Eat, drink and be merry

weding foodEvery wedding guest secretly hopes for amazing food. Planning a standout menu is easier than you think. 

Trust us. The one component you won’t want to skimp on at your wedding is the food. Aside from the music (which often translated to “how the party was”) and how the bride looked, the food is one of the most talked about parts of a wedding. Ever been to a wedding with bad food? We have: rubbery chicken and cold mashed potatoes. Don’t let that be the menu on your big day.

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Here are Hilton Head Monthly’s biggest tips to ensure guests leave satisfied and wowed — no matter your budget.

  • Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Choose crowd-pleasing favorites like baby lamb chops, tomatoes and mozzarella skewers, peanut satay chicken, crab cakes, oyster shooters or shrimp and grits in martini glasses. And always make sure to offer at least one vegetarian option for your guests. If passed hors d’oeuvres are not within the budget, choose an antipasto platter or artful presentation of cheeses and meats.

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  • Dinner menu: Plated dinner menus are still popular, with many brides choosing to serve a three- or four-course meal. Local chefs and caterers generally source local foods and work within season to bring fresh food to the table, so consider the time of year you are getting married when planning your menu. Consider fresh and innovative salads like watermelon and feta in the summer, and surf-and-turf combinations for the main course.
  • Food stations/buffet: Chef stations and buffets are back with a bang and are fancier than ever.  Searing, sautéing and carving presented with nice surrounding items, vegetables, sauces and garnish components — sometimes in miniature form like tapas-style — are very popular. Try a sautéed foie gras station, presented with toasted fig brioche, caramelized onion jam, marinated frisse and black currant jus. Shellfish presentations, with mounds of oysters, mid-Atlantic clams, Alaskan king crab, and split lobsters on the half shell are also popular.

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  • Progressive dining: Why not serve your guests all night long? Instead of a cocktail hour followed by a multi-course dinner, set up stations that are open all night long and one big feast. Guests can graze on a variety of foods that can follow a variety of themes, or offer a little bit of everything. This dining option is becoming very popular with brides.
  • The cake. Of course, the real star of the menu is the wedding cake. All kinds of designs are available, and regional bakers are experimenting with new techniques like handmade sugar flowers. Natural flowers die quickly when not in water, so using handmade sugar flowers are an edible and practical solution. A new wedding trend is to offer multiple cakes that all coordinate but look different. You also can have a separate groom’s cake that is a little more fun and reflective of his interests, like golf or sports teams.

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  • Sweets table. Many top-notch local venues will also create an incredible sweets display that goes beyond the traditional cake. Handmade macaroons, éclairs, puff pastries, cookies, milkshake shooters, donuts, cake pops, mini cupcakes, cronuts, and more innovative ideas are become more popular.

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  • Late-night food for the after-party. The party doesn’t have to end as the reception wind down. End the evening with comfort food with a classy twist, like truffle French fries, mini sandwiches, sliders, cheeseburgers and even hot dogs. These party foods will give your guests one final snack after the last dance.

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Work with your local professionals to find the menu that’s right for you on your wedding day.