When it comes to food at weddings, there's a long-held tradition of mediocrity. But as more foodies walk down the aisle, things are starting to get interesting. Couples are finding creative ways to add personalized extras - from their cocktail hours to the moment you say good night. Here are 10 wedding-food trends worth sampling.
Treats to go. More couples are sending guests off with snacks to sustain them on the way home.
For some, that means simply packing up slices of wedding cake in customized to-go boxes complete with little wooden forks. (Check party-supply vendors and Etsy for containers made for this exact purpose.) Susan Norcross, wedding director at the Philadelphia wedding planning and styling firm Style Bride, said that at a recent wedding she organized, guests could grab milk cartons and bags of cookies for the road.
Other midnight snacks are more elaborate. Jaclyn Fisher of Two Little Birds is arranging a cart outside a June wedding to hand out soft pretzels and bottles of water to go.
Late-night junk food. Cheesesteaks, the ultimate late-night snack, are appearing in many variations at local weddings, Fisher said. She has had caterers pass mini-cheesesteaks on trays at the end of the evening and has hired food trucks to pull up outside the venue and serve hungry guests as they depart.
Spot Burgers made cheesesteaks for a recent Franklin Institute wedding Fisher handled. There also are taco trucks (Jose Garces' Distrito truck is a popular choice), pizza (the wood-burning Pitruco truck, or Nomad Pizza's mobile arm), grilled cheese (Cheese E Wagon), fried cheese curds (the Cow and the Curd), and just about anything else you might have a craving for. Book through Roaminghunger.com, or visit Phillymobilefoodassociation.com to research vendors.
Bonus breakfast. Some couples are opting to treat guests to a late-night breakfast. That can range from a full breakfast station with omelets, pancakes, and French toast to a food truck - think Foolish Waffles, hot doughnuts, and coffee from Undrgrnd Donuts, or bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches from the Sunflower Cafe truck. Norcross also had one cereal-obsessed client offer guests a cereal bar where they could mix their favorites and take them home along with bottles of milk.
S'mores. If you have an outdoor venue, make the most of it. Some, like Fernbrook Farms in Bordentown and Terrain at Styers in Glen Mills, already have outdoor fireplaces ready for your marshmallow-roasting needs. Others may allow the couple to bring their own firepit or tabletop burners.
Personalize the menu. Caterers' menus may be fixed, but couples with specific tastes are negotiating ways to integrate their favorite foods into the meal and dessert. Some opt for an array of cakes and pies from their favorite bakeries. One of Norcross' clients, a couple getting married at the Please Touch Museum, is known for their love of hot wings. "During the salad course, they have hot wings coming to the table, and the servers are passing hot towels afterward. Everyone knows it's their thing."
Say cheese. If you've been saving your milk money, you may want to splurge on a selection of cheeses, particularly those from local dairies. The introduction of "cheese sommeliers," who select cheeses and pair them with complementary nuts, jams, and honeys, is one way lactose-lovers are doubling down on their favorite food. Negotiate this with a local cheese shop. Di Bruno Bros. offers a "cheese monger" when it caters your entire event.
BYO beer garden. For fans of the growing local beer scene (and the corresponding boom in beer gardens), bringing in favorite brews is worth the effort. Norcross is working on a summer wedding at the Franklin Institute that will feature a small beer garden in the lobby area, with Adirondack chairs, strings of lights, and a selection of beers from breweries like Yards and Philadelphia Brewing Co. Victory Brewing also has a "brewpub on wheels" for those looking to bring more taps in for an outdoor event.
Spirits tastings. For those going beyond the signature cocktail, consider a bar where guests can sample tastings of your favorite spirit - think a curated array of tequilas or whiskeys. Norcross recently did a bourbon bar for a wedding at Terrain, offering honey-infused bourbon, rye, and other variations.
Third-wave coffee. Philly's coffee scene is just too good to let your guests sip substandard brews. Top Hat Espresso Catering brings a full-service espresso and coffee bar to your event. Or look to ReAnimator, which can offer pour-overs or batch brews of its popular blends and single-origin coffees. Hubbub Coffee, which started as a truck, will have tricycles with cold-brew coffee on tap starting in July for your warm-weather caffeine needs.
Doubling down on dessert. Christiane Lehman of Truly You Events in Philadelphia recalls putting together a winter wedding that wrapped up with a hot-chocolate bar, where guests could top a cup of cocoa with whipped cream, marshmallows, and chocolate shavings, and take it in a to-go cup with a customized sleeve and a mini-bottle of Baileys Irish Cream.
Other options: Get mobile sweetness in the form of trucks like Sugar Philly (macaroons) or Sweet Box (cupcakes), or a Little Baby's ice cream tricycle. Little Baby's can even whip up a custom ice cream flavor just for your event.