Second only to perhaps the grand entrance of the bride, the part of a wedding guests look forward to the most is when they can finally sit down and eat. Although food and drinks are two basic standards that guests have come to expect from every wedding they attend, the trends change from year to year. That’s why we caught up with wedding planners, chefs, and caterers to hear about the ways their couples are asking them to approach big-day food this wedding season.
If you’re in the trenches of putting together your own menu, take a page from their trendsetting notes and consider one of these “so summer 2018″ ideas.
1. Smaller plates will be a hit.
When your eldest cousin got hitched a decade ago, you overstuffed yourself with every last bite of your mighty-sized steak. Today though? Jeff Farlow, the executive chef at Wente Vineyards, says couples are turning away from the beef, chicken, or salmon mega-plate in favor of smaller bites. While sit-down meals are still trendy, he says this added twist allows newlyweds to introduce their guests to a surprising creation of flavors, cuisines, and concoctions. Especially for foodie couples who salivate over fare that’s anything but basic, a tapas-style dinner allows for experimentation and playfulness in a modern presentation.
2. Much more seafood.
Do you and your partner enjoy lobster rolls, crab cakes, and fresh oyster on the regular? You’re in luck, as Farlow predicts an influx of reception meals and cocktail party bites featuring sustainably-farmed seafood. “It not only gained recognition in the past year, but with some wild seafood inventories decreasing, the demand will only continue to grow,” he explains. “Many of these vendors have high quality programs that are healthy, delicious, and something couples can feel comfortable using.”
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3. Stronger focus on quality over quantity.
While you don’t always have a lot of say over the size of your wedding (hey, your parents have a lot of friends!), you should have final say over what’s served to guests. Regardless of how many guests are in attendance, Farlow sees an increased emphasis on quality over quantity—with couples placing a higher value on worthwhile culinary experiences that push tradition. “The same old standard wedding fare is off the table, giving way to more modern and customized menu choices that reflect the theme and personality of the event. We’ll continue to see requests for unique menu embellishments and upgrades to wow their guests,” he shares.
4. A heightened emphasis on local.
Even though a strong focus on local experiences has always been a trend for weddings, in-house wedding planner at Chalet View Lodge Paulette Alkire, Paulette Alkire, says more couples are using booze and food as a hospitable and thoughtful gesture. Every twosome will handle this belly-warming approach differently, but she’s fulfilled requests ranging from a local brewer on tap at the open bar reception to coordinating a welcome basket full of goodies and food-focused wedding favors. “This allows couples to help their remember not just that their friends got married, but have the experience of being there to witness it,” she adds.
5. More ice cream as dessert.
Perhaps 2018 is the year of the sweet tooth? According to event planner Carrie Darling, ice cream is on the rise! Lick your chops and prepare your cone, because rehearsal dinners with sweet creations, ice cream-centered groom’s cakes, and ice cream sundae bars from local creameries are just a handful of the requests Darling’s received. The trend might not be in this frozen treat though, but rather, in a couple’s choice to indulge in foods that make them happy. “We’re finding that no matter the level of formality, couples want to include their favorite comfort foods on their special day,” she adds.
This article originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.