Food! Definitely one of my favorite topics and planning categories! I do consider myself a foodie and I have an ongoing list of new and classic restaurants in the city that I am always planning to visit. I am lucky to live and plan in a city where the culinary aspect is so important! When people come to New Orleans, they expect amazing food and I love working through the menu with clients to find the right food for their wedding guests.
I plan with clients from all over the country and world so they all have a different idea on what style of event they’d like to have, leading to the main question! What appeals to you: buffet or seated dinner?
Most local clients are use to the New Orleans approach of buffets and lately, I find that most destinations clients are interested in this approach too. One of the great things about buffets is that you can offer your guests a wide range of local favorites and better accommodate different food preferences. It’s also a great way to feature different cuisines for a multicultural wedding or for families from two different regions and comfort zones.
If you decide to do a buffet, it’s best to set them up as stations versus a long buffet. This will help significantly with lines, but it also allows you to pair items that work well together (ie soup and salad, meat and veggie, fruit and cheese, and custom bars). Buffets are great for keeping guests moving and mingling.
Seated dinners tend to be a little more traditional. This is usually for the clients who want to focus on the traditions of the wedding including toasts and having a formal meal. While there are more traditional choices of beef or chicken, don’t be afraid to get creative with local options like redfish or boudin stuffed pork.
The most important part of the style decision is knowing your crowd and how comfortable and adventurous they are. Recently when I have been doing buffets, I found it works well to still offer enough seats for everyone to be seated.
Here are a few tips for food choices:
-Focus on foods that are fresh in the area! What is the region’s specialty?
-Think outside of the standard menu offerings and customize focusing on well rounded options that might please everyone. Keep in mind to offer selections from different categories including seafood, beef, vegetarian, etc.
-Turn your personal favorites into event food (I once had a groom who loved macaroni and cheese and thus became a macaroni and cheese bar!)
-Consider new ways to present old food!
-Have a couple of crowd favorites as fillers. People love pasta and rice dishes. They are comfortable foods for most.
-When possible, allow options that can be customized. Guests love being able to pick and choose what they personally like instead of having something pre packaged!
-Don’t change your entire menu to accommodate a few folks with dietary restrictions. It’s best to label food appropriately and then have a special option made for them and available from the kitchen when needed. Most caterers are great about this!
One of my favorite trends for sure right now is the LATE NIGHT SNACK!! Who doesn’t want a snack after they have been at a party all night? This idea is especially great if you’re expecting a round 2 out with friends later in the night. Late night snacks are also one of my favorite things to customize. This past New Year’s Eve we did a HIS/HERS late night snack and it was a huge hit. We served “Freedom Fries” which our Groom Diego created one night with friends and is now known for. Guest always get a kick out of things that remind them of you personally and this is a great opportunity to show personality.
Another great thing we have done in the past is fly in pizza from Chicago’s Lou Malnati’s (a groom’s favorite from his hometown). Guests love when you bring a little piece of home with you to a Destination event and this can be done in many ways.
Late night snacks should have some substance, hand passed and easy to eat while standing because at this point almost everyone will be on the dancefloor (hopefully, anyway!)
The main thing is that no matter what you decide to do, make sure that it is a decision that you are comfortable and happy with! Remember, this is your big day and people are coming to celebrate you.
Photo Credit in Order:
Ariel Renae Photography
Tim Pham - Ardent Studio
Josh Williams Photography