4 tips for a memorable wedding day menu

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We all love the pomp and circumstance of a wedding ceremony, but let’s be honest, after seeing the bride’s

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dress, the next most anticipated part of the wedding is the reception — specifically the food.

Planning a menu that will satisfy all your guests can be a herculean effort and a budget-buster.

But the wedding cuisine doesn’t have to put a crimp in your budget if you choose a smart, efficient catering company that works diligently to make the wishes of the wedding couple come true.

My Chef Catering, winner of The Knot’s 2012 and 2013 Best of Weddings Award for Catering, says that making the wedding couple’s needs and wishes a reality does not have to kidnap the whole budget.

“Traditionally, food is not the most expensive part of the wedding,” said Dominick Scafidi, director of catering sales for My Chef Catering for the past 17 years.

For example, My Chef offers a dual entrée plate that helps out financially because it offers smaller portions of entrees (chicken and beef tenderloin) as a package deal.

My Chef and Harner’s Bakery in Aurora suggest considering these factors when planning your wedding cuisine:

1. Make the ordinary entree more special.

If you can’t afford a full-scale choice of beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian options, it is certainly possible to make the best of what you can afford.

“Instead of just chicken breast, [provide your guests] chicken with pizazz,” said Bill Garlough, owner of My Chef Catering.

Garlough suggests a variety of poultry dishes that have some magic such as Chicken Francaise with a crème en glaze sauce — that way, it isn’t just a piece of chicken sitting there on the plate.

2. Consider the time of day.
The time of day — even the day of the week — may determine if you really need a cocktail hour with appetizers or a full bar. This can also determine the possibility of skipping a cocktail hour altogether. Additionally,
varying the time of day can cut down on the costs of the food served. A brunch-style menu can reduce costs considerably because there isn’t as much work to do in preparing the food.

3. Address special needs.
Of course the couple will want to consider any special needs guests may have such as food allergies, restricted diets and lifestyle choices. Working with a catering company adept at handling the variety of issues that arise when planning a menu will ensure that guests feel welcome and enjoy themselves at the wedding and reception.

4 . Match the food to the level of formality.
Food is a very important part of the entire event and many couples choose to use the menu as a time to celebrate their own traditions, tastes, culture and quite simply, what they prefer.

“We’ve done pig roasts for weddings, but many of our customers prefer regular Midwestern food like baked beans, potato salad, roast beef, ham, fried chicken and more backyard barbecue-types of food,” said Jodi Binkley, manager of Harner’s Bakery and Catering in Aurora.

Binkley also said that couples tend to choose a caterer who specializes in cooking the type of food they want to have at their wedding. So if they want Indian food, they will find a catering company that specializes in preparing that type of food.

Some couples may choose to feature a selection of desserts or only have appetizers or finger food such as bite-sized sliders, chicken wings and meatballs instead of a full-scale meal. Some couples may also choose to have food that celebrates their culture such as Middle Eastern cuisine.

“The formality of the menu really depends on your traditions,” Scafidi said.