Unique Wedding Fare

Fox Cities Food Buffets Offer Fun Options

Weddings have always held a certain reverence and hierarchy in the world of special events. The significance of the day paired with excitement reserved for new beginnings and, let’s face it, the party!

The celebration often isn’t complete without a reception, and the reception focuses on food.

After COVID forced couples to prioritize what’s most important for them in terms of needs and wants during their wedding, area event coordinators are seeing a shift in the “norm.”

“These days, couples are steering away from stuffy and are bringing in unconventional buffets. We have seen a significant increase over the last couple years in couples wanting their wedding to be more of a reflection of who they are. This even carries over into their wedding food choices,” Kaarin Swan, Creative Director and Megan Heimlich, Lead Event Planner at 88 Events in Appleton, say. “(This) is due to a few factors. Firstly, many couples are fully or at least partially contributing to their wedding budget and many don’t see value in spending on things that aren’t important to them whereas in the past they were more likely to be OK with whatever parents or vendors suggested.

“Also, couples are becoming more comfortable with choosing less traditional options instead of doing something a certain way just because ‘that’s what you do.’ Lastly, couples want to personalize their day and share who they are with their guests.”

While formal, multi-course and plated meals still have a place in some couples’ stories, Swan and Heimlich are seeing more casual options pop up.

They say fun food options like elaborate grazing tables and dessert spreads, late-night taco bars, food trucks, slider flights during cocktail hour, dinner being catered from a favorite restaurant versus a traditional banquet caterer, and an overall commitment to less stuffy classic wedding food are having their moment within the wedding industry.

“On the horizon we see couples leaning into this even more and choosing the food they really love to be there on their day. We also anticipate working with them on how to take something like their favorite burrito bowls from Chipotle and serve and display them in a way that fits with the aesthetics they are going for.

“Weddings are expensive and we want our couples to be able to spend their budget money on the things they love. Your guests have eaten average food at weddings for years and choosing something fun is a great way to make even your dinner or appetizers an experience.

“Don’t be afraid to break from traditions, especially ones that aren’t important to you. The most fun weddings are the ones where couples have considered all the details and everything feels like it’s a true representation of them. Work with vendors you love and trust them to do their thing! They want your day to be amazing too!”

Parker John’s

Jordan Saunders, Director of Marketing and Off-Premise Events

Our catering business, specifically for weddings, is an area that we have seen huge growth in over the last 3-4 years. Our main wedding season runs from May through October. It is common for Parker John’s to cater up to 21 weddings in any given weekend during those months.”

Why do you think there’s an increase in unconventional food options at weddings? Wedding couples want to be unique and want their wedding to be remembered. Some people will say that the food is the most important part of the wedding. People don’t necessarily think of Barbeque when they think of wedding food which is why our catering is such a treat.

Parker John’s most popular catering options: The heart of our catering menu is the smoked meats and made from scratch sides. Our pulled pork is slow smoked for 12 hours which results in an extremely tender and smoky final product. The beef brisket is no less remarkable, showcasing a substantial bark saturated with flavor that envelops the meat. We call our house mac and cheese the crowd pleaser. Whether feeding adults or children, the mac and cheese is always a crowd favorite.

Why consider unique catering like Parker John’s for weddings? Firstly, our barbeque is not just a meal; it’s a memorable and enjoyable culinary experience that stands out. The distinctive flavors of our smokin’ delicious barbeque create a lasting impression on guests, making the wedding celebration truly unforgettable. Moreover, it’s not just about the food. At Parker John’s, we prioritize delivering a high level of service throughout the entire catering process. From the moment a client inquires about our services to the final plate being cleared on their wedding day, we are dedicated to ensuring a seamless and exceptional experience. Our commitment to service means our clients can focus on enjoying their special day, confident that the catering aspect is in capable and reliable hands.

Stuc’s Pizza

Erik Anderson, Owner/Operator

“My first wedding was about 10 years ago. In 2022 I did 2 weddings. In 2023 I did 3 weddings.  There has definitely been an increase in requests. The requests range from rehearsal dinners, actual wedding dinners and the reception party snack selections.”

Why do you think there’s an increase in unconventional food options at weddings? First, the price of ordering pizzas is wildly cheaper than getting a per-person meal catered. There is such a good value in pizza, and specifically when I can do a large order it is much more efficient and I can offer a really good discount. Second, everybody likes pizza! We can accommodate a variety of diets as well as personal likes and dislikes. For the wedding planner there isn’t as much decision making—you get a couple deluxe, some meat, some plain, some fancy and let the wedding attendees sort it out at the buffet. Also pizza works great for kids.

(Also), pizza is good cold. The last wedding we did, I brought in the pizzas for the wedding dinner but they ordered extra, so for the reception party afterward they had plenty of cold pizza to keep people happy all night long.

Stuc’s Pizza’s most popular catering options: One of the popular selections has been our Chicago Style Deep Dish. I always warn my customer that deep dish can be messy for fear that they will ruin their wedding clothes, but my warning has always been met with, “But we really just love the deep dish and want to share that with our guests!”

Classic order: Stuc’s Special (Deluxe), 3-Meat Classic, Cheese, Sausage, Pepperoni and if needed Vegetarian.

“Fancy” order: Speciality pizzas like the Chicken Garlic Gourmet, Chicken BBQ and some of our Spinach selections.

Besides just pizza we also have our various salads that we prepare as a group-sized option, as well as our Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Bruschetta.

Why consider unique catering like Stuc’s Pizza for weddings? I think people should consider pizza from Stuc’s as an option because of all the reasons listed above. The price per person is extremely low, usually around $7 to $8 per person, the flexibility of options and the ability to modify the order at any point and mostly the fact that everyone likes pizza! There is a certain relaxing feel about serving pizza for your wedding. After all the formalities are done and the beautiful ceremony is complete, having a pizza party is a great way to relax, unwind and finish the night off with a great party. People have had pizza parties in school as a way to celebrate, pizza parties at work, it’s by default a family type meal—all of those factors really make Stuc’s Pizza the “Good Mood Food.”

Sangria’s Mexican Grill

Sarah Gregory, Owner/Operator

“Weddings have become so much more popular! The increase in requests for weddings is up exponentially from just 5 years ago, and not just weddings, but also rehearsal dinners.”

Why do you think there’s an increase in unconventional food options at weddings? I think people are drifting away from the traditional family style, and who doesn’t love tacos?! Taco bar buffets offer a great variety of options for a reasonable price that can fit any budget. More and more people are trading in chicken and potatoes for loaded nachos and tortillas!

Why consider unique catering like Sangria’s for weddings? Tacos are one the trendiest foods right now, with endless possibilities and recipes that offer something for everyone. Aside from their popularity, we have seen such an influx in dietary restrictions in the past few years. Taco bars cater to all sorts of restrictions, from gluten sensitivities to vegetarians and vegans.

I think that just as people evolve, so does the food we eat! Tacos can be authentic and simple, contemporary yet unique and served traditional style or modern and eccentric. Tacos allow a couple to insert their own personalities into the experience that they want their guests to have on their wedding day. Fun, memorable and completely different.

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Food & Dining, Weddings

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