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The hottest wedding food trends: And why the wedding cake isn't what it used to be

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Wedding food trends, February 2013, Seared Sesame Tuna on Wontons, A La Carte Catering & Events
From A La Carte Catering & Events, seared sesame tuna on wontons Photo courtesy of A La Carte Catering & Events
Wedding food trends, February 2013, Filet Canapés with Housemade Boursin, Caramelized Onions and Red Pepper Aioli, from A La Carte Catering & Events
Filet canapes with housemade boursin, caramelized onions and red pepper aioli by A La Carte Catering & Events Photo courtesy of A La Carte Catering & Events
Wedding food trends, February 2013, Seared Sea Bass over Brie & Asiago Risotto, asparagus
Seared sea bass over brie and asiago risotto with asparagus by A La Carte Catering & Events Photo courtesy of A La Carte Catering & Events
Wedding food trends, February 2013, Seared Sesame Tuna on Wontons, A La Carte Catering & Events
Wedding food trends, February 2013, Filet Canapés with Housemade Boursin, Caramelized Onions and Red Pepper Aioli, from A La Carte Catering & Events
Wedding food trends, February 2013, Seared Sea Bass over Brie & Asiago Risotto, asparagus
Jodie Eisenhardt, head shot, column mug, January 2013

A big part of wedding planning revolves around what is served at the reception. This raises a whole host of questions for the bride and groom.

Seated dinner or buffet? Wedding cakes or cupcakes? How do you accommodate a vegetarian guest? How do you make it personal?

We went to some wedding experts for some answers: Laura McAdams, event planner for A La Carte Catering, based in Houston, Texas, plans several weddings each month, along with the company's executive chef Matt Weber.

CultureMap: What type of menu are couples choosing these days?

Laura McAdams and Matt Weber: Seated dinners are strongly preferred to buffet meals. Brides are willing to trim their guest lists for the more intimate, elegant option of seated, multi-course meals. We suggest starting with elegantly presented passed hors d’ oeuvres right after the ceremony while the wedding party takes photos — (like seared sesame tuna on wontons) then moving into the dining room for a multi-course, seated dinner.

CultureMap: What’s on trend in terms of presentation?

LM & MW: Novel serving dishes are huge — like soup shooters and miniature desserts. Think chilled cantaloupe soup garnished with crispy prosciutto and little chocolate pots de creme with mascarpone whipped cream on top. Totally adorable (and delicious!).

CultureMap: What about those seated courses — what’s being served? How can couples make it personal?

LM: No one wants to serve boring beef or chicken-style banquet food. One of our January brides, who works for the International Quilt Festival and eats more than her fair share of hotel/large production meals, was thrilled that she could create a menu based on where she and her fiance claimed their roots. Chef Matt and I worked with them — and do this for every couple — to create a menu that reflected THEM. In this case the couple was from Texas and Louisiana, so their menu included Venison Tenderloin with Fresh Mango Salsa on Jalapeno Corn Cakes as well as Andouille Dauphinoise Potatoes, Chipotle-Lime Gulf Shrimp and House-Smoked Beef Brisket.

Also, incorporating ethnic/exotic cuisines is a big trend but we see it more on a limited basis, working uncommon spices into familiar dishes. Most often, serving approachable ethnic food like lamb samosas or pad Thai is popular.

CultureMap: Are vegetarian meals becoming more popular?

LM & MW: Absolutely. We’re receiving a good number of requests for 100 percent meat-free menus that leave guests happy and satisfied. Think "meatless Monday" where someone else makes the choice for you in a gentle way.

CultureMap: What about wedding cakes?

LM & MW: Romantic buttercream cakes are in. Bye-bye cupcakes. We’re getting requests for two and three tier wedding cakes, and brides want them to be delicious. In the past, the primary concern has been style (think fondant) over substance, but more and more brides are putting substance (yummy buttercream) first. It’s funny but given a choice, guests will pick a slice of wedding cake over a cupcake every time.  

Additional (non-food) trends as noted:

1. Weddings and receptions at the same venue. Savvy brides make the entire wedding experience easy and enjoyable for their guests, and this includes not having to get into vehicles multiple times. It also means guests are greeted with a signature drink before the ceremony and having hot nibbles ready the moment the ceremony is over.  
2. Baby’s breath. This florist’s staple is taking center stage as both bridesmaids’ bouquets and centerpieces. It really makes a statement en masse. 

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