Czech Wedding Menu

The wedding menu is an integral part of the wedding day. It typically consists of light refreshments before the ceremony, the wedding lunch, includes the cutting of the wedding cake, and ends with a wedding banquet. I had the honor of being invited to the wedding of my friends, who prepared a Czech wedding menu with many traditional elements in a modern rendition for their guests. What might a Czech wedding day look like from the perspective of food and drink?

Refreshments Before the Wedding Ceremony

The gastronomic celebration of the entire wedding day traditionally starts with small refreshments before the wedding ceremony. It is usually served between the arrival of guests and the ceremony itself to prevent hunger and create a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. This light refreshment provides the guests with the first opportunity to socialize over a glass of sparkling wine. The refreshments may include various kinds of open sandwiches, canapés, and other snacks that are easy to consume and do not require the use of cutlery. The emphasis is on simplicity and elegance.

Refreshments before the wedding ceremony: open sandwiches - avocado spread, shrimp, cucumber, beetroot sprouts
Refreshments before the wedding ceremony: open sandwiches – avocado spread, shrimp, cucumber, beetroot sprouts

Wedding Toast

After the ceremony, it’s time for the wedding toast, which symbolizes the sharing of joy and wishes of happiness for the newlyweds. The toast is often accompanied by a short speech given by the witnesses, close relatives, or the newlyweds themselves. Traditionally, champagne or other sparkling wine is used for the toast. Guests raise their glasses high while the speaker expresses their wishes of love, health, and happiness.

Wedding toast
Wedding toast

Traditional Czech wedding lunch

Wedding Appetizer: Prague Ham with Horseradish

The traditional ham roll with horseradish cream is a type of wedding appetizer that can have a touch of gastronomy from long ago. However, even this traditional wedding appetizer can be prepared in a modern and delicious form – just use Prague ham, a small potato pancake, apple horseradish and a traditional Czech appetizer in a modern rendition is ready to serve.

Prague ham is made from high-quality cuts of pork leg that are first salted. The salting is done either by the the wet method, where the meat is marinated in a brine solution. After thorough salting, the washed ham is smoked over beechwood, acquiring a delicate smoky aroma and a golden color. After smoking, the ham is boiled in special pots until it is perfectly tender and juicy. Prague ham is traditionally served cold.

Under the name Prague Ham (or Prager Schinken in German), it is known and valued not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad. It is one of the few truly traditional Czech dishes associated with Prague. Prague ham was first prepared in 1857 by the butcher and smokehouse owner František Zvěřina. Prague ham is registered on the European list of Guaranteed Traditional Specialties.

Wedding menu: Prague ham, potato pancake, apple horseradish, watercress
Wedding menu: Prague ham, potato pancake, apple horseradish, watercress

Wedding Soup: Beef Broth with Liver Dumplings

Beef broth is the most common wedding soup. This traditional soup is the foundation of many Czech festive lunches. Beef broth is prepared by slowly cooking beef bones, meat, and root vegetables such as carrots, celery, and parsley. Spices and herbs are added to these ingredients to give the broth a strong flavor. The broth is cooked for several hours to release all the flavors from the bones and meat. Liver dumplings are made from finely ground liver, to which eggs, breadcrumbs, milk, and spices such as marjoram, parsley, and garlic are added. This mixture is stirred into a smooth dough, from which small dumplings are formed. They are then cooked directly in the broth. Serving beef broth with liver dumplings is often garnished with finely chopped parsley or chives.

Wedding menu: beef broth with liver dumplings, root vegetables
Wedding menu: beef broth with liver dumplings, root vegetables

Wedding Main Course: Beef Sirloin in Cream Sauce with Dumplings

Beef sirloin in cream sauce with bread dumplings is one of the most traditional dishes of Czech cuisine, often associated with Sunday family lunches or festive occasions. It is a hearty dish, the basis of which is slowly roasted beef (expensive sirloin is no longer used). After roasting, the meat is removed, and the vegetables with drippings are blended and refined with cream, creating the characteristic creamy sauce. Sirloin in cream sauce is traditionally served with bread or Carlsbad dumplings, which perfectly absorb the sauce. The dish is often accompanied by cranberries, lemon, and whipped cream, adding a pleasant contrast of sweet and sour flavors. Beef sirloin in cream sauce can be considered one of the most typical examples of Czech culinary art.

Wedding menu: beef sirloin in cream sauce, bread and Carlsbad dumplings, whipped cream, cranberries
Wedding menu: beef sirloin in cream sauce, bread and Carlsbad dumplings, whipped cream, cranberries

Wedding Cake

The wedding cake represents a sweet start to the newlyweds’ life together. This multi-tiered dessert is often the center of attention during the wedding feast, and its design becomes a reflection of the personality and style of the newlyweds. Traditionally, the wedding cake is composed of several layers, which can have various flavors. Each layer is carefully filled with cream and covered with marzipan or fondant, which may be decorated with various ornaments such as flowers, pearls, lace, or even the monograms of the newlyweds.

Modern trends in wedding cake design include diverse styles, from minimalist to richly decorated, using edible flowers and original decorations. Some weddings may even have unconventional cakes, such as “naked” cakes, where layers and fillings are partially visible, or themed cakes that match the concept of the wedding.

A significant part of the wedding is the cake-cutting ceremony, which is often accompanied by photography, drawing the attention of all guests back to the newlyweds. This moment symbolizes the first joint act of the newlyweds and their sharing with family and friends.

Wedding cake
Wedding cake

Wedding Buffet

Several hours after the wedding lunch and the cutting of the wedding cake, the wedding buffet typically follows. This has a more informal atmosphere and allows for greater freedom. The bride often changes into different attire, and likewise, the wedding guests often change into casual clothing.

The wedding buffet usually includes a wide selection of cold and hot dishes, presented on buffet tables or as canapés, allowing guests easy access to food and choice according to their own taste. The selection can include everything from light salads, cheeses, deli meats, to hot dishes such as hamburgers, pieces of meat and fish prepared on the grill. It is common for food at the wedding buffet to come in several waves, for example, beef goulash or mini schnitzels are typically served in the late night hours for a Czech wedding.

Wedding buffet: hamburgers with beef and cheddar
Wedding buffet: hamburgers with beef and cheddar

At the wedding feast I had the opportunity to attend, the meat was also prepared using for Czechs the exotic method called “asado“. Asado is a method of meat preparation that originates from South America, particularly Argentina and Uruguay. Asado here is also synonymous with a social gathering, where family and friends come together around an open fire and slowly grill meat on a special structure called “parrilla” or directly on a cross “asador“.

Wedding buffet: pork prepared using the asado method with grilled fruit and vegetables
Wedding buffet: pork prepared using the asado method with grilled fruit and vegetables

The preparation with this method begins with selecting quality cuts of meat, often beef, but also lamb, pork, or poultry. The meat is seasoned only with salt to retain its natural flavor, although sometimes simple marinades may be used. An important aspect is the fire – charcoal or direct wood is used, which gives the meat a characteristic smoky flavor. The meat is then grilled at a low temperature for a long time, ensuring that it is perfectly cooked, yet juicy and tender. A traditional asado can take several hours, and it is of course a little show for the wedding guests.

Wedding buffet: food preparation using the asado method
Wedding buffet: food preparation using the asado method

Since the newlyweds like to travel, dishes from Hungarian or Israeli cuisine were also served.

Wedding buffet: lángos with bryndza, smoked meat, and radish
Wedding buffet: lángos with bryndza, smoked meat, and radish
Wedding buffet: hummus with grilled grapes
Wedding buffet: hummus with grilled grapes

Desserts are also an essential part of the wedding buffet – from delicate French macarons to various types of small cakes and pastries.

Wedding buffet: banana bread with peanut foam
Wedding buffet: banana bread with peanut foam
Wedding buffet: mini chocolate-curd cake
Wedding buffet: mini chocolate-curd cake

I would like to thank Adam and Lucie once again for the opportunity to be there and wish them all the best. It was a wonderful day! ❤️