Let’s be honest for a moment. Put yourself in your wedding guests’ shoes, and imagine yourself jetting off to attend a destination wedding – an Italian destination wedding nonetheless – what would you be looking forward to?
No one adores food more than the Italians, so it is only to be expected that an Italian wedding menu is nothing short of a fantastic spectacle. An Italian wedding menu generally consists of several courses, so you can’t really get away with hiring a food truck! Here is how to design and execute the most excellent traditional Italian wedding menu to keep your guests guessing and on their toes with numerous delicacies.
No wedding meal in Italy is complete without a specialty appetizer dish. Appetizers are generally served one after the other and are of both hot and cold varieties. Think delicious canapes and a selection of cured meats with sautéed vegetables. Some favorites for an antipasti dish (appetizer dish) are prosciutto, salami, toasted garlic bread, or bread with different toppings and a selection of cheeses.
As any traveling enthusiast would know, Italians love their cheese. For an antipasti dish (which translates to ‘before the meal dish’), having a few different types of cheese available in tiny bite-sized portions can get the taste buds primed for the later dishes. Parmesan, mozzarella and pecorino are some cheese varieties that perform well in this format. Doing grazing platters with a bit of fruit is also great for a drinks hour or pre-meal cocktails. Don’t forget to include a Prosecco or another suitable drink with these antipasti dishes.
The first course, called the primo piatto, is a dish usually chosen for both its delicate flavors and substance, and a typical Italian wedding menu has to feature a pasta dish or sometimes several. Linguine, Penne, Paccheri, Fusilli, Gnocchi, ravioli, and tortellini are all Italian wedding favourites that can have endless flavorful toppings, sometimes with different options for each entrée! Unlike the drinks or the smaller appetizers served at cocktail hour, the first course is done formally inside the reception hall, so sizeable portions are used instead of smaller ones.
The pasta course might involve more than one course as guests may be made to sample different pasta specialties. Pasta is thought to have the same base regardless of the dish, but that is only partially true. The style and type of pasta, the ingredients it is prepared from, the sauces used to flavor it, and so forth all contribute to a sheer variety of tastes that can be employed in an exquisite Italian wedding reception menu.
The second course is a delight for food connoisseurs because it features meat and fish options such as beef, mutton, fowl, or lamb. In an Italian menu for weddings, chicken is rarely preferred as a second-course ingredient. Instead, Manzo beef dishes are typically chosen, especially with a side of roasted vegetables. Pork or Maiale is a secondary favorite, along with lamb, fish, and a considerable assortment of side dishes. For an added sophisticated touch, consider serving white wine like Vino Bianco, but red wine should still be present if any guests prefer it.
Dolci is the darling of the Italian wedding menu because all Italians love desserts. On the occasion of weddings, one dessert simply won’t do, and an assortment is typically required. Panna Cotta is a crowd-pleaser and should always be one of the desserts on offer as it can always be paired with different flavourings, from coffee to raspberry syrup. Gelato and other Italian ice cream varieties are great for receptions where many children are expected to attend.
To up the ante, consider the Italianized French dessert Millefoglie which is a delicious, mouth-watering cream cake. The dessert is prepared by piling on layers of cream pastry one after the other until a towering dessert is created. Mille means ‘thousand’ in French, and the dessert gets its name from its layered appearance. It is the dessert equivalent of white cake!
Muscat Moscato is the perfect wine to serve with an Italian wedding reception menu because it compliments many naturally occurring flavours in Italian dishes and desserts.
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The wedding cake is a focal point of the reception dinner, and for that reason, the cake is a showstopper and therefore needs to be spectacular with an almost grandiose element to it.
While some Italian wedding cakes are single-tier white cake varieties decorated with fruits and berries, the more magnificent ones can be multiple tiers covered with cream, bohemian flower decorations, embossing, and whipped cream. In addition, sugared almonds are often placed on top of cakes since they are a much-loved traditional delicacy.
This sample of an Italian wedding menu provides specific options for each expected course in the wedding meal. Any or all of the options can be swapped for your favorites or dishes you prefer within the general type.
Scialatielli pasta is one of the many options, as Italian cuisine features as many or more than 350 types! In addition, vegetarian pasta can be an added variety for your vegan and vegetarian guests.
Couples can choose between a more formal dinner and a buffet-style dinner which offers an opportunity for guests to serve themselves from an impressive display. An Italian wedding buffet menu will still consist of the hour-long cocktail hour, after which the reception hall will be opened.
A few appetizers will be served in a more formal dinner setting, followed by more than one option in the second and main courses. The buffet style enables the food items to be laid out so that none is compulsory, and guests can pick and choose according to preference, especially if some are vegan or vegetarian.
In a formal dinner setting, lemon sorbet is typically served between courses to cleanse the palette and prepare it for the next bombardment of flavors. With a dessert buffet in an Italian family style wedding menu, everything from cake and fruits is served, and there might even be a gelato cart if the wedding is not strictly adhering to tradition. At the end of the meal, more wine may be needed or a round of expresso coffee. The style of the meal and its planning depends entirely on the couple’s preference and the overarching theme of the wedding.
To avoid mishaps on the wedding day, ensure you have correctly labeled the food items (especially if there is a buffet) so that guests with specific food allergies know which items to avoid. The same note can be added to the sit-down meal. With a buffet-style menu for the wedding dinner, it is easier to make a special allowance for vegans and other picky eaters by having signage.
Once the dancing gets underway in the later hours of the evening, you will find your guests need to be topped up on drinks and food. So have some bruschetta, rolls, or mini-pizzas ready as dance fuel! You can also have drinks served as the later hours roll around, even if there isn’t a plan for an after-party.
For the older guests who are less likely to dance, you can have coffee ready and even re-serve the appetizers if necessary. As the night wears on, guests will want cake or snack options to replenish their energy to keep the festivities going strong. Fritturas are a perfect snack as they are fried vegetables, fish, or leaves, ideal for healthy munching.
Under the Tuscan sun, eating is a way of life, which is why so many enthusiastic brides and grooms pick Italy for their destination wedding. In Italy, eating is a reason to celebrate every day; yet, at weddings, food takes center stage. Just keep in mind that the matching of the courses is everything.
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