This article appears in Bride 2020 magazine.

Whether it’s served plated, buffet-style or out of the back of a food truck, wedding cuisine should be a joyous part of the big day. What it shouldn’t be is typical or boring.

One way to make your meal stand out from the norm is to incorporate local foods, said Sara Springer, a wedding manager at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa.

“For example, Maui is known for tropical fruits including pineapple. A couple could incorporate pineapple into their menu whether doing a presentation station or a fun dessert,” she said.

Avoiding bland chicken and overcooked vegetables is just the start of improving a wedding food plan. Consider going beyond traditional foods and delight guests with choices that will bring a sense of warmth and nostalgia, said Sarah Boehm, spokeswoman for Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville, Maryland. Lobster macaroni and cheese in a smoked bacon cup as a passed hors d’oeuvre is the “perfect comfort food,” she said.

More couples are choosing informal eating arrangements that help capture a couple’s personality over plated meals.

“Food action stations and display stations have been a huge hit recently, said Kiana Nip, also a wedding manager at Hyatt Regency Maui. “It allows guests to walk around and mingle, and also the option to sit down and eat.”

“Hors d’oeuvres and dessert stations like our tater tot bar and ice cream social bar stand out from the traditional wedding foods,” Boehm said. Couples can also make a custom signature drink the focal point of bar options, she said.

Including elements of family upbringing is another way to add personality.

“Culture can play a huge role in the choosing of a menu. For example, a Persian wedding will typically have a food display station that wedding guests can visit throughout the event. An Indian wedding will normally have food served family-style. It is all dependent on the culture and couple, and ultimately it would be a couple’s choice on what they would like to incorporate into their wedding menu,” Nip said.

Package deals are popular, but don’t feel confined by their limits.

“There’s definitely flexibility on any menu. It is just a conversation a couple will want to bring up in the planning process so that a chef can give feedback on what is able to be provided,” Springer said. Going off menu will most likely raise prices, though, Nip said.

If budgeting is an issue, couples should focus on what is important to them, whether it be a type of meat or local flavors.

“Skip on extras, like an additional dessert or passed appetizers,” Nip said.

Much feedback can be found online and in reviews, but it is often a good idea to taste test food, especially if a couple is modifying a menu, Springer said. This is also an opportunity for a couple to see how the cuisine will be presented and interact with event staff, Boehm said.

While there aren’t many foods that should be strictly avoided, it is a good idea to offer guests a little variety in the cuisine that is being served and consider dietary restrictions.

“Notify the wedding coordinator of any guests with specific dietary restrictions before serving plated dinners so the kitchen can prepare special meals,” Boehm said.

In addition to messy foods, avoid passed appetizers that require both hands to eat, Springer said.

Once the food is planned, be sure to take time to enjoy it.

“It is important to create a timeline so that it allows time to enjoy the meal that they’ve so carefully created,” Nip said.