If there's one thing many of us pride ourselves on it's being a “foodie”. We love food in all its forms. There are festivals of different foods, social media dedicated to food, even food businesses with cult followings and shrines. Here in Austin, we're inundated with great's like True Food Kitchen, Food Food, and La Barbecue so it's understandable to be picky about your wedding food. I've been to my share of weddings and while people get weepy over the ceremony the most anticipated part is often the food. Whether you want plated, casual, or a potluck the food you serve says a lot about your wedding.
I'm sure it's a superstition somewhere that you'll get bad relationship luck if you don't have at least a bite of the wedding cake. Wedding cake comes in so many different shapes and sizes but it's almost always pride of position when it comes to the food, and who doesn't like cake? Whether the bride wants a towering sugary masterpiece or some cute frosted cupcakes the wedding cake is a must. As an Austin wedding photographer, I've tasted my share of wedding cakes, and they're almost always amazing. Professional wedding photography wouldn't be complete without some stunning cake shots. Trust me, eat the cake.
The best types of wedding cake for me are interesting. There's nothing more boring than a white cake with white vanilla buttercream even if it looks beautiful. Your wedding is about what makes you special so have a cake that's special too. Peaches and vanilla? Chocolate and orange? The flavor combination is endless and many cakes have different flavors for each tier to make it even more fun. If you're looking to save a few dollars skip the cake cutting fee and designate someone to do it (grandma would love to cut your cake for you!) or opt for cupcakes and a token cake for you to cut and take home.
Fruit is one of those things that's really versatile. Fruit salad? Fruit and yogurt cups? Fruit mousse? Everyone likes fruit. Stay away from things that go bad quickly if you're in the heat and make sure you keep them covered if you're outside. Fruit is almost always a winner no matter what part of the food you're serving. Appetizers like melon are popular while melon also makes a popular dessert. If you're not sure about fruit on its own then pair it with a cheese bar or cheese platter. Almost everyone loves cheese so a selection of nice cheeses (read not orange blocks of crud) will definitely be a hit, especially if you're doing a buffet.
Fruit works on a number of levels – there are a few allergies to worry about but most lifestyle food choices can still eat fruit. It's gluten free, dairy free, vegan, diet friendly and even diabetics might have a piece or two when given the choice over a sugary cake.
Part of what makes a wedding fun is socializing, and with professional wedding photography you want to get pictures of the crowd being social. Finger foods allow people to be social and mingle while snacking or eating. Great ideas include mini pizzas, sliders, canape, fry cups, dim sum, and miniature food of any sort. If you can pick it up with your fingers without making a mess then it's perfect – that's the only rule. If you're doing a sit-down meal this is a perfect appetizer that lets guests mingle while the wedding photos are being done after the ceremony.
One of the coolest pairings I've seen was a combination of finger foods with a miniature drink. Think a cracker with caviar paired with a shot of vodka.
There is a danger with this. You don't want your entire menu to be mini sandwiches and snacks unless you're only doing cocktails at the reception. A wedding reception that is catered and is an actual reception will have guests expecting something a little more substantial to fuel their dancing and drinking for the rest of the night. The inverse of having too many courses and big foods, no one wants to sit at the table all night and if your guests are starving they're probably going to go get food elsewhere before the night is over.
There's always that one person who doesn't like pickles, and the other who doesn't like sour crème and Aunty May who won't touch anything that's been near mustard. A craft your own DIY food station takes one food item and allows guests to personalize it. While sending a card to check “chicken or beef” gives them some control over the menu no one likes food which arrives and you have to start picking things off. When I'm doing wedding photography I want pictures of your guests happy and enjoying their food. Great ideas for DIY stations include salad bars, hot dog/burger stands, pickle bars, or even snacks like popcorn with different flavorings to put in.
Food trucks are another way to take the “craft your own” to the next level. By allowing guests slightly more variety you'll keep everyone happy and it's a fun experience for everyone.
Yes, the word vegan is scary. We all know that one vegan who will tell you about their dietary choice while criticizing yours. Vegan food isn't all soggy tofu and sad salads, many vegan dishes are pretty amazing so if there's a vegan item on the menu you might just want to try it if you don't want the same barbecue and coleslaw menu that many southern weddings have. Especially as an Austin wedding photographer, it gets boring to see the same menu 2 or 3 times a month. Think falafel, hummus, veggie sushi, even lasagna and pasta bakes. Most foods can be made vegan and the creativity means they're often more flavorful and artistic than the typical boring meat and veg you're likely to see.
Another reason to try the vegan or vegetarian menu is that if it's good you're more likely to be able to get seconds. If there are great dishes on the regular menu there's a good possibility they will run out while vegan items have a reputation that keeps all but foodies in the know away. Just because it's vegan it doesn't mean you can't still love it even if you're a meat eater.
While I won't advocate drinking while photographing a wedding if the signature drink is non-alcoholic then I love to try them. Some of the coolest ones have been a pink lemonade and mint punch, a ginger cranberry cider, and a passion fruit sweet tea. Signature drinks are as unique to the couple as the wedding itself and can range from fun to wacky - I've seen a couple have a milkshake as a signature drink that was served with mini cups of fries as their appetizers, crazy but fun at the same time. If you're going to do a cocktail hour anyway why not pair mini drinks with the appetizers. As an Austin wedding photographer, the signature drink is one of those “little touches” that I always make sure to get because it's a southern tradition.