Choosing what food and drink to serve at your wedding can feel daunting. You want to please everyone. Delicious and distinctive wedding catering is often very high on my couples’ lists of priorities and, as a foodie myself, I get it. We’ve all been to weddings where the catering was anything but distinctive. And you don’t want to make the same mistake.
So far in our mini-series, all about wedding catering, we’ve covered some top tips for choosing your wedding caterer, and the cost of wedding catering and how to save money. Today, for the last part in our mini-series, Libby Summers, from leading Southeast caterer – Caper & Berry, is giving us her expert advice on choosing distinctive wedding catering (perfect for a foodie couple) …
What’s your advice to couples who worry about choosing food they love versus food to suit all the family?
People always say: “Oh, we’ve got to go for everything, we’ve got to have salmon, chicken, lemon tart…because everyone likes that.” Don’t – because that’s what everyone else has at weddings. Put your personality and individuality into the menu. And if there’s a really difficult grandma who only eats beef with Yorkshire pudding, we’ll do beef and Yorkshire pudding for grandma because she’s an important part of the day.
Don’t be afraid to do something different. Go for the seared tuna, with the ponzu dressing and the amazing pickled radish and cucumber, because actually people want to have something exciting. It’s something people will remember. Maybe go for a slightly safer vegetarian option, so there is something else to offer, but I’m all about putting yourself into your catering and having it represent you. If you try to please everyone you will still upset someone, so just make sure you’re pleasing yourself!
What distinctive catering alternative to a wedding buffet, would you recommend?
Instead of buffets, we tend to offer ‘family sharing’ or ‘sharing platters’. One of my favourite dishes of all time is a marinated whole leg of Surrey lamb. We cook it over coals on the barbecue to give it an amazing smoky flavour and make it a little bit sticky around the outside, then we slice it and serve it on gorgeous wooden boards with accompaniments. It comes to each table and people just help themselves. It gives you a lovely relaxed vibe.
*A little pro tip from me, as a creative wedding planner: if choosing family-style dining, think about how it will fit on the table. If you can, raise the flowers or don’t have too many on the tables – leaving more room for the food to take centre stage.
What are food stations, and how do they differ from a buffet?
Food stations are another popular option where you don’t want a sit-down meal. We would recommend having two or three stations, with a live chef cooking behind – whether that’s just carving Parma ham or slicing sashimi grade tuna to order, for example. It’s not the cheapest option but it’s about the experience. Even a live barbecue with prawns being grilled to order – things like that. It’s not very logistical or easy to manage for a traditional occasion, but for something more relaxed it’s lovely.
What are some distinctive drink options couples can choose?
At Caper & Berry, we work with some amazing gin manufacturers like Sipsmith and Silent Pool – which is local to us. Offering a selection of gins and different tonics, if your guests are big gin drinkers, is a great addition to an evening bar. Something a bit creative, where guests can play around with the selection and get involved. And gin is a huge trend at the moment.
We also love cocktails. We work with an incredible cocktail bartender company (they work in all the best London bars). At a recent wedding they had all the bridesmaids behind the bar, teaching them how to make a bespoke cocktail. They are quite expensive for bartenders, but the entertainment level is something else.
Another idea is offering espresso martinis as part of your coffee station. It adds a real amount of fun to the experience. If you can afford it – do it. It’s a real entertainment extra.
We’ve even had a couple of weddings where the couple have given all guests Jaeger bombs instead of a final toast with the best man’s speech – to get the party started.
What can be offered for special dietary requirements?
Make sure you speak to your caterer and discuss any special requirements.
It’s possible to fit around dietary needs and it shouldn’t mean compromising on the menu. At Caper & Berry, in the last couple of years, we’ve had some completely vegetarian weddings, and it’s even possible to have a completely vegan menu if needed. We’ve put a lot of thought into our veggie options, because we are wedding foodies and we like good portions. We know any six-foot rugby playing guests aren’t going to feel full after eating just a little salad. You need amazing cheeses, potato rostis, lots of tasty things to bulk out the meal.
When you go for your tasting, make sure you also sample the vegetarian option – especially if any important guests are vegetarian. And if you aren’t vegetarian yourselves, give the vegetarian menu to your most important vegetarian guest and ask them to choose.
Wedding catering doesn’t have to mean a traditional, three course sit-down meal anymore. More and more couples are now being creative, adding in their personality, and thinking outside the box. If you’re a foodie in life, why wouldn’t you feature unforgettable food at your wedding? With amazing companies, such as Caper & Berry, now offering incredible choice in delicious and distinctive wedding catering – it’s easier than ever to create a menu you’ll guests will remember forever.
If this mini-series has made your mouth water, and you would like to see how I can help you plan the most experiential wedding – let’s have a chat soon.