16 September 19  |  Dining   |  

Perfect Menu for Weddings

Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club serves as a venue for dozens of weddings each year, and those numbers will only increase when World Equestrian Center Ocala opens in 2021. Regardless of the style of the wedding and whose wedding it is, one of the most important — if not the most important — elements is the food. If left to a highly experienced culinary crew, like Chef Rick Alabaugh and his team, it’s something that no bride and groom will ever have to worry about on their wedding day. But there is a lot to consider about the menu before that day arrives — and it’s those decisions that could lead to a menu that is ideal for you and everyone on your guest list.

Budget and Style

Nailing down a budget comes down to one question — how much do you care about the food served at your wedding? — with the goal of aligning the budget with your priorities. If the food is more important than the entertainment, or just as important as the bridal gown and limo, the chosen budget should reflect those sentiments.

When you pick a Golden Ocala budget-based wedding package, certain foods can be substituted for others that are of an equal dollar amount. For example, Chicken Cordon Bleu with Sage Pan Sauce could be switched with Chicken Marsala, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms. Likewise, Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Mint Demi-glace could be substituted for Prosciutto de Parma and Melon Lollipops.

The budget will also dictate serving style, but if you are not officially decided on a budget yet, there is a lot more to consider about the way the food is served than just finances. For example, if you and your guests are into mingling on a casual scale, consider a buffet. But if you want your guests to have even more time to mix and mingle, consider stations. And if everyone cares more about the way the food is served than good conversation, except with those right next to them, go with plated meals. Family-style is another good option for guest lists of 100 people or less. All eyes will be on guests of honor like the bride, groom, best man and maid of honor, and less table space will not be a cause for concern.

Food Balance

No matter how familiar brides and grooms are with the chef’s food and their own palate, Chef Rick always recommends taste testing. It puts couples on the same page as the chef, so that there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.

This is also a time for couples to further explore the menu they have in mind and find a balance by sampling different foods. While you may prefer steak and potatoes, your guests may prefer chicken or fish, but you also don’t want to have all of one entrée and none of another. Keep this in mind when it comes to sauce selection, as well. Two cream sauces or two brown sauces tend to be overkill.

So, start your taste testing off by answering two questions — What is your favorite restaurant? What is your favorite dish to make at home? Then, review your and your guests’ dietary restrictions with the chef. He or she should address each restriction on an individual basis — first with soup, then salad, then entrée. From there, the entire wedding menu will come together as you desire and in accordance with the season — lighter meals in warmer months; heavier meals in cooler months.

If your wedding has a theme, the food should follow that same theme, so keep that in mind during your taste testing. Usually, a themed wedding will call for station-served food. Just be sure to have a few “safe” stations — ones with food that many people like, but that may deviate from the theme.

Food According to Reception Timeline

As you start to decide on the food you wish to serve and the way it will be served, consider the timeline of your reception — pictures, toasts, dances, etc. Remember, certain courses cannot be held long if there are delays within the timeline, as there is a big difference between undercooked chicken and that which is cooked just right.

At Golden Ocala, Chef Rick and his team make the food according to the timeline and separately plate food for the bride and groom who are often delayed with conversations and photos.

To stay on schedule, no matter where your venue may be, hire a wedding planner or obtain one through the venue itself. This coordinator will lay out the timeline and communicate any delays to the chef, so that the food is just as good as it was the very first time you tried it — maybe even better!


For more wedding menu tips and information on Chef Rick’s food packages, as well as to find out if Golden Ocala is the ideal destination for your big day, call (352) 629-6229.