Feeding your guests - style and substance

Choosing the ultimate wedding breakfast menu for your guests; from canapes to a sumptuous main and more...

The food you serve on your big day is, obviously, hugely important to the lasting memories you want people to take away with them. Take time to consider how you want it served too though.The style of service is as much a reflection upon the style of food as the ingredients are, and the style of food served is a reflection upon your big day overall.

The best practice is, undoubtedly, to match the style of service with the style of the day at that point; formal for formal parts of the day, fun for the fun parts. Imagine your big day is one that moves in a straight line from formal to relaxed, from ceremony to the goodbye hugs of friends late in the evening, and tailor your celebrations, and food, accordingly. In practice then, the most popular and understandable format is to begin by having any canapés you have chosen for your reception served by your venue’s staff. Here you are between your ceremony and your main banquet so the day is definitely in the formal stage. You have just enjoyed your wedding ceremony, your entry to the wedding breakfast and the speeches are still to come. Enjoy the pomp and circumstance of it all, let the light coming through your glass of Champagne refract onto your new wedding ring and enjoy the dainty morsels being served to you and your guests. This is not the time to be circulating through the crowd, hog roast bap in hand, terrified the ketchup will mean photos of the speeches to come will need to have a red splotch photoshopped out. The canapés, can, of course, be anything you want them to be, baby high tea style scones, with clotted cream and strawberry jam, through more traditional nibbles, to sushi – anything small and elegant will work here, the choice is yours, the world is your lobster!
 

​The wedding breakfast has to tick several boxes and there is still a formality in the air. The meal should match the occasion and the Father of the bride, Best Man and Groom must all stand and address the room giving the correct thanks, toasts must be made and the Bride and Groom often wish to circulate between courses or between dessert and speeches after the meal to ensure they have welcomed everyone they may not have spoken to during the reception. The food service itself has boxes to tick too. There are timings to adhere to and this being the day’s main sustenance, guests must be well fed; they will have had a few drinks already and there are a few more to come. Here the classic three or four course ‘plated’ banquet, served to guests by staff ensures all of those boxes are ticked. You can relax in the knowledge that your venue will run the service to schedule and that all of your guests will dine well. With that taken care of, the only remaining nerves need be borne of a little public speaking and with duties dispatched; the time has come to relax.
 
The formal wedding breakfast isn’t the only option though and you may heave your heart set on a less structured service – sharing platters to the center of table for guests to help themselves or the head of each table to ‘be mum’, and there’s the option of a buffet too. Discuss with your venue or caterer and they can make it happen, just remember that it changes the shape of the day a little and don’t try and hammer a square peg into a round hole; you will need to allow more time for the banquet, your guests will not enjoy quite the level of presentation from a buffet as they will a well-styled plated menu, you’ll probably need your caterer to provide and serve more food as you’re accommodating some less restrained appetites, (which will mean a higher cost) and your guests will have let their hair down just a little more so you may even invite a little heckling during speeches but if you want to advance the fun on your big day, a less formal food service is a great way to do it. With the style of service decided upon, you can focus on your favourites and ensure you serve exactly what you have always wanted you and your guests to eat.
 
With the wedding breakfast and speeches over, you’ll be the social butterfly once more and friends will gather around you for the cutting of the cake and the first dance. Both are very traditional parts of the day but firmly in the realm of fun, not formal. Anything after this then and you can, and should, let your hair down stylistically and indulge your funky burger ideas, wacky chocolate fountain dips, usherettes serving vodka shots and lollipops or whatever else you fancy. Just make sure you do justice to the ambience you have worked so hard to create, be it the dignity and elegance of the earlier part, or the party in the evening.