Kosher wedding menus have gone through an exciting transformation, both in originality and presentation. Planning a kosher wedding may take some time to master, but with the right event professionals, the menu can have all the style and creativity you had hoped for.
Kosher caterers and reception halls that can host kosher weddings have mastered the art of creating exotic and inventive dishes that are every bit as appetizing as what’s offered by their non-kosher counterparts. Non-kosher guests will never have to know the difference, allowing everyone to be able to enjoy the same meal.
Step One: Learn the Ground Rules
There are some fundamental kosher observances you will need to be aware of before you get started. Pork, shellfish and certain other foods are strictly forbidden. This means no shrimp cocktail, prosciutto-wrapped scallops or raw fish bars. Meats served must be certified kosher under rabbinical supervision.
Another major distinction is that meat and dairy can’t mix. Not only can’t they be in the same dish, they can’t be on the same plate or even eaten in the same time frame. If there are plans to serve meat, you will have to eliminate dairy from the menu. This doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds. There is an abundance of dairy substitutes that can be used for baking and cooking, and a skilled caterer will know how to work with those ingredients. Fortunately, you can have your cake and eat it too! There are many exceptional cake designers that offer kosher dairy-free cakes.
Kosher law also requires separate pots, appliances and utensils for meat and dairy. You don’t have to know all the fine points of kosher cooking; you just need to work with professionals experienced in kosher events.
There are several ways to go. You can choose a strictly kosher venue or a venue that allows you to use approved kosher caterers. There are also many venues that offer kosher facilities on the premises. They may have a separate kitchen for kosher preparation or allow kosher caterers to bring their prepared foods together with plates and cutlery. You can even offer a Pareve menu, with no meat or dairy at all.
Step Two: Decide On a Plan
The most important thing to remember is that it is your client’s event and you will have to help them assess their priorities and plan accordingly. Work with your client to determine what type of cuisine will be served. Perhaps they have their heart set on a Middle Eastern feast. There’s also kosher sushi, kosher French cuisine, kosher Indian food and everything in between.
There are many considerations for the couple when planning a reception—the budget, choosing a region or a town, choosing a style and a level of formality. Having a good idea of these things in advance will help your approach to catering the event. Additionally, be prepared to be flexible. It may require a bit more spending to get the exotic kosher menu your clients have their hearts set on. (At left, a stylish kosher appetizer array from Celebrations Glatt Kosher Catering.)
Step Three: Choose Your Team
Once you have a vision for the kind of wedding it will be, it’s time to arrange your team of event professionals. If you have never had to plan a kosher wedding reception before, be sure to reach out to everyone you can think of who might be able to help. Ask Jewish friends and call the local temples, as sometimes word-of-mouth referrals yield the best results. The Internet is always a great option for research as well. There are many amazing caterers and venues that execute kosher events all the time and will take away all the guesswork.
You will always be faced with challenges and possibilities with each wedding and event you plan. Religious observances, cultural nuances and unique wedding themes are sure to come into play at some point. Planning a kosher wedding can be a terrific opportunity to enhance your knowledge and expand your network.
Cigall Goldman is the founder of Mazelmoments.com, the award-winning site for planning Jewish and Jewish-inspired weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and baby celebrations. Mazelmoments is designed to make it easy and fun to find vendors, keep up with the latest trends, and read expert advice for creating a memorable celebration.