Your wedding is likely to be one of the most special days of your life. But how do you create a celebration that truly pops? One of the components in creating a unique, personalized celebration is definitely the food.
In an age when weddings needn’t be formal, buttoned up affairs, there are myriad ways to spruce up your reception with unique culinary experiences that reflect your own personal style and dietary preferences.
Here are some of our favorite wedding food trends as well as suggestions on how to make them part of your special day. We’ve even included a short list of suggested vendors to make your job even easier.
When folks think "wedding menu" they often envision traditional dinner offerings. But, an increasing number of couples are hosting mid-morning ceremonies… and what’s better than following that up with an indulgent brunch? Consider omelette stations and waffle bars with make-your-own bloody or mimosa stations. Love coffee? Why not offer a signature coffee cart? The sky is the limit. Another idea to consider: the ever popular breakfast for dinner.
Who to call:
- Brunch, brunchmke.com, (920) 728-3160
- National Cafe, nationaleats.com, (414) 431-6551
- Press. Waffles, presswaffles.com, (262) 498-1891
- Shully’s Cuisine & Events, shullyscuisine.com, (262) 242-6633
Casual comfort food
Who says you have to host a formal suit-and-tie reception? If your favorite food is barbeque, then haul out the checkered table cloths and napkins! If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, make it a party with a pig (or lamb or goat) roast. Or make your indoor wedding into a comfort food extravaganza with options like fried chicken, southern fare like jambalaya, a customizable macaroni and cheese bar or even a full-blown (and oh-so-Milwaukee) fish fry. Torn about which delicious comfort foods to choose? Consider featuring numerous stations showcasing some of your favorite things.
Who to call:
- Ball & Biscuit Catering, ballnbiscuitcatering.wordpress.com, 414-962-9779
- Iron Grate BBQ Co., irongratebbq.com, (414) 455-1776
- Maxie’s, maxies.com/milwaukee, (414) 336-1005
- Nino’s Southern Sides, ninos-southernsides.com, (414) 964-3663
- Something Smells Good, wixsite.com/somethingsmellsgood, (414) 915-5328
- Tall Guy & A Grill, tallguyandagrill.com, (414) 777-0770
There’s nothing more personal than tapping into your cultural roots. Look for inspiration from your family tree. Whether it’s Indian, Mediterranean, Turkish, Asian, Italian or Polish, you can make your wedding one-of-a-kind with fare that will inspire taste memories both old and new.
Ethnic fare is also a great option for couples who love to travel, or who simply share a love for a particular ethnic cuisine. Love sushi? Incorporate it into your wedding menu. Want fish tacos and margaritas? Done. Dream of an Indian buffet feast? Go for it. And don’t be afraid to go all out with your theme. Want a full-fledged Hawaiian luau? Serve up a feast of kalua pork, tuna poke, sesame chicken, sticky rice and pineapple slaw. Your guests will have fun and everyone will be talking about your wedding fare for months to come.
Who to call:
- Antigua, antiguamilwaukee.com, (414) 321-5775
- Indian Village, indianvillagegreenfield.com, (414) 585 9777
- Irie Zulu, iriezulu.com, (414) 509.6014
- Ono Kine Grindz, okgrindz.com, (414) 778-0727
- Screaming Tuna, screamingtuna.com, (414) 763-1637
If you’re planning an outdoor wedding, food trucks are a natural fit. There are choices galore and truck-based cuisine is a fun way to offer guests a truly unique selection of food. You can hire multiple trucks to serve on your special day, or work with your favorite to create a menu with that fits both your style and the needs of your guests. And, while you can hire food trucks to cover your main wedding meal, featuring a food truck for just part of the reception is also a great idea. There are any number of creative ways to work your favorite truck into the mix, whether it’s made-to-order midnight tacos for hungry dance-weary guests or piping hot fresh doughnuts to start off a brunch-themed reception.
Pro-tips: Like traditional caterers, you should be sure to interview trucks carefully before you hire them; taste their food and find out how they handle wedding service. Be sure to double check regulations or restrictions on parking for food trucks at your chosen venue before you hire one or more trucks. Also, be sure you have enough food trucks for your guest count; the rule of thumb is to provide at least one truck for every 75 guests so that guests are served quickly and efficiently.
Who to call:
- Cupcake-A-Rhee dessert truck, thecupcakearhee.com, (414) 403-4934
- Gouda Girls, goudagirls.com, (414) 630-8360
- Happy Dough Lucky, happydoughlucky.com, (414) 687-5365
- Hidden Kitchen, hiddenkitchenmke.com, (414) 875-7130
- Marco Pollo, facebook.com/marcopollomke, (414) 791-8189
- Raucous Daucus, facebook.com/Raucous-Daucus, (323) 481-9257
Signature cocktails or beer
Sure, you’re getting married; but each of you has his or her own unique tastes. Consider capitalizing on your yin and yang with customized his and hers cocktails. Or tailor your wedding beverages to the season by using herbal syrups, local spirits or seasonal fruit. Create interaction for guests by working with a bartender to design a custom cocktail station during dinner. Or step outside the norm by offering guests wine, beer or spirits flights during cocktail hour.
Prefer beer? There are countless local craft brews you can pair up with your wedding meal. Think about toasting your Irish heritage with a full-bodied stout, treating guests to a refreshing selection of summer saisons, or bringing out your inner hop-head with a bright grapefruity IPA. Looking for an easy-to-pair crowd pleaser? There’s no shame in raising a glass (yes, maybe even a flute) of Miller High Life, Milwaukee’s own "Champagne of beers."
Who to call:
Many catering companies offer bartending services and can work with you to create custom beverage pairings or unique offerings. However, if you’re looking for custom packages from cocktail experts, here’s a shortlist of beverage professionals to consult:
- Beaker & Flask, beakerandflaskmke.com, (414) 939-4239
- Bittercube, bittercube.com, (414) 367-4477
- Freepour, freepourmke.com, (262) 385-0072
Cake is delicious, but so are myriad other sweet treats. Treat your guests to any number of out-of-the-box options including rustic hand pies, popsicles, ice cream sandwiches or even doughnuts. Upscale cake alternatives include French macaron towers in creative colors and styles from spots like Le Reve Patisserie & Cafe.
You can also think seasonally. Hot summer days are perfect for ice cream, and Purple Door offers a variety of fun options (including sundae bars) for both indoor and outdoor events. You can also get creative with vendors like Miss Cupcake in Shorewood, who offers hand-spun cotton candy served up in a variety of fun ways. Can’t decide on just one? Offer a table of unique treats and let your guests pick and choose.
Who to call:
- Hatched, facebook.com/hatchedmke, (414) 418-5217
- Le Reve Patisserie & Cafe, lerevecafe.com, 414) 778-3333
- Miss Cupcake, misscupcakebakery.com, (414) 810-3997
- Miss Molly’s Cafe & Bakery, missmollyscafe.com, (414) 249-5665
- Pete’s Pops, petespops.net, (314) 402-6105
- Purple Door Ice Cream, purpledooricecream.com, (414) 988-2521
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.