Top Wedding Food & Drinks to Include in Your Italian Wedding Menu

Caution: decadent, mouthwatering pictures ahead – you may want to immediately indulge in Italian food

Let’s be real here. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes, and imagine yourself traveling to attend a destination wedding – a destination wedding in Italy nonetheless – what would you be looking forward to?
Yes you guessed right! Sightseeing, shopping, the wedding party and of course, Italian Food!!
We don’t want to pressure you here but choosing the right Italian wedding caterer and creating the perfect (and delicious) Italian wedding reception menu is a MUST for a destination wedding in Italy!

According to your wedding’s style and theme, you will be able to choose your wedding reception meal style. Will it be a buffet-style or sit-down dinner? Are you thinking more of an Italian banquet style or a formal plated dinner? What about self-serve stations? WedBoard’s mission is to help you plan your destination wedding in Italy in every aspect. So we will be helping you dive deeper into topics like how to choose your wedding caterer in Italy and which meal style you should go for in different articles (yey!).

photo courtesy of Alex Paul Photography

In this article, we will tackle wedding reception menus and the Italian Food & Drink staples you must include in your wedding!

photo courtesy of BrindApino

Some important recommendations before you start planning your Italian wedding menu:

Italy is famous for many beautiful things, including gastronomy: a leading world favorite. Can you even name one person who doesn’t love pizza or pasta? Classics!
But Italian gastronomy is so much more than this. It is rich, diverse and each region has its own specialty. Formaggio, cured meats, bread, meat cuts, desserts, and sweets…Even Coffee…And Italian Gelato…And traditional candies… You get it, there are SO MANY delicious and unmissable options to select from and to include in your wedding menu (Can we please join you in the tasting part?).
So we highly recommend that you try to incorporate in your wedding menu the regional specialty of your Italian wedding location in order to complete the memorable culinary experience for your guests.

When choosing your wedding menu, many factors should be taken into consideration, especially these days. We all have that vegan friend, the allergic-to-nuts aunt…but worry not! You don’t need to plan your menu with every guest’s diet in mind. Especially when you have such a diverse gastronomy. Everyone will find something (quite delicious) to eat!
Just ask your guests to specify any (important/serious) dietary restriction, and communicate it to your caterer who will be happy to tailor a plate for them (making sure you inform your wedding caterer ahead of time).
After all, no matter how beautiful the wedding décor is, the success of your wedding day relies on details and the littlest attention and smallest gestures will go a long way.

Menu design and photo courtesy of Officina dei Matrimoni

Another thing to consider: food can also be used as part of your wedding décor. Especially typical regional or local Italian produce. An Amalfi coast wedding for example is not complete without lemons here and there! Even for your wedding bar, just throw in some plump red tomatoes and bowls of stuffed green olives, and there you go!

This recommendation might seem obvious but don’t forget to pair the meals with Italian wines, and Italian sparkling wines such as Prosecco or Franciacorta (don’t know the difference between the two? Check this out). You can also offer a selection of national and regional wines for your guests to try and taste. We’ll say it again: Memorable!

Caterer Chefyouwant

So how is an Italian wedding menu structured?

An Italian Wedding reception typically goes as follows: a welcome cocktail for at least an hour, followed by a dinner reception, then fruits & desserts. Don’t forget to end the meal or evening with espresso!

Menu design and photo courtesy of Officina dei Matrimoni

Below is the traditional Italian wedding menu structure, along with some useful lingo for you:

1- Aperitivo:

Otherwise known as Welcome Drinks or Cocktail, Aperitivo takes place before your wedding reception. Small bites, hors d’oeuvres, juices, and alcohol are served on bar tables, self-serve stations, or passed along by the waiters. For a sophisticated, yet family gathering vibe, many couples opt for a live station of meat carving: think freshly cut prosciutto slices or other types of ham and cured meats.
A wedding Aperitivo usually includes:
– Juices and drinks: Campari, prosecco, wine, and all kinds of alcohol
– Some types of antipasti like fritturas (think fried zucchini flowers, sage leaves tempura, etc.), Formaggio (think Italian cheeses like burrata, mozzarella, Parmigiano wheels, etc.), cured meats (salami, prosciutto, etc.), and other types of canapes and finger foods
– Salty snacks, chips, and vegetables

Caterer Love Banqueting SaS di Simone Errante & c.
Caterer Olivia Catering

2- Antipasti:

The Antipasti refers to the starters of the meal and the first course of a formal Italian wedding reception. While you may think the antipasti include the same food served during the apertitivo, you couldn’t be more wrong! Antipasti are plated differently and served right on the table. They can be one type of food or can include several, like burrata, melons wrapped in prosciutto, fresh salads, to name a few.

3- Primo Piatto

This is the first course of an Italian wedding reception and is typically Pasta (Yum!). From spaghetti, fusilli, penne…to ravioli, gnocchi, or risotto: the list is long and the choices may become overwhelming! To help you narrow it down, why not go for the local pasta specialty? Every region and area of Italy is typically famous for a pasta shape and sauce so why not incorporate something local into your wedding menu?

4- Sorbetto

A sorbet ice cream mixed with liquor or alcohol, will be served after the first course, to clean and refresh your palate before the next course. A typical Sorbetto flavor would be lemon-mint.

5- Secondo Piatto

Secondo Piatto is the second course and doesn’t really differ all that much from other classic and traditional wedding menus. It usually consists of meat, chicken, or fish. Here again, we suggest you check out the local specialty for an authentic and traditional Italian touch! A good idea would be to give your guests the choice between meat-based or vegetarian-based meals.
Throughout the course of dinner, you will get a choice of Contorno (basically sides) to pair with your main dishes.

Caterer L’erba del Re Catering
Caterer Chefyouwant

6- Dolce, Gelato and Torta Nuziale

Tiramisu, cannoli, gelato, and other traditional Italian deserts will be the highlight and great ending of your wedding meal. While we again suggest you include the regional specialty dessert, a mix of international and Italian desserts is the way to go!
Just make sure to remind your guests to leave some space for the Torta Nuziale i.e. the Wedding Cake!

Dolce display by Caterer Love Banqueting SaS di Simone Errante & c.
Caterer Chefyouwant
Caterer Delizie Deliziose Catering srl

7- Caffe and Digestivo

A well-appreciated and very welcome idea would be to also serve snacks at the later hours! While the party is ramping up, and drinks are everywhere, what would be cooler and more appreciated than passing along (right on the dance floor) mini-pizzas & bruschette, to keep the energy going and the party going even stronger!!

A true Italian Wedding Feast! Already drooling? well, wait for the mouthwatering pictures and food ideas that are coming up!

Now let’s get to the fun and delicious part: Italian Wedding Menu Ideas and items you HAVE to include in your Italian Wedding Reception Menu:

Caterer Love Banqueting SaS di Simone Errante & c.

Limoncello

A must-have in every Italian wedding, especially if you’re getting married in the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, and Capri since this is a local specialty. Sweet and tangy, limoncello is made with alcohol, sugar, and lemon zest.
It is usually served ice-cold in small shots during the Aperitivo or cocktail hour to kick off the festivities, or as a digestive and sweet thank you note at the end of dinner. Limoncello also makes a great wedding favor!

photo: Gina Meola Photography | planner Ashley Gain Weddings and Events 
photo as seen on Pinterest

Mozzarella di Buffala

This fresh cheese is a Campania, Lazio, Apulia, and Molise specialty, but – thankfully – also found all across Italy and beyond the borders. So make sure to include it in your wedding menu, no matter the Italian region you plan on getting married in! It is an Italian wedding food staple and is as delicious served by itself or as part of a salad.

photo courtesy of Luxirare
photo courtesy of Fab Everyday

Pasta, Risottos and Gnocchi

You are probably thinking wow pasta, how original (even though Yum!)! But when looking closely into your pasta options for your Italian wedding menu, you will be surprised with the variety available. Like really surprised!
Each region is famous for a recipe (including a pasta shape) so word of advice: make it easy for yourself and go for the local specialty.
To name a few:
– A dish typical of the Amalfi and Sorrentine coast: the “scialatielli” pasta with seafood.
– Risi e bisi is a risotto specialty of the Veneto region
– Tagliatelle alla Bolognese is an Emillia-Romagna specialty (the region where Bologna is)
– In Tuscany make sure you serve the Parpadelle pasta variety that can be served with meat or boar ragu
– Don’t miss out on risotto if you are getting married in Lake Como and other areas of Lombardia

Pasta will undoubtedly be the perfect dish for your Primo Piatto!

Caterer Chefyouwant
Caterer L’erba del Re Catering

Mini-Pizzas and Bruschette

While a full on round stretched pizza may not be the most sophisticated dish to offer at a wedding reception, you can’t forget you’re having a destination wedding in Italy, and your guests are not planning on eating enough pizza!
SO why don’t you incorporate pizza in your wedding menu in the most fun and creative way! Serve pizzas straight from the oven in live stations, or pass them around during the party to satisfy those little after-party cravings! Elevate your late-night menu by serving them along with bruschette topped with plump pomodori and mozzarella!

Caterer Chefyouwant
live pizza station by Caterer Le Cirque Firenze Srl
Caterer: Eventi e Cucina – Catering & Eventi| Planner: Bianco Rosa Weddings

Fritturas

An authentic and favorite Italian dish, Fritturas are basically deep-fried vegetables, leaves, seafood, etc. (they had us at fried!). Easy to make, appreciated by everyone, Fritturas are the perfect delicious finger food for your Italian wedding aperitivo! They come in different shapes and sizes, allowing your caterers to serve them in the most creative and pretty ways!

Caterer L’erba del Re Catering
Photo courtesy of Italy Magazine

Parmigiano, Grana Padano and other typical Italian cheeses

Parmigiano-Reggiano, Grana Padano, Pecorino, Mozzarella, etc. Italian cheeses are – yet another – famously delicious Italian specialty. You will find them at each and every wedding, served in the Aperitivo or with the Antipasti, Italian cheeses are always a success!! Take them to the next level by presenting them in cheese towers, serve them straight from the cheese wheel, or even better, cook your pasta straight inside the Parmigiano wheel. Decadent!!

Caterer Delizie Deliziose Catering srl
Planner: Bianco Rosa Weddings | Caterer: Olivia Catering | Photo: Facibeni Fotografia
photo as seen on Yahoo! Lifestyle

Prosecco & Italian Sparkling Wines

Italian wines are famous. And sparkling wines are even more so! Originating initially from a small town in Veneto (Conegliano Valdobbiadene if you really want to know), Prosecco, commonly known as the Italian Champagne, has become a world-favorite and a classic wedding must-have! Have fun serving it in special carts and beautiful displays, Prosecco has after all earned its special place in your wedding menu!

Drinks Bar by BrindApino
Fiat cinquecento bar from BrindApino
Prosecco wall decor for a wedding in Italy
Prosecco display – Photographer Amy Arrington Photography

Spritz, Campari and other Italian signature drinks

We’ve created a special section for Italy’s iconic cocktails, and it doesn’t get more refreshing than this! Just like the food and wine, Italian cocktails are also second-to-none. From the wide list of signature drinks, and to only name a few, your guests will enjoy trying Campari-based cocktails like Negroni, Prosecco-based drinks like the Bellini, or Aperol-based drinks like the famous Aperol Spritz.

Bar Services by Offside Events
photo courtesy of Watsons Bay
photo courtesy of DoTravel Mag
Bar Services by Offside Events | Photo: Claudia Zocca

Prosciutto and other Italian cured meats

Prosciutto di Parma, Bresaola, Mortadella, and Pancetta are some of the most famous Italian cold cuts and cured meats. Their refined and remarkable taste will have your guests wanting more! You can offer them by themselves during the aperitivo or cocktail hour, incorporate them in a salad, pair them with fruits (prosciutto & melon anyone?) or for the ultimate culinary experience, go for a hand-sliced prosciutto live station !

photo courtesy of Bianco Rosa Weddings
Caterer Le Cirque Firenze Srl
photo courtesy of Eventi e Cucina – Catering & Eventi

Tiramisu

How can we describe how delicious this coffee dessert is? Originating from Treviso in Veneto, this cake made of layers of mascarpone, ladyfingers soaked in coffee, and sometimes tasty liqueurs is heaven on a plate! Tiramisu will please every guest looking to finally taste this dessert in its land of origin!

photo as seen on Pinterest
photo courtesy of Sophia Tolli

Millefoglie

A Millefoglie is the traditional Italian wedding cake. Literally a “thousand layers,” with cream and berries, it is traditionally assembled right in front of you and your guests, sometimes even as a live-show on the dancefloor, making the experience a hundred times more memorable and special.

photo courtesy of Wedding Wonderland
Caterer: Gran Catering | Cake: Pasticceria La Divina | Planner:  Loving Marche Wedding | Photo: Maria Francesca Nitti via The Lane

To sum it up, selecting the best menu for your wedding in Italy is a delightful experience but not an easy one. Indeed you might end up wanting every single Italian specialty (we understand you. Really, we do!) as Italy boasts a variety of the best and most delicious foods in the world. So stay tuned for more helpful tips on Italian destination weddings and how to plan them!
Meanwhile, if you need more tips and inspiration on how to make your wedding extra Italian, just head to WedBoard for everything related to planning a destination wedding in Italy.

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Feature photo courtesy of Mirco&Anisa Wedding Videographers

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