Selecting a menu is one of the biggest decisions for a wedding. While buffets and sit-down dinners are still popular, there are numerous other options available that can make a wedding as individualized and personal as each couple.
When Dewaine Beard was married last year, he and his new spouse wanted their wedding and food selections to reflect their personalities—casual and low-key.
“We were married in a friend’s backyard and had a barbecue. It was self-serve, very cost-effective and delicious,” Beard said.
The Fox Chapel couple used Mitch’s BBQ for both their appetizers and main course, with a cupcake table from Oakmont Bakery. They also had a self-serve wine and beverage table.
Since the caterer dropped the food off, the couple had to do a lot of the cleanup themselves, and Beard noted that they were tired at the end of the event. “But it was worth it to us. The best part was everyone talking together and mingling in line at the tables,” he said.
Mitch Evanitsky, owner of Mitch’s BBQ, caters everything from simple, casual events like Beard’s wedding to formal sit-down dinners, including lots of weddings. The menu can be as varied as simple hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken, to prime rib and salmon, to a whole pig roast. The company can also do vegetables and other vegetarian meals for those who don’t eat meat.
“It becomes a conversation piece—when we go to an event, we actually create a barbecue pit, and people want to see what you are doing,” Evanitsky said.
Mitch’s also provides ice cream sundae bars. “I started out by making ice cream over 30 years ago,” said Evanitsky. “We now have over 20 toppings, and guests can create their own sundaes. They love it.”
John Marshall Catering works with couples to create a variety of food options, according to Mary Garrison, wedding coordinator.
“Food stations are very popular. We recently had a wedding where they had a ‘Pittsburgh’ sandwich table—guests could walk up and ask for meat, fries, coleslaw—whatever they wanted on their sandwiches,” Garrison said, “Of course it was named after the famous Pittsburgh food icon.”
Food stations may include a pasta station with a variety of sauces, toppings and pasta selections, a salad station, dessert bars and more. “People like selecting what they want to eat,” noted Garrison.
Another popular trend is the late-night snack at the end of the wedding.
“It’s usually not a really big meal, but something like passed appetizers or an app station and a coffee bar,” said Garrison, adding that they recently provided a s’mores station for a late-night snack. Walking tacos and hot pretzels were two other recent selections.
Garrison said that buffets are still in style, but family-style meals are also growing in popularity.
“It’s like Thanksgiving dinner, where each table gets platters and bowls to pass around and share,” she said. Other recent menu selections have included a whole pig roast, an international wedding and a full vegan and vegetarian menu.
John Marshall Catering will be providing the appetizers for Shelby Rose and Phillip Atkins from the Northside for their October wedding, with the main course served by Blue Sparrow Food Truck.
According to Rose, their appetizers will go the more traditional route and include mini crab cakes, sweet sausage over mushrooms, and chicken teriyaki skewers. While Rose and Atkins were still working on narrowing down their main courses from Blue Sparrow, they loved the idea of the food truck.
“We wanted something different than a normal wedding dinner, but also wanted it to be more ‘us,’ and we love food trucks,” said Rose. “We think having a food truck as our dinner option will also be a more memorable experience for the wedding guests.”
“When a couple chooses a food truck, it is because they like the fare. We can build the menu from what they like,” said Blue Sparrow owner Luke Cypher, whose business is known for its global street foods.
Most food trucks will serve a pared down menu to simplify serving—guests typically line up just like they do at any event with a food truck. Since they can serve 50 to 80 guests an hour, Cypher said they recommend couples hire more than one food truck for larger weddings.
“We usually just roll the truck up and serve from the venue,” said Cypher, adding that food trucks are especially popular with park and barn weddings.
In addition to the fun and quirky nature of food trucks, they can save couples money. “A food truck can cost maybe a couple of thousand for the day, and even if you have two or three, you can save a substantial amount of money compared to other options,” Cypher said.
Rose and Atkins look forward to utilizing Blue Sparrow at their wedding. “I think it’ll be fun for people to have the food truck experience with the choices we pick from his menu,” Rose said.
Rose and Atkins are finishing their reception with another personal touch.
“We will also have a cheese/fruit/charcuterie table…our cake is actually going to be a cheese wheel cake,” said Rose. “Neither of us like actual cake, but we love cheese and charcuterie.”