Want to impress the guests at our wedding? Focus on the food. Think about it: your centerpieces could be breathtaking, but no one is going to care if they’re all hangry because the catering is sub-par.

To ensure your menu is unforgettable for all the right reasons, here are eight food-related wedding trends for 2019 according to industry experts.

1. Bold International Flavors

Take your guests on a culinary adventure by serving up dishes utilizing techniques and ingredients from across the globe. North African and Middle Eastern flavors, for instance, have become very popular recently, says Carla Ruben, Owner and Creative Director of Creative Edge Parties. “The bold flavors and unique profile combinations add a lot of interest to a well-known food item,” she adds.

2. Home-Grown Menus

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the hyper-local trend. Lisa Dupar, Chef-Owner of Lisa Dupar Catering and Pomegranate Bistro, expects to see more couples sticking close to home for their menu inspiration.

This can mean souring dishes from local restaurants, stocking locally brewed craft beers or highlighting local ingredients, such as blueberries in Michigan or sweet tea in South Carolina.

3. Celebration of Veggies

Step aside protein; vegetables are the new culinary stars. “The wedding trend that we expect to continue to see in 2019 is vegetable forward menus,” says Ruben. “We are finding that the ‘silent vegetarian option’ is no longer silent and is vegan as well. Creative Edge Parties has had fun creating dishes that highlight vegetables including our Vegan Quinoa Crusted Carrot Falafel with Carrot Hummus and Harissa Cashew ‘Yogurt.’”

4. Inclusive Ingredients

With an increased awareness of dietary restrictions, wedding menus have become more inclusive. That can mean everything gluten-free, dairy-free or nut-free recipes to menus inspired by specific diets, like paleo or keto. If you’re not sure what ingredients to steer clear of, consider doing an informal survey of guests or even include a question about allergies on RSVPs.

5. Eco-Conscious Catering

Another “free” coming to wedding menus: waste. “Chefs [are] embracing a low-to-no-waste concept, even more than usual,” says Dupar. For some couples, this looks like utilizing imperfect produce or unpopular cuts of meat; for others, it may mean composting scraps or donating leftover food to a local shelter or police station.

6. Dramatic Desserts

In the Instagram age, couples are turning desserts into art installations with over-the-top displays. Think picture-perfect towers of macrons, walls of donuts or “cheese cakes” (stacked wheels of cheese) rather than the traditional sheet cakes.

7. Boozy Slushies

This trend is a playful adult spin on a childhood classic: the slushy. Perfect for outdoor summer weddings, these ice-cold treats can easily be combined with cocktail flavors like peach juleps, rosé or Thai basil lime.

8. Interactive Displays

Turn dinner into a group activity by hosting interactive food displays. Dupar suggests hosting activities that are “built around learning a culinary craft, [such as] chocolate making, pie baking, butchering techniques, knife-sharpening techniques, fermentation class, mushroom foraging, or barista ‘school.’”

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