You’ve shared your vows, enjoyed a nice meal, and are ready to dance the night away. But if you’re looking to take your wedding to the next level and provide an amazing experience for your guests, you’ll want to consider one thing: late-night snacks.
Serving a treat as your loved ones are rocking it out on the dance floor is a great way to ensure no one has to worry about hitting the drive-thru on their way home. From sweet to savory, the options are endless and will help you keep everyone energized and ready to party!
Stuck on what to serve? We sat down with a handful of industry experts to ask them about their best recommendations for late-night bites – here’s what they had to say.
Keep it simple
Keeping it simple is the way to go when it comes to an end-of-the-night surprise. You don’t need much to wow your guests here!
Karen Collins of KMC Weddings and Events says, “We love seeing things that are easy and bite-sized for a late night snack. Mini tacos, sliders, and pretzels with beer cheese are our faves.”
Ensuring a simple presentation for each treat is also important. “Put snacks in small cups so guests can carry them around,” recommends Patricha Pike, event and venue manager at Meadows Event Center. “Place them at the bar so guests can grab them with their drinks. They’re less likely to overdo the alcohol if they have filling snacks.”
In many cases, foods that sit out longer than a few minutes just don’t taste quite as good as they would when fresh. So when it comes to your late-night snacks, keep quality in mind.
“Think of peak consumption time of some foods,” notes Sam Nelson, owner of EVL Events. “For example, french fries do not hold their quality when sitting out for extended periods of time.”
Choose the right timing
If you serve treats too early, your guests won’t be eager to partake. But, if you serve them too late, there may not be enough guests to enjoy them in the first place! It’s all about finding the right moment.
“Having late-night snacks come out an hour before the party ends seems to be a crowd favorite as that’s when everyone starts getting the munchies, and it helps them sober up before getting into their Ubers,” shares Sandy Brooks of Timeless Event Planning. “It’s nice to serve late-night snacks an hour before guests take off to ensure you don’t have to pay extra fees for catering to stay later for clean up!”
Consider your relationship
Remember: This is your day. So when creating your late-night menu, think about snacks you and your partner love to share. It’s okay to think outside of the box here!
Nelson and her team appreciate when couples opt for their own guilty pleasures. “We love seeing snacks that are true to the couple,” she mentions. “For example, the couple is obsessed with tacos, so they have their favorite restaurant cater tacos for the end of the night.”
Lizzy Liz of Lizzy Liz Events seconds the idea, saying, “Choose something that represents your relationship or a comfort food from your childhood that everyone can relate to and get excited about.”
Combine sweet and savory
Crowd favorites like pizza and tacos are always a good idea, but think about offering an option on the sweeter side as well. Few things are better than the combination of sweet and savory!
“On the savory side, sliders and fries just can’t be beaten as a welcome snack after a night of dancing and cocktails,” says Katie Mast, director of community and partnerships at Rock Paper Coin. “For sweets, guests will never complain about an ice cream truck pulling up to the curb, nor a warm, fresh donut delivery!”
Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates appreciates the idea as well. She shares, “I love when you mix the savory with the sweet! Something like a chicken and waffle or a milkshake with french fries. It’s a play on your fast food favorites in an elevated way.”
Acknowledge dietary restrictions
Many guests will welcome snacks full of gluten, dairy, or even meat, but some might not be as thrilled. To keep everyone happy, consider acknowledging the dietary restrictions of each guest. This way, there’s something all can enjoy!
Victoria Lartey-Williams of Victorious Events NYC suggests, “Keep in mind any food allergies or intolerances that your guests may have. For example, one of our recent brides opted for pizza as a late-night snack for the after-party. But we also made sure there was a gluten-free pizza option available for her maid of honor. Choose items that would be crowd-pleasers that everyone can enjoy.”
Make sure you show a little love to your guests who prefer their snacks to be meat-free as well. “It’s also nice to include something vegetarian for those of your guests who don’t eat meat,” advises Cathy O’Connell of COJ Events.
Don’t order too much
Chances are, a decent portion of your guests will have called it a night before you serve your late-night snacks. Though you’ll certainly miss them, remember that their absence should change the amount of food you order.
“If you can, order your late-night snacks for 50-75% of your guests,” Janice Carnevale, owner of Bellwether Events, proposes. “At that late in the night, some guests will have gone home, and some will not be hungry. So you don’t need to order for your full guest list if that’s an option.”
Remember your budget
With the average cost of a wedding coming in around $30,000, don’t feel you have to break the bank when it comes to your late-night bites. It’s okay to opt for something cheaper – your guests will simply appreciate the extra treats!
Megan Estrada, CEO of NSWE Events, emphasizes, “It doesn’t have to break the bank to be a big hit. McDonald’s cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets are always a big hit, are self-contained and easy to serve, and make a minimal mess! Not allowed to bring in food from outside at your venue? Try mini grilled cheeses or french fries for an inexpensive option.”
Work with the right coordinator
You only have so much time to spend with your loved ones on your wedding day – the last thing you need to do is worry about passing things out! Make sure you find someone to do this for you.
Caroline Robert of Caroline’s Collective notes, “Logistics can be more complicated with late-night snacks, depending on the venue or caterer’s offerings. Make sure you have a planner to help coordinate this.”
Collins reiterates the point, sharing, “It’s really fun if the snacks are passed by the catering team because more guests are likely to partake, and it keeps everyone on the dance floor.”
Have fun with it
At the end of the day, thinking about having a late-night menu should be something you enjoy. Sit down with your partner and brainstorm ideas together, playing around with what you and your guests would both enjoy.
“Have fun with your ideas,” encourages Jennifer Sulak, lead wedding photographer at Weirdo Weddings. “Take simple items that you see every day and get super creative with the presentation! If you are a foodie, play with ideas and have some fun with themes, presentation, and textures/colors.”
Spread the word
Once you’ve decided on a menu that feels right, remember to let your guests know when they can enjoy your snacks! You won’t have time to let everyone know, so designate someone to help spread the word.
“Be sure to have your band or DJ announce that late-night snacks are being served, so these do not go to waste,” Brooks recommends.
Angie Johnston, CEO and principal event designer at Sapphire Celebrations, seconds the idea, noting how important it is to make things as easy as possible for all involved.
“Bring the food to the guests if possible – in addition to a display to please the masses, we recommend having some of the snacks passed throughout the crowd. This will make sure that your guests know that they are available. If this isn’t possible, be sure to have your DJ or band MC make an announcement.”
Late-night snacks are a fantastic way to share your favorite treats, ensuring your guests have the energy they need to party all night!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.