Choosing the type of meal
Now the fun begins! A caterer will be able to offer menu and drink advice depending on your budget, style of wedding and number of guests. When deciding on portion amounts, it is worth remembering that guests will be happier if there is enough simple food to go around, rather than spectacular food in small portions.
A traditional wedding breakfast has three courses, but as many as six is not unusual. Many caterers offer a variety of set menus, or selection of dishes to choose from.
If you like the idea of having more than the standard three courses, ask if a sorbet can be served between the starter and main course, and whether cheese and biscuits with a selection of fruit can be served as another course after your dessert. A fish course is another option if you wish to have a long feast! Be aware that you may only be to provide one choice of main course with a formal meal, which has to appeal to all your guests, although special meals may be provided for children and vegetarians.
A sit-down meal is not necessarily the most expensive option, although feel free to push the boat out if your budget will allow. You can be as creative as you want as long as you cater to the tastes of the majority of your guests. You and your close friends may love to go out for sushi but will everyone else feel the same?
Starters should compliment the main course you choose, and do offer an opportunity to try something different. If you have a high proportion of vegetarian guests, it is perfectly acceptable to serve one vegetarian starter for all of your guests.
The main course is usually hot and sometimes it is easier to serve a one-plate meal if you have a high proportion of vegetarian guests. If you have silver service waiting staff coming round with beautiful vegetables that double-up on the vegetarian option or include potatoes that cannot be added to a plate of rice or pasta then you may make these guests feel excluded.
Dessert is the high point of any meal. Chocolate is always a popular choice, and a fruit option is often welcome after a heavier main course. Cheese and biscuits could be served either as a further course or as an alternative to a sweet dessert.
Here are some examples of the type of food you may like to serve:
- Budget – Wild mushroom soup with herb bread
- Mid-range – Salad of smoked salmon served with avocado and a Hollandaise sauce
- Expensive – Tempura of squid and seasoned vegetables served with cucumber pickle
- Budget – Traditional roast chicken with all the trimmings
- Mid-range – Rack of lamb, aubergine, baby vegetables and peppered beetroot
- Expensive – Breast of pan-fried duckling marinated in soy and saki, served with honey sauce and deep fried oriental vegetables
- Budget – Fresh fruit skewers with cream and chocolate dips
- Mid-range – Summer pudding with tender fruit compote and clotted cream
- Expensive – Rich chocolate, rum and pistachio pudding with raspberry parfait
- Budget – Deep fried goats cheese with marinated grilled vegetables
- Mid-range – Peppers, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil bruschetta with extra virgin
- olive oil dressing
- Expensive – Herb risotto cake with grilled corn relish and warm wild mushroom salad
- Budget – Mediterranean vegetable en croute
- Mid-range – Spinach timbales with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts
- Expensive – Blue cheese souffles with steamed chard and asparagus
- This can be the same as above providing you check for any animal fats.Finish the meal with tea and coffee served with mints. A hot drink is often welcome after a meal, and serving these can actually save on your alcohol bill. If you are holding a Jewish wedding then you will want to serve tea and coffee after the rest of the food, so have a dessert with your meal and save your cake for the hot beverageslater.
- You can serve on of two types of buffet, finger or fork.
- Finger: bite-sized food that is easy to eat without a table or cutlery. This gives guests a chance to mingle and eat at the same time. Finger buffets are suitable for low-key weddings, or as a way of providing food for guests who attend the latter part of the reception after the main meal.
Fork: this offers a wider choice of food such as cold meats, fish, pasta, salads and hot and cold dishes. A fork buffet requires cutlery and will probably need somewhere for some or all guests to sit whilst they eat.
Don’t feel restricted to sausage rolls and cheese sandwiches. Your caterer will be able to offer you a wide selection of food, such as canapes with various fillings, trout and horseradish on herb muffins, sushi, deep fried breaded mushrooms with dips, salmon and lobster cakes, vegetable crudites, cheese and herb straws or mini crab salads.
You may want to set up separate food stations to accommodate a variety of tastes. Think about an area for pizzas and bite-size mozarellas, one for oriental food another for roast meats and one for Greek-style meze.
Desserts can be served as part of a buffet meal. Some caterers can serve miniature desserts that can be eaten with the fingers in the same way as the main course – mini pies and tarts, baby profiteroles or small moulded puddings with cream inside will look fab and taste great.