As I mentioned in the blog I wrote about our caterer, choosing the company that would cook and serve our wedding meal was one of the more time-intensive processes we've encountered in the planning process. The lessons we've learned?

  • Most caterers will offer you a taste test. Take it. 
  • Most don't offer a run-through of their Health Department records. Look them up at your county office. See whether they have violations (involving such issues as food temperature, hand-washing practices and code compliance). Hire those that do not have serious, repeated violations. Or any, lol.
  • Drill down to really understand what you'll be charged. Many caterers will charge you for the food, drink service, the manpower for their station cooks (if you do stations) and other personnel, cake-cutting services, china and flatware, and more. Ask for a price quote, delineating every charge, in writing.
  • If you care like I do, ask about how many weddings they serve in any given year and how long they've been in business.
  • Finally, LISTEN. If a caterer tells you that something will work well or won't, take their word for it. Your best ideas (like our first desire for a pasta station) will only be the best when executed right, and if a caterer advises against something, it's probably best to give their opinion due consideration. They've been there, done that.

Enough about our own findings. Here's what my Facebook friends advised when it comes to deciding what you'll serve for your big event:

Buffet service, many said, is fine and dandy, but has a more sophisticated feel when servers actually serve guests. Another urged us to choose foods that are an extension of us. She wrote: 

"I think a lot of people get hung up on pleasing the guests rather than making the wedding an extension of themselves. It's the personal touches about you both that tell your story that people will remember and enjoy the most. They are there to celebrate you!"

We didn't consciously do this, but it's safe to say that a certain dish involving bacon reflects my groom, and another dish involving capers (those scrumptious little things!) reflects my love of all foods Mediterranean. Above all else, though, Steven's and my decision to serve more country-style entrees rather than pricier, elegant dishes is so us. 

Others said they like family-style service (where platters of each dish are brought to the table for your guests to serve themselves). We were going to do this until our caterer pointed out that serving family-style food, only to force our guests to get up to enjoy the mashed potato topping bar ... didn't make much sense. Remember? Listen to your vendors.

I feel this goes without saying, but many of my Facebook friends encouraged brides and grooms to serve options for vegetarians and vegans, if possible. Steven and I included in our RSVP card a way for people to tell us what they will not (or cannot) eat. See?
As you can see, we chose to have a little fun with something that traditionally asks only for names and meal selection. :]

Back to the topic at hand: Others also suggested offering more dessert than just wedding cake. We're not really doing that (it's simply not in the budget), but I think we're achieving quite a bit of variety by offering guests six varieties of mini cupcakes whipped up by one mega-talented baker.

Other ideas that people offered:

  • Let your date dictate the menu. Getting married on or near Fourth of July? Offer foods that typically would be served at such outings. 
  • Offer stations (so long as your caterer is confident it won't create long waits!) that let people handpick the tacos and plates of pasta they really want.
  • Serve late-night food for those guests of yours who dance the night away with you. We are hoping to order pizza.
  • Even if something's not on the menu, ask about it if you want it. One of our dishes is not one on our caterer's given wedding selections menu, but still, they offer it, make it homemade and will be serving it to our guests. We'd never have known that if we hadn't asked.
  • Finally, one person recommended serving appetizers to your guests so they have something to munch on during the time between the ceremony and the reception's official start. We're doing this, but keeping it simple for budget reasons but also because a few caterers told me that they see it happen too often that people fill up on appetizers only to enjoy the meal less.
  • We met with our DJ on Thursday night for our pre-wedding planning meeting, and while there, the husband and wife team urged us to actually EAT at our wedding. In fact, they said they'd make sure it happens. As a woman who likes food, I appreciate how adamantly they feel about this!

What's the best wedding food you've ever had?
Traditions, schmaditions: A number of people said they'd rejected certain traditions during their big day. Many skipped the bridal party dance -- you know, where groomsmen and bridesmaids who may not know each other are asked to dance together. I recently wrote a blog about selecting songs for special dances for Something New Entertainment, and Anna-Jeannine, my DJ, said she's seen others welcome their bridal parties to dance instead with their respective dates. Much better idea, from my perspective.

One girl said she wished she had skipped the garter part because it was awkward and she didn't want to do it, but was pressured into it. Another recent bride mentioned they, too, skipped the garter and bouquet tosses because they felt they were "tacky" and "outdated."

Another noted her groom and she skipped the unity candle and other touches that are more about families uniting than the couple uniting. "This was about our union, not our family members," she wrote. They also skipped the cake-smashing to be kind to one another.

Given how much money/time may be spent on my makeup and is being spent on the dress, I have ZERO interest in cake-smashing.

"How much interest do you have in cake-smashing?" I just asked Steven, who's sitting beside me on the couch.

"Not much," he replied. "I know it's a tradition and everything, but it's like, why? Then I have to take a time-out from everything to get cleaned up."

Another sign we are meant to be, lol.

Finally, here are some i
deas you might steal (if you can) from others:

Something old:
+Grandma's opera gloves
+Great-grandmother's engagement ring

Something new:
+The bride's dress

Something borrowed:
+The bride's circlet (headpiece, and yes, I did look that up)
+Family necklace and family hankie

Something blue:
+The bride's garter
+Bride's toenails
+And, for what it's worth, I'm considering wearing blue shoes.

What did you do for your big day that others might copy?
Suggestions from Today's Bride:
Dessert bar, s'mores buffets and pie pops. Having never met a pie pop, I went on a quick Google hunt. Behold:
And this suggestion, I can't pronounce, let alone define: croquembouche. But another hunt reveals that it's puffs galore:
Other suggestions and insights: Pie, period. Cake pops. Cheesecake. Candy and ice cream bars. The yummy, yet messy, chocolate fountain. Centerpiece cakes on each table. A tiered cake for that cake-cutting moment, but sheet cakes (kept discreetly out of sight) served to guests to cut costs. When ordering, remember that not every guest will eat cake, so order fewer slices than people invited. One sorority sister of mine also reminded me that venues will charge a cake-cutting fee. Couple that fee with the price per slice, and you easily could pay $10 a slice. No cake ever tastes that good, she argued.

Flat-out recommendations: Reeves Cake Shop. Cake Loft. Create-A-Cake.

Topics to broach with any baker, per my Facebook friends: Some people don't like the taste of fondant, so make sure you do. Otherwise, ask the baker to stick with frosting.

Now, if like me, you like the idea of cupcakes, I found this to be something to remember: If you've refrigerated the treats and they don't return to room temperature by the time guests are biting into them, the frosting tastes solid.

Here's a few rustic cupcake-related ideas I've found: