Save the Date: 15 Trends in Wedding Catering for 2016

A wedding is one of the most monumental days of a person’s life. While of course the dress, the venue, the flowers and the music should be perfect, the food is a big determining factor in how memorable a wedding is.

Couples have begun to get pretty creative with their catering, and caterers are now focusing on style, even in their catering equipment.

From the cocktail hour to the cake, from appetizers to dinner, couples in 2016 aren’t exactly planning their weddings by the book anymore. Here are 15 trends that most newlyweds are expecting in wedding catering this year.


Keep It Healthy

While wedding guests will dine on a plethora of dishes after the ceremony wraps up, that doesn’t mean all the fare has to be heavy and fattening. New Jersey wedding venue the Manor Restaurant writes that hors d’oeuvres and main dishes themselves should be more nutritious. “Farm-to-table, local ingredients are a must for today’s weddings,” the venue insists.


But Don’t Forget the Comfort Food

Irina Gonzalez at Brit + Co spoke to event planner Mindy Weiss, who says that “people want to eat what they’re familiar with.” If a couple is concerned with keeping their wedding menu healthy, serve comfort food as hors d’oeuvres. This can be something as simple as small cups of tomato soup with a grilled cheese bite on top.


Embrace Various Cuisines

Instead of standard meat and seafood menus, many couples prefer to personalize the dishes served at their wedding, Roanoke, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Catering found. This means a couple might ask for a carving station, taco stands or even a station for chicken and waffles. This cultural flair keeps the wedding menu expansive and interesting.


Let Guests Choose from Pre-Plated or Family Style Dishes

Debra Witt at Bridal Guide Magazine notes that people are more straightforward about their allergies and what they can and can’t eat than ever before. If the couple has someone on the guest list who is a vegan, is vegetarian or has a gluten allergy, make sure to let them (and everyone else in attendance) select whether they want their food pre-plated or would prefer to pick their own food from a buffet or stand.


Add “Super Water” to the Menu

While the spirits start flowing at the cocktail hour and often don’t stop until the reception is over, not everyone drinks alcohol. Those who don’t shouldn’t be relegated to only sodas, juices or water. Julie Gray at The Wedding Community suggests that you serve “super waters,” or beverages that include herbs or vitamins.

“Use these super waters as a base for an ice-cold, refreshing alternative such as coconut water, lemongrass and ginger sherbet,” Gray writes. “If you really want to be ahead of the curve, find a way to include birch water.”

wedding cake topper


Let Cakes Go Naked

The wedding cake is the main event, and as such it should look as gorgeous as possible. However, Catersource makes a case for leaving your cake icing-free. You can add edible flowers or fruit to these. They’re pretty in a rustic, simple way and may cost less.


Serve Hors D’Oeuvre and Cocktail Combinations

Pairing wine with food is commonplace, but according to NJWedding couples are opting to take pairings even further. Consider offering a range of small plates and other hors d’oeuvres that taste delightful when combined with tequila, bourbon or gin cocktails.


Let the Food Tell the Couple’s Story

My Wedding blogger Sarah writes about using food as a way to tell the couple’s story. Cakes can literally do that by inscribing memorable quotes, dates and more in buttercream or fondant. And when it comes to what’s on the appetizer or dinner menu, just ask the couple. They might wish to replicate the dishes they ate on their first date, their favorite meal to cook together or some other meaningful dish.


Serve Snacks Towards the End of the Reception for Hungry Guests

After the cake is gone and the plates are cleared, hunger pangs may persist. Claire Gould at the

English Wedding Blog spoke to Goose & Berry caterer Emma Riddell and found that serving small dishes near the end of the reception is a big trend. You can choose to showcase this food at stations, buffet-style or even on trays like at the cocktail hour. Gould recommends preparing sushi, meat, burgers or pigs in a blanket.


Include Bacon, Bacon and More Bacon

Yes, we mentioned earlier the importance of a healthier menu, but newlyweds and wedding guests apparently are willing to make an exception for bacon, notes Jen O’Brien at Wedding Bells. She writes that you should get creative with your use of bacon, even going so far as putting it in alcoholic drinks or ice cream.

assortment of drinks


Get Interactive with Food Stations

Michelle Kelly at event planning company Pocketful of Dreams also spoke to Goose & Berry’s Emma Riddell, who emphasizes the importance of interactivity between guests and caterers. “Think ice cream being made in front of you in a matter of minutes,” she says. “Flavoured air and pizza made to order out of a van. … It creates an unusual and creative way of presenting and delivering food and one that is bound to get your guests talking.”


Consider a Cereal Bar

It doesn’t matter if it’s a morning, afternoon or evening wedding: Dry cereal is a good snack to munch on. The writers at The Knot suggest using cereal dispensers and filling these with four or five brands of cereal that the couple prefers. Make sure to include spoons and bowls. Rosseto’s cereal dispensers are a mess-free option for cereal bars at any wedding.


There’s More for Dessert Than Just Cake

The blueprint for the traditional wedding has been altered so much that couples don’t even need a wedding cake anymore if they don’t want one. Ivy Lamb at Columbus Weddings explains that couples may choose another favorite dessert as an alternative — crepes, parfaits, donuts, cookies, cupcakes, macarons or pies are all fair game.

wedding cake up close


Serve Brunch

As mentioned, wedding times aren’t set in stone, and just as a cereal dispensing station appeals to guests, so too does brunch. Event planning company RSVP Rentals suggests that brunch is welcome any time of the day, and it doesn’t have to be the main meal, either. Brunch stations and breakfast hors d’oeuvres are both popular choices.


Make Menu Items Seasonal

A couple getting married in the summer may want a different wedding menu than a couple tying the knot in the fall. Serve local farm-to-table food that’s flavored to the season. “Today there is almost an expectation of local, seasonal ingredients at weddings. Caterers are thinking more toward the lines of organic and farm fresh foods,” says Anja Winikka, at


Download our Ultimate Wedding Buffet Guide

images by:
Cayton Heath, pattyann, NatWhitePhotography, PublicDomainPictures

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