oysters on the grill

How to Create the Perfect Menu for Special Events Catering


Creating the perfect menu for special events catering is a blend of art and science. Menu planning requires understanding what you want for the event, the nature of the event, guest preferences, and restrictions, among numerous other factors. At Elysian Events Catering, the perfect menu can significantly enhance the overall experience of your event. Whether you need special events catering for a wedding, corporate event, or private party, we are here to help! Below is a comprehensive guide to helping you create a memorable and effective special events catering menu. 

Understanding the Event

The first step to menu planning is understanding the event. Be sure to determine what you want the characteristics and vibe of the event to be, as well as any requirements or restrictions from the venue. Weddings, corporate events, and private parties each have distinct needs that influence the overall menu design. 


For weddings, elegance, and tradition, as well as the personalities of the couple, take centerstage. Couples may seek a mix of gourmet options and comfort food that resonates with their love story, their favorite foods, or their culture. A wedding menu might include classic dishes like filet mignon or grilled salmon in addition to some vegetarian options. However, each couple’s love story is unique, so their special events catering should be too. At Elysian Events Catering, we offer wedding packages that feature an oyster bar, various raw bars, grazing tables, and food stations to allow the couple’s personality to shine through their food. 

Corporate Events

Corporate events, on the other hand, prioritize efficiency and variety. Finger foods, hors d’oeuvres, and easy-to-eat options work well, allowing guests to mingle and network while eating. Think of options like jumbo gulf shrimp cocktail, tuna tartar, fig in a blanket, mini Louisiana crab cake, canapés, Boudin balls, and grazing tables that are both sophisticated and convenient. Additionally, offering a variety of dietary options ensures inclusivity, which is paramount in professional settings. To see our full special events catering options for your next corporate event, click here

Private Parties

Private parties have more flexibility and can be really creative, tailoring the menu to a theme or the host’s preferences. Whether it’s food stations, entrees, premium entrees, or late-night snacks, the key is to reflect the vision and style of the host and event. To view our private party menu options, click here

Knowing Your Audience

Understanding your guests’ demographics, likes/dislikes, and dietary restrictions is an essential part of menu planning. While you aren’t going to tailor it to everyone since that would be impossible, just make sure there are options for everyone. Younger guests may prefer trendier dishes or fun stations, while older attendees might prefer classic, familiar foods. For example, the mini po’boy station or late-night snacks might appeal to the younger generation, while more traditional yet local Louisiana dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, red beans, and rice, among others, might be better suited for older guests. 

When starting your menu planning, inquire about allergies, vegetarian or vegan preferences, gluten-free requirements, and other dietary needs. Ensuring that there are ample options for everyone will make your menu more inclusive and appealing. The variety also makes all of the guests or attendees feel valued, catered to and included. 

Crafting the Menu Structure

While different events call for various meal structures, below is an example of one that is well-structured and will leave guests feeling full. However, remember your event is unique to you, so feel free to make it your own! 

Hors d’oeuvres

Start the event with various small bites like Louisiana crabmeat ravigote, bruschetta, artichoke and feta tartlet, and grazing tables. These set the tone for the meal to come. For weddings, corporate events, and private parties, these can be served while guests mingle at the venue. Including hot and cold options can also cater to different tastes and provide a balanced start. 

In some corporate events, there is no main course, so guests only have finger food options, so be sure to include a variety! To learn about the best options for this part of the meal, click here


Salads are a great way to start if you are doing a sit-down meal! At Elysian Events Catering, we have summer/spring salads and fall/winter salads to take advantage of what’s in season and ensure the fullest flavors. 

Main Courses

Your main course can be buffet style, where everyone can decide what they want, or it can be a plated dinner. If you opt for plated, be sure to include two to three options, including a vegetarian choice so everyone can eat. At Elysian, we offer main entrees in addition to premium entrees if you want to have more variety and options for your event. 

If you are unsure if plated or buffet is best for you and your budget, click here for our breakdown! 

Side Dishes

Complement the main courses with side dishes such as Creole potato salad, spicy kale slaw, herbed buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, mac and cheese, and more. These should be varied to appeal to different palates and dietary preferences while complimenting what you’ve selected as your entree options. 


End the meal on a sweet note with a selection of desserts. For weddings, you can have various cakes, pies, and tarts in addition to or in lieu of wedding cake. The same is true for private parties and corporate events. At Elysian, we offer a variety of desserts and dessert stations to give guests a sweet treat and a delicious conclusion to the meal. 

Unique Components

As we’ve discussed, special events catering should be unique to the hosts and event. At Elysian, we offer late night snacks for weddings or private parties and various food stations to bring another level of creativity and engagement to your event. 


Provide a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, wine, and cocktails are essential to satisfy different tastes. Crafting a signature cocktail or mocktail can add a personalized touch to the beverage selection. Click here to learn more about our drink menus.

Special Events Catering Coordination with Event Timeline

Ensuring that the menu aligns with the overall timeline of the event is vital. Serve welcome drinks and hors d’oeuvres as guests arrive to set a pleasant tone. This not only refreshes the guests but also gives them something to enjoy as they mingle and settle in. Coordinate with the event planner to serve the main meal at an appropriate time, considering speeches, entertainment, and other activities. Timely service ensures that the flow of the event remains smooth and enjoyable.

Working with Elysian Events Catering

​​Hiring a professional caterer like Elysian Events Catering can significantly simplify the process of creating the perfect menu. Our expertise and experience enable us to craft menus that suit various types of events and audiences. We offer personalized menu options and accommodate special dietary needs, handling the details so you can focus on enjoying the event. Our commitment to quality and presentation ensures that your guests are impressed and your event is memorable.

Let Elysian Handle the Menu Planning for your Special Events Catering

Creating the perfect menu for special events catering involves careful planning, understanding your audience, and paying attention to detail while showing your personality through the food. By considering the type of event, guest preferences, seasonal ingredients, and timing, you can craft a menu that enhances the overall experience. Working with a professional caterer like Elysian Events Catering can further ensure that your event is a success, leaving your guests with lasting memories of exceptional food and service.

At Elysian Events Catering, we believe that every event is unique, and we strive to create menus that reflect the individuality and vision of our clients. Whether you’re planning a wedding, a corporate event, or a private party, our team is dedicated to providing a seamless and delightful culinary experience. From the first consultation to the final bite, we are with you every step of the way. Contact us today to book our team for your next event! 

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