I like food… so, I do pay attention…
You do not have to do canapés, a three course ‘Wedding Breakfast’ and an evening buffet… you can, but you don’t have to. Here are some alternative types of wedding food to get you thinking (and get your mouth watering).
Tight on cash or want less of a ‘fuss’ or just want some alternative wedding food?
Why not simplify things a bit? Instead of doing all of the standard’s above, why not have your ceremony later in the day instead? This way, you can bypass canapés and formal sit-down in favour of an amazing evening spread or a bbq. Always a popular choice with guests, enabling people to select their favourites and lots of great meat free options too. To see more from the below wedding, you can see their feature here
Trust me, rarely will food at a wedding cause such a stir as wood fired pizza will, freshly cooked to order for your guests. They gather around, watching the bases cook whilst selecting their own bespoke topping selection. At the last one, I enjoyed watching an 81 year old and an 8 year old merrily and passionately argue over which toppings to put on their shared pizza. They ended up getting one each. Créme Catering are Justine available option for wood fired pizzas and definetly worth checking out.
Fish and chips, pretzel vans, burrito, ice-cream and hell, why not one of each?!?
These work especially well for summery weddings with relaxed, even festival vibes. If you only have one or 2, bear in mind that this could cause a bit of a back-log for your guests as they cant all be served at once. Only one downside to this one, and that is if you get really unlucky with the weather.
If you are lucky (yes really), you will have friends and family wanting to get involved and do something special for you, and whilst they mean well… its not always that easy to give them meaningful things to do (and you want some of the fun right?). Why not ask each of them to bring in a dessert?
The result is a huge table, filled with a variety of goodies (and all made with love) for your guests to pick and choose from. We did this for my own wedding and had about 20 different kinds of desserts on the go! – Please note that many venues wont allow you to do this, a few will, so worth an ask. Or best left for DIY and dry-hire weddings.
Another great way to save some money, you can do something simple in the daytime after your ceremony and then have a big buffet/bbq in the evening. And, now really I cannot think of anything better than a scone with jam and clotted cream (actually, now that I have typed it, I utterly crave one!). Picture large, ornate cake stands filled with posh sandwiches and cakes and scones and more cakes…. These even double up as stunning centre pieces.
Wedding food can be formal and fancy, but a picnic can be a magical way to do wedding catering (or the entire wedding) on a tiny budget. All of your guests sitting on blankets (or chairs for the less mobile/inclined), on a village green (or venue grounds) and eating a selection of delicacies from traditional picnic blankets. Pork pies, cheese selections, cakes, quiche and listening to relaxed style speeches. – Absolute genius in my opinion. There are some truly lovely village halls located around the UK and they can be hired so cheaply and decorated amazingly. Ideally Look for one with natural light, high ceilings and land attached for picnicking and relaxing. One rather obvious downside to this… is well… the rain. Definitely need a plan b in case of bad luck.
Slushy Machines/Hot dogs/Pop Corn/Donuts
These can be a lot of fun, especially if you have little guests! A lot of suppliers and venues actually offer the kinds of items as sidelines to their main businesses. This usually also offers better value, so it is a great idea to keep an out for this kind of things as you book up your providers. Also a great way to liven up the evening and the atmosphere!
Do you need three courses? This can really depend on the type of venue that you have, for example, a more exclusive menu may serve finer, but smaller portions (so you might need all three). A pub is likely to serve a plate load of comfort food, so two courses may well be enough
Buffets? 80’s or very much now?
When I first began doing weddings, buffets were ‘looked down upon’, they seemed to have the reputation of being ‘cheap’. Utterly unwarranted and I am glad to see that things have changed over the years. A buffet can save money, but it can also save you time, contribute to an informal vibe and mean that guests get what they want! Being able to pick and choose their favourites can be a huge bonus for them. To stop queues forming, ask the venue/MC to call up each table one at a time. If you don’t want to queue on your wedding day yourself (fair enough), then consider a ‘silver service buffet’, meaning that waiting staff will serve the top table and then all your guests will go up as their tables are called.
Lastly, not really ‘alternatives’, but a few points worth some considering for food in general:
- Think of the season, if you are getting married in the heat of Summer in a tepee, then ask yourself if a big 3 course sit down will be ideal, or if it might have your guests looking for somewhere to take a nap. Likewise if you have a December wedding, utilise lovely comforting and warming winter favourites as canapés; think mini baked potatoes, steaming espresso mugs filled with soup and croutons (my mouth is actually watering).
- Think about dietary requirements; as well as medical needs, some of your guests might have important beliefs (or religious restrictions) regarding what they eat. Gone are the days when you can publicly ridicule people for these choices and venues/caterers should be happy to help accommodate them. Be aware if the catering staff seems to sideline the needs of these guests, their meals matter too and being a vegetarian myself, I can attest to being served 1 too many mushrooms ravioli’s, mushroom risottos and stuffed mushrooms over the years! This can cause issues particularly in the evening with a lot of venues offering a Bacon Roll evening option – it is usually a great value way to feed your guests, but check what they are doing for those with other needs too.
One couple I photographed asked the local bakery to bring a selection of pastries and cakes for after the ceremony and it was a delight watching people drip jam down their elegant dresses and smart suits! – The point being, be you with it. If you want S’mores for the evening guests, then go for it. If you want an ice-cream/waffle/Jacket potato bar (probably not all at the same time) then go for it – I am always happy to sample!