How to Choose a Summer Wedding Menu That'll Hold Up in the Heat—and Help Keep Guests Cool!
The pros share their favorite ideas for big-day meals and drinks that'll combat the heat of the summer sun.
Rather than competing with the temperatures of a summer reception, why not embrace the warmth of the season with a menu that reflects your wedding date? We're not talking about serving food and drinks that actually match the outdoor temperatures, but rather bites and sips that hold up well in the summer, help keep guests cool, and celebrate the best of in-season produce. To get a better understanding of how to do just that, Jess Levin Conroy of Carats & Cake tapped into her circle of wedding professionals to map out a reception menu that can withstand the heat while cooling your guests down.
During cocktail hour, pair a seasonal signature drink (one wedding planner likes mojitos infused with freshly-picked herbs) with fresh, crunchy passed hors d'oeuvres. Ceviche, veggie-centric summer rolls, and fruit-centric offerings are sure to go fast. Another good choice? Freshly-shucked oysters, although we're pretty sure your guests will enjoy those any time of year. Keep the same ideas in mind for your reception meal. You wouldn't serve a hot soup as an appetizer on a 90-degree day, would you? One pro recommends a chilled alternative, while another says to do away with the soup course all together in favor of a light, bright salad instead. For dinner, serve a meal that's as hydrating as it is delicious (this one is sure to surprise you!). As for the most summer-ready dessert? Well, isn't it obvious? You can't go wrong serving ice cream on a hot day, but if you're a fan of wedding cake, you can offer it as a late-night snack or as part of a larger dessert spread, too.
For more summer food and drink ideas, plus expert advice on serving and presentation, click through here.
Serve Enhanced Seasonal Cocktails
"Put a seasonal twist on your signature drinks! Mojitos, spring ales, and of course a Frosé are some of our spring happy hour go-tos. A subtle seasonal garnish, like ice cubes with rose petals, is a great seasonal element, too." —Kristen Gosselin, Owner and Creative Director, KG Events & Design
You Can't Go Wrong with a Chilled Classic
"If your wedding is near the coast, raw oysters are a fantastic choice and an unexpected treat. They are quick to eat and chilled for the perfect appetizer." —Lindsey Nickel, Wedding Planner and Owner, Lovely Day Events
Go with Light Hors-D'oeuvres
"During the warm summer months, keep things light and fresh for cocktail hour. We love Bear Flag Farm's Black Mission Fig with fennel ricotta, Saba, and prosciutto." —Tina Reikes, Owner, Bear Flag Farm
Pack-In Fresh Ingredients
"Summer rolls packed with crisp, fresh vegetables will be a refreshing bite for guests celebrating in warmer temperatures."—Linda Stripp, Catering and Event Planning Director, Mezze Catering
Control Service Time
"Hors d'oeuvres work very well because they are 'passed,' and we can control the temperature and service time without the flavor or temperature of the food being negatively compromised. Also, small passed plates work well for a reception, and aren't adversely affected by heat, like our chilled pea soup." —John Karangis,
Choose Dishes That Emphasize Versatility
"Ceviche is a great way to highlight fresh fish and seafood while incorporating seasonal citruses such as oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes and other produce. At Rosewood Mayakoba's La Ceiba, we offer guests a Mexican-style Grouper ceviche, though Grouper can be substituted with an array of local seafood offerings, from shrimp to scallops and more." —Juan Pablo Loza, Executive Chef, Rosewood Mayakoba
Get Picky with Your Ingredients
"Crafting menus that are delicious and hold up to the challenges of an outdoor kitchen, can be very tricky. A classic salad is my personal favorite for a wedding menu, but some lettuces don't hold their own if they sit too long once dressed. Bitter, crunchy and tangy, frisée salad does not easily wilt, and is the perfect mate to a crisp white wine and an artisan herbed bread." —Michelle Rago,
Stick with Classic, Seasonal Combinations
"Couple a soft protein like a crab cake with a crunchy in-season veggie. We love the combo of seafood and asparagus for a fresh reflection of the season." —Demi Meeker, Senior Sales Manager, Cannon Green
Choose Hydrating Ingredients
"Cucumbers—similar to watermelon—jicama, and radish, have a high-water content that helps to keep guests hydrated and cool. Yogurt, cucumbers, and eggplant are a classic trio all over the world, and the yogurt makes the dish more substantial." —Alexis Delaney, Culinary Events Director, Haven's Kitchen
Incorporate Natural Sweetness
"This grape salad with black rice is a wonderfully refreshing dish to enjoy in the summer heat. All of the grapes are chilled, ripe, juicy and ready to be enjoyed. There's a nice sweetness and nuttiness to the black rice which also complements the grapes. We added sliced jalapenos to give the dish some spice, which also helps cool the body down on a hot day." —Daniel Capra, Executive Chef, Paula LeDuc Fine Catering & Events
Mix Playful with Artisanal for Dessert
"An artisanal ice cream sandwich bar is always a delicious addition, guests can pick whatever cookie and ice cream they want which makes it personal, sweet, and can make any heat instantly more enjoyable." —Cassandra Santor, Owner, Cassandra & Company
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