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Traditionally, a bridal shower is a time to celebrate the bride-to-be with marriage advice, thoughtful (and practical) gifts, and of course, a delicious menu. Today, many duos choose to have a couples’ shower, so both are honored, recognized and celebrated. Whichever route you take, you’ll need to think about the food you’ll serve guests who come to toast to your upcoming nuptials. We spoke with top caterers and wedding planners about their best advice for a mouthwatering affair, from mimosa and Bloody Mary bars to finger-food and region-specific eats. Consider this our ultimate bridal shower food ideas guide:
Remember, everyone loves a good appetizer.
Some couples may choose to have a dinnertime event, but most bridal showers are early in the afternoon around brunch or lunch. This means everyone is up for nibbling, making tasty appetizers and/or hors d’oeuvres the natural selection. Plus, as Andrea Correale, founder of Elegant Affairs in Glen Cove, New York, puts it: everyone looks a good appetizer — and there’s such a wide variety of things you can serve. Think: veggies skewers with cherry tomatoes and meats, cream cheese and balsamic crostinis, deviled eggs, mini cheesecake nibbles, small chicken salad finger sandwiches, a personal charcuterie board, and more.
“You can serve anything from individual mini cheeseboards to mini tacos,” she continues. “Anything bite-sized is always a favorite. I love bite-size watermelon cups or cucumber cups filled with your favorite filling. You can also put on some watermelon pizza as a delicious light appetizer. We like to top it with Greek olives, feta, red onion and a drizzle of vinaigrette.” Yum!
Make it photo-worthy.
Whether your crew is a fan of Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, the hope is your bridal shower food is so beautiful; it’s worth sharing online. After all, special occasions hosted for a special guest of honor require lots of photos to capture the moment, says Chef Robert Rubino, the executive banquet chef for Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. With that in mind, he suggests planning menu items that are not only delicious to taste but delightful for the eye.
“Plating and presentation are part of the overall experience. Use the internet and social media for inspiration that fits the design of the event, and focus on the personal preference of the bride-to-be,” he adds.
Think about making a personal charcuterie board for each person, based on their cheese favorites, served on mini wooden cutting boards. You can offer feta cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella, prosciutto, and other crudites to make it unique.
Though you may be signing up for a lifetime of happiness — and monogamy — variety is the spice of life. Or at least, it’s the best approach for bridal shower foods. Particularly today, when many people have food restrictions, including gluten-free or dairy-free diets, you want to ensure you can make everyone’s tummy satisfied and comfortable. “Gluten-free farro or quinoa salads and petite sandwiches are always a good option,” Correale says. “To add a wow factor to any menu, offer lobster rolls! They are so worth it. A top-of-the-line salad bar with grilled proteins and an entire array of toppings is also a great choice for a luncheon.”
Offer a mix of cocktails, mocktails and juices.
If the bridal shower is primarily female, you may have to keep more than dietary preferences in mind. In fact, you may have to consider pregnancy, too! To ensure everyone stays hydrated, don’t forget about beverages, says celebrity chef Serena Poon. One of her favorite bridal shower menu items is fresh-pressed juices. And since she’s also a reiki master, she prefers to base the juice ingredients on vegetables that connect our energy centers relating to love.
“Green vegetables, like those found in the luminous elixir, can help balance and activate the heart chakra, which rules love and compassion. Yellow vegetables and fruits, such as yellow bell peppers or pineapples, correlate to the solar plexus chakra, which guides personal power and confidence,” she explains.
Another idea is to offer a signature cocktail that can also be a mocktail. This allows everyone, expecting or not, to enjoy the concoction. For example, a lavender and blueberry drink can be topped off with vodka and/or gin or served sans-alcohol. “Using fresh herbs, such as lavender, not only add flavor and health benefits to a cocktail, they also enhance the aesthetic,” Poons says. “A lavender blueberry cocktail is perfect for a menu that is delicate and feminine. Feel free to play around with different fruits and herbs to create a cocktail that suits the bride’s palate and personality.”
Or, for a boozier experience, consider making a Bloody Mary and/or mimosa bar for party guests, suggests JoAnn Gregoli, a wedding planner and the owner of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli in New York city.
“Let guests personalize theirs with gourmet garnishes like pickled okra, hearts of palm, smoked mussels, and kimchi, or go the classic route with celery, bacon, and an assortment of stuffed olives,” she suggests. “Plus, a Bloody Mary bar is perfect when paired with a fun omelet station. Offer your guests all the fixings of making their own omelet station and have a chef prepare for them.”
For mimosas? Pop the prosecco and chill the orange juice, then offer a fresh fruit selection, as well as alternative juices, like grapefruit or cherry.
Get creative with dessert.
For dessert, let your imagination run wild and try to match your selections to the theme. As an example, Correale recommends decorating cupcakes with sunflowers for a summer-themed bridal shower. Or, you can take an average sheet cake, decorate the top in a mosaic, then slice it into bite-sized pieces to create a beautiful tray. “If the bride-to-be loves lemon, choose lemon-flavored cake! You can also make individual parfaits like strawberry shortcake, dulce de leche, red velvet, and so on,” she says. “They are sweet but small and dainty, so the guests will feel guilt-free indulging in it.”
And if you want to keep it lighter, Correale says to skip the traditional fruit platter and create individual melon ball pops, which are fun and stylish. “Also, consider making your own ice cream or sorbet. Sorbet is low in calories and a popular favorite. Try making açaí ice cream with yogurt, which is healthy and a bit unique,” she adds.
Try to shop seasonally.
If you are hoping to stay within a reasonable budget for your bridal shower, allow the season to inspire food and design, Rubino recommends. In addition to being less expensive to source financially, seasonal foods simply taste better, too. “The season also dictates our palates, we tend to enjoy lighter fare in the warmer months and heartier items in the cooler months,” he explains. “Think fresh garden ingredients in the late spring and summer; fresh berries and stone fruits in May through October; apples, pumpkin and squash in the fall.”
Allow the food to match your personality, theme and honeymoon.
If you’re having a destination wedding or the vibe or your honeymoon pick inspires you, consider matching your bridal shower food! “This allows those traveling with you to get a sneak peek of what’s to come and gives those who aren’t attending a taste of the action,” Jen Avey, the vice president of marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group, says. “Exotic destination wedding locations such as Mexico and Hawaii have such unique food culture; there’s a variety of ways to incorporate those traditions into your wedding shower menu.”
Here a few bridal shower food ideas for the travel-lovin’ duo, recommended by Avey:
For a wedding in Mexico, a fiesta-themed wedding shower is a fun way to showcase your destination’s culture, primarily through the food options. “Offer guests a DIY taco bar, or better yet, rent a food truck that serves street tacos,” she suggests. “Personalized shot glasses filled with tequila are a fun way to cap off the night. while providing your guests with a wedding shower favor to go.”
If you’re getting married in Hawaii, a luau-themed menu is a perfect option to make your loved ones feel like they’re already in paradise. “You can grill pineapple, serve drinks in coconuts with festive paper straws, and offer hand-held pork barbecue sandwiches for guests to enjoy,” she recommends. “If going to the outdoor grill route, we recommend enlisting the help of professionals or a grill master friend who can take the logistics off your plate and allow you to enjoy the moment.”