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Should You Ask Your Wedding Venue's Chef to Create a Custom Dinner Menu?

When to push for something more unique.

ana and damon menu on table
Photography by: Shannen Natasha of The Wedding Artists Collective

Many wedding venues offer a certain level of menu customization for each event, but it's important to note that some prefer to keep things simple by offering the same options across the board. If you're feeling like your venue errs on the side of keeping it basic and you want to do a little upgrading, you can always have a chat with your venue manager about creating a custom menu with the chef. At the very least, you should be able to come up with a few customized additions. Here, how to know when it's worth it and what to ask for.

 

Things Your Caterer Wished You Knew

 

Check your priorities list.

Customizing a menu can get expensive quickly, so the first thing you'll want to do is get your priorities in check. If food is in the top three most important experiences at your wedding, it's probably worth adding some customized items. That could be as simple as adding a charcuterie station, or as complex as a seasonal dinner menu. If you decide to go custom, you'll want to be sure you schedule a tasting of the menu before signing off on it.

 

Be creative with it.

If you consider yourself a big foodie, a chat with your chef may turn out to be a lot of fun. Many chefs get inspired by their clients wanting something outside the norm and are willing to play with big ideas to make your wedding menu stand out. Think about the service style (family style, Russian service, French style), seasonal influences, and your favorite foods and restaurants. Talking through all of those details with the chef is sure to lead to a creative outcome.

 

Don't push too far.

The reality is that some venue chefs may not be comfortable with particular types of cuisine. For example, a couple hosting a destination wedding in Mexico may be disappointed that the chef won't make pizzas for their late-night snack. It's important to recognize that the kitchen may not be appropriately set up to produce quality pizza, and it's outside the scope of what they typically do. In this case, you'd be better off sticking with quesadillas or tacos or something the venue does really well instead.

 

Know when to bring in an outside specialty.

Most venues do not allow outside food, but there are some venues that will make an exception for a small quantity or real specialty they know they can't provide. Great examples would be specialty donuts, taco trucks, fast food, and other late-night snack options. If you think you'd like to bring in an outside service for any of the food, it's smart to bring this up with the venue early in the process so you don't get too committed without clarifying the rules.

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