Expert tips for creating a unique wedding menu

wooden 'eat drink and be married' sign on floor next to lantern The traditional three-course wedding breakfast doesn't have to be boring. In this article Nidhi Verma, head of food & founder of The Cookaway, shares a few ideas for alternative food menus for wedding guests.

Getting involved with the putting together of your wedding menu can allow you to focus on what's important to you, whether that's only using local produce and seasonal ingredients, incorporating foods you and your partner really like, making sure there are plenty of fun elements, or serving with the utmost style. But if standing out is your priority, how can you ensure your menu is unique? If you're wondering how you can make your special day a little more individual, below are a few ideas to get you started.

Festival food trucks
Hiring a food truck to cater your wedding is a fun way to feed your guests and gives the whole celebration a festival vibe. You can hire trucks that serve all kinds of meals, such as wood-fired pizzas, gourmet mac 'n' cheese, curries, paellas, and other street foods. Or, you can choose a truck hire service that specialises in cocktails or even desserts — including a humble ice cream van. If you're planning a large wedding, hiring a few different food trucks will give your guests plenty of options to choose from — many hire services recommend one truck per a minimum of 50 guests. To make your menu more unique, focus on using food trucks from small businesses in your local area.

Self-service snacking
Another fun way to ensure your guests get to eat what they like is to introduce self service snacking to your wedding. Having a snacking station will allow guests to try out different combinations at various points in the evening, whenever they feel like grabbing a bite to eat, and they can be a great alternative to canapes. Common foods to include are anything you can customise with toppings, such as cupcakes with edible decorations, popcorn and various seasonings, old school pick 'n' mix, or even build-your-own hot dogs. A well-presented self-service snack bar also adds another point of interest to the décor of your room, so it's sure to be a popular addition.

Sharing is caring
If you'd still like a sit-down meal for your wedding breakfast but are looking for something more laid back than a three-course dinner, sharing platters could be the way to go. These allow guests to pick and choose what they want to eat, plus they encourage your guests to socialise with other people on the table. Charcuterie boards, cheese platters, antipasti, or mezze are ideal for this and they are often beautiful enough to double as centrepieces, too, so presentation is really important. You could also choose tray bakes and pies, curries and casseroles, or something large-scale like a hog roast per table depending on the size of your event.

Signature menus
Many couples like to put their own spin on their wedding menu by working with the caterer to help design it. By doing so, you can choose your favourite dishes, something that represents you as a couple, focus on local produce, or simply tailor your menu to your preferences. Naming your dishes or implementing a theme is a great way to get your personalities across too. Practicing making a few dishes at home to try out together can be a great way to ensure you and your partner spend some quality time together in the run up to the wedding, too, amidst all the planning. If this sounds like too complicated a project, you could instead create a signature cocktail to serve to your guests to honour your wedding day.

Wedding 'cake' alternatives
Cutting the cake is a key part of the proceedings for many wedding receptions, but if cake isn't your thing there are plenty of alternatives you can consider. Other sweet treats that can be assembled into a pyramid or tower include doughnuts, cupcakes, profiteroles, or pancakes — imagine cutting into a huge stack of buttery pancakes on your wedding day! If you don't have much of a sweet tooth, you can look into cheese wheels, pork pies, or loaves of bread. Don't feel like you have to cut a cake at all — remember to take your personalities and preferences into account, as it is your special day.

If you're looking for a more unique approach to your wedding menu, be sure to speak to your venue, caterer, suppliers, or wedding planner about the ideas above. Not only will these alternatives to traditional wedding catering ensure your celebration is more 'you', but your guests will remember your special day for a long time to come too.

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