When it comes to the wedding reception, the food is the part your guests will look forward to, especially if you are having a destination wedding in Italy – land of amazing flavors and wine.
Here is a simple guide that will help you choose the right catering for your special day!
Some locations have their internal catering, others don’t and you will have to find an external one. Both have their pros and cons.
In most cases, if a venue has an internal catering, you have no choice but to take it as part of the offer but some locations are flexible. An internal catering is usually more affordable, unless, of course, you go for a luxury hotel or villa with an internal catering, where this might not be the case.
Internal catering has less options when it comes to menu and materials and might have less staff available to take care of your wedding, even if this is not always the case. Some locations with internal catering are extremely flexible and go above and beyond to satisfy their guests and make their wedding smooth and memorable.
What about internal catering pros? Since there are less items on their menus, they become true specialists in making them! If they are lucky enough to produce their local wine too, like most venues in Tuscany, they will have wine and food pairings your guests will love and cherish long after your wedding as the authentic savor of local Italy.
The pros of the external catering are in their variety and flexibility. You can choose any type of food. They also have more material, like tablecloths, cutlery, dinnerware or china that better fit your wedding concept. The costs depend on the number of the guests, location and menu.
In this case the setting and the transportation will cost you more than the internal catering but you will gain in flexibility and personalization. If you want your reception to be vegan or gluten free, the external catering is usually the right choice.
In some countries, like the US, you let your guests choose the menu on the spot. It is not a custom in Italy. Letting your guests choose means you have to prepare twice as much food as you need and a big part of it will be wasted. Italians don’t like to throw away food.
This is why the best option is to ask your guests in advance about their dietary restrictions and to prepare different food only for those who actually need it.
Usually, when guests arrive, we welcome them with an aperitivo – an Italian cocktail hour that works the same way. The aperitivo station usually contains cold cuts, cheese, finger food, canapes and prosecco as a starter.
This helps the guests to immerse gradually into the festive atmosphere while chatting with people, not necessarily the ones they will share the tables with later.
I recommend serving two first courses and one second course. Since there is a buffet before the reception and other desserts besides the wedding cake, in my experience this is the best option.
What about wedding menus? In Italy you choose between meat and fish menu throughout the wedding – you don’t eat both, Italians care a lot about food pairings.
Chicken is considered cheap food and is not served during special events. You might have it if you set up a barbecue area but that’s it, opting for chicken in a wedding menu is like having a cappuccino after lunch – a violation of the implicit Italian food code.
For the first course I recommend “pasta al forno” – traditional baked pasta, or another kind of short pasta – the long one is more difficult to eat and it could stain your guests’ outfits. Another first course I recommend is a creamy risotto – they are delicious here!
For the second course you can have swordfish or beef steak. The choice depends on your location. If the reception is by the sea, choose fish. Tuscany’s hinterland is known for amazing meat, so it would be the best option.
Even if the difference is just in a few miles, every small town does have typical food they make better than everyone else – this is usually your best option.
If there will be children at your wedding, ask for a kids’ menu. In Italy it means food children like – hamburgers, fries and Coca-Cola.
Children’s menus are usually more affordable and they enjoy it a lot, so ask your caterer or wedding designer about them.
Here I wrote about desserts ideas, choose local cakes like Millefoglie and add some other local desserts to spoil your guests.
Don’t forget the wine! It has to be paired with the food, balanced and local. But how much wine do you need for your wedding reception? I recommend buying a bottle every 3-4 guests. We usually put prosecco for aperitivo, white, red or rosé wine for dinner and spumante – the Italian sparkling wine, or Prosecco which is the Italian Champagne for the toast.
Oh, and if you miss Italy and all this talking about food made you hungry already, in this blog post you can find a 4 course Italian dinner you can make yourself today in your home for a romantic date as if you were in Tuscany!
Did you clear up your mind about your wedding catering in Italy? What would you like to have?
Let me know in the comments!