While we’re not officially out of the pandemic, it’s safe to say that this past year was far more exciting for couples getting married. In fact, 2021 has been one of the busiest years for weddings in recent history. This is likely the result of the hundreds of thousands of weddings that were scheduled to take place in 2020 but were unexpectedly pushed into 2021 coupled with countless couples who waited to set their date for 2021 as a result of the pandemic itself.
Luckily, things are continuing to look up and, with vaccinations being open to all adults, we should be back to enjoying everything that weddings have to offer, including one of the most exciting parts: tasting and savoring all of the wonderful wedding food. Also in our favor is the fact that the pandemic has given creative culinary minds the time to come up with new and unique wedding catering ideas, which means this coming year will bring no shortage of tantalizing, tasty and trending options.
Couples are increasingly prioritizing a well-crafted food experience within their wedding budget, ensuring their guests dine on cuisine that’s fun, interesting, locally sourced, and above all, completely delicious. Here are some of the 2022 wedding food ideas and trends to keep an eye (and some taste buds) out for this year.
Sourcing local has long been a staple of many catering companies, however, it’s being emphasized even more for 2022 weddings. “Partnering with chef-driven and independent restaurants to support local establishments that anchor their communities (and fitting as restaurants have sourced new sources of revenue to offset pandemic losses),” says Tyler Akin, Chef-Partner of Le Cavalier in Wilmington, Delaware. To incorporate local sourcing of food at your wedding, a great place to start is by seeking out your favorite restaurant to provide a favorite dish or cater one of your wedding-related events.
While wedding cakes are iconic, traditional and simply beautiful in every way, they usually come with a hefty price tag. What’s more: People often don’t eat them due to various reasons, including the fact that they’re made more for looks, people are busy dancing, people just don’t love that wedding cake flavor, etc., points out Kathryn Cooper, photographer and owner of Kathryn Cooper Weddings in New York City. To save the day, wedding cake alternatives are becoming increasingly popular, ranging from pies and ice cream to macaroons and churros. “Write a list of your favorite desserts, and find a local vendor who can make either desserts or to-go favor baggies filled with what you love,” Cooper says. “Why be traditional when you can present a more unique way to give that sugar rush?!”
As more and more people opt for an animal-free lifestyle, catering companies are looking for ways to provide more options that are in-line with this kind of diet. To incorporate more plant-based option into your wedding menu, Akin suggests requesting that your culinary professionals come up with more than just fish or meat entree selections. “Even carnivores and pescatarians can appreciate (and often seek out) an expertly crafted dish where the veg is the star of the show,” he says. “A separate bonus perk of this trend: It's generally a lower cost option to offer your guests!”
Because of the dwindling availability of Saturday nights in the coming year, many couples are getting creative with the timing of the wedding events—and in turn, the reception menu. Brunch weddings allow couples to get creative with their wedding food ideas—think fried chicken and waffles, biscuit sliders, breakfast tacos, donuts, mimosas, and all the traditional comfort food we associate with the midday weekend meal. While brunches are traditionally served buffet-style, we're also seeing couples choose interactive food stations instead, allowing guests to mix and mingle as they sample different food items. And—bonus!—serving up brunch can end up being more cost-effective than a full dinner. A great way Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss, in Seattle, recommends pulling this off is with an elevated boxed brunch. “Think bamboo boxes, a wood board, or a thin marble slab are all great ways to make sure guests stay safe but still feel like they are at an upscale event,” she says.
Given the increasing concerns over climate change and how we are all caring for our environment in general, there has been an increase in attention to zero-waste cuisine, which means chefs and catering companies are brainstorming ways to minimize the amount of food they purchase for an event such as a wedding. “One way to pull this off is by using the whole animal, which means you can have a roast (a pig-on-a-spit roast, which guests love!), cook meat on the bone for more flavor and use every bit of the animal to flavor broths, stews, tacos and more,” she says. “Even your leftovers, unused breads and cheese from rehearsal dinners and appetizers can be used in tomorrow’s brunch foods, appetizers, and more.” Her best advice is to trust your chef or catering company to ensure that food doesn’t go to waste.
Buffets are nothing new, but grazing tables—where guests can pick and choose what they want—are becoming the new-new, especially if you’re having a bit of a less formal affair. “Many people don’t want to pay for buffets or plated dinners, or are having more of a brunch wedding or informal affair, so grazing tables are in!” she says. “A beautiful display with occasional hot items helps you avoid that enormous plating fee and helps guests feel at ease and able to eat whenever they want through the night.”
Personalization of Wedding Menus
Julie Teran, Catering Sales Manager at CRAVE Catering in Minneapolis, predicts that we will see more personalized menus that highlight the couple’s favorite appetizers and entrees. “Couples can theme items around state rivalries, create a road map of their special places (where they met, our first date, where we got engaged, etc.) with food choices, or involve everyone in the honeymoon planning,” she says. Hawaiian luau, anyone? “Tailoring food to the couple's tastes and shared experiences is a great way to share their story and start conversations with guests!”