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    There was a time when planning a wedding menu was a matter of picking your chicken, fish or beef entrées. Not anymore. “In recent years, we’ve been seeing much more creativity in menu planning,” says Carol Grisanti, private wedding planner and director of events at Whitehall. “Brides are focusing on favorite foods, fresh ingredients and serving a really delicious meal that’s meaningful to them.”

    The same creativity is carrying over to the bar, where even the cocktails are being personalized to reflect the couple’s shared story. “Brides and grooms today are looking to add wow factor by serving drinks their guests haven’t experienced before,” says Spencer Freeman, catering manager at Ice House

    We asked both experts for their short list of trends that are making wedding meals more memorable.

     

    YUMMY VEGAN, VEGETARIAN, KETO AND GLUTEN-FREE DISHES

    Thoughtful couples are serving food that reflects their guests’ changing eating habits and needs. “We’re doing stuffed vegetables, delicious gluten-free baked goods — healthy options that are so delicious that everyone is eating them,” Freeman says.

     

    HAND-CRAFTED COCKTAILS

    Offering signature cocktails has become so common that cocktail tastings have become part of the planning process. “What’s being served at the bar has become as important as the meal,” says Freeman. “Sometimes, they serve the signature bride and groom drinks in smaller glasses, so guests can have a little taste of each.”

     

    GORGEOUS GRAZING TABLES

    Couples are forgoing the predictable buffet with its long lines and standard entrées and opting for grazing tables with charcuterie boards, small bites and visually appealing displays. “Chefs are really going out of their way to make the grazing tables aesthetically interesting,” Grisanti says. “Depending on the budget and the menu, you may see one, two or three of these tables. They’re nice because they get people out of those long lines and create better flow.”

     

    FUN, NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

    “From Phocus (caffeinated sparkling) waters to mocktails and fresh juices, brides are asking for interesting alternatives to sodas,” Freeman says. “It’s so popular that we’ve added a Phocus package to our beverage selections.”

     

    FRESH TWISTS

    “People are paying so much attention to ingredients that they’re even using fresh, organic juices and garnishes in their hand-crafted cocktails,” Freeman says. “It’s another special detail that takes things up a notch.”

     

    BOURBON, Y’ALL

    Bourbon is not only behind the bar, but it’s often being offered in tastings, bourbon flights and bourbon-infused menu items. Sometimes, couples will even add a separate bourbon bar or lounge area. Freeman says, “There’s a growing emphasis on bourbon culture — especially when out-of-town guests are invited.”

     

    FARM-TO-WEDDING

    In more local receptions, what’s on the menu is what’s growing on the farm. “Couples are specifically requesting locally-sourced, in-season produce,” Grisanti says. “If it’s not in season, they’ll do something else.”

     

    INTERACTIVE APPETIZERS 

    “Chefs will sometimes make one of the appetizers near the bar,” Grisanti says.

    “They might shuck oysters or mix up a guacamole. It plays up the freshness and the culinary expertise while giving guests a little entertainment.”

     

    UPGRADED BEER SELECTIONS

    Offering the standard domestic beer is no longer standard. “Instead, craft beers are becoming a big thing,” Freeman says.

    “Like everything else we’re seeing in food and drink trends, it’s about serving something a little unexpected that represents the couple.”

     

    This originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Louisville Bride. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    If you are interested in submitting your wedding to Louisville Bride, please email louisvillebride@loumag.com.

    Cover photo: pexels.com

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