GREAT FOOD AND LIBATIONS ARE CROWD PLEASERS
When Maggie Lowther and Robbie Kelly got married, they wanted a truly Southern meal to match their casual Southern vibe. Jimmy Fitts Catering delivered just that, wowing the crowd at their September wedding at Honey Horn with fried chicken made on-site, baked chicken, mac and cheese and collard greens.
“People still tell me about how great the food was,” Maggie said. The Kellys understood one big fact of wedding planning: Aside from the bride’s gorgeous gown and the quality of the band or DJ that entertains the guests, the food is one of the most talked-about elements of any wedding. Don’t let sub-par selections or flat flavors steal the spotlight on your big day. Here are Hilton Head Monthly’s best tips to ensure guests leave the table sated and impressed — no matter your budget.
COCKTAILS AND HORS D’OEUVRES
Choose crowd-pleasing favorites like crab cakes, oyster shooters, baby lamb chops, tomatoes and mozzarella skewers, peanut satay chicken, or shrimp and grits in martini glasses. Make sure to offer at least one vegetarian option. If passed hors d’oeuvres are not within your budget, opt for an antipasto platter or an artful presentation of cheeses and meats. The signature cocktail continues to be a strong trend, too, so pick a mixed drink that fits your theme or season, and let the special sipping begin.
Plated dinners are still popular, with many brides choosing to serve a three- or four-course meal. Area chefs and caterers generally source local ingredients and work within season to bring fresh food to the table, so consider the time of year when planning your menu. Consider fresh and innovative salads like watermelon and feta in the summer, followed by surf-and-turf combinations for the main course.
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 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 a popular — and luxurious — option.
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 so the evening becomes one big feast. Guests can graze on foods that can follow a variety of themes, or offer a little bit of everything. This dining option is becoming very popular with brides.
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. Other wedding cake trend is the “naked”cake — a multi-tiered cake that’s only frosted between layers, revealing the alternating cream and cake in a supremely understated yet decadent style. You also can have a separate groom’s cake that is a little more fun and reflective of his interests.
Many top-notch local venues will 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, or a candy bar are popular with today’s couples.
LATE-NIGHT FOOD FOR THE AFTER-PARTY
The party doesn’t have to end as the reception winds down. Serve late-night comfort food with a classy twist, like truffle French fries, mini sandwiches, sliders, cheeseburgers and even hot dogs. Or offer a bonfire and s’mores with creative toppings that go beyond just marshmallows and chocolate. These party foods will give your guests one final snack after the last dance. Work with your local wedding professionals to find the menu that’s right for you on your special day.
* sample menu from event catered by Roy’s Place Cafe & Catering