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The wedding menu cards are an all-too-often overlooked element of wedding cards. suite. Although it is easily forgotten about, it is an important piece of communication with your guests: one of just a small number of chances you have to express something to your family and friends in writing on the actual day of the wedding (along with the order of service).
Where are wedding menus found?
Menu cards are usually found at the reception, since this is typically when food is served. If you are going to have food at your ceremony as well, you may wish to have two different menus printed. A wedding ceremony menu will be less important, though, since food served is likely to be nibbles rather than a full meal.
When to prepare the wedding menu?
First things first: you need to plan ahead. Discuss the wedding menu with your caterer early. Let them know when you need the finalised wedding menu details to get them printed with plenty of time to spare, and settle with them a realistic timeline for final decisions.
How many wedding menus to print?
Once that is sorted out, you need to decide how many wedding menus you want to print. You may choose to place menu cards at every place setting, alongside the place cards – one per guest – or you may opt to print a couple for each table and have guests share among themselves. Both these options are perfectly fine, and your choice will depend on the function your menu is intended to have.
Why have wedding menu cards?
The menu card can serve several different purposes:
The basic sections of a wedding menu:
Most wedding menus will include:
The Wedding Menu Card Title:
The ‘title’ of the wedding menu is usually just the names of the bride and groom. It’s entirely up to you how formal or casual this is: feel free to use first names, nicknames, or full names. If someone is changing their last name this can be a nice opportunity to display this.
While you may wish to let the names stand alone, you could also opt for something a little different and use the names as part of a phrase. Some people also include the date as part of the ‘title’. This is especially nice if you intend for the menu to be a memento for guests.
A monogram is often featured on a wedding menu cards. This, too, can be as fancy or casual as you like. Some people will simply use their two initials as a feature, while others will have a traditional monogram designed with plans to incorporate it throughout the wedding and their wedded bliss. Monograms were historically created when a couple married and used on letterheads, luggage, towels and all manner of things. Of course, you don’t have to have a monogram at all.
There’s no rule that says you have to have a title, but many couples like the chance to customise the design and help everyone get used to the look of their two names together.
Note to guests
Some people choose to use the wedding menu to write a note for their guests. This will usually consist of a basic thank you.
Instructions to guests
This space could also be used for instructions or communication as regards the wedding reception itself.
The format of this section will depend on the way the food is being served. There are more options here than you might think. Food may be served at a central buffet, circulated around the room cocktail style or delivered in table-sized portions for guests to share among themselves. For individual meals, some weddings will have guests select a preference of meal on their RSVP card while others will alternate two dishes and guests can swap among themselves. Discuss this with your caterer early to make sure you are on the same page about how this will work.
Typically, the wedding menu will list each of the different food options under the appropriate courses: Usually appetizers, entrees, mains, and dessert. You may wish to leave the appetizers off the written menu, especially if they are circulated rather than served at tables.
Food chosen in advance
If guests selected their meal in advance, it may be a good idea to specify what their choice was. It is easy for guests to forget, and marking it on the menu card will help the wait staff to deliver the correct meals with little confusion. Similarly, it can help to state on the menu card (either verbally or with a small symbol) that a specific guest has an allergy or dietary requirement. Again, this helps the waiters as well as helping keep guests from wondering if their needs have been remembered. It also helps to prevent guests trying to swap to the vegetarian option at the last minute.
Describing the food
Consult your caterer when wording your wedding menu card to ensure you have described the food accurately and in a way that makes their food sound delicious. You might not know the difference between a vignette and a jus, but the chef may be quite disappointed to see their hard work described incorrectly!
Handling Food Allergies
It is a good idea to make sure any common allergens are noted to avoid having to rush a guest to hospital. Never label something as allergen-free unless you have clarified this with the caterer and are absolutely certain no cross-contamination could have occurred. A meal might not contain any ingredients with gluten, but some people can have a severe reaction to a small trace, even just a crumb, so you should not list something as gluten free unless the chef has stated that they will follow certain protocols in the cooking process.
Describing the Drinks:
Again, there are many different ways to handle this section. If drinks are available at the bar you may wish to simply include a sentence indicating this, while others may wish to encourage guests to try a specific wine with their meal, or the cocktail the bartender created just for the occasion.
Summary (Breaking it Down)
There is a little bit of contention when it comes to the wedding menu card. In our Wedding Invitation Do’s and Don’ts, we suggest that you don’t include a menu with your invitations. Maybe have space to indicate food requirements on the RSVP card, but leave the menu for the day itself. Which leaves the question – what’s the best menu card wording? It might help to start by Finding Your Wedding Invitation Wording Style the Easy Way and matching the menu card wording.
Traditionally a wedding menu card will include a title that will have the bride and grooms name, sometimes the date. What follows is a succinct list of the appetizers, entree and desserts. At the bottom, there will be a list of refreshments available in case anyone has forgotten on their way back from the bar.
Where there is food, there is someone who wants you to describe for them how their meal was cut, cooked and presented on the plate. Play with that and use that flowery language you don’t have much use for in your nine to five day. The basics – appetizers, entree, dessert – have to be there somewhere, but make it a journey from the start of the night to your guest’s satisfied stomachs at the end of it.
You might even dispense with the menu title and make things a little bit casual.
Here is where things get to be a little bit fun with your menu card wording. Maybe you don’t need the menu title (we all know whose wedding we’re at anyway, don’t we?). Take a little bit of the flowery language from Food Poetry, or keep it simple.
Where there is fun, there is also the chance to get arty with illustrations and colour. And who says you can’t steal the formatting and style of your favourite café? Ask what that cute little typeface is and set your menu out with their cool grid formatting.
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