chocolate sauce, creme anglaise, and, of course, whipped cream.
We appreciate when an event offers guests a taste of local flavor — perfectly setting the scene for the event unfolding. Michelle Durpetti of Chicago’s Michelle Durpetti Events, recently planned a gorgeous seaside tented wedding in Winthrop, Massachusetts which featured classic New England fare. She says, “This couple created something so magically unique, starting with their décor and continuing with a good old-fashioned east coast lobster bake. Literally. The fire department oversaw as the caterer cooked lobster — slowly — for hours! It was such fun because guests could see the bake as it was happening.” Durpetti’s team also made sure guests had instructions in case they didn’t know how to “eat their lobsta!”
Elegant Affairs Caterers created a menu which added to the seaside vibe of a recent soirée perched between a swimming pool and the beach. The team curated a mouthwatering array of seafood favorites to include clams, shrimp, and scallops, all beautifully presented for the beachy bash.
Sara Lowell, Event Guru at Sara Renee Events says, “Who says that all weddings all need to have dual entrees? We’re moving away from ‘fish or filet?’ and towards food that tells your story.” Touches like a signature drink inspired by personal preference serve to personalize an event — like “Jennifer’s Favorite Cocktail,” the bride’s choice of jalapeno mojito, offered to guests at a recent fashionable Chicago wedding from the planners at Jennifer Anderson Events.
“Wedding trends are beginning to evolve that couples are looking more and more to truly ‘making it their own’ with foods chosen from where they met, childhood memories, or dishes they like to eat together,” saya Parry of Good Gracious! Events. A recent couple the team worked with was obsessed with white truffles, so much so that they chose a wedding date when truffles were in season. “We served them on ricotta, spinach agnolotti pasta — then again on soft scrambled eggs at their brunch the following day,” says Parry. Another example is a recent groom whose family has a restaurant that makes delectable pies, which the couple served instead of a wedding cake.
Culinary Eye Catering & Events told a couple’s sweet story through a highly personal wedding menu. “One of our goals is to create a special moment for the couple and their friends and family,” says Chef John Silva, the company’s Founder, Sherpa and Chief Visionary. Yearly, the bride’s family celebrated Thanksgiving with their tradition of polenta — cooked and stirred by many hands throughout the day, it was both an activity and a meal. The Culinary Eye team recreated this experience with polenta, prepared on site, at the couple’s celebration.
We’re seeing this trend at engagement celebrations as well — where couples can be a little more playful with food options. For example, at this poolside soirée from the planners at Christina Currie Events, creative food stations were decorated with flair from Indiana University, nodding to where the couple met. Caterer, Truffleberry Market, also curated well-known foods from the couple’s dual hometowns of Los Angeles and Chicago.
This is a trend that (happily) shows no signs of slowing. Minimizing the impact on our environment by reducing food transport costs as well as supporting local farmers has yet another positive result: more flavor. Pauline Parry, Founder President of caterer Good Gracious! Events says, “Couples have simplified their menus to have quality over quantity of choices. They’re very much requesting local, sustainable and seasonal.” Her team delights in utilizing the freshest available ingredients to create innovative wedding cuisine.
Put down the cosmo and sip a fine liquor, served straight up, instead. Parry, of Good Gracious! Events notes that, “Signature cocktail selections are a must and it seems that tequila and whiskey are trending.” We adore the team’s take on the perfect pairing — a cart with a selection of scotches to enjoy alongside fine chocolate truffles. The richness of the two in unison is an inspired combination, and a wonderfully flavorful and creative way to cap a meal.
Presenting mouth-watering cuisine relies on all of the senses, including sight. A popular chef adage recognizes just that, affirming that “we eat first with our eyes.” Creative caterers are taking that idea to the next level, creating what is basically edible art. Chef Drew Swanson of Wolfgang Puck Catering in Dallas used liquid nitrogen to freeze ingredients such as raspberry puree, goat cheese, and citrus. The team “painted” the flavors onto an illuminated table then smashed them into pieces in a playful, artful way, which made for a show with a sweet, filling ending. Swanson adds, “When we are kids, we’re told not to play with our food, but really it can be something beautiful.”
Parry of Good Gracious! Events has noticed the trend as well, noting, “Hosts are requesting a GREAT presentation for plated dinners.” Instagram influencers everywhere send their thanks.
After the party… is the after-party. Even for couples without a planned post-reception blow-out, friends and family want to linger. And after guests have danced off dinner, they’re going to be hungry again. Food trucks to the rescue. Food truck fare is exactly the type of bites guests are looking for as the wee hours of the morning beckon. “After parties are food trucks, pizza from wood ovens and even breakfast style foods like sausage wrapped in bacon/ tater tots, eggs and bacon wrapped burritos,” says Parry of Good Gracious! Events.
We adore the way that Colette’s Catering & Events capped off a super-chic California celebration with a food truck under the stars for partygoers in gowns and suits. And, when it comes to swanky food trucks (yes, they exist) we especially love the pizza truck offering from Chicago’s Trucked Up Catering. It features glass walls so that guests can watch as their pizza slides into the truck’s glowing brick oven — then count the short minutes until they’re enjoying the gooey goodness, right before heading back to the dance floor.
Wedding cakes are not out of fashion — the towering confection tradition continues. But when it comes to what guests actually want to eat, we’re seeing more and more creative dessert stations. For example, Wolfgang Puck Catering in Dallas conjured an entire display of “desserts that rock,” with wordplay that nods to minerals and gems. Regional Executive Pastry Chef, Garry Larduinat and his team pulled inspiration from the venue and used sugar to create cakes split open like glittering ombre geodes, making for an engaging, interesting presentation. “It was easy to see the beauty in the geodes had to shine through at the event and dessert was a no-brainer,” said Larduinat. Rock candy and other agate-inspired treats were on hand as well.
Good Gracious! Events offered another delectable take on an interactive dessert with a selection of oversized chocolate barks. Guests were supplied brass hammers to break off pieces for sampling (and gorging). The team notes success with other iterations of themed dessert stations, like make-your-own ice cream sandwiches, build-your-own gelato sundaes, and “strawberry field” which includes plain and chocolate-dipped berries accompanied by strawberry cookies.
We’re seeing beautiful botanicals everywhere from season-fresh fare to cocktail infusions. We love how Sugar Branch Events suspended florals in mini ice blocks to cool down the wine in the most fashionable way at a summer celebration. The Kitchen for Exploring Foods has aptly named the trend of incorporating edible flowers, etc. into wedding menus, “botanical entertaining.”
Brent Sherman, Creative Director of The Kitchen team, says, “Inspired by the greenhouse setting of lush foliage, exquisite florals, and Mediterranean pottery, The Kitchen sought to focus on the flavors as well as the beauty of Spring at a recent celebration. Having often borrowed the artistry of edible flowers solely for garnish, we wanted to explore using them not just for their visual allure, but for their delicate and nuanced flowers. Combining the floral with other botanical ingredients and using them while fresh and vibrant highlights their glamour. But they can be equally seductive in their dried form, which can intensify both the flavor and color.”
Another trend that has finally — thankfully — hopped the pond from Europe, is incorporating a cheese course into wedding receptions. We’re not talking a slight cheese tray sitting to the side, but an entire array with an expert on hand to guide guests’ palates. At a recent event, Wolfgang Puck Catering in Los Angeles hosted an extensive, but carefully curated, cheese selection for a celebration. VP of Culinary for Wolfgang Puck, Eric Klein, partnered with local cheesemongers for an elaborate display to educate guests on different cheeses and how they’re made. He said, “We’re so lucky to have great relationships with so many local farmers and producers that it’s exciting to find ways to bring them directly to our guests.”
They had an expert cheesemonger on hand to suggest pairings and discuss flavor profiles. Meanwhile, over in Vail, Colorado, the planners at Emily Clarke Events, offered a stacked wheels of cheese as a chic alternative to a traditional tiered cake at a mountain celebration.
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