Advice for Brides: choosing your wedding food and drink

We’re always thrilled at how proactive and knowledgeable many of our UKAWP members are. Here they give their advice on choosing your food and drink.

When choosing a potential caterer, always ask for references and people you can speak to. Ensure you are able to have a tasting session so you can try several of the dishes you like the sound of. Be sure to get a clear idea as to the overall cost, which includes service, waiting staff, crockery and glass hire, any equipment costs and of course VAT.

Catering Staff

When choosing the drinks for your reception you don’t just have to have seasonal food how about seasonal cocktails, for Spring you could have a Trousseau Tickler which contains rhubarb bitters and elderflower or a Garden Mojito with cucumber & mint; for Summer a Strawberry Daiquiri or a Bellini; for Autumn an Apple Martini or a Misty Pear; for Winter a Cosmopolitan (with cranberry juice) or a Clementine Crush. (For loads more cocktail ideas check out The Bubbly Bride book.)

Always make sure you check the prices of venue drinks packages. At one wedding there was a £1,500 difference between them having a drinks package and buying the equivalent bottles of wine from the wine list.

Wine Swishing

It’s better to choose less expensive menu options than skimp on the amount of food and drink you provide – guests will remember your wedding because they were hungry or thirsty, rather than because you served vintage champagne or fancy canapés. Discuss the timings of your day with the caterer, and take their advice on how much food and drink they recommend for the drinks reception, meal and evening party.

 If you want to reduce your food budget then you could have a later ceremony and therefore a later wedding breakfast, so you are unlikely to require anymore food in the evening. Alternatively a later ceremony at the same venue as the reception could mean a shorter champagne reception without serving canapés. Another good tip to keeping the cost of the food down is to serve the wedding cake as dessert. Choose a cake that is more of a gateaux and accompany it with cream and mixed berries. This also helps to avoid guests being too stuffed and cake being wasted.

Your menu can be a great way of incorporating your cultural heritage into your wedding day. Even if it’s not the whole meal discuss with your caterers ways you could use key ingredients that represent a family connection such as a specialty from a certain region e.g. Italian Parma Ham, Spanish Chorizo, Greek Feta Cheese etc into different courses. Many venues & caterers are happy to be flexible with their menus so if there is something you want that isn’t on the menu or perhaps you like different course form different menus don’t’ be afraid to ask.

Try to personalise it. Think about what food you love or has a meaning to you. Maybe there’s a specific meal that you love to cook together or your first date was over a candlelit steak dinner. Maybe you met as kids and used to sit and eat Knickerbocker Glorys together or fish and chips out of paper. There will be some way to tie an old favourite into your wedding menu, making it even more special. Just make sure that it isn’t too obscure as the final menu must appeal to your guests as well as the two of you.

Bowl Food

How about offering something different, like a number of buffet stations around the room, each offering the finest from world cuisine? Or perhaps, if you are having a smaller wedding, you could consider holding your ceremony later in the day and offering a 10 course tasting menu a la Heston Blumenthal. If you are keen on a traditional seated meal, why not make things less formal by having a range of Moroccan inspired dishes placed on the table for guests to pass around – it is a great way to get the conversation flowing!”.

Create a talking point with your evening food, be imaginative and have some fun. You could have a dessert table with all your favourite miniature desserts . Or how about an ice cream trike from 9pm, people wont expect ice cream at night but will be delighted nonetheless. 

Dessert Station

Of If you’re not sure your budget can stretch to having an open bar then I would suggest it is better to have good quality wine with the meal rather than scrimping on this to allow money for drinks later. Alternatively you could set a limit at the bar in the evening which could allow everyone to have a couple of drinks without things getting out of hand. The choices could also be limited to beer, wine and a particular spirit with a mixer.

Think about what kind of atmosphere you want to create for your wedding – formal or informal? Inside or outside? People staying in one place or mingling? The food you choose will have a huge impact on this so make sure you consider whether that 3-course sit-down meal is really right for you and your day.

Think about the flow of the evening and pay special attention to when the music will break, having the hog roast open when the band starts their set is not a good idea. Regardless of how good the band is, the food will normally win with hungry guests. 

Photo Credits

Kerry Morgan , Mark Bothwell , Paula Broome

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