We’re knee deep in wedding season—which means you may be planning yours or helping to plan someone else’s. Backyard weddings and receptions are not only budget-friendly, but they’re a great way to incorporate a sense of home into the festivities. Another great way to get that “homey” feel is by designing a wedding food menu in your kitchen. Whether you’re making food for your big day or doing it as a favor for a friend, here are a few helpful pointers for pulling it off:
Create a food budget
This is an important first step and one that shouldn’t be skipped. A budget helps you decide what you or the bride can afford so there aren’t any surprises down the road. Take into account number of guests, portion sizes, and the number of courses that will be served. Don’t forget to add in the price of alcohol too. If you don’t already, it may be worth it to get a membership to Costco (or a similar store) since you’ll be buying large quantities of food and drinks.
Know your kitchen’s limits
Designing a food menu with your kitchen in mind will save you a lot of heartache on the day of the wedding. Nothing’s worse than planning out an entire menu only to realize you have nowhere to prep or store everything! Take into account refrigerator and freezer space that you’ll need to store ingredients and prepared foods. Also, be aware of baking times so you don’t end up with two dishes that need to go in the oven at the same time at different temperatures.
Choose foods that represent the happy couple’s taste
You want the food menu to reflect the bride and groom’s personalities and tastes. If you’re designing the food menu for a friend, be sure to sit down with her and find out what vibe she’s going for before planning the menu. Ask her any foods she doesn’t like or is allergic to. Backyard weddings tend to be more casual, so heavy hor‘devours or a family style sit down meal could be good choices. Also, let the time of day of the reception be your guide. If it’s an early afternoon wedding, a formal sit down meal may be overkill.
Keep it seasonal
Fresh peaches may be plentiful now, but come fall they’ll be nearly impossible to find. That’s why it’s important to keep the season in mind when planning a wedding food menu. In season produce will not only be less expensive, but it’ll taste better too. Also consider the temperature outside. Hot weather calls for light, refreshing foods that are simple to eat.
Pick foods that can be prepped in advance
Trying to make everything the day of the wedding can be a nightmare. Instead, choose appetizers and dishes that can mostly, if not entirely, be prepared a day or two ahead of time like mini quiches, dips, cut fruit, and baked goods. Make a cooking schedule or timeline to help keep organized.
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