Top tips from members of UKAWP

We’re always thrilled at how proactive and knowledgeable many of our UKAWP members are. Below are some recent top tips for brides and grooms put together by our membership.

How to ….choose your wedding food and drink

Wedding food and drink


  • 1. Match venue and food. When you are looking for your venue, consider the type of food you want to serve and make sure the two match. An impressive historic building calls for a formal seated dinner with equally impressive and delicate food, whereas a marquee or barn are perfect for more simple dishes and a buffet.


  • 2. Be clear about what you want and what your budget is, but let your caterer offer suggestions. A good one will have lots of ideas! Find out if your caterer can supply drinks and bar staff too, as well as the food, and whether they charge corkage. If you’re able to supply your own drinks, it might be worth thinking about the sale or return option, so that any unopened bottles of booze can be returned following the wedding – a true money saving


  • 3. 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.


  • 4. Think about using foods that are in season and try to source from local suppliers. Not only will it mean your food is fresh but it will also allow you to have delicious food if you are working on a tight budget. It is also better for the environment as there will be less food miles! Incorporate your colour scheme into the drinks you are serving. Serve Cosmopolitans if you have are going pink, or if you going for a monochrome look, what about white Russians.


  • 5. 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.) 


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


  • 7. If you are limited by a certain budget for food,consider having a more relaxed approach to dining. Hog roasts and bbq’s are very cost effective ways of feeding a large group of people. Buffet stations of cuisine that is good for sharing (such as curry, rice and naan bread) are also very economical.


  • 8. 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.


  • 9. 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.


  • 10. 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. 


  • 11. 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.

  • 12. Have fun choosing your bubbly and wine for your wedding by hosting a wine tasting evening for your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Provide a selection of whites, reds, champagne or sparkling wines which would be within your budget, wrap them up in paper and number them, then taste and vote away!


  • 13. “2010 saw a break away from the traditional 3-course sit down meal, and all evidence suggests this trend will carry on well into 2011. 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!”. 


  • 14. 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.


 15. 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.


Editors Note:

The UKAWP ( is a fast growing group of the UK’s most professional wedding planners.  Every member is thoroughly vetted for professionalism and adheres to a code of ethics. All the directors have worked on a wide variety of weddings in locations across the UK and are well known ambassadors for the industry.  For more information on the alliance, training courses, seminars and membership, please contact Kelly on 01483 282858 or

Photo credit:  White Gold Weddings


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