Wedding venue owners will tell you that the thing people will remember most about your big day is, predictably, the place you got married. And while that might be true for the couple who have put months of planning into the day, it’s unlikely to be the thing that sticks in most of your guests’ minds. If they’re anything like us, they’ll remember what they ate and drank, and when we say ‘remember’ we mean compare with that of other weddings they’ve been to. We’re not trying to panic couples in the throes of wedding planning, but if you want to rank highly among your friends for who served the best wedding food, it’s essential to serve the right food. With that in mind, we’ve put together this little piece on wedding food ideas that break with convention in the best possible ways.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a traditional multi-course wedding breakfast and many venues will offer all sorts of interesting options if that’s what you decide to go for; but couples planning their special day should know that there are plenty more possibilities to choose from these days. It seems odd that in an age when we’re prepared to queue for a table at one of London’s hottest no-bookings restaurants that we’re content to stick with a standard three-course wedding breakfast comprising unoriginal dishes involving smoked salmon, chicken and dauphinoise potatoes.
We know what you and/or your future mother-in-law are thinking – street food doesn’t go with posh frocks and expensive suits, but since when did gravy ever go with your finest outfit either? It’s time to ditch your or your parents’ preconceptions about what constitutes ‘proper’ wedding food and start thinking about what you like eating. It’s your big day, after all. A useful rule of thumb is to consider whether you’d upload a pic to your Instagram feed; if not, it’s probably not worthy of your wedding breakfast.
It’s true that many wedding venues have in-house caterers or preferred suppliers so you may not have completely free rein, but there’s almost always wiggle room if you have alternative wedding menu ideas and are willing to ask for them. Read on for 10 wedding food ideas we love, to get you started.
There’s nothing wrong with a sit-down meal on your wedding day and, chances are, you’ll appreciate the chance to rest your feet after all those photographs; but just because you’re sitting down, it doesn’t mean you have to opt for a multi-course banquet. Here are some ideas for seated wedding breakfasts that don’t take hours to get through.
Whether it’s a few large lasagnes, an array of colourful salads or fresh seafood platters, family-style dining is a great option for several reasons. Firstly, it cuts down massively on the amount of time you’ll spend at the table, as everything is served at once. Secondly, it encourages your guests to interact with each other. Lastly, it means your guests get to sample a variety of dishes, which is guaranteed to score points with foodies and fussy eaters.
Pick a winner
Isn’t it odd how we ply our guests with alcohol, then with course upon course of generally very rich food before demanding their attention for lengthy speeches and expecting to see their best moves on the dancefloor? We don’t know about you, but a stomach fit to bursting doesn’t inspire us to be attentive or get up and boogie, which is why you might decide to opt for a single, outstanding course at lunch or dinner time with various snacks available throughout the evening for anyone who’s still peckish.
Wedding buffet ideas
Ever been to a wedding where the top table’s plates are being cleared before you’ve even taken a bite of your starter? Yeah, so have we, and it’s kind of off-putting. Luckily, there’s a way to put paid to that situation: serve a wedding buffet. By the time it comes to eating, everyone will be at least one drink in and therefore brave enough to get up there and help themselves. Just be sure to carefully mark out allergens to avoid the wrong kind of drama on the day.
You dim sum, you lose none
A dim-sum station is the perfect choice for couples who dig Chinese cuisine. There are loads of different varieties you could go for, plus it’s easy to provide vegetarian and vegan dim sum for your meat-free guests. Cute fact: ‘dim sum' literally translates to 'touch the heart', which makes it perfect for loved-up couples on their wedding day.
Go the whole hog
Clearly not a very sensitive choice if there are lots of non-meat-eaters among your guests, but an option worth considering if you’re having a smallish reception (and you like pork). If you’re holding your wedding reception on a farm, a hog roast would definitely fit in with the theme plus it can be eaten as part of an indoor or outdoor buffet.
Alternative wedding food ideas really come into their own when the option to dine alfresco is introduced. Obviously the weather will play a big part in whether these ideas are feasible, as will your choice of venue, but there are always ways to combat the unreliable British weather so don’t let the idea of wind or rain dampen your spirits if your heart’s set on one of these fab ideas…
We Brits know how to picnic, so how about throwing the ultimate picnic on your wedding day? The sky’s the limit when it comes to decoration – we’re thinking bunting, blankets and baskets – and there are plenty of ways you can make it your own when it comes to the food and drink too. You could even ask your venue to create individual picnic hampers for all your guests.
Barbecues are one of the best things about summer, which is why plenty of couples choose to have one on their wedding day. We don’t think a wedding barbecue should be reserved for the evening once everyone’s half-cut though – we say commit fully and serve it instead of a sit-down meal. Top tip: serve condiments in dishes to minimise accidents (and avoid that distinctly unromantic fart sound).
Stylish street food
There are so many reasons to consider hiring a street food van for your wedding, and not just for your evening do either. Serving street food is a great way to banish any kind of formality, so if you’re the kind of person who shudders at the thought of dining with multiple cutleries at top table, this might be the solution for you. Street food also tends to be a crowd-pleaser, particularly since it’s made-to-order, and is definitely more memorable than a three-course wedding breakfast. One thing to bear in mind, though: if you’re serving anything particularly messy, such as gourmet burgers, tacos or posh kebabs, it’s worth providing bibs and plenty of napkins.
These suggestions really push the envelope when it comes to creative wedding food ideas so won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it could be fun to consider a wedding menu that’s completely off the wall! And you never know, you might start a whole new wedding food trend.
A full English wedding breakfast
Serve actual breakfast food at your wedding breakfast. We’re not talking Cheerios or Shredded Wheat – though if that’s your idea of heaven and the venue allows it, go right ahead – but more in the region of a full English, waffles or pancakes.
Variations on a theme
Are you crazy about one particular food item? Do your friends get you gifts based on your obsession? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, it might be fun to base your wedding menu around the thing you love best. Whether it’s chocolate, wasabi or – dare we suggest it – avocados, there are plenty of ways to get creative with one main ingredient.
Afternoon tea, anyone?
If you and your betrothed are afternoon tea enthusiasts, there’s nothing stopping you from serving up finger sandwiches, scones and petit fours instead of a sit-down meal. This works particularly well at marquee weddings, perhaps because it makes it feel a bit like the Great British Bake Off, but a festive afternoon tea with mini mince pies and hot spiced tea is a novel idea too.
On the hunt for more wedding inspo? Check out these fun and unique ways to entertain your wedding guests.