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When planning a wedding, one area you won’t want to overlook is the food. Next to how the bride looked or how great the entertainment was (or wasn’t), the food that is served at weddings is one of the top talked-about topics among guests.

Your wedding reception is one giant party, and at your party, you want guests going home feeling full and catered to. If you are hosting a wedding on Hilton Head Island or elsewhere in the Lowcountry, rest assured that our local professionals have you covered with top-notch cuisine and innovative ideas. Get ready for your mouth to water (and be prepared to run to the kitchen!). Monthly has you covered with all the latest in food for weddings.

Starting with the cocktail hour, there are a few ways to go about this first food impression on your wedding day. Many brides and grooms choose for a simple selection of four to seven different passed hors d’oeuvres.  Yummy ideas to try include: bacon-wrapped scallops; chicken satay skewers; snow pea mini-martini glasses; caramelized red onion and goat cheese crostini; Asian-style meatballs; tomato, basil and mozzarella skewers; antipasto kabobs; Lowcountry crab cakes; and oyster shooters. And local caterers and venues will always remind you to serve a vegetarian option for your guests. Focus on lots of flavor when going vegetarian, too.

During the cocktail hour, you also can consider stations or small buffet areas of light food. Because of our proximity to the water, local country clubs and other wedding venues have an abundance of options for shellfish stations. Artfully displayed mounds of shrimp, oysters and clams make for a beautiful presentation and delicious addition to the cocktail food.

Local country clubs and venues will also remind those planning weddings to offer a variety of drinks — or specialty drinks known to some as “signature drinks.”  Often, there are two signature drinks — a peach Bellini and a whiskey sour for example, because that’s the bride’s favorite and the groom’s favorite cocktail. It incorporates the couple’s story into the wedding details and offers guests an option beyond beer, wine or the standard bar. 

When it comes time to the main event, area country clubs are experts in masterfully planning and executing plated dinners for large parties. So if a traditional sit-down, plated meal is up your alley, rest assured there are a variety of venues that can knock your socks off.

But in lieu of a traditional plated dinner with a meat, fish or chicken main course with a few sides, brides and grooms are thinking more global and serving up more variety. Stations have become exceedingly popular, not just during the cocktail hour but for the main course. But don’t just think of one long buffet — think of a half-dozen stations each with a different theme. 

One station could be Mexican, complete with a taco bar and all the fixings; another could be an Asian station with dumplings, lo mien, fried rice and egg rolls. At the same wedding, a third station could be an Italian feast. Round out stations four, five and six with American classics, Indian dishes and creative fusion cuisine to allow for a massive selection for your guests. Surely no one is going home hungry with so much to choose from, and everyone is bound to be wowed. You don’t have to waste a lot, either. Your local venues are experts in planning the right amount of food for who you are serving.

Back by popular demand are carving stations — or maybe they never left. Large roasts of beef or pork carved up artfully by the chef are a delicious addition to any buffet style reception. We also know plenty of local venues that serve up a grits station. Plain grits, cheese grits and jalapeño grits — this type of station pays respect to the Lowcountry and its Southern roots, and is always a crowd pleaser.

When it’s time for sweets, country clubs in our area have stellar pastry chefs. While there are plenty of bakeries locally that can whip up something beautiful and delicious, don’t overlook the venue itself for providing a perfect and affordable cake option. And take note: Some venues actually require you to use their in-house pastry chefs. If you choose to bring in your own cake, you could have to pay a per-slice cake-cutting fee. Or look beyond the cake at your venue with cupcakes, cronuts, donuts, cake pops, cupcake tiers and all of those popular beyond the cake options. There are so many innovative ideas when it comes to sweets.

If your wedding reception will go well into the night, consider late-night food options for your guests.  Your wedding venue will be more than happy to provide satisfying comfort food options. Think mini (or full-size) cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup shooters, french fries and all the classics. Most of our area chefs are experts at reinventing this food to make it a bit more gourmet — a little more upscale — than just your basic cheeseburger. Be sure to ask your catering sales director or your wedding planner about all the amazing late-night options our area chefs have up their sleeves. You will not be disappointed.

When it comes to planning the food for your wedding, take the advice of your venue and the professionals, but ultimately plan a menu that’s reflective of what you and your fiancé are looking for and within your budget. No doubt you are in good hands in our area.

FEATURED CATERERS

dunescateringDUNES CATERING & EVENTS
Whether you are planning a family gathering, professional corporate event or an elegant wedding, the experienced staff at Dunes Catering & Events can help bring your ideas to life. From beginning to end, the staff will work with you to ensure that the venue, décor, food and atmosphere reflect the standard you expect. 
843-686-9623, www.palmettodunes.com

loricravencateringLORI CRAVEN CATERING
With more than 20 years of experience in specialized catering, serving many of the area’s most discriminating palates, Lori Craven Catering can create a memorable experience for any occasion, from casual gatherings to elegant affairs. Designing menus to incorporate seasonal and local offerings, Craven prepares fresh, innovative and artful cuisine using only the finest ingredients to create dishes designed to delight. Her personal attention, customized menus, unique party planning and professional staff will exceed your expectations.
843-689-9499, www.loricravencatering.com

celebrationcateringCELEBRATIONS CATERING AND EVENTS
Celebration's Catering and Events is the island's longest running catering company and that is because quality lasts! For over 20 years Celebration's Catering and Events has provided unforgettable weddings, distinctive corporate events, flawless special occasions and personalized in-home catering. Let Celebration's come to you or host your event at one of our Exclusive Waterfront locations. Choose Celebrations for your RBC Heritage gatherings and graduation parties! 
843-689-7526,  www.WeCelebrateYou.com.

twotomatoscateringTWO TOMATOES CATERING
Owner Susan Lykins and Two Tomatoes offers personalized service and flexible menus, featuring fresh seasonal selections that reflect your style and budget. With over 20 years experience, we specialize in engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions and day after brunches. Let our professional and experienced staff make your event a celebration to remember.
843-681-7806, www.twotomatoescatering.com.

besscateringBESS’ DELICATESSEN & CATERING
Bess’ has served as a premier caterer on Hilton Head Island since 1982. The business has been the go-to caterer of choice by individuals, local companies and other businesses, as well as global corporations. Bess’ prides itself on meeting the demands of today’s clients with respect to menu offerings, service and quality expected of a long established company.
843-785-2377, www.bessdeli.com

affarcateringA CATERED AFFAIR
Let our wedding specialist assist with all of your wedding planning needs to ensure a unique ceremony and reception that reflect your personal tastes and a coastal setting that gives you and your guests a sense of place. We offer comprehensive wedding packages and specialize in creating the perfect island wedding experiences, including oceanfront weddings and ceremonies, bridal showers with afternoon tea, martini-night bachelorette party, morning-after brunch for wedding guests and anniversary celebrations. 
843-842-0029, www.hhibeachandtennis.com

seapinescatererTHE SEA PINES RESORT CATERING
The Sea Pines Resort offers a wide variety of wonderful indoor and outdoor venues for hosting banquets, and our award-winning food and beverage team provides exceptional service for groups ranging from five to 500. Our catering service can accommodate parties of any size, and our expert chefs can create a delicious menu that is custom tailored to suit any tastes or preferences.
843-842-1495,  www.seapines.com.

westincateringTHE WESTIN HILTON HEAD RESORT & SPA
Looking for a coastal chic yet authentic southern wedding?  Let The Westin’s  award-winning Chef Ed Connors custom design your reception menu to ensure your special day is unforgettable.  Some favorites are chicken and waffles, southern ham with honey and buttermilk biscuits, shrimp and grits, and pecan battered French toast.  Who says a bride can’t enjoy her own wedding reception food?
888-627-8551, www.westinhiltonheadisland.com