The Experience of Food at Weddings

15.07.2023 03:51

There few things more unifying than gathering around a shared meal. Food brings people together. I’m deeply curious about the histories, traditions, rituals, preparation, rules, myths, and possibilities which surround food culture. It’s a weighty topic, inextricably linked to culture and identity, emotion, and experience. But it also provides a rich opportunity for pleasure and connection.

You can’t have a wedding without food, yet so often the food is merely an uninspired afterthought. Of course there are concerns about having to feed a large number of people with vastly different appetites, dietary restrictions, and personal tastes. But so often we try to play it safe, choosing the most palatable and affordable options: “chicken or fish?”

Instead we should start by asking ourselves: where does this food come from? What story does it tell? Does the meal we serve satisfy the greater purpose of our wedding? Is it relevant to us personally, culturally, or locally?

Will people remember this meal? Is it special?

What to serve is only part of the role of food at a wedding. There is also a lot of opportunity in how food is served and presented. There’s the obvious choices between buffet or individually-plated dinners, which often come down to budget, convenience, and hygiene. There’s the beloved family style meal that feels homey and comfortable. And then there’s experiential dining, where the act of eating becomes an immersive adventure.

At an experiential dinner I once attended by food designer Inés Lauber, we drank color-changing cocktails, foraged for our own salads, worked in pairs to break open root vegetables cooked in clay, and learned to distinguish heirloom varieties of local apples by aromas, flavors, personalities, and appearance, which we then peeled ourselves to make three different varieties of strudel.

A meal created by an experience designer, rather than just a chef, profoundly connected us to what we were eating, and the people we were eating it with. The food was all locally sourced-even the main course which was served as a traditional plated meal, was foraged from the nearby forrest-giving us a deeper connection to our sense of place. And the collaborative spirit of breaking the vegetables out of the clay and working together to match the apple varietals of some guests with the information cards of the others created a sense of wonder, play, and camaraderie.

So how can you focus on pleasure and make the food at a wedding a more integral and experiential part of the big day? The first idea is to start with the place. Are you hosting the wedding in a region famous for a particular type of produce, wildlife, wine, cooking technique, or cuisine? Particularly for weddings where many guests have traveled from afar highlighting the local specialties is a great way to honor the destination where you’ve gathered everyone together. In Napa perhaps you build a menu around the wine. In the South perhaps a big barbecue. A coastal wedding can integrate seafood. Or if you’re a multi-cultural couple how can you combine your cultural cuisines into something new and exciting?

And finally, get creative with presentation and engagement. If your intention is to bring guests together into a new tribe that your marriage is creating, consider a family style meal where no one is allowed to serve themselves. Inviting guests to serve one another gives them a deeper sense of community and togetherness. If the feelings you wish to evoke are mystery or curiosity, consider serving a course in a special box or container so guests have to uncover whatever delightful surprise lies inside.

I always suggest starting with the feelings you want guests to experience, and then think about ways to spark those emotions. If you want to evoke coziness and family, perhaps you serve the comfort foods you grew up with. If you want guests to feel a sense of luxury and abundance, obviously rich, sensual foods are a brilliant way to ensure that. If you want guests to feel childlike wonder, take it out of its typical context and serve gourmet cotton candy as an after dinner treat.

There are countless unique ways to use food to advance the larger purpose of what a wedding is for. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb with it, experiment, play, entice, surprise, delight. If you try to please everyone, you’ll dazzle no one

Useful Resources:

1. Complete Menu of Wedding Catering
2. Jakarta Wedding Organizer Packages and prices
3. ist of Special Catering Services Packages in Jakarta


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