Weddings are as individual as the people getting married, but one thing they all have in common is food.
At some point during your big day, whether it’s at a country house, in a marquee or in a converted warehouse, you’ll need to feed your guests.
And while you might want to stick to a traditional three course dinner, it’s not your only option thanks to the huge number of creative caterers out there, who can provide innovative and interesting ways to make your wedding as delicious and different as possible.
In fact, Katrina Otter, a high end wedding planner based in Suffolk, says more and more couples are looking at their wedding breakfast like professional foodies. “When I first start talking to clients about their wedding catering the first thing they pretty much scream at me is ‘I don’t want chicken’,” she laughs. “Everyone’s getting a little bit more creative, thinking outside the box.”
But before you pick a style of service or cuisine, what should you take into account when planning your wedding breakfast? Otter has a few tips to keep in mind.
Go with your personal taste
Otter says not to be afraid when choosing your wedding food. “So many couples try to please everyone,” she explains. “It’s such a shame. So if there’s something you would like then don’t be afraid to have it and for your guests to have it as well. And if they don’t like it then they’ve had a free meal anyway, quite frankly.” So if, like Otter, you love pie and mash, have pie and mash. And just because you’re having your wedding in a classic venue it doesn’t mean you can’t have fish and chips if you want it. But most couples do tend to extend their overall theme and aesthetic to the food they serve.
Consider the time of year
With food tastings in February and March for a July wedding, it’s easy to pick out roast beef and mashed potato, followed by a sticky toffee pudding, but keep the month you’re getting married in mind. In most cases you won’t actually want to eat something so heavy in the middle of summer.
Forget canapés at your peril
“Canapés are the one thing guests turn up at a wedding and expect,” says Otter. “I’ve done ‘on the day’ management before and the couple hadn’t organised canapés and people were complaining to the caterers. They have a drink and they want to pick up something to eat.” It’s worth remembering that your guests will be getting peckish during the period between the ceremony and the sit down meal and they’ll need something to soak up all that champagne, of course.
You know that late night hunger you get after a big night out? Well most of your guests will be feeling the same way after an hour or so of throwing shapes on the dance floor. So keep their energy up with some delicious evening snacks. “It doesn’t need to be elaborate, you don’t need to spend loads of money,” says Otter. “But it’s those extra things that make people remember the catering.” So how about cheese toasties, bacon butties, sliders or just a load of amazing cheese and crackers? And Otter says you don’t need one per person for this part of the day either; just cater for 75% of the guests.
Don’t worry about dietary requirements
Got a vegan friend? A gluten-intolerant sister-in-law? These are no longer things to be worried about as most caterers are incredibly clued up about dietary restrictions and specifications. Not only will they ensure those special meals are just as tempting as the main menu, but they won’t necessarily charge you extra to provide them.
Here's ten mouth watering ideas for wedding food to remember
Just because your hipster friends like Vietnamese street food, it doesn’t mean you can’t stick to an elegant plated or even silver service wedding breakfast. Three or more courses of beautifully prepared food are always welcome. “I think classic is always going to be popular,” says Otter. “It’s good British food and it’s still very tasty.” Think smoked salmon, a summer salad or a goat’s cheese tart for the starter, followed by a lamb dish and desserts like lemon posset or crème brulee. This is the kind of food most in-house caterers will be good at, so ask to see sample menus or consider caterers that specialize in more traditional fare.
2. Creative Displays
This is where food service meets art. Instead of canapés being served on silver trays, they arrive in a birdcage, a jewellery box or planted in edible soil. Yes edible soil. “It will look really enticing but done in a way that’ll get people talking,” says Otter. And it’s not just passed food that gets the creative touch. Grazing stations and dessert tables become works of art too.
A favourite of Otter's, Kalm Kitchen does this beautifully.
3. Sharing platters and feasting
You’ll find ‘family style’ service in lots of restaurants and pubs and if you enjoy this casual way of dining, then why not bring that to your wedding day? Starters, mains and puddings are all served to the table for sharing. Your guests can pick a bit of what they fancy and some caterers even do ‘build your own’ desserts like Eton Mess. Now that’s sure to get people bonding.
Sausage and Pear will provide any of the dishes on their menus as feasting options.
Beautiful and the Feast specialises in incredible sharing platters whether in hampers for picnic weddings or as three course extravaganzas.
4. Local and seasonal
Ah buzzwords a-plenty here. Locally sourced, organic, seasonal and farm-to-table; this is apparently a huge trend for Katrina Otter’s clients this year and next. “Supporting local producers is probably the biggest thing I’m seeing this year,” she says. “It is really popular, especially with marquee weddings at the moment.”
One of her couples is getting married in Suffolk so Adnams will provide all the drinks, from the beer to the sparkling wine. They want every part of their meal to be from somewhere in the county and want to know where the meat is from and where the vegetables were grown.
The Pantry in Edinburgh is all about this kind of catering. Any style of service can be provided but no matter whether you opt for a feast or a formal supper, every element will be sourced from Scotland and the events menus change regularly to include what is in season.
5. Afternoon Tea
Who says you have to serve an evening style meal to your guests? Let’s face it, most wedding breakfasts are eaten in the late afternoon or very early evening anyway, so why not do a decadent afternoon tea? Elegant finger sandwiches, pastries, scones, jams and plenty of champagne will ensure a delicious experience for everyone. This is perfect for a vintage inspired wedding and Fingers and Forks has a garden party menu that’ll be just the ticket.
6. Food Stations
This is an American trend that’s becoming more and more popular at UK weddings. Think of it as an upgrade on a buffet. You can have three or four ‘stations’ each offering a different style of cuisine so your guests can mix and match. So a carving station in one corner, sushi in another, maybe even an oyster bar and of course a dessert station is a must. And these can be either Do It Yourself where guests build their own burgers and crostini, or they can be manned by a chef or two depending on how informal you want the day to be.
Rhubarb, based in London and Surrey, can provide food stalls serving tacos, ceviche and ramen as well tables loaded with tempting puddings. Yum!
7. Street Food
Who doesn’t love a food truck? If you keep your eye on food trends at all then you’ll know some of the most delicious and creative dishes are coming from street food culture. And more importantly for your wedding, it’s just a lot of fun. Pizza vans, taco trucks, high-end burgers, pulled pork, noodle bowls, middle eastern skewers; your guests will be spoiled for choice. “More and more companies are converting vans and providing these services so I think this is a trend that’s going to continue for a long, long time,” says Otter. And she says don’t worry if your wedding is more of a timelessly elegant affair, as you can always bring in a food truck for late night snacking: “Any style of wedding can pull that off.”
8. Street drinks
And if you love street food then why not do street drinks too? There are double decker buses converted into bars, prosecco vans and gin bicycles all available for hire or you could have personalised, bespoke cocktails served from the side of a truck. Whatever you want, there’s a mobile service that can provide it.
For the ultimate prosecco van try Bubble Bros.
9. Comfort Food
Following on from the food truck trend is a rise in brides and grooms asking for luxury comfort food from their caterers. Think truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, sausage and mash, burgers and fried chicken. These delicious classics are guaranteed to go down a storm with guests of all ages and will make a change from the wedding menus we’re used to. If this style of food appeals to you then ask your caterer if they can provide it. You could always do mini versions as part of your canapés if you don’t want to stray too far from a more traditional wedding breakfast.
It’s called a wedding breakfast but rarely do you find breakfast food served at a wedding. So why not enjoy a tasty brunch? With the trend for all-day breakfasts and bottomless brunches still going strong, delight your guests with heuvos rancheros, avocado on toast, eggs royale, pancakes, waffles and French toast, not forgetting Bloody Marys and Mimosas.