Nibbles and Nuptials: 2021 Food Trends

Congratulations on your recent engagement, and welcome to your planning journey! What an exciting and unique era in which to be marrying, and a day that will stand out as exceptionally memorable simply for its place in history. As an organization that must anticipate trends for the year ahead, we at AOC are thrilled to be serving our brides and grooms on the cusp of such a special reawakening for event planning.

Ahead are the moods in wedding catering we see growing as the months unfold.

Warm and Intimate

Call it a level-set this past year, but for many of us the lack of access to friends and family gave us a better understanding of who was in our inner most circle, and who we found expendable. Not seeing or speaking with a friend since April really has a way of demoting them from the top tier of the guest list.

Conversely, our longing for those we truly cherish has only grown in recent months, and so many couples are seeing their wedding dinner as an homage to those precious few. Smaller guest lists with more decadent menus are growing in popularity, acting as a sort of reunion, after having gotten through distancing with a sense of unity and shared struggle. A cozy and exclusive fete exudes a feeling of “we did it,” after so much time apart.

Festive and Grand

Way back when, following the Great War and the Spanish Flu, on came the roaring ‘20s, a period of excess, high-glam fashion, and a joie de vivre only a long period of despair could birth. For all the gilded era can be criticized for, you cannot help but relate; that after so much loss, there was nothing left to do but exalt every day as a celebration of good fortune.

Below you’ll read some great examples of this theme, but if it seems a little over-the-top, it’s going to be a trend this year, and we suspect long after. Collectively we have learned life is for living, and soaking up every opportunity to do so, however may best suit you. 

Grazing Tables

Unlike your standard buffet spread, a grazing table can combine smaller bites and sweet treats in an overflowing sort of cornucopia, resembling the abundance of an ancient Roman feast, with fruits and charcuterie spilling into piles of canapes and savory pies. A grazing table is visually mesmerizing, and intimates a sentiment of plenty and jubilation.

Cutting the Cake Cutting

The tradition of slicing into a multi-tier cake and smashing it into the groom’s face is alive and well, however we are seeing a sharp uptick in alternative desserts. Often the cake ceremony goes unnoticed while guests commiserate, so couples are increasingly opting for table served cakes, platters of petit fours and bonbons, confectionary stations with artisan doughnuts or high-brow s’mores. Unique to the Midwest, some couples keep the cutting but omit the cake, altering the ritual to the slicing of a beautiful wheel of cheese


As always, brides and grooms seek to inject their own style into their weddings, now more than ever and with amplified pomp, via creative dining presentations. Cultural fusions such as Asian tacos, or chorizo and spaetzle, marry backgrounds and excite the palate. Molecular gastronomy elevates dining to an interactive art form, engaging all of the senses by way of flare and surprise. Weddings aim to be one-of-a-kind, from “I do” to “I’m full.”

Down the Earth

Many of us became small-time farmers last year, and with that came a better appreciation for seasonal, fresh, local produce and protein. All Occasions Catering sees a growing movement toward responsibly sourced ingredients, and vegan menus leaving the niche crowd and becoming fully mainstream. As life simplified and slowed down for many of us, our tastes narrowed toward clean, wholesome food with a familiar origin.

Lively Libations

Wine and beer will always please a crowd, but many couples are creating a speakeasy sort of experience with craft cocktails, bourbon tastings, and gin bars. Mixology reigns as a broader audience learns more about the complexity of spirits, and being spirited. Champagne is still the buzz, with fun twists, literally with actual citrus garnish, or figuratively by way of cider mimosas, sugar rims, and sparkler adornment.

We welcome these fun new themes and are excited to entertain in 2021, however the best menu is the one that appeals to you most. Personal taste should always trump trends, and All Occasions Catering approaches every event with an eye to our clients’ preferences and ideas.