Outdoor Wedding Menu: What To Serve And What To Skip

Choosing to host an outdoor wedding can provide a marvellous canvas to connect to nature, and utilise venue space to its fullest. In terms of devising the menu, there are unique opportunities that you can take advantage of by being outside. This mostly has to do with selecting seasonal foods that complement the weather.

With this in mind, the temperature is then a key consideration to think about when crafting your menu. Certain foods are versatile enough to be stored for outside while others could present a challenge for serving outdoors.

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Here are some tips and suggestions on what you can include and leave out on your outdoor wedding menu.

  1. Starters

Also known as the appetiser or cocktail hour of the reception party, the starter meal is served first, and it mainly consists of bite-sized foods and snacks that aren’t too overpowering in taste. They are often served on smaller dinner plates or decorative glass bowls and cutlery. The portion size of the meal is meant to whet your guests’ appetite and ready their palate for upcoming large and rich foods.

  • What To Serve:

You can take inspiration from menus offered by a fancy restaurant or a popular one to find what will work for your starters. Take advantage of the weather by incorporating traditional foods that are eaten and harvested in the season. This can be laid-back savoury favourites, like grilled cheese sandwiches in tomato dips soups, skewered meat and vegetable platters, and mini gourmet burgers with beer shots. Meaty snacks can be a delectable staple for your outdoor starter course because they can be cooked and prepared outside on a grill.

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  • What To Skip:

When coming up with ideas for your starter menu, it’s best to leave out fruits and vegetables that are raw and uncooked, as well as seafood or shellfish. These are popular choices for starter meals because they’re small and have their own complimentary taste without needing extra sauce and spices. However, outside temperatures and the environment could cause these foods to lose their freshness and even become a potential food hazard, especially seafood. Hence, make sure your vegetables are grilled if you serve them on a stick.

  1. Main Course

The main course of your wedding reception meal offers more substantial portions and consists of foods with a variety of tastes. With outdoor weddings, the main course can be served in the common sit-down dinner or a buffet and food station style where your guests can serve themselves. This choice often depends on the amount of food and serving space you have available outside and how many meals your menu has.

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  • What To Serve:

For your outdoor ceremony menu, the options for the main course are endless, and they feature both sweet and savoury mixes. Popular dishes include pulled pork, roasted beef, and bacon-wrapped, stuffed chicken breasts marinated in sweetened sauce. Some side dishes that can work for outdoor weddings in any season are potato salads, pasta dishes baked in mozzarella or herb and tomato paste, and grilled vegetable salads. Be sure to keep vegan and vegetarian options for your guests who don’t eat meat.

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  • What To Skip:

It might be best to avoid overly complex dishes that require excessive preparation and time and that need access to a constant storage temperature, such as fish. This is just to ensure that your food remains freshly preserved and that every guest can be served the same quality of meals.

  • Desserts

As the final dish being served for the night, desserts can come in the form of fun and playful baked goods or tasty treats created by combining different candies. This is the moment when your guests can indulge in sugary confections. However, preparing desserts for outdoor weddings can be challenging because it may be hard to store some sweets, depending on the weather. But fret not, there are still several choices available that you can consider.

  • What To Serve:

The most common dessert choice for weddings no matter the venue is the actual wedding cake. It can be sliced up into parts and served as is or topped with added cream cheese, chocolate syrups or drenched in vanilla custards. Additionally, you can go for champagne truffles, mini doughnuts, and even a dessert station where guests can assemble S’mores. Candied or glazed fruit strawberries can be served as an ideal alternative to the usual high-sugary sweets.

  • What To Skip:

Many of the foods used to create desserts are temperature-sensitive for the outdoors. They could melt or lose their quality in warm weather. These desserts include icing, ice-cream popsicles as a dessert itself or as part of your wedding cake. So, you might want to reconsider getting an ice cream-based cake as your wedding cake or any sweet confections that become too sticky or hardened when exposed to outside temperatures for a long period of time.


Having an outdoor wedding is ideal for incorporating nature and the season into your reception dinner. You can integrate specific dishes into your menu that are suitable for both the outdoors and the season. Just be mindful of the outside temperature and what impact environmental factors can have on your food. It’s best to try avoiding foods that lose quality or spoil if it gets too warm outside.