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Wedding Guide

What’s Making the menu

  • Grilled marinated chicken breast is the centerpiece of a group of wedding dishes from Sage with Thyme catering. On the right is a platter of grilled vegetables and in back are ham biscuits with mascarpone cheese and hot pepper jelly.<br/>Courtesy Photo<br/>
  • Decorative deviled eggs from Sage with Thyme catering.<br/>Courtesy Photo.
  • A baked brie wrapped in puff pastry with brown sugar and almonds from Sage with Thyme catering.<br/>Courtesy photo
  • Cherry tomatoes stuffed with arugula pesto, from Sage with Thyme catering.<br/>Courtesy photo.
  • Grilled chicken and pineapple skewers from Fiddleheads Cafe and Catering.<br/>Courtesy Photo.
  • Cucumber topped with crab salad from Fiddleheads Cafe and Catering.<br/>Courtesy Photo.
  • Cucumber topped with crab salad from Fiddleheads Cafe and Catering.<br/>Courtesy Photo.
  • A arrangement of fruit on skewers from Four Star Catering.<br/>Courtesy Photo

When it comes to planning a wedding menu, many brides and grooms no longer want the traditional formal dinner, with two or three choices of entree, and a multitiered cake sitting on the dessert table.

“When I got married, there was a rule book,” says Cathie Sage, owner of Sage with Thyme catering in Peterborough. “Beef and salmon were traditional. Now I see brides and grooms really trying to think outside the box. And it’s not always driven by price. They really want to respect their personalities.”

Sherry Williams of Fiddleheads Cafe and Catering in Hancock, who does mostly outdoor weddings during the warmer months, says most of her customers opt for a less traditional menu.

“It’s all about the guests and the food,” Williams says. “I like to talk with a bride and groom about what they enjoy. I specialize in creating a menu around people’s choices. If they have something they like, I can fit it in.”

“The trend is for smaller, more intimate groups,” says Mark Hagemeyer, the owner at Four Star Catering and Hidden Hills banquet facility in Rindge. “People are going the full gamut and some still do the all-out dinner. Some do hors d’oeuvres. The key is that people are putting more care into the details.”

Some of that attention is focused on the wide range of appetizers that are offered.

Sage says the traditional vegetable platters and hummus and pita chips are popular, and her list of appetizers that can be served by waiters ranges from nori rolls to spring rolls to beef skewers.

“Some of the retro things are coming back,” she says. “Anything wrapped in bacon. Pigs in a blanket.”

Williams goes with the basic appetizers at most of her weddings. Cheese platters and herb-stuffed mushrooms are popular, as is a pear and Gorgonzola bruschetta that she calls “just amazing,” and a gluten-free crustless quiche.

“People are really aware of dietary needs,” Williams says.

All three caterers said barbecue menus featuring ribs and cole slaw, beer and wine are especially popular. “Sometimes those menus are a little less costly,” Hagemeyer says. “People are still price-conscious.”

Williams says her most popular entrees are a balsamic grilled boneless chicken, served with a roasted red pepper sauce, and Dijon-marinated flank steak.

“It’s wonderful,” she says of the steak. “I can slice and serve it warm or at room temperature.” That’s important for outdoor weddings, where caterers always have to be thinking about variable weather conditions.

Williams says she’s done several weddings with an organic menu, others that are totally vegetarian and even an all-Indian meal.

“I’d never cooked Indian before and it came out spectacular,” she says.

Williams and Sage both use local ingredients whenever possible.

“I think the farm-to-table movement is fantastic,” Sage says. “You can get grass-fed chicken liver, wrapped in bacon. There’s so much of that stuff in the area. Farmers and restaurants and caterers are really starting to work together. It’s great.”

Sage also focuses on keeping a menu appropriate for the season.

“Asparagus is so much better in the spring, when it’s fresh,” she says.

And when it comes time for dessert, a lot of brides are getting away from the traditional cake-cutting ceremony. Williams has served ice cream bars and strawberry shortcake. Sage recently did a wedding featuring pies. Hagemeyer offers a Venetian table, where wedding guests can choose from a range of cream pastries, mini eclairs and assorted tortes.

“We also do a lot of candy bars as a dessert station,” Hagemeyer says.

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