How to Plan the Perfect Fall Reception Menu
With a highlight on local produce and seasonal ingredients.
Constructing the perfect dinner menu for your fall wedding is something you'll do hand-in-hand with your catering team. Even so, it's a good idea to head into that meeting with a sense of what you'd like the food and drink to be like and how you'd like everything to be served. Here are some simple steps for planning an autumnal menu that shows off the season's bounty.
Determine the service style for the main meal.
The formality and style of service for your wedding entrée is one of the first things you'll want to decide on. If you're hosting a sit-down dinner, you may opt to serve various courses paired with wines that enrich the flavors of the meal. If, on the other hand, you've decided to have food stations throughout the wedding reception, this less-formal approach means you can have more playful menu options like an oyster shucking station or a wood-fired pizza oven firing up roasted potato and scamorza pizzas.
Decide whether to have filler foods.
Wedding receptions often go on for anywhere from four to eight hours. With an open bar, it's important to keep guests noshing throughout the event. Passed hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour tend to be one-bite delights, so you can get creative with seasonal treats like ricotta-stuffed zucchini fritters or fresh figs wrapped in prosciutto. You may even add in a station like a sushi bar with fresh rolls, or highlight seasonal produce like heirloom tomatoes in a few different preparation.
Many couples are opting to have some kind of shareable spread on the tables when guests arrive at their tables, which is a great distraction from the time it takes between inviting guests to sit for dinner and the first course coming out. Things like seasonal charcuterie boards and cheese spreads are a big hit for guests to pass around the table. Seasonal fig jams, rosemary marcona almonds, olives in herbs, and local honeycomb all make gorgeous accompaniments for this type of board. Or, you can keep it simple and stick with fresh baked breads and herb butters on the table.
The last hit of the night is typically some sort of late-night snack that comes out a few hours after dinner's ended, just before guests head out the door. While this tends to be more comfort food-based with less of a seasonal influence, you can always put a seasonal spin on the offering, like serving mini grilled cheeses with tomato soup shooters.
Showcase seasonal desserts.
Even if you're just serving wedding cake for dessert, you can still focus on seasonal flavors like berries, citrus, and stone fruits. Maybe you go with a lemon-raspberry filling for one of your wedding cake layers, or introduce jammy apricots and peaches to the mix. Tarte tatin, lemon profiteroles, smashed berry cobbler, and vanilla bean brulée all make delicious fall treats that can be made in bite sizes for a dessert display table.
Embrace the season in your specialty cocktails.
Don't forget to incorporate the season at the bar, too! Cocktail shrubs are a fun way to introduce paired flavors like rosemary and clementine, or plum and ginger. You could take an old standard like a mint julep and add seasonal smashed berries to give it a festive spin, or chat with your local mixologist about their favorite flavor combos for fall cocktails. You only need one or two specialty offerings at the bar, so you may as well incorporate the fall theme.