Choosing a summer wedding menu is not like picking food for the other seasons. The temperatures are hot, it could be humid, and your guests are not going to want to eat a big heavy, hot meal like they would in the winter.
While most of the planning for a summer wedding is easy, picking the right menu is probably one of the most daunting tasks for a couple. You know you have to serve your guests something, but what can you serve that will hold up to the heat and not overload your guests?
Your wedding theme will also play a big role in determining your summer wedding menu. So, while looking through these ideas, ask yourself if they suit the theme of your wedding (if you have one).
Think Refreshing – and Hydrate
Drinks are just as important as the food items you serve. You want your guests to feel refreshed and stay hydrated. Make sure your summer wedding menu includes just as many drinks as it does food – in fact, your menu should almost include more selections of drinks. Stick to a lot of non-alcoholic options, such as lemonade or iced tea. Keep everything chilled and don’t be afraid to order up freshly cut fruit garnishes or other cocktail hour items to make it fun.
Two good cocktail ideas can include a raspberry liqueur, citron vodka and hibiscus iced tea or a spiked cucumber mint lemonade.
Stick to Chilled, Refreshing Appetizers
Iced appetizers can help your guests cool down before meal time. If you have a tented wedding, use these to lure guests into the air conditioned tent and help them wind down for the real meal. Use cool appetizers or items that are chilled on ice to keep them refreshing.
You could even do a shrimp cocktail served in ice bowls, shots of gazpacho that is served in carved out cucumber cups (held on ice of course) or even mini salads. Fresh vegetables and fruits that have been chilled and served cold are best. If you’re on a tight budget, fruit kabobs are always an option too.
Sizzling Heat and Equally Sizzling Entrees
When you think of summer, you think of all of the barbecues you and your family will go to, spice and heat. Use that nostalgia when planning your summer wedding menu.
You can serve up grilled entrees – like grilled flank steak or even grilled up chicken. Then, serve it with smoked or grilled vegetables. Because it is hot, you may want to stick to the lighter meats, such as fish or chicken – maybe even some grilled shrimp.
Add fruity, zesty flavors to your entree, such as a salmon topped with a cilantro avocado salsa or chicken breasts rubbed with a chili-lime sauce and served with mango salsa.
If you are on a tight budget, don’t be afraid to embrace a picnic-style menu. That could include a fried chicken, dipping sauces, potato and pasta salads, orange salads and fresh fruits. These options are extremely budget friendly, easy to make in bulk and everyone enjoys them.
If you want something more refined, try wrapping smoked asparagus with bacon or serving spicy chicken and shrimp kabobs along with vegetables.
Summer weddings mean your guests will be up and moving a lot. So, offering them entrees that they could eat while standing or moving around will help keep everyone moving.
Use Your Desserts as Decor Items Too
Your desserts can second as decor – saving you money. A wedding cake is obviously the biggest dessert and decor item, but you don’t want to go with a cake flavor that is too heavy. Avoid dark chocolate and rich fillings – because no one will want those in the summer. Instead, stick to light, citrusy flavors and fillings.
You can also serve up a sweet dessert treat, such as a fruity sorbet – such as raspberry, mango or even pineapple. Offering up an ice cream bar, complete with cones and toppings, is always a fun and festive addition to any wedding.
If you want to skip serving a meal altogether, consider a dessert buffet. It could include things like lollipops, small chocolates, cookies, brownies and even chocolate-dipped fruits.
Remember to Keep It Light
No one wants to walk away from a summer wedding full. The heat can easily turn a small meal into something heavy and greasy. When picking your summer wedding menu, skip anything with excess grease – including fried foods. Skip the heartier meats and side dishes too – so no mashed potatoes or rice.
A Few More Tips
Picking the perfect summer wedding menu will take some time. Sit down with your caterer and discuss food items you want and also discuss food safety. Because food can easily spoil in the summer, you want to make sure that your venue has a way to keep your food fresh – and no guests wind up regretting your menu.
Also, don’t be afraid to go seasonal. That means fruits, vegetables and even cheeses that are easy to acquire in the summer. Seasonal selections will not only fit the weather outside, but also could help you save money – since your caterer is not acquiring off-season produce.
Lastly, remember to be flexible. While you may have a wedding theme or color palette in mind, sometimes you will not find foods that match it exactly. You can make it work by changing up decorations or pairing those off-color items with color-matching items. What is most important about your summer wedding menu is finding foods that can withstand the heat, your guests will enjoy and that won’t break the bank.
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