Planning a dinner party for a few hundred people can seem like a daunting task, but it’s more enjoyable than you think. ‘But how?’ you ask? Easy. Your chef and planner form an unstoppable team sure to help you and your spouse-to-be pull off the party of a lifetime. Chef Jennifer Moniz is the lead events chef for Bold American Events & Catering in Atlanta and a LDEI Legacy Award Winner. This Massachusetts native, trained at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, knows a thing or two about pulling off a dinner reception you and your guests are sure to remember. Chef Jenn’s tips for easing the menu planning process are simple, easy ways to make sure you serve the best meal on your big day.
1. Think about your story
This wedding day is all about you and your new spouse, so why not let guests in on details of your own personal love story whenever possible? Consider developing your dinner menu around experiences you’ve shared together as a couple and let the food speak for itself. Signature cocktails are a quick and easy way to bring your signature style into the reception, but why stop there? A dreamy Parisian engagement story easily lends itself to a presentation of French fare while a first date to the ice cream parlor beacons for a sweet late night treat.
2. Develop your palette: Include your favorite foods prepared two ways
If your guy is hell-bent on serving up his favorite food, go with it! If you’re nervous about being adventurous with your meal, plan a dual preparation menu. Utilizing different sauces and sides completely transforms a crowd pleasing protein (think salmon or chicken) into a familiar or unexpected experience. If you’re from a “meat and potatoes” family, offer guests the option to stick with a traditional rendition while also allowing adventurous guests to experience staple proteins in a creative new way.
3. Think about how your meal is being served: action stations in lieu of traditional buffets
Presentation is key in differentiating your wedding food from every other celebration guests had the pleasure of attending in the past year. While it’s cost efficient to have guests line up for a buffet style meal, think about serving things up in a memorable way. Action stations allow for the chefs to showcase their talent and interact with your guests. Plus, it gets people out of their assigned seats and mingling – talk about gettting the party started.
4. Let the chefs flex their culinary muscles
“Let culinary do what culinary does. Food is an art form and it’s important to remember that when planning,” says Moniz.” From the tasting to the actual presentation, remember to let your chef be creative.” Think about it: would you hire a florist without seeing extensive photos of her work? Of course not! When it comes time for the tasting, allow the chef and catering team to prepare dishes you might not otherwise think of. There is a world away from chicken and potatoes, we promise.
5. Be considerate toward your guests, but don’t let them run the show
While you must offer guests who require special fare an alternative dinner option (think vegans and celiacs), it isn’t necessary to plan the entire menu around them. Work with your chef to include diet restricted guests in the culinary experience to ensure no one feels pushed aside. Thinking about serving a rendition of your favorite pasta dish? Consider plating up some risotto for the gluten-free guests. Have your heart set on gorgonzola topped filet? Ask about rich veg-friendly culinary options sure to please your trickiest guests.