Guide to the Perfect Wedding. Wedding Venue Offers Advice on: Food and Beverage: Eat, Drink, and Be Married

The “food and beverage” element of your wedding is yet another way you can tell your wedding story. It’s true! You can infuse personality, style, and culture into the cuisine, in other words, really make your wedding a memorable experience for your guests, without a lot of extra work.

Incorporating your favorite foods is a way to personalize your wedding. Perhaps you have a passion for sweets; your reception can feature a fabulous gelato bar that will allow guests to add their own toppings. Your close friends and family will instantly recognize your well-thought-out touch of infused personality.

For the meal, a “family style” serving method maintains the formality of the occasion, but also opens the table up to lively conversation. This is especially true when there’s a fun, cultural element thrown in-whether that’s tasting Jamaican jerk chicken or authentic Italian bruschetta or something else that’s new and different. Food has always been a great ice-breaker. There’s a reason people congregate in the kitchen when you’re entertaining at home! People see family meals as a form of comfort, and that holds true for the food served at your wedding. But remember, serving family style does not equal sloppy. You should insist your caterer uses great dishes and serving pieces.

When it comes to catering your event, presentation matters! People really do “eat” with their eyes first, so each course should be visually exciting. The colors and textures of the food, from the first course to the dessert, should be an extension of your wedding décor. And that goes for drinks too. For cocktail hour, serve a signature cocktail (either passed or at the bar) that matches your wedding colors, and for that special touch, name it after something meaningful to you and your groom (the place where you met, your song, or something similar).

When creating your wedding menu, keep the following tips in mind:

*At the cocktail hour, stick to finger foods (ideally, five hot dishes and five cold dishes) and be creative. The passed hors d’oeuvres are your chance to inject some personality into your menu. Consider shot glasses filled with your favorite soup or miniature gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Setting up food stations is another great option. Think raw bars, sushi bars, carving stations, stir-fry stations, or pasta stations.

*Never have the first course preset at the reception it’ll spoil the surprise! Have the appetizer course revealed after your guests are seated. It’s always better to keep your guests guessing.

*Remember the thirty minute rule! Each course should be consumed and cleared within half an hour and that goes for family style meals too. A wedding reception is not a dinner party, so the food should be one element of the event, not the focus.

*Don’t balk at buffets. When done right, having buffet stations can add energy to your celebration, because guests will be up and mingling.

*Keep the menu light. You don’t need six courses, stick to the traditional three-course menu (appetizer, entrée, and dessert). Also avoid heavy foods and sauces, which will weigh guests down. It’s a party, you want them up and dancing, and having a fabulous time!

*Experiment with “duets” and “trios” to add a touch of novelty to the meal. Duets and trios give your guests the opportunity to sample different flavors and choices within the same appetizer, entrée, or dessert course. For example, a mac n cheese trip could feature three different preparations of this classic dish and a beef duo could match braised short ribs with petit filet mignon. However, duets and trios shouldn’t be offered with every course. That would be overkill!

*Literally cater to your guests! It’s great if you and your groom are “foodies,” but if the majority of your guests aren’t, then don’t get all fancy on them. You don’t want your guests to feel intimidated by the food, so keep your menu selections simple.

Finally brides, please do not consider cooking your own food or having a potluck wedding. Even if you have a limited budget, you do have other options.

Either ask your caterer to create a simple, less-expensive menu, or consider having a cocktail party reception. Cocktail parties are often more upbeat and celebratory than a dinner reception, so take advantage. Have “passed” food during the first hour, and then open up buffet stations, serving light fare, as the party progresses.

Don’t let the cost of food keep you from having the large wedding you’ve always wanted. It’s better to have a simpler menu and be able to invite all your closet friends and family members than to have a sit-down dinner reception and be forced to limit your guest list. Yes, you need to feed your guests, but having them there is what’s most important.

Woodrow Hall would love to assist you with your wedding plans.

Call or text 205-243-4243 or 205-200-6494 or contact us by email at or

You can also schedule a time to stop by at Woodrow Hall by visiting our scheduling tool on our website:

We look forward to serving you!

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