Gowns and Guests
Wedding food

Choosing the Perfect Entrees for Your Wedding Reception

Are you planning to have a catered dinner at your reception? Choosing the perfect entree–or, more realistically, entrees–can be a real challenge. Here are a few ideas to help you pick the perfect dishes.


Nobody likes to talk about money, but you need to sit down with your future spouse and lay out a clear budget for every component of your wedding. Catering can get very expensive, so it’s a good idea to set a firm budget before you begin brainstorming menus.

Depending on the number of guests, the caterers available in your area, venue restrictions, and other factors, you might decide to forgo a sit-down meal entirely. However, if you have your heart set on a traditional catered reception, make sure that you factor in any hidden costs, such as venue surcharges.

Season & Location

Tailor your wedding menu to the season and the location of the ceremony. Try to choose local ingredients that are currently in season whenever possible. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, but you’ll also save money and get fresher produce.

You can talk to your caterer about farm-to-table options or get inspired on Pinterest. You can also take into account the local specialties as you plan your menu. Lobster is iconic in coastal New England, while salmon is more common in the Pacific Northwest. Of course you can choose your protein from anywhere you like, but local is almost always better.


Food is a wonderful way to celebrate your cultural heritage. Consider offering dishes that reflect the traditions of both you and your spouse. You can also include regional dishes or ingredients. For example, I grew up in Vermont, so you know I’m going to find a way to include maple syrup in the catering.

Make sure you choose a caterer with experience in the dishes that are important to you. If they’ve never made jambalaya before, your wedding is not the time to try it. You might also consider a brief explainer on the menu or place card that talks about why the dish is important to you.

Dietary Restrictions

These days, it seems like everyone has a special dietary restriction. As we learn more about the connection between food and health, many people are more careful about what they eat. You may need to cater to a wide variety of restrictions and preferences, depending on your guest list.

The safest bet is to have chicken or fish as the protein for one entree choice, and then provide a vegan option as backup. Guests may have other concerns, such as nut allergies or gluten intolerance. Add a line to your RSVP cards so they can let you know.

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