February 9, 2014 12:33:05 AM
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Websites and social media are providing couples with creative ideas for reception foods and themes reflecting their personalities and love for friends and family.
Sylvia Byrd, professor of food science, nutrition and health promotion at Mississippi State University, said fewer receptions offer only the cake, nuts, mints and punch that were popular in the 1950s and '60s or the heavy appetizers of the 1970s and '80s.
"Tradition is giving way to personal tastes and ideas that couples see online," she said. "Some choices are motivated by health issues, and some are themes that appeal to the personalities of the bride or groom."
Byrd said specialty bars or stations are among the biggest trends. Those options may include baked potatoes, pancakes, biscuits, tacos, milkshakes, frozen yogurts, flavored coffees and candy. Instead of punch, couples are opting for iced tea, carbonated beverages and flavored waters.
"Many of the changes in receptions reflect international influences, either in our communities or from social media," Byrd said. "Years ago, very few people would consider serving sushi or hummus at a reception, but they are not unusual today."
Byrd said the layout of the reception also has changed to reflect trends that can be found in cafeterias. Guests experience a "scramble system" instead of a single food line.
"Several tables will offer food and beverage options and allow guests to be served quicker," she said.
Brent Fountain, nutrition specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said receptions should be an expression of the bride's or groom's personalities.
"If a wedding cake is not your style, then look for other options that incorporate your tastes and style into the presentations of the food," he said.
Fountain said nostalgic themes are popular and include vintage popcorn machines or cotton candy machines to go along with photo booths that provide a "throwback" feeling. Other ways to communicate old-fashioned sentiments include decorations or service items, such as small bottles or Mason jars for beverages.
"The goal is to make the event memorable for both participants and the couple," he said. "Some of these options increase the need for workers, including specially trained servers, and professional servers will run up the costs."
Fountain said if couples know some guests have dietary restrictions, they could offer a designated station for foods without nuts, gluten or sugar.
"Make sure special items are clearly labeled and located away from products that could contaminate them," he said. "In addition to food costs, you also want to consider food waste. It's thoughtful to plan for special diets, but you don't want to overdo it and waste food."
Fountain said the green theme related to preserving the environment is also visible at weddings and receptions.
"Edible centerpieces are popular," he said. "Couples are choosing cakes that look like flowers, and fruits and vegetables designed into ornamental displays, instead of the standard fruit or vegetable tray."
For more do-it-yourself wedding ideas, visit the MSU Extension Service Pinterest board at pinterest.com/msuextservice.
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