by Dylan Bartlett July 30, 2020 4 min read

Once you start planning your wedding, you'll get lots of advice from friends and family on how they set up their ceremonies. It can be romantic to indulge in traditions, of course, but you may not want to follow the status quo. If you're looking for a fun and unconventional wedding reception, there are plenty of ways to make that happen.

Your guests will spend most of their time at your reception, so make it stand out from other weddings by rethinking how you envision your catering. Check out these seven unique catering ideas for your wedding reception that will look great and taste even better.

Mix and match these ideas according to what you and your fiance love so your reception choices make your wedding even more special.

1. Order an Apéritif Bar

After your ceremony, you'll lose track of time as you pose for pictures with your wedding party and spouse. You shouldn't have to worry about guests going overboard on cocktail hour drinks before you return for dinner. Many brides order an apéritif bar just for this reason.

Apéritifs are drinks that mix wine, herbs, spirits and spices to create light cocktails that pair with most foods. Talk with your bartender about different types of apéritifs that will be agreeable for most palates so everyone can enjoy what's available on your cocktail hour menu.

2. Place Food on Sticks
Vegetable Kabobs

Sometimes it's better to stick with something simple. Everyone loves delicious finger food, especially when you can grab a snack on a stick. For your reception, serve bite-sized food on skewers so guests can mix and match their meal.

Consider things like skewered meats and fruit or fried mac and cheese bites on toothpicks. Catering companies can make almost anything work for this type of easygoing meal that requires minimal cleanup.

3. Serve Only Cocktail Food

Who says your reception and cocktail hour can't be the same thing? Start serving your reception meal as you take photos with your wedding party. Your guests can begin dinner with fruits and other appetizers and start eating the main course as you make your entrance. 

This is an excellent idea if you think your pictures may take a while, and you don't want anyone feeling hangry before you and your spouse arrive for your first meal as a married couple.

4. Request Multiple Food Trucks
Blue Food Truck

Smaller weddings can rely on food trucks to supply all their wedding reception food. Talk with local food trucks about how much it costs to rent them for the evening. They're often willing to personalize your reception menu, as long as they have room to park.

If you think you might like food trucks for your catering, you can always rent one for different stages of your reception meal. Rent separate trucks for salads, entrees and desserts, so guests have an array of options to try.

5. Choose Grilled Entrees

Breezy outdoor venues or locations with a relaxed vibe are the perfect places for grilled reception entrees. Pick all your favorite barbecue foods and then consider the grilling method you prefer. Electric and charcoal grills have pros and cons, but you can also opt for wood pellet grilling, which creates a smoky flavor and takes less time to heat up. 

After you learn what kind of grills you prefer, you can find catering companies that use that grilling technique to provide all your favorite foods for your wedding reception.

6. Go Big on Desserts

Sometimes brides focus so much on their reception meal that they forget they can go big on desserts. Grab-and-go stations are popular at weddings, but you can make multiple catered stations that focus on one or two desserts so they stand out. Set up an elaborate cake pop display or choose seasonal desserts, like candied apples and pumpkin pie during the fall.

You can also hire professional caterers for specialty desserts, such as a professional ice cream bar. It all depends on what you enjoy and what kind of dessert catering will fit your wedding theme.

7. Finish With Soul Food

Why finish the night with dessert when you can switch things up and end your wedding with soul food? Soul food is like comfort food, but with a Southern vibe. Cornbread, mac and cheese, fried chicken and sweet potato pie are just a few of the most people-pleasing options.

If you decide to finish your wedding with soul food, don't make common foodie mistakes like not keeping the potato salad cold or serving too many heavy meals. Variety and attention to detail will make this kind of catering a huge success.

Imagine You're a Guest

There are so many unique catering ideas for your wedding reception that you might feel overwhelmed with options. If you do, imagine you're a guest at your own wedding. What would you hope to drink, eat and experience? Follow your gut and go with what you prefer. It's your big day, and your guests will be fine with whatever you decide to cater.