Eight fun ways to shake up your wedding-day menus.
The wedding reception dining repertoire—appetizers followed by a salad, main course and then cake-cutting—is no longer the automatic go-to for couples. Traditional dining rules are being replaced by new trends, like build-your-own food stations and food trucks, which favour interactivity over formality. After all, rules are meant to be broken, so here are some ideas to inspire your dream menu. Heritage Asian Eatery brunch (Photo: Amy Ho.)
1. Breakfast for Dinner
Who says you can't have your favourite meal any time you want? More and more couples are choosing to include their favourite breakfast dishes on the wedding menu these days. While some receptions will occur during "normal" brunch hours, others are throwing convention out the window to serve breakfast at dinner receptions. Eggs Benedict, pancakes, frittatas and avocado toast are just a few options to consider. Jason Wu, operations manager at Heritage Asian Eatery shared the deets on a breakfast reception they recently catered for a bride and groom that are big fans of the restaurant's brunch menu: "To make it a bit more upscale, we added a beef protein option along with our standard lamb, salmon and shiitake mushroom benny options," he says. Another, more interactive way to get a breakfast fix at your wedding is to opt for a waffle bar. With this, guests can assemble their own glutenous joy by adding toppings like fresh fruit, maple syrup and whipped cream. (Photo: Shari and Mike Photographers.)
2. Cereal Bars
If you don't want to do a full-on breakfast menu, cereal bars can be a great treat for guests to snack on. "A cereal bar at the end of an event is about the best thing ever," says Donna Wadsworth, founder of Savoury City Catering. "It never fails to bring a lot of big smiles—and a whole lot of giggles." Epic Events’ Briar Johnston even had one couple go the extra mile by supplying multiple kinds of milk (like coconut and chocolate). "The couple loves cereal—like the good sugary kid kind!—and wanted to incorporate it into the wedding in a way that looked whimsical but not juvenile," she recalls. "We had a mix of cereals in large canisters and the milk was set up in an ice sculpture to keep cool." (Photo: Boy With A Knife.)
3. Build-Your-Own Food Stations
These stations allow guests to be directly involved in the food-making process in a way that's both easy and fun. "I think build-your-own stations are growing in popularity because younger couples are looking for fun, fresh and casual ideas that are off the beaten path from traditional weddings," says Sean Fay, owner of Boy With A Knife. "Build-your-own bars keep guests social and interactive during the wedding and give them the option to pick and choose their meal based on their dietary restrictions and preferences." Build-your-own taco stations are especially popular.
4. Food Trucks
Food trucks not only provide variety, but are a quirky alternative to the classic sit-down meal—and VanMag Executive Editor Stacey McLachlan found that they were a more affordable catering option for her own wedding, where Tacofino and Vij's Railway Express trucks gave guests plenty of plates to choose from. The other great thing about food trucks is that they can be used for the main event...or for a surprise snack that arrives later in the evening (the White Spot truck that arrived at this surprise ceremony in Stanley Park turned out to be a real crowd pleaser).
5. Dessert Carts
Move over, cake! Ice cream and churros (and so much more!) are becoming popular wedding dessert choices. Several local shops, including Rain or Shine, can be hired to scoop out ice cream from their roaming dessert carts. "Couples can each choose their favourite flavours or create a sundae named after them," says Rain or Shine's Josie Fenton. "It’s a great chance for out-of-town guests to experience something truly local to Vancouver using seasonal fresh ingredients from small farms and other local companies." And if you love cinnamon and sugar, there's always churros. "Guests watch our 'churrista' make them on the spot," says Daniel Garcia, owner of Hugo's Churros. Their mobile cart serves churros with Nutella and salted caramel dipping sauce—they also offer churro gelato bowls (great for summer weddings!). (Photo: Mary Lee Newnham, Emelle's Catering.)
6. Cheese Cake
No...we're not talking about the kind you get from the bakery. This trend is all about cakes made entirely of cheese. "Thinking outside the cake box is a very hot trend (as is not getting custard smashed in your face!)," says Nicole Burke of Emelle's Catering. "The cheese cake checks off some of the traditional elements but with a bit more panache—it can be prepared with pretty colours, ribbons and bows to suit your aesthetic, and flavour options are just as vast." Some of the cheeses used in the photo above are brie, red lion (cheddar with mustard) and oka from Les Amis Du Fromage (another great place to source cheese in Vancouver is Benton Brothers). "What’s better is that, at the later part of the evening when the wine is flowing, you have a perfect pairing," says Burke. (Photo: Cartems Donuts.)
Doughnuts have been hugely popular for a few years now: walls (doughnuts hanging on pegs), cakes (tiered doughnuts) and letters (spelling words like "Mr" and "Mrs") are just some of the many variations of the trend. "Interactive desserts are a fun way to ensure your guests are dancing the night away with a doughnut in hand," says Gurleen Pooni, marketing manager at Cartems Donuts.
8. Late-Night Snacks
Planning for a round of late-night snacks is a great way to make sure your guests go home with full bellies. Comfort food is the go-to for most, with couples choosing to serve everything from pizza (tried-and-tested by two VanMag editors at their weddings last year) to poutine—Mean Poutine has more than 30 options so you can even go as far as setting up a poutine bar where guests can choose toppings like bacon bits and gravy. Freshly baked cookies served with miniature vintage milk bottles work well as an extra late-night dessert option, too.