Marilyn’s Blog

Picking your wedding menu

How can couples personalize their food?

Incorporate childhood favorites, things you ate on a memorable vacation or on your first date, or dishes from a beloved restaurant. Or look back even further in time. One of our brides, for instance, requested table-side Caesar salads, which her parents had at their wedding. And if two cultures are coming together, serve a dish from each one as a starter.

Thoughts on waiter service versus buffet?

Sit-down meals are more traditional, but they tie guests to their seats. If you have a lively crowd, you might want to have a buffet, which lets people get up and move around. That said, it’s not necessarily less expensive than a sitdown. The savings can be eaten up in quantity.

Any suggestions for those who’d like to save money without sacrificing quality?

You can easily save 15 to 20 percent on food and service by choosing a Friday or Sunday in the off-season (usually the colder months). Dinner is the priciest meal, but it’s possible to lower your expenses with a cocktail-style set-up: heavy hors d’oeuvres and seating for only half the guests. Or serve lunch or afternoon tea instead. It’s more affordable and just as elegant. I also love a good brunch — with a crepe station and a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar.

Along the same lines, does serving only beer and wine save a ton of cash?

Actually, no. Depending on how many options you offer, liquor bars can be more cost-effective. There are about 25 drinks in a liter of vodka, whereas a bottle of wine has just five.

What are your recommendations for couples as they choose their menus?

Try not to fall for overly complicated food fads. A foam garnish, for example, can add a nice flavor, but it’s hard to pull off for a big crowd. What works in a dining room for four people doesn’t always translate to a crowd of 200. Your best bet is to keep things simple.

Top Tip Don’t rush to finalize your menu. Over the course of the planning process, trends will change and you’ll develop new ideas. Wait until a couple of months before the event, and it will feel fresh and current.