Yes, this is a wall filled with doughnuts, and it's coming to a wedding near you. After seeing photos of the sweet treat display all over social media, we wondered what else is happening over in the wild and wacky world of wedding food. To get the scoop, we talked to two wedding planner pros who have seen it all: Annie Lee of Daughter of Design in New York City and Danielle Lee (no relation) of New Orleans-based My House Nola, which specializes in culinary productions. Both veterans of the biz, they agree that couples are more focused on and obsessed with the food at their weddings than ever. Here are 17 wedding food trends we're loving.
1. Doughnut walls
"This is the culmination of two wedding trends: familiar comfort food with something that is novel and unexpected," says Annie. "People are going to familiar food in an unfamiliar presentation. Couples are moving away from formal fine dining and are attracted to doing anything interactive and fun—like going to get a doughnut off a wall.”
2. Doughnut cakes
"A lot of wedding food trends are shown through desserts," says Danielle. "Instead of one big formal cake, couples are going for a smorgasbord of desserts filled with doughnut cakes and more."
"S’mores are back with a big vengeance," says Annie. "They combine the novelty of something from childhood and something that’s very casual and interactive because you’re building the s’mores yourself. We’ll use a fireplace at a venue or even an outside bonfire.”
4. Tiered cheese cakes
“People are still asking for these layered wheels of cheese," says Annie.
5. Bride and groom signature cocktails
“Having one signature drink for the bride and one for the groom is not a novelty anymore. It's become a wedding staple,” says Annie.
Some couples are taking things even further. Danielle recently worked with a bride who offered several punch bowls and a frozen drink made in a rented slushie machine.
As for glassware: "Brides are saying 'no' to mason jars," says Danielle. "They might still use them for lighting, but not for cocktails and desserts."
6. Pie bar
"Wedding cakes are going to the wayside, but I get a lot of requests for pies," says Danielle. "Recently at a wedding, we brought in three or four types of pies from a well-known baker in town. A small cake was cut for photos, but not to served to the guests."
7. Naked cakes
"Fondant covered cakes are out," says Danielle. "If anyone is doing cake, it's a naked cake where the frosting, filling and inside layers are visible. Florists may add touches of real flowers too. It's really taking tradition out of the picture and becoming more about serving real food that people actually want to eat.
Also, I never assume that they want to keep the top layer of a cake for the future. I always ask 'are you even having a wedding cake?' I've found that 70 percent don't have traditional wedding cake. They started owning 'I don't like cake, why do I have to have it at my wedding?'"
“Yes, cupcakes are still served at weddings, but macarons are happening too," Annie says. They're especially popular because they are gluten-free."
Gluten-free, kosher and very pretty, these delicate puffs are starting to make an appearance at weddings.
10. Coffee foam selfies
“Printing your own image on things at weddings is becoming a trend again," says Annie. "One company offers guests to take a selfie and immediately print it on coffee foam. It's Instagram-friendly and anything social media-related is popular."
11. Large format mains
"I'm on my third wedding with a whole roasted pig this year," says Danielle. "Before a wedding wouldn't have been the right event for it. Either they want it carved in front of the guests or just cooked in front of guests."
"From food to décor, most couples want everything to feel authentic and genuine," Annie says. "No more foams or fussy foods: they want food that's pretty, sophisticated, approachable, familiar and recognizable. Plated meals are still happening in urban areas, but in a rustic country setting where it feels authentic, couples want the reception to feel like a pioneer-style feast that you would have on a true farm," says Annie.
"Instead of leafy salads, people are more into salads made with vegetables like beets, cauliflower and hen of the woods," says Annie. "They're more like side orders of vegetables than actual salads. Couples are also requesting interesting grains like farro and wheat berries too. Quinoa is just regular now."
Danielle also gets a lot of requests for salads and vegetable sides that highlight what's in season like strawberries, carrots and fennel in springtime. "Some go so far as wanting to make sure its local and capturing farm-to-table vibe," she says.
13. Long communal tables
"Many couples say that food has played a big part in their relationships and that they want the wedding day to embody the communal aspect of eating," says Danielle.
Long tables have become more popular at weddings now for two reasons, according to Annie: both for the look and because they are more conducive to community and conversation.
"Guest experience is everything," says Annie. "Weddings used to be about the bride and groom, but now they're about guest experience and entertainment."
“Caterers are up to date on restaurant food trends and they're all offering special butters and artisanal breads for the tables,” says Annie.
15. After-party food
“Couples always want straight comfort foods like greasy pizza, mac and cheese balls, mini sliders and fries—really anything you'd find on a kids menu or at a college dorm," Annie says. "Sometimes they'll make it more personal, like when a couple gave out their favorite packaged spicy Shin ramen in a cup with hot water. The guests absolutely loved them."
After-party food is a becoming a combination of late night snack and parting gift. "Couples are moving away from the formal favors and giving out Happy Meal-style to-go bags," says Danielle. "Recently a couple from Chicago gave its guests Garrett's Popcorn as a parting gift that could be eaten at the party or taken home. Couples are taking money from what would have been spent on the favors and putting it into the experience of a wedding instead of giving people something a souvenir that they may or may not want at the end of the day."
16. Food trucks
Brides and grooms are obsessed with getting food trucks to cater weddings and show up for after-party time. “One of the first things I ask a couple is if they want to have a food truck, because not every venue allows them," says Annie.
17. Cultural foods
"Couples are looking to piece together different types of foods that they feel describe them," says Danielle. "They want to personalize their weddings by highlighting foods from where they grew up and the foods from their backgrounds."
"For a Canadian bride who requested maple taffy, we set up a station with a slab of ice and maple syrup so the guests could make their own treats," says Annie.