Wedding dinner photo from above

While wedding food trends are always changing, it’s rare that a new trend completely replaces an old one. Rather, each year only adds to the already-incredible roster of big-day ideas that exist, meaning the options available to engaged couples just continues to grow. And that means more choices and even more options for personalization.

Food is increasingly used to tell the couple’s story, too–with more dishes of cultural or personal meaning being served, from dumpling appetizers to late-night tacos.

Here are the wedding food trends we love.

1. DIY food stations
More couples are offering interactive food stations, like a build-your-own burger slider table. This allows guests to mix and mingle. And the opportunity to experiment and customize your menus, giving guests the chance to enjoy lots of options on a smaller scale.The food stations can be tied in with the theme of the event or showcase the local bounty of the region–like a Pacific Northwest oyster bar experience.

This idea can extend to beverages and desserts as well.  Think tea bars, hot chocolate stations, midnight milkshake stations, guacamole extravaganzas, and popcorn bars.

2. High-end comfort food
Mini grilled cheese sandwiches at a wedding? Yes.  Mini grilled cheese sandwiches with lobster or black truffles? Double YES! Comfort food classics with decadent ingredients was a 2018 trend that is just getting more popular.

Weddings are the perfect time to take your favorite dishes and make them a little special. People want to serve their guests food that they love–the kind of food that guests are actually excited to eat! Think mini versions of tomato soup and grilled cheese, waffles and fried chicken, and fancy macaroni and cheese, doughnuts, and cookies.

It’s the ultimate mashup of fine dining and comfort food. The pairings and presentation possibilities are endless.

3Apéritif bars
Portlanders are becoming big fans of apéritifs–appetite-whetting “pre-dinner” refreshments to sip with a plate of appetizers as you ease into your evening. Perfect for celebrations, apéritifs are usually a mix of wine, spirits, herbs, and spices. Lighter than cocktails and easy to pair with food, they have the added value of stoking the appetite and, like digestifs (their after dinner counterparts), aiding digestion.

They are easy to make and serve in large batches—so guests don’t have to wait in long lines for custom cocktails. And their white-, red-, and blush-tinged palettes are gorgeous to look at!

Ask us about our apéritif bar options!

4. The buffet is back
Buffets are currently proving a much more relaxed way to cater for your wedding. They are an easy way to serve lots of guests – and they can look really beautiful if you include the right mix of dishes. Bright and vibrant displays with colorful food are a feast for the eyes.

Buffets are also a great way to offer your guests more variety. And guests are free to move around – food in hand, talking to whomever they like.

Learn more about the pros and cons of Buffet vs. Plated when catering your wedding reception.

5. A renewed focus on vegetables
It’s always important to have a good selection of delicious vegetarian and vegan options at your wedding – making sure vegetarians don’t feel like they’re an afterthought, as well as catering to those who are wanting to cut down their meat consumption. But couples are truly taking the phrase “eat your veggies” to heart. There is a real desire to use vegetables as the focal point of dishes. They bring so much flavor, color, and texture!

Dishes with a bit of protein will also appeal to meat eaters. Our Harvest Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Quinoa, Vegetables, Cashews and Spices is an incredibly popular Elephants Catering & Events entree with everyone, no matter their dietary preference.

6. Dessert tables

A dessert buffet—on its own or in addition to a wedding cake–is a fun way to offer something sweet for everyone’s palate. They offer you a fun palette of colors to match any theme and create fantastic table displays with. And many small desserts—like candies or macarons—can also be packaged as take-home guest favors.

Dessert buffets are one of our favorite things to create for weddings! Our in-house patisserie and bakery create a wonderful array of bite-sized options, from French macarons to petite lemon tartlets to chocolate truffles. Learn more.

7.  Serving a midnight snack
After all that booze, guests need something to soak it up! It can be savory—like pizza or mini grilled cheese with tomato soup, Or sweet—like small lattes and doughnuts or cookies and milk. Or a mix of both–like a classic cheeseburger slider with a mini milkshake.

8. Gin cocktails
Every year ushers in a new trending spirit—and The Knot is declaring 2019 the year of gin. This quintessential liquor is the perfect mixer for trendy herbal-tinged cocktails and a mainstay in classics like the French 75 and Negroni.

Elephants Catering & Events is excited to offer house-made punches–many with gin!  We’ll set up a punch station and you’ve got an instant party.

9. Grazing boards and tables
Food boards and tables overflowing with cheese, charcuterie, vegetables, fruits, chocolates, and nuts. It sets a more casual mood than waiters serving traditional canapés, they double as art, and the abundance ensures that guests won’t go hungry.

10. Food is part of the décor
It’s not just about the food; it’s how you present it.  Couples and caterers are creating unique, artful displays that turn food into part of the décor — one of the major 2019 wedding trends.

Examples include decorative donut walls, sculptural macaroon towers, and food served alongside beverages for an easy grab-and-go pairing (waffles and bourbon, anyone?).

Bonus trend! DIY favor bags with local flavor

Having a “goodie bag” assembly station at a welcome party is an interactive way for guests to get to know each other before the big event. It’s just more fun than having a table of favors at your wedding. Or a bag waiting for your guests when they check into their hotel.

Ideas for food- and drink-related favors include artisan olive oils, specialty salts, custom hot sauces, special spice blends, to name a few. Any locally-made artisan items will add local flavor to this project!

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