Catering and dining options for weddings used to be fairly standard, but the latest trends indicate a strong emphasis on local and organic tastes and a reflection of the couple’s personal interests.

Dayton caterers say they have seen a shift from traditional plates to smaller dishes and more options for guests, along with some out-of-the-box ideas like serving brunch.

“A lot of people want to have more options, more courses, and they trend more to unique foods,” Bernstein’s Fine Catering owner Adam Baumgarten says. “It can be small stations or it could be five, six, seven courses of a traditional sit-down served meal.”

Food stations with individual dishes are replacing buffet lines, with options like mac and cheese bars, burger sliders and even a doughnut peg board where guests can select their favorite sweet, whether it’s jelly filled or frosted.

“There’s a lot of requests for small plates…so people can take smaller food portions (and) build their own plates,” Little Miami River Catering owner Molly McConnell says.

Describing the trend as “Napa style,” McConnell says couples are providing more farm-to-table and organic options and putting more emphasis on personal favorites, like pancakes for dinner.

“There are people out there that want their menus to be unique and represent them as a couple so if breakfast is their favorite meal people are not afraid to go outside the box,” she says.

Drink choices are no different, as more personally chosen cocktail recipes are being offered, often with options for both sexes. Drinks like dirty shirleys, consisting of cherry 7UP, vodka and a cherry on top, are offered to women, while the men sip famous bourbon cocktails, according to Bullwinkle Top Hat’s Director of Catering John Sizemore.

“His-and-her cocktails are a great way to keep things simple but still offer a nice liquor offering,” Sizemore says. “Fruity and sweeter for women, old fashioned for guys.”

Local beers have also gained popularity at receptions, following the explosion of the craft beer scene.

“We are doing a lot of local bars, featuring Dayton and Cincinnati beers as well as Ohio liquors and wines,” says Baumgarten.

“Local beer is huge, I don’t see a lot of Bud Light any longer,” McConnell says.

Unique tastes are also being reflected in wedding cake choices, with options like naked cake or light frosted tiers revealing the layers of cake, Frosted owner Melissa Clough says. 

“It’s one of those things where it’s the look. When you’re doing the slightly frosted it’s a little more of a natural look,” she says.

Couples are also choosing smaller, two- or three-tiered cakes to put on display, with back-up slices remaining in the kitchen to make sure everyone gets dessert.

“Budget-wise you can do something a little bit more artistic and upscale and it’s not going to completely blow their budget because they’re decorating two tiers instead of five tiers,” Clough says.

With the smaller cakes, couples can add accents like edible silver or gold flakes, or real flowers instead of icing.

While there’s no right or wrong options for dinner and dessert choices, the widening array and healthier options show couples are putting more thought into what their guests will enjoy on their big day.