Personalized Pairings

WORDS BY JESSA SMOUT + PHOTOGRAPHY BY PETER LOBOZZO

Wedding planning …

Very few people report it to be a stress-free and simple process. Properly tailoring the perfect dress or suit, securing a venue with all the boxes checked, and dealing with difficult family members can all make for a journey fraught with wrinkle-inducing conversations. 

What shouldn’t be tedious, however, is picking the food. Whether you want a fancy plated dinner served by a professional waitstaff or a good old-fashioned barbeque with gingham tablecloths and paper plates, here are a few ways to pair wedding food with your personality.

First and foremost, what’s the most important, non-negotiable element that gets you excited about the food for your special day? 

What came to mind for me were the tiny, delicious, bursting-with-flavor, orange tomatoes grown at Alpen Glow Farm in Teton Valley. I just knew they had to be at my wedding! I wanted them all dressed up in fresh basil, parmesan, and balsamic, with just the perfect amount of salt and pepper. I think I planned my whole wedding around these tomatoes. Every other dish was only there to support them, which actually, made all the other menu decisions incredibly easy.

For you, maybe it’s a local brewer’s seasonal IPA or your shared love of tacos. Perhaps it’s the Pongal recipe passed down from your Nani, empanadas from your first vacation together, or fried chicken because … well, it’s fried chicken. Whatever you choose as your must-have item, make it a beacon for all your other food decisions, as, I assure you, this will be one of the most memorable aspects of your event.

Secondly, go with something that fits the true style of you and your fiancé. If you both prefer filet mignon with demi-glace paired with a French Burgundy, you might not want to rent a taco truck. However, there are many ways to incorporate two different family food traditions into a personalized menu. For example, I’ve attended a wedding of a fifth-generation Key West bride who married a good ‘ole boy from Wyoming. Their table was adorned in fresh-caught fish that the bride’s family brought from Florida and wild game from the groom’s family freezer for a completely customized surf-and-turf spread. 

When Lindsey Johnson of Lady in the Wild West builds cakes for people, she wants to know the style and design of the wedding, the flowers the couple chose, and what the wedding dress looks like. She asks her clients, “What was the first thing that got you excited about your wedding?” Then, with these tidbits in hand, she creates a custom-built, tiered cake of such stunning quality you forget it’s even edible!

You can always incorporate elements into two different evenings, as well. The rehearsal dinner could be a night of oysters and champagne, while the food on the day of the ceremony could include more casual fare.

Finally, consider how many people you are going to feed. Twelve or 300? 

This answer may dictate who will best deliver your personalized feast: a private chef, a caterer, or a food truck.

A private chef will provide an experience with a tailored touch, a wide variety of cuisine options, and exemplary service. Chef Scott Nechay is a Jackson-based private chef that specializes in high-end, custom food. With incredible talent in the kitchen, Chef Scott has a passion for local, organic, and fresh food as he draws inspiration from the mountains, rivers, and farmer’s markets. Nechay focuses on small, intimate gatherings, but he is also able to service larger groups. 

With an extensive and highly-trained staff, caterers can often accommodate large parties with limitless choices. When asked about service options, menu items, and general event organization, Dan Janjigian, one of the head chefs for Maho Catering, makes it sound like a breeze. From local beef and wild-foraged morel mushrooms  to synchronized plate service, the team at Maho prides itself on making the food an unforgettable cornerstone of any event. 

For a more casual experience, Big Hole BBQ, located in both Victor, Idaho, and Jackson serves up southern-inspired cuisine. They offer whole smoked chickens, mini sliders, and burnt brisket ends (yum!), in addition to more traditional offerings like mac-and-cheese and pulled pork. For a really authentic barbeque experience, Big Hole can bring the smoker and the pig to you!

From tacos to cheeseburgers and wood-fired pizza to gourmet doughnuts, food trucks are a great option for made-to-order-food. If you don’t need everyone to eat at the same time, or if you want food available for late-night lingerers, food trucks are readily accessible throughout the summer months. 

Pairing the wedding food with your personalities should really be one of the easiest boxes to check when planning your wedding. Just ask the right questions to find out which local talent is the best fit for your event. You can’t go wrong by staying true to the traits that brought you to the altar in the first place. 


Check these boxes for a personalized food celebration:
  • Casual
  • High-end
  • Plate service
  • Buffet
  • Food Truck
  • Traditional
  • Cultural
  • Farm-to-table
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Local / Organic
  • Sit down table-service
  • Eat while mingling
  • Late night snacks