Wedding Menu Ideas & Planning FAQs

Wedding
Menu
Ideas &
Planning
FAQ

with Brianna Alcorn
of Terrain Events

“Food and beverage will account for most of your wedding spend, so investing in a trustworthy, capable, and equipped caterer is like a life insurance policy!”

Choosing a wedding caterer and planning your menu are some of the biggest decisions you’ll make as you prepare for your big day. They can be stressful decisions, too! After all, how often do you host a dinner party for 200 of your closest friends? To make the planning process easier, we asked an expert: Brianna Alcorn of Terrain Events. As Director of Events for Terrain’s gorgeous wedding venues, Brianna has worked with countless couples to plan the perfect celebration. Below, she weighs in on common questions about food and drink for your I do’s.

Choosing a wedding caterer and planning your menu are some of the biggest decisions you’ll make as you prepare for your big day. They can be stressful decisions, too! After all, how often do you host a dinner party for 200 of your closest friends? To make the planning process easier, we asked an expert: Brianna Alcorn of Terrain Events. As Director of Events for Terrain’s gorgeous wedding venues, Brianna has worked with countless couples to plan the perfect celebration. Below, she weighs in on common questions about food and drink for your I do’s.

Q: How can couples plan for catering expenses? Are there any costs that often get overlooked?

A: Food and beverage will account for most of your wedding spend, so investing in a trustworthy, capable, and equipped caterer is like a life insurance policy! Your caterer should be upfront about any extra costs associated with your booking, but make sure you ask the right questions. Do they include dinnerware and glassware? Do they have set minimums? Do they include servers? Be thorough!

Q: What should you look for when choosing a wedding caterer?

A: After a wedding, the first thing people rave about (or criticize!) is the food. When selecting a caterer, strive to choose one who you’re confident will provide your guests with something they haven’t experienced before. That said, references are key! It’s so easy to find reviews on social media, vendor listing sites, and review sites, so do your research as you narrow down your list of caterers. It’s also a great idea to ask your other vendors for recommendations—they’ve likely tried a LOT of wedding food and will have some great insights. Finally, consider asking your favorite restaurant if they offer catering. At Terrain Events, our food is created in the same style as our Cafe, so couples can enjoy their favorite dishes (like our famous Flower Pot Bread!) at their wedding, too.

Q: How long before the wedding should you schedule a tasting and finalize your wedding menu ideas?

A: Each venue and caterer has their own tasting process, so it’s best to establish guidelines and timing when you book. At your tasting, soak in the full experience: focus on the food and beverage while taking note of seasonings, flavors, and your favorite items. After that, rely on your catering contacts. They’re experts on how to choose a wedding menu that feels balanced while still representing you as a couple.

Q: Can you talk about the pros and cons of a buffet vs. a plated dinner?

A: The way you serve your meal is a very personal choice, and costs can shift depending on service style. If not done properly, a buffet can be confusing and clunky; if done right, it offers guests an opportunity to eat at their leisure. Plated dinners take more organizing but help to set a formal tone. If you can’t decide between buffet and plated, ask your caterer if your meal can be served family style. Family style is the best of both worlds—it allows for efficient service while taking out the “wedding homework” of submitting meal counts to your venue. Don’t feel like sitting at all? Make your reception feel like cocktail hour with substantial food stations, small composed plates, and plenty of time for dancing!

Q: How can you accommodate guests with dietary restrictions?

A: Almost every food and beverage establishment is well-versed in allergies and dietary restrictions. To keep your event flow seamless, ask for dietary restrictions on your RSVP cards. In most cases, those with severe restrictions will take that extra step, and you can pass the information along to the caterer.

Q: How can you make your wedding menu unique?

A: For a unique culinary experience, it’s important to pick a caterer who has a vision for their signature fare. At Terrain venues, for example, we feature local and sustainable ingredients for a true farm-to-fork culinary experience. For our events team, it’s also exciting to create twists on classic events fare for a menu that’s forward-thinking without being too trend driven. One of our recent favorites is a moules frites station with mussels, white wine sauce, marinara, Thai coconut broth, and house made fries!

Q: It can be tough to know how much alcohol to serve at a wedding. How can couples decide on the best bar format?

A: This is wholly dependent on the couple and their guests—you know best what will make sense for your group. First and foremost, understand the options that your venue offers. This can vary widely; one of our Terrain venues is BYO, while the other offers a full-service bar package. BYO can be a great option because it allows you to calculate your needs and tailor the bar to your crowd, which could save you money. However, it also means extra planning legwork and potentially the need for a cocktail caterer to elevate your experience. While potentially a more expensive option, venues with alcohol packages offer more variety so you can find the easily perfect beverages for your event.

Q: Signature cocktails: yea or nay?

A: Cocktails are always a yes, but don’t overthink signature drinks. Instead, showcase something seasonal—no one will turn down a hot toddy on a winter day, or a fruity libation in the heat of summer. Your signature cocktail doesn’t need to be too complicated; I recommend a twist on a classic crowd-pleaser. (Plus, who doesn’t want to serve a cocktail that they get to name themselves?!)

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