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Top 10 Wedding Menu Ideas

Updated on August 11, 2013

The Best Wedding Menu Ideas

Wedding catering has come a long way over the past ten years with more and more interesting food on offer than ever before but where do you start?

I've personally been in the food industry for over 30 years and have conducted a email questionnaire of all my colleagues to see what they think should be in the top 10 wedding menu ideas.

I was also curious to find out what they think is currently number one and of course I have also added my own opinion :-)

Let me know what your favourite wedding catering food is in the comment section below. If I think it was overlooked, I may add it to the list of honourable mentions or even the main lens.

I am going to list the catering options in order from 10 and countdown to number one. The honourable mentions are at the bottom of the page but don't cheat and start at the bottom first!

After all the fun research I have done I hope this will help you kick start your wedding planning in the right direction.

Top 10

Full List Below

finger buffet
finger buffet

# 10 - Finger buffets

Well I guess it had to be in the list somewhere! The finger buffet is a classic and after all the emails I sent out I honestly thought the finger buffet wouldn't appear in the top ten list but it did get votes so people must still enjoy a buffet at a wedding.

When choosing finger food try not to stick with just one menu choice if possible. The hotel, stately home or venue will probably give you 3 or 4 menu choices but if you are catering for 100 or more people imagine what it will look like if you only have 4 or 5 items displayed.

For example on the table quiche, sandwiches, sausage rolls, vol au vent's, pie .... quiche, sandwiches, sausage rolls, vol au vent's, pie ....quiche, sandwiches, sausage rolls, vol au vent's, pie .... do you see what I mean?

If you are offered a choice of menus ask to mix and match or ask if you can choose your own menu using the menus they have provided. By doing this you will have a much bigger selection of food and it will look more appealing to your guests.

If the response is no then maybe this is not a good venue to be having your wedding reception as this is a basic request and at the end of the day it's your wedding and you should have it how you want it not how someone else has set out.

Hot buffet
Hot buffet

# 9 - Hot buffet

The hot buffet at a wedding is a very popular wedding food choice in the UK. Over 32% of weddings have a hot buffet either during the day or as part of the nighttime catering and it's no surprise to me that it has made this top 10 list

The hot buffet when provided correctly can be a wonderful addition to your wedding day. The choices are endless and can include for example curry, chilli, lasagne, sweet and sour chicken, cottage pie and pasta bake.

The hot buffet usually includes side dishes such as rice, garlic bread, chips, fries, potatoes, vegetables and corn on the cob which compliment the main dish. The guests simply help themselves to what they want and the service time is normally very quick.

If this is an option you are considering I would suggest a hot buffet for your night time catering because the hot buffet can be left open for guests to return for more during a longer period of time compared to during the day when other key moments are happening ie: cutting the cake, the first dance or speeches. This will give you the best value for money.

food platter
food platter

# 8 - Food platters

Food platters were originally popular back in the 1980s but they were to simple and unappealing to the eye. During the 1990s people forgot about them and it seemed like one of those ideas people liked but just didn't work.

The food platter is a prime example of the changes in wedding catering over the past five years. The food platter options that are now available are impressive and include: sliced meat, oriental, crudités, salmon, sandwich, mini bun and French stick to name a few.

The thing people liked most about food platters is the range of choice which is now available. In my opinion the best thing about a food platter is how they look so appetizing especially as a collective group.

An option which people have overlooked is that they make the most eyecatching centre pieces. If you have a finger buffet and then add the food platters as centre pieces for the buffet table then the food platters really do come into there own.

I will say if you are going to use food platters for your wedding catering I would suggest using a company who can show you examples of their previous work as some caterers, hotels and stately homes seem to have missed the memo and still produce food platters from the 1980s.

Sit down meal
Sit down meal

# 7 - Sit down meal

A sit down meal is also a very popular choice for wedding catering. If I had made this list 10 years ago I'm sure it would have been number one but has it had it's day?

I started this top 10 to see what other options are now popular because of the sit down meal, in my opinion overly used. I don't think I know anyone that hasn't had a sit down meal at a wedding.

It's a traditional food service and still very popular but can be a bit boring mainly due to it's set up of sitting next to 9 other people trying to make conversation while waiting for course after course.

If a sit down meal is what you have your heart set on then I would suggest making a few changes to make the experience better for guests.

1. Don't allocate seating let guests decide where they would like to sit themselves

2. Don't give people to many choices in fact I would suggest only one choice for everyone except people with dietary requirements

3. Split the courses with something interesting e.g. speeches after the main meal then a dessert

4. Do a taste session. This will give you a good idea of how the final food will look and taste on your wedding day.

Spit roast wedding catering
Spit roast wedding catering

# 6 - Spit roast

Spit roast catering is a fast growing wedding catering option and can be very cost effective.

If you are looking to save money on your wedding take a look at this lens I put together: lower the cost of your wedding day

The smell from a fully cooked pig is out of this world and having the pig on a spit provides a very nice show piece and will impress every guest in attendance.

The pig is usually carved by a chef and served in buns. There is also the option of having the pork plated and served with salads, vegetables, potatoes the choice is yours. One of the finer things about a spit roast is the crackling when done correctly it can be the best part of the meal.

You do need to be aware spit roast catering is a specialist kind of catering and there are many caterers/part time companies that say they can offer this service but in fact struggle to do it on the day.

Spit roasting a full pig is something that should be left to the professionals and not attempted by yourself. The main problem is when a pig is fully cooked the meat becomes soft and moist. So what's wrong with that you might think , Absolutely nothing! It's wonderful but the pig is still attached to a spit using a spit roast machine as the pig increasingly becomes less sturdy.

The cowboys and part time roasters often overlook this fact and the pig drops off the spit leaving a mess not suited to wedding catering.

Do your research before booking a spit roast. There are many very good spit roast companies who will provide a safe, professional service.

Lamb roast
Lamb roast

# 5 - Lamb roast

It's expensive (all lamb is ) but is it worth it? A lamb roast at your wedding is truly a spectacle that will wow your guests visually and simply blow them away in the taste department.

This is one of my personal favourites! I attended a wedding in Northumberland last year and the lamb roast was what everyone was talking about ! As soon as we arrived all the guests couldn't wait to try it! The lamb is carved by a chef and served with vegetables and potatoes with the option of mint sauce and gravy.

The wedding was in a marquee so guests were served at the back and then sat down to eat. Many of the guests returned for more and the lamb did not see the end of the service.

Two things to note if you are considering having a lamb roast at your wedding

1. It is expensive around 3 times the price of a spit roast or hog roast

2. It needs to be served plated unlike the hog roast and spit roast

These are minor issues for a service so wonderful.

crepe station
crepe station

# 4 - Crepe station

Sweet and savoury crepes are the fastest growing wedding catering option right now. It's really quite staggering how popular the crepes have become with 8% of night time weddings providing a crepe station.

Why is it so popular?

With a choice of sweet or savoury filled crepe it's not hard to see why! The crepes are made fresh with yummy fillings including strawberries, bananas, lemon and sugar or cream and chocolate sauce. The savoury crepes are just as tempting with fillings such as ham, cheese, onions and tuna to name a few.

The set up which depends on the caterer, is also very impressive! Sometimes as many as three chefs in whites working on hot stones making light crepes can turn out to be not only a topic of conversation but a bit of entertainment for the guests as well. Guests will be impressed and enjoy this unique style of wedding catering.

My suggestion would be to either have the sweet crepes as a dessert after your main meal or if crepes are going to be for the night time event choose the sweet and savoury so guests can have one of each.

combination wedding menus
combination wedding menus

# 3 - Combination menus

Combination menus have been growing in popularity over the past 3 years. I only know three catering companies in the UK that offer combination menus although if you speak with your caterer, hotel or stately home where you are having your wedding they may be able to offer something similar.

What are combination menus?

A combination menu is a mixture of catering services. Most caterers specialise in one or two particular products or services but the larger catering companies offer an extensive range of catering options that you can mix and match creating your very own combination wedding menu.

Here is an example

BBQ and fork buffet combo during the day

Spit roast and crepe station on the night

It's a very nice combination of catering services your guests will enjoy

hog roast wedding catering
hog roast wedding catering

# 2 - Hog roast

Just short of the top spot is the hog roast. It's popularity has outweighed everything listed over the past 5 years and continues to be the number one choice for night time wedding catering.

You maybe thinking "haven't we already had this in the list"? the short answer is no but it does give me a good opportunity to explain the difference between the hog roast and the spit roast.

The hog roast is a full pig cooked in a tray using a hog roast machine. It tends to have it's rib cage removed whereas with the spit roast the ribs remain intact for stability for cooking. The spit roast is again a full pig but attached to a rotisserie that rotates when cooking.

The hog roast is a more popular option because the pig cooks in it's own juices, making the meat more tender and "juicy".

The hog roast can be served in buns or plated with salad and potatoes.

Top tips for a hog roast

1. Book early. All the good hog roast companies will book up fast in the summer so don't delay

2. Make sure it's a free range pig. It is a better quality meat

3. Ensure your venue has enough space and they will let you have a hog roast on site

4. Don't try to DIY . You have far more important things to be doing on your wedding day

5. Ask for a vegetarian alternative to be provided. Popular choices are veggie burgers and vegetable lasagne

Wedding wear

BBQ wedding catering
BBQ wedding catering

# 1 - BBQ catering

The number one choice from a survey of over 250 people is BBQ wedding catering

BBQ food at weddings was the overwhelming choice. It's seems everyone loves a BBQ no matter what the occasion but having a BBQ at your wedding is voted as being "unique" and I couldn't agree more.

I've been to five or six weddings with a BBQ being served either during the day or on a night and these have easily been the most fun and relaxed weddings I have ever been to.

Why a BBQ

1. It's FUN

2. The range of food available is endless

3. It's relaxed and fits any social occasion perfectly and this is why we have a wedding reception yes?

4. The smell of the BBQ charcoals is easily one of my favourite smells. There is just something about it that puts me into a fun, easy and relaxed mood!

These are my reasons but what did other people say?

"I can't imagine a more fitting food for a wedding"

"If you find a good barbecue catering company this would be number 1 for me"

"tried and tested I wouldn't do it any other way"

"for my wedding I had a BBQ and it really made the day such a good memory"

Top tips for a BBQ wedding

1. Choose a BBQ caterer that uses charcoal or just don't bother doing it

2. Choose a menu with a lot of variety not just sausages and burgers

3. Ensure the food is high quality ask for samples from the caterer, hotel or stately home

4. Space, you need a lot of outdoor space so everyone can mingle

5. Keep it simple you don't really need china plates, linen napkins etc it still needs to be FUN

6. Don't worry about the weather if it rains it rains, guests have cover with the marquee or venue anyway

So there you have it a top ten of wedding catering options, Are you looking to save money on your wedding if so view this article Cut back on wedding costs I hope whatever choice you make your day is just how you imagined it to be.

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    • philiphewitson profile image
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      philiphewitson 5 years ago

      @Sean1987: No problem hope the info helps you to rank well

    • Sean1987 profile image

      Sean Gagne 5 years ago from Tampa Bay Area

      Great lens! Thanks for liking my Guitar starter Kit lens!

    • philiphewitson profile image
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      philiphewitson 5 years ago

      @WriterJanis2: Hi Janis, would you have chosen something different if you could do it all again or was it exactly how you imagined it to be?

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I had a sit down with mine where guests had two main choices to pick from, but could also request vegetarian.

    • philiphewitson profile image
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      philiphewitson 5 years ago

      @squid-pinkchic18: Thanks Pinkchic18 it means a lot to me that you have enjoyed the lens, I read you work all the time.

    • philiphewitson profile image
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      philiphewitson 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I agree Dave it's now a very popular choice

    • philiphewitson profile image
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      philiphewitson 5 years ago

      @TTMall: Thanks TTMall I'm pleased you enjoyed the article

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      AlexanderMontanez 5 years ago

      The idea of wedding menus is simply great. A lot of information is written on this page.

    • philiphewitson profile image
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      philiphewitson 5 years ago

      @frances lm: Thanks for your comment, From my experience the answer is no people generally don't come to weddings on their own so they will have company on arrival and it wouldn't make any difference because tables are normally set out in 8's or 10's and it would be irrelevant for guests who didn't know anyone if the tables have allocate seating or not as they would still be seated next to people they don't know.

    • frances lm profile image

      frances lm 5 years ago

      But if guests can choose their own seating at a sit down event, then what happens to the guests who know almost no one? Wouldn't the event split into cliques?

    • philiphewitson profile image
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      philiphewitson 5 years ago

      @whoknowsaguycom: Really appreciate the tweet

    • profile image

      whoknowsaguycom 5 years ago

      Man, all this food looks soo good. Awesome explanation. As a guy I am down to eat some BBQ Catering for my wedding. I even sent this to my world on Twitter..

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      Great Lens with great resources!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I think the hog roast is a wonderfully different option for a wedding!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 5 years ago

      Great lens! These are wonderful options for wedding dinners. At my wedding we just did a served meal, but I've been to a lot of weddings where they do a buffet instead. All good ideas!