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6 Tips for Upgrading Your Fall Wedding Menu

From appetizers and entrées to dessert and cocktails, here's how to make your autumnal menu even more special.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Judy Pak

If you're getting married in the fall, we highly recommend you work with your caterer to create a wedding menu that highlights delicious in-season ingredients. After all, some of the most beloved flavors for food and drink are associated with autumn, and since your guests are ready to say goodbye to light, bright summer meals and hello to heartier comfort food, you might as well embrace it. Here, three wedding planners share their favorite ways to upgrade your fall wedding menu.

 

Related: 7 Creative Flavor Combinations for Your Fall Wedding's Signature Cocktail

 

Start strong.

If you want to upgrade your entire fall wedding menu, you should start with cocktail hour. The bites guests enjoy during this portion of the day should set the tone for the rest of the meal to come. Select crowd-pleasing fall favorites like baked brie, bacon-wrapped figs, or sweet potato rounds topped with sour cream and chives. Consider topping salads with seasonal ingredients like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and dried cranberries. You can also skip salad altogether and serve tomato or pumpkin bisque shooters instead. 

 

Splurge on truffles.

If you're looking for the ultimate autumnal wedding menu upgrade, planner Laurie Arons says you can't go wrong with truffles. "If your budget allows, offer guests a delicate shaving of truffles over a pasta dish or entrée course," she says. "But if that luxury isn't within the budget, a drizzle of white truffle oil can incorporate the flavor at a much lower price point."

 

Remember that you can't go wrong with comfort food.

While there's nothing wrong with the traditional chicken and fish entrée options, something heartier, like lamb or pork, will appeal to your guests now more than ever. One idea that will surprise and delight your guests? Pot pie (otherwise known as the ultimate comfort food). As for vegetarian options, think beyond the basics. Since so many tasty vegetables are in season, work with your caterer to come up with unique options. Pumpkin ravioli or wild mushroom risotto are sure winners.

 

Related: Hot Drink Ideas Perfect for Your Cool-Weather Wedding Reception

 

Come up with unique flavor combinations.

If you're looking for a side dish that guests will remember, consider including more than one in-season ingredient. Combinations like roasted asparagus with raspberries and toasted hazelnuts, creamy polenta gratin with spinach and wild mushrooms, and roasted rosemary and garlic potatoes are always crowd pleasers.

 

Don't underestimate the power of the classics.

When it comes to fall desserts, wedding planner Beth Helmstetter says you can't go wrong with fall staples. "Don't be afraid to serve pumpkin or pecan pies in lieu of wedding cake," she says. You could also ask your caterer or baker to provide cookies, cupcakes, and donuts in fall-appropriate flavors like cinnamon and caramel.

 

Choose complementary cocktails.

Crisp beers and your favorite wines are always good choices for the bar, but our experts all agree that specialty cocktails will always appeal to your guests—especially when they're of the seasonal variety. Mulled wine, hard cider, and fall-inspired cocktails that feature flavors like pear, cranberry, maple, and caramel are good places to start. As for wedding planner Shannon Leahy's favorite drink for a fall wedding? "Nothing is better on a crisp day than a hot toddy with bourbon and a cinnamon stick!" Don't forget about guests who won't be drinking alcohol. Autumn-inspired mocktails, hot cocoa, and spiced ciders are nice to have on hand, too.