Nothing beats gathering around the table with your favorite people for a celebratory meal after you’ve just said “yes” to a lifetime of happiness with your partner. Not only does your reception dinner give you the opportunity to bond with your guests and take a deeper look at your relationship, but it’s also a chance to show off the delicious flavors of the season.
For couples planning winter weddings, your culinary display is the perfect excuse to stock up on hearty foods and rich flavors. By providing warmth and comfort, your menu is also one of the best ways to help your guests brave the cold. “With a winter wedding, you’re battling the temperatures outside and now you’re trying to make the inside warm and cozy,” says Fallon Carter. “Apart from decor, another great way to do this is through taste.”
From your starters to your main courses, there are so many ways to evoke the season with your cooking. Through various spices and seasonal products, your menu will capture the essence of winter. Whether it’s creamy soup in a bread bowl, roast chicken sprinkled with cilantro, or crispy kale salad topped with orange slices, serving seasonal dishes will make your menu more fresh, tastier and more aesthetic.
Keep reading for expert-approved tips and tricks for creating the perfect winter wedding menu, plus 20 seasonal meal ideas to inspire you.
Meet the expert
- Fallon Carter is the founder and creative director of New York-based Fallon Carter Events. She has been planning weddings for over 12 years.
- Amy Iserman is sales manager at Forte Belanger, a Michigan-based catering company that has been serving weddings for more than 30 years.
Stir in spices
One of the best ways to warm up your plate is to use various spices. “I like hearty foods that are hearty and hot, accessible, and full,” notes Carter. “They bring different flavors and spices.” Whether it’s a mixture of cumin on grilled chicken or a sprig of rosemary on mashed potatoes, seasonings are an easy way to add spice to any dish and they give your guests a taste of winter.
Forte Belanger’s Amy Iserman also advises couples to use spices in ways that create new flavors that their friends and family have probably never tasted before. “We like to mix the unexpected, so every bite evokes wonder,” she notes. People will ask, “Is that a hint of cinnamon in that beef dish?”
Stick to familiar foods
Want to create a menu that will truly wow your guests? Instead of introducing new and unfamiliar foods, stay in your wheelhouse, but emphasize the presentation. “We recommend providing comfort or familiar foods, but then spreading them out or presenting them in a more creative and exciting way,” suggests Iserman. Treating to your favorite foods will also more authentically capture your relationship within your wedding reception.
Search for balance
Although hot, hearty meals are often at the forefront of winter wedding menus, Carter urges couples to keep their spread balanced. “Don’t go too heavy,” she warns. “Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean every meal has to be hot. There should be ambient temperatures. Consider serving light, refreshing dishes, like seasonal salads, with heavier pastas and stews so guests aren’t too stuffed to hit the dance floor.
Capture your love story
Yes, a variety of seasonal items will look and taste better, but it has more impact if the dishes you serve reflect your relationship. To select programming that speaks to you and your partner, think about the most delicious meals you’ve had together over the season. “I tell people to think about the trips they’ve taken in the winter,” says Carter. “Recreate these interactive moments or types of meals in miniature format.” You can even incorporate your childhood favourites, the first dish you ate as a couple, or the evening meals you always fall back on.