Look after your guests by choosing the right food and drink, at the right time, and you’ll have an energetic, sensibly merry gaggle all contributing to your perfect day

Words: Damien Gabet   Photo: Carla Teneyck, Joanna Bongard

SquareMeal 2017 Weddings magazine Catering trends

Holly Poulter is convinced the main meal is a good point at which to shake up the format a little. ‘Don’t feel as if you need to stick to the traditional three-course, sit-down dinner,’ she says. ‘Go for a street-food setup with your favourite foods. Maybe a dim-sum station or buttermilk-chicken burgers and gourmet fries. Then your guests can help themselves.’ By this point everyone will be at least one drink in and brave enough to get up there and help themselves.

SquareMeal 2017 Weddings magazine Catering trends

Poulter’s theory is that getting guests to go up to different stations, and in the process interacting, distracts them from ‘downing the wine’. And keeping them moving helps combat drowsiness.

SquareMeal 2017 Weddings magazine Catering trends

On the liquid front, McVay would ensure there’s plenty of iced water in clear view. ‘Simply having it on show really helps. Some people might be embarrassed to ask for it, but if it’s there for the taking, it’ll get drunk.’ 

And there are other smart ways of subtly engineering sensible drinking. Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, suggests leaving reminders of how much has been drunk. ‘Have the empty bottles on show, if it isn’t too untidy,’ he suggests.

SquareMeal 2017 Weddings magazine Catering trends

Even more radical would be to follow his idea of serving blue prosecco. ‘It’ll be memorable and it’ll surely curb consumption.’ Why? According to Spence’s research, westerners associate the colour blue with a raspberry flavour. When that expectation isn’t met, there’s a ‘disconfirmation’, which, he says, makes us disinclined to drink more. The prosecco (and blue curaçao mix) in question is from Blumond, and has the added benefit of only being 7% – nearly half the regular ABV. Something to think about… 

The post-dinner lull is always a tricky period to bridge: you want to keep people perky and ready to giggle come speech time. ‘Espresso martinis are something we regularly do to give guests some energy after the meal,’ says McVay. ‘We deliver it in a shot glass with dessert.’ Clever.

Now find out what to serve at the reception and after eights.

This article was first published in SquareMeal Weddings 2017