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Before the dancing, bouquet tossing and drinking commence, your guests and you will need a bit of fuel. From staying within your budget to dietary restrictions, choosing your reception menu will involve a bit more than listing off your favourite dishes to your caterer. If you’re having trouble coming up with the perfect appetizers, entrees and desserts, we’ve got a few tips for you.

Here’s how to pick your wedding menu.

As with most aspects of wedding planning, you should begin by consulting your budget. Food can get costly, so make sure you know your limit before you dive into selecting hors d'oeuvres and mains. Tip: you can keep track of all your details with our handy budget planner.

Number of Guests
Larger number of guests means more mouths to feed. If you want to save a bit of cash, consider spending less per plate. If you’ve got some extra room in your budget, splurging for more impressive dishes isn’t out of the question.

Serving Style
The serving style you choose will help determine what types of food make it onto the menu. If you’re going with the budget-friendly option of cocktail style catering, you’ll be serving eats like sliders, veggie skewers and crostini. On the other end of the spectrum is the traditional - but costly - plated dinner. These have virtually endless options to choose from, so the world’s your oyster when it comes to choosing your menu.

Savoury Chef

Consult Your Caterer
If crafting your menu is proving to be more stressful than fun, consult your caterer. They probably have dozens of dishes to suggest for your menu. They may also be able to help lower the cost of your plates by offering up cost efficient substitutions. If you need to know what exactly you should be asking, check out these tips.

While this isn’t completely necessary, matching your dishes to the overall theme of your reception is a nice touch. If you’re having a rustic farm wedding, you may want to consider a buffet or family-style meal complete with options like roasted new potatoes, mac n’ cheese and fried green tomatoes. Hosting something with a touch more elegance? Maybe choose more a more refined plated meal with a main like seared ahi tuna steaks with seasonal veggies.

Match Meals to Your Relationship
Another option is adding a touch of sentimentality to your dishes by having them point to important points in your relationship. If the two of you are breakfast people, maybe include a cereal bar (they’re very “in”). If you got engaged in Italy, pizzas, pastas and arancini could be featured in your buffet. Feel free to be creative but make sure not to mix too many flavours.

Red Seal Dining

Seasonal Foods
In Canada we’re blessed with all four seasons, and each affects which fruits and veggies are available (and at what cost). Those tying the knot in the winter may want to take advantage of root vegetables and squashes while summer ceremonies call for a bounty of fruits and leafy greens.

Dietary Restrictions
There’s a good chance that one or two of your guests will have dietary restrictions. You don’t want to add chaos to your reception by triggering one of your guests’ nut allergies or accidentally feeding meat to a vegan friend, so getting this info ASAP is key. Oftentimes caterers are up to challenge of creating separate dishes for them, but they’ll need to know in advance so that they have the supplies on hand. If you don’t want to go around asking everyone personally, you may want to leave space for them to indicate dietary restrictions on their response card.

The More the Merrier
While you don’t want to go overboard, ordering a few extra dishes is necessary. You have no idea how hungry your guests will be, so having backup imperative. No one should be hitting the open bar on an empty stomach or leave the venue hangry.

Red Seal Dining

Don’t Forget the Drinks
Speaking of the open bar, make sure you’ve also hashed out your drink details as well. You’ll want to consider everything from crafting signature cocktails to making sure your liquor license is in order.

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