Midnight Snacks: Late-Night Food Trends Your Wedding Guests Will Love

From: Spring/Summer 2016 edition

Picture your reception. The dance floor is full of your favorite people. Your uncle has loosened his tie. The bridesmaids have kicked off their heels. The libations have been flowing, and now everyone is dewy with sweat and moving to the beat.

It may seem like the party is in full swing, but this is actually a crucial time. Things could peter out right at this moment as people start to realize their feet hurt and it’s time to start saying their goodbyes and Uber on home. How can you revive the crowd?

The Element of Surprise

Roll in some snacks on the sly. It works every time, according to Catherine Eckert of Gastrotruck. “After an exciting day, and a lot of dancing, it’s so awesome to give your guests that extra little snack before they head back home,” says Eckert.

Think of a late-night snack as part of your evening’s entertainment, advises Rachelle Mazumdar, director of weddings and events at Style-Architects. “Late-night snacks are perfect for re-energizing guests who are dancing and drinking the night away.”

The secret to elevating the humble midnight snack? Presentation. Consider your venue, theme and décor, and tie in those elements. “Professionally printed signs or chalkboards with creative calligraphic signage and hashtags are especially trendy,” says Mazumdar.

photography by Shelley Paulson Photography

Party On

Depending on how you’ve organized the festivities, midnight munchies could be much-needed party fuel. “After a long, fun night of partying and dancing, anything salty or sweet usually does the trick,” says Allie Markman, director of client services at Amy Zaroff Events + Design.

Chef Lisa Carlson of Chef Shack says her signature tacos have been a huge hit with partygoers. “People get pretty excited about a tasty taco after a few drinks,” says Carlson. “At one wedding, one guy ate 17 tacos! My crew counted.”

The Chef Shack menu features a variety of choices to keep everyone happy. “We’ve done our smoked brisket and pulled pork tacos. And for the vegetarians we’ve done the sweet potato, tempeh and mushroom tacos,” adds Carlson.

Most caterers charge either per piece or per head, so make sure you have a clear idea of how many people you’ll be serving later in the evening. Mazumdar says a good estimate is half of your total guest count.

Good timing is essential for surprises. “I recommend offering late-night snacks roughly two hours after the completion of dinner,” says Mazumdar, “but no later than 11 p.m.” For impeccable timing, she suggests serving food during a band break, because it keeps the fun and momentum going during what could otherwise be a lull in the action.

photography by Jeannine Marie Photography

Groove with Comfort Food

Comfort food is the best bet for late-night snacks. “People want something naughty-good at the end of the night,” says Carlson. Think of childhood favorites with a grown-up twist like mac ’n’ cheese bites or pigs-in-a-blanket dressed up with poppy seeds and paprika.

“A huge trend right now is anything miniature,” says Markman. “We’ve done mini chicken and waffles, mini stacks of pancakes and mini ice cream bars.” Mazumdar encourages couples to think outside of the usual pizza and sliders, with other fun bite-sized ideas. “Asian noodles in to-go boxes, mini grilled cheese with tomato-soup shooters, mini pretzels, mini tacos—you name it.”

Eckert agrees, adding that assemble-it-yourself bars have been another fun trend. “Ice cream sundae bars have been huge this past year,” she says. Anything you can top is fair game. Offer hot dogs with a variety of fancy mustards, assorted pickles, relishes and sauces. Set up a popcorn station with a variety of seasonings and toppings like cinnamon, sprinkles or parmesan cheese.

For those with a sweet tooth, mini donuts are always a crowd-pleaser. Carlson’s Chef Shack version is spiced with cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger and served hot from the fryer. And speaking of deep-fryers, Mazumdar loves to add sly references to the Great Minnesota Get Together. “Who doesn’t love the State Fair? Mini corn dogs, cheese curds and French fries are sure-fire hits all year round.”

photography by Jeannine Marie Photography

Curbside Service

Food trucks are a natural fit for a late-night snack because they can come to you at almost any hour with a little planning, and they offer exactly the kind of fare late-night revelers are craving. Markman suggests booking a food truck for spring, summer or fall events. (“You don’t want your guests waiting outside in below-zero temperatures.”) She also suggests sticking to a few favorite menu options to make service simple and keep the line moving quickly.

Make sure to check with your venue about their preferred caterers, especially if you want to work with a vendor or food truck that is different from the company you’ve hired to serve the main meal. Mazumdar loves the idea of changing it up a bit and using a food truck in addition to your caterer, if that works with your venue. “It’s fun to get different, creative ideas, especially if you have a specific late-night snack in mind that they can accommodate,” she says.

If curbside service isn’t quite close enough to the action, consider something smaller, like an ice cream cart or popcorn machine. “Hot dog carts are perfect for all the dancing queens out there, because they can roll right up to the dance floor—they can even come with a costumed hot dog vendor if that’s your style,” adds Mazumdar.

Choose something easy to eat. “I’d advise serving something that can be easily eaten in a couple bites that does not require a fork, spoon or knife,” says Markman. After all, the whole idea is that the food should revive your guests and encourage them to linger and celebrate.

Mazumdar thinks of a surprise snack as a great way to send guests home happy. “Who doesn’t love a good pick-me-up toward the end of the night after a great celebration?” We agree. Send them home with a good taste in their mouth.

Late-Night Nibbles

Food options that are worthy of your wedding finale:

Chef Shack
Chef Shack’s food truck offers hearty farm-fresh fare like brisket, ribs, homemade cole slaw and biscuits. 612.354.2575

Fork in the Road
Fork in the Road food truck serves delicious sandwiches like pulled pork with caramelized onions, grilled cheese or a classic BLT. 612.354.3233

Foxy Falafel
Foxy Falafel’s truck delivers perfectly crisp falafel served in a pita or as a salad with your choice of sauces. Don’t overlook their cheese curds, which are sprinkled with dill and served with honey. 651.888.2255

Gastrotruck
Gastrotruck is a full-service caterer and food truck. They will customize a menu to your taste, from black bean burgers to fluffy pancakes.  63.607.6055

Glam Doll Donuts
Glam Doll Donuts dishes up a decadent table of over-the-top doughnuts with a pinup-girl twist. 612.345.7064

Hot Indian Foods
Hot Indian Food truck’s signature “Indurrito” is a burrito filled with Indian curry and bursting with flavor; they also offer rice bowls and fries. 612.236.4423

Prairie Dogs
Prairie Dogs brings a hot dog cart to your reception, for hot dogs and sausages in a delicious array of flavors with gourmet mustards and toppings. 612.223.8984