When it comes to wedding menus there are all kinds of styles and dishes to choose from, from sit down wedding breakfasts to food trucks and sharing platters. Not sure which to opt for? We spoke to Simon Daukes, owner of the Ash Barton Estate, who shares the different types of wedding menus available and the pros and cons of each.
Whether you call them canapés or nibbles, serving small bites at some point during the proceedings is a must. As guests arrive and enjoy that first drink, it’s always nice to have someone walking round serving delicious one-bite morsels.
You might want to opt for something traditional such as salmon or caviar blinis with crème fraiche or tomato and olive and pepper crostini. Or for something a little different choose arancini balls, Chinese spring rolls, chicken tikka samosas or tiny lobster burgers. You might want to think about serving canapés after the ceremony too when you’re having your photographs taken. Perhaps guests can help themselves to an afternoon Devon Cream Tea before the wedding meal later in the day. The options for tiny canape delights are endless!
Traditional Sit-Down Wedding Breakfast
A sit down three or four course plated dinner is the most traditional wedding breakfast style and still incredibly popular. Serve a soup or fish starter, a meat based main course, a dessert and cheese board, followed by the wedding cake and coffee. There should be a couple of options per course and vegetarian/vegan options throughout too.
There are a few upsides to a traditional sit-down wedding dinner. Guests can select what they want in advance, which means your wedding caterer can order only what’s needed and manage the portion size too. This reduces the amount of food left over. And when everyone is seated, it also means everyone is served at the same time and no one misses out because they were chatting or having photographs taken.
The downside is that this is probably the most expensive option, not just for the food but with other costs such as extra waiting staff, crockery and cutlery. A seated meal takes up more time too. A three-course meal typically takes one and a half to two hours to serve. While a four courser can take two to two and a half hours. So, if you want to get the food and over and done with so you can get on with the dancing, you might want to skip a sit down meal.
Wedding buffets are ideal if you’re looking for something a little less formal. Lay out all the food on long tables or food stations and have your guests help themselves. Big bowls of green salad, potato salad, pasta and rice dishes, alongside chicken, cold meats and veggie options are always popular, and it means guests get to try a range of foods too. More and more couples are choosing to theme their buffet and opt for a range of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes such as hummus, pita, olives, goat’s cheese, harissa lamb and curried chicken.
Get creative with your dessert stations and opt for a doughnut wall or brownie tower. And install candy carts and popcorn machines. They always go down well with the smallest guests.
The upside with a buffet is that it takes less time to serve, and it needs less people to serve it. If you’re serving a side of salmon, you may need someone on hand to help. But other than that, once the food is laid out your guests can just help themselves.
The downside with a buffet is that your guests are going to have to meander over to the table to help themselves. So there’s more opportunity for trips and spills. And, of course, they also have to line up and wait their turn at the table. You can’t control how little or how much food people will help themselves to. So there’s always the possibility you may run out of something before everyone has eaten. Or you have lots of food left over and you have to send everyone home with a doggy bag. Cost-wise, wedding buffets tend to cost a little less than a formal dinner.
Sharing platters or sharing boards for weddings have become incredibly popular in recent years and are ideal if you want something a little less formal but don’t want to go down the buffet route. Platters of food are placed in the middle of each table and guests help themselves or pass the platter round. Every course can be served on a platter and there’s a wide variety of dishes to choose from. You might want to serve British classics such as Scotch eggs and mini pork pies served with pickles, followed by beef, and Yorkshire puddings. Or opt for falafels, Hummus and baba ghanoush followed by free-range chicken strips with spicy Spanish chorizo and ratatouille.
The downsides are similar to a buffet. You can’t gauge how much someone is going to eat. Plus, there’s the mess. When guests are serving themselves, you’re guaranteed to have food spilt on the table. But the good thing about serving the food on sharing platters is that it’s a relaxed and informal and a great conversation starter. It also means guests can continue to ‘graze’ the desserts during the speeches and toasts. (And yes, the dessert boards look particularly pretty on the ‘gram.)
More and more couples are opting for something altogether more laid back when it comes to their wedding menu with festival style food a hot trend for informal weddings. Think street food trucks serving everything from fish and chips, and gourmet bangers and mash to crepes and waffles. BBQs and hog roasts are popular, as are big pots of paella or chilli. And who doesn’t love a midnight pizza delivery just as everyone is starting to flag on the dancefloor.
The downside to festival style food is making sure there are plenty of places to sit if you’re serving food outside. Standing while eating a tiny canapé is one thing. Standing while eating a cheesy taco is another. If you want something more traditional, than festival food probably isn’t for you. But the upside is that it’s hale and hearty fare and lots of fun.
Choose Dishes that Means Something to You
It could be that you have a combination of the above with a sit-down meal in the afternoon and food trucks in the evening. What you opt for will depend on your budget, your venue, and the style of food you prefer. It’s always nice to have foods that reflect your travels or the nationalities of the weddings party or guests. Stuck for ideas? Choose a wedding a caterer that’s catered for all kinds of weddings and can give advice. And when you’ve decided what you might like on your wedding menu, organise a tasting session with your caterer.
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