12 Tips on How To Pick Your Wedding Menu

You’ve selected your wedding day and visited your favorite venues, so now it’s time to find out how to pick your wedding menu. There will be so many different things to plan for your special day, but your wedding menu is one detail you don’t want to rush through! It’s a key part of your reception yet a lot of couples often overlook this aspect. But don’t worry if you’re struggling to decide. Whether you dream of a beautiful formal five-course meal, or a casual ambience where the focus is to mingle, we’ve got some top tips to help you out!

Keep reading below to find out everything you need to know about how to pick your wedding menu.

1. Plan Early

One of the most important tips for how to pick your menu is to give yourself plenty of time. So talk to your partner about your vision early on in the process. Likewise, ask for advice from professionals, or family and friends that know you well. During this process, you’ll need to think about which caterer you want to use, even if you end up deciding to go with some of the offers at your venue. In all cases, you don’t want to fall into making hasty decisions and not being completely satisfied on your big day!

2. Budget is Key

The first step when planning your wedding menu is setting your budget. So decide on how much you’re willing to spend on average per guest. You’ll have to think about the number of guests, any special features you want to include and the serving style. Some styles will cost more than others. So be flexible if you need to keep your budget lower. For instance, plated menus will require servers which will increase costs. Whereas a sharing table will be cheaper. Also, make sure to be upfront and honest with your final budget. Even if it’s low, your caterer will help you think of ideas based on your preferences. For example, a plated wedding cake instead of a dessert course, or sharing platters instead of an entree.

3. Look for Inspiration

A lot of couples sit down to talk about their menu with their caterer and aren’t sure where to begin. So, don’t worry if you don’t already have a set vision for your dream menu. There are plenty of ways to gather inspiration! Firstly, think of a genre that you might like. For example, a period of history, a theme or a film you both love. Secondly, consider your heritage if you have roots from a different culture that you want to highlight. Another option is to look back at your relationship. Is there a favorite place you went to that you both really enjoyed? You can even tell a story through your menu by including nods to special moments. It’s a great conversation starter for your guests! For example, the restaurant you went to on your first date, or a food combination that you both love.

how to pick your wedding menu
Photography: Spotted Stills | Rentals: The Party Place | Calligraphy: Crave Design 

4. Seasonal Menu

Another top tip for how to pick your wedding menu is to think about the time of year you’re getting married. Depending on when you’re saying ‘I do,’ you’ll have access to different types of ingredients. For instance, in winter you can make the most of root vegetables and squash or lots of fruit and leafy greens in summer. This will help you decide on which dishes to include. For example, lighter meals such as fresh salads, chicken and fish will complement the summer warmth. Whereas, creamy soups and indulgent roasts work best for winter. Also, by opting for seasonal and locally sourced ingredients you’ll be making sure that your menu is eco-friendly.

5. Consider the Setting

Similarly, couples need to consider where they’ll be getting married. Firstly, if you’re whisking your guests away to a destination wedding, then think about the most popular local meals in that area. Is there something that you can add to your wedding menu to surprise your out-of-town guests? Another option is to mix the international location and your home cuisine with fusion dishes. Find out if there are local farms that can provide ingredients. That way your wedding will support sustainable agriculture! Secondly, think of the type of setting. Do you prefer a formal meal or a casual family barbecue? Also, is your wedding indoors or outdoors? If it’s outside, then talk to your caterer about any problems that could arise. You don’t want the frosting on your cake to melt off before your reception starts!

Photography: bonphotage | Planning: Elegante Weddings and Events | Florals: Lilla Bespoke Floral Design | Venue: Masseria Grieco | Catering: Rotondo Catering

6. Chose a Serving Style

Another point that will influence how to pick your wedding menu is the serving style. There are many to choose from so think carefully about what will suit you and your special day. For instance, talk to professionals to see what they recommend, as well as your family and friends who know you best. The essential things to consider are the space your venue has, your budget, and the tone of your day. The most popular styles are the following:

Plated Meals

This option is perfect for a traditional or formal setting. You can select extravagant or fine dining dishes. For example filet mignon or lobster. Usually, guests will have the same meal, aside from those that have any dietary requirements. Some couples choose to give their guests options between a meat or fish main course or to choose between entrees. But The main advantage of plated meals is that it’s more efficient, although it does require more staffing.


This serving style involves long tables with several varieties of food for guests to choose from. This allows more options to choose from and you’ll meet everyone’s requirements. There are two main pros of this option. First, it’s the best choice if you want beautifully photogenic displays. Secondly, it means you’ll have less food waste as people can choose what they like. The disadvantage is that you’ll need to control lines and not overwhelm guests. But you can easily solve this by having different access points with servers to help guests.

how to pick a wedding menu
Photography: The Enlight Project | Wedding Planner & Stylist: Lily Jones Events | Grazing Table: The Graze Girls

Family Style

A family-style is perfect for a casual and relaxed setting. This involves big platters and bowls of food passed around tables, with multiple sides. It’s a seated option but much less formal. Another advantage is that everyone gets food at the same time. But the platters take up more table space.

Serving Stations

If you’re looking for a laid-back style then serving stations could be for you. It’s similar to a buffet in that there’s a lot of variety. But it differs slightly because there are dedicated tables and servers for different types of food. It’s a great option if you want to mix up different themes or highlight favorites like a pizza station or a cheese bar. Another advantage is that it’s more interactive and social. Also, you won’t have to worry about dietary requirements as you can prepare specific stations. The disadvantages are that it can be more costly, and you’ll need to consider the layout to make sure you have plenty of space.


Another popular serving style is to have heavy appetizers served by staff. This means that you don’t have to find space to seat your guests. You won’t need seating charts or tablescapes. You could even invite more people! The focus is on mingling and dancing. You’ll be able to move around and chat with everyone. It’s perfect for foodies! You can mix up appetizers with different items every couple of hours. The con is that standing might be a problem for some guests. But a lounge area helps to solve this. You’ll also need to give guests a heads up on how this serving style works.

7. Think About Your Guests

Although your special day is about you and your partner, do try to think about what your guests might like. For example, if you’re having a buffet or several serving stations, ask your guests to write their favorite dish on their RSVP. Then compile the most popular crowd-pleasers. You don’t have to let your guests choose the entire menu, but it’s a special touch to include them. Also, make sure to ask about dietary requirements. It’s important that you provide your caterer with this information as soon as possible. If you’re choosing a more expensive and formal tone, then make sure to manage guests’ expectations. Give them a couple of options, but don’t feel the pressure to please everyone. Another guest tip is to try not to make portions too small. It’s one of the things guests critique the most!

8. Research Popular Trends

Nowadays, couples want to break the mold and include something different. So, trends are perfect for brides that want to inject some modernity to spice up their menu. Be as creative as you like! You don’t have to stick to traditional menus. Think outside the box with upgraded classics, and put a new spin on everyone’s favorites. For example, festival-style food, a unique afternoon tea or gourmet burritos. You can even incorporate a wine tasting with small dishes. This tip also helps if you want to make your menu aesthetically pleasing or if you want to go for a creative presentation.

9. Personal Favorites

Add personalization to your menu with some of your favorites. Your wedding is about you after all! It’s important that you’re both happy with your menu. So write down a list of dislikes and likes. Also, think about special moments during your relationship. For example, a dish from your first date or an upgraded family recipe. You can even include subtle nods, such as your favorite cake hidden amongst your dessert options. Only you and your partner will know about this personal touch! Do make sure to balance your and your guests’ tastes. You don’t want to impose your favorites, but it’s a cute surprise.

Photography: Whitney Heard Photography

10. Don’t Forget Drinks

Drinks are a big part of your reception too! Their function is to complement the menu. So spend time considering signature cocktails, and speciality liquors, or keep it simple with beer and wine. Firstly, think about your location. Find locally sourced wine or champagne to incorporate your location. Your caterer will also be able to suggest pairings for wine too. Secondly, think about your theme. You can include a welcome drink to highlight your wedding theme. Thirdly, consider the season. For example, iced tea or lemonade dispensers for a fresh summer celebration. Or hot chocolate and mulled wine stations for a cosy winter wedding.

Photography: Ashley Ludaescher Photography | Design & Planning: Lovelyfest Event Design | Rentals: Avenue Twelve and Scout Rental Co 

11. Have a Few Options

Make sure not to cater just to your picky guests. You don’t want to leave any guests with an empty stomach. So have some options that most people like. But your entire menu doesn’t have to please everyone. Also, it’s great to diversify your choices and include fun dishes. For example, duck rolls, vegetarian rolls, eggplant meatballs, veggie sliders, as well as a mix of sweet and fruity desserts. You can also plan a late-night surprise in case some guests get peckish as they dance the night away.

12. Ask for Tasting Sessions

One of the best parts about choosing your menu is trialing the food you pick. First, narrow down a selection of caterers and serving styles. Then make sure to plan tasting sessions. Some caterers will include tastings with their menu package. Whereas others might charge extra. But bear in mind that it’s important to trial dishes before paying so much. You need to be happy with everything on your special day! To keep costs down, you can try to find out if the caterers will be attending a local festival or wedding fair. When you do talk to your caterer, it’s essential to communicate exactly what you want. It’s also a great opportunity to ask questions.

how to pick your wedidng menu
Photography: Lauren Bailey

Find more answers to your wedding food-related questions over at WedBoard. There’s help with all types of food and drink topics including the How to Plan The Perfect Post-Wedding Brunch, 12 Wedding Cake Ideas to Get Your Inspired in 2022 and How to Hire The Right Wedding Caterer in Italy.

Featured image: Eppel Photography 

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