Inspiration for an On-Trend Wedding Reception

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The month of February is short, perhaps for good reason. There are more hours of daylight, but winter’s chill has a firm grip on much of the country. A parade of dreary days passes by as leafless trees stand against a gray sky.

What a great month for the celebration of lovers on Valentine’s Day! Was it by accident or design that a month noted for bleakness was chosen for a celebration of warmth and love?

For many couples, February is a month to take things to the next level. Those who proposed marriage over the holiday season are in the midst of preparing for a wedding this year. In the dead of winter, their focus is on a special day, whether it’s in the blush of spring or sultry summer. Brides-to-be study wedding ideas on Pinterest. It’s time to make choices. What’s trending? What’s in and what’s out? Let’s take a quick look.

In the past few years, weddings have featured rustic decor, Mason jar decor, burlap, chalkboard signage, buffet dinners and cupcake bars. Although they were once innovative, trends are now moving toward different directions.

Beverages may focus on local offerings. A sampling of local craft beers, served in bottles with custom labels, celebrate the bride and groom. In a more formal setting, guests could choose elegant flights of beer or wine. A local craft distillery may inspire a signature cocktail.

Another popular trend is wedding cocktails featuring edible flowers. Yes, flowers are not just for the bridal bouquet. You’ll find them featured in beverages, salads and on the wedding cake. We’ll talk about dessert trends in a moment, but first let’s plan the meal.

If your goal is to have guests circulate, consider having an hors d’oeuvre reception. This arrangement is similar to a cocktail supper. It features a variety of food stations or food bars throughout the room. Guests have the freedom to mingle while they choose their own menu. Some popular stations include light selections such as seafood, sashimi and sushi. More substantial offerings of tapas, cheese and charcuterie, tacos or a variety of Italian foods such as antipasto, pizza or pasta can satisfy any appetite.

For a different take for a reception with food stations in an outdoor setting, go for the “wheel deal” and choose a variety of food trucks. The options are limitless—barbecue, Asian cuisine, foods of South America, sweets such as cotton candy, or a combination of all these. The cost per person is often less than a buffet or sit-down dinner.

With more people interested in sustainable, farm-to-table and organic foods, many caterers now work with local farmers to source ingredients using local, seasonal foods. And thoughtful hosts are also mindful of guests whose diets may require dishes with vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free ingredients. The good news is that it has become easy to plan meals that include delicious options for entrees, sides and desserts that meet any special dietary needs.

Speaking of dessert, the happy couple is free to choose whatever pleases them. The traditional wedding cake has given way to personal preference. Whether it’s cupcake bars, doughnuts, pies, ice cream served in pint containers or sandwiched between cookies, there’s no limit to what any couple wants to serve.

But the traditional wedding cake is not only still with us, it’s making a bit of a comeback, with a twist. Naked cakes, devoid of icing, may have cream filling between the layers, such as carrot cake with cream cheese filling. These exposed cakes may be totally naked, or decorated with fresh fruit or flowers. For iced cakes, the trend is toward a minimal look A cake with simple white icing may be adorned with metallics, either edible metallic icing or fresh fruit, such as figs or raspberries, dusted with edible gold.

If your wedding includes a night of dancing, your guests might appreciate midnight snacks. Think small plates: mini grilled cheese sandwiches balanced on an espresso cup of tomato soup, cheeseburger sliders served alongside a shot glass of fries that are nestled atop a dollop of ketchup, or tiny ramekins of mac-and-cheese.

Did you know that the definition of “reception” is literally the action of receiving something? Your reception is a process, the first time the two of you receive your tribe of family and friends, and for them to receive you, as a married couple. Mindy Kaling said it best: “Shouldn’t a wedding be an awesome party you throw with your great pal? A great day, for sure, but not the beginning and certainly not the end.”

Whether your budget is $70 a person or hundreds of dollars per plate, make sure you take time to relax and enjoy each other and your guests. Good food and good company will create good memories.

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