In the fourth and final part of our Food Focus Series, it’s time to get down to business. Here, we share EVERYTHING you need to know about creating the perfect wedding menu in our Wedding Food Guide.
A wedding is a celebration and much like any big event, it is centred around one of our favourite things… food! If you’ve ever sat in a restaurant, pondered a menu and changed you mind about what to order a dozen times, you’ll know that the struggle is only too real. Deciding on your wedding menu is a bit like this, only you’ll be making the decision for 100+ people! Plus, you’ll need to consider much more than usual such as dietary requirements and wine pairings.
But thankfully, as big fans of food, we’re here to help! We’ve complied the ultimate Wedding Food Guide detailing everything you need to know about creating the perfect menu for your wedding day.
Set your RSVP date
Like much of wedding planning, giving yourself as much time as possible is key. When sending out your invitations, bring the RSVP date forward so that it’s even earlier than the date the caterers require it by. Plus, not everyone will reply on time (yes, really) so you’ll need a buffer timeframe to chase up responses.
Giving yourself plenty of time also means that you can get your stationery together in advance of the wedding day. Ask guests to provide details on any allergies or dietary requirements so that these can be relayed back to the caterers. This ensures that on your wedding day, servers will be aware of where these people are seated.
Choose a dining style
The plated menu
Traditionally the most common wedding dining experience, a formal sit down meal is favoured by many couples, and lends itself particularly well to speeches. When it comes to plated menus, there are a few options to choose from; a tasting menu (guests are provided with a series of small dishes, as chosen by the chef, and eaten in sequence); pre-ordered meals (the most popular option, where prior to the wedding, guests are asked to choose between two or three dishes) or plated options (similar to a restaurant experience, guests are given a menu on the day of the wedding and their orders are taken).
The option you choose will undoubtedly depend on your venue, budget and style of your wedding. Typically, you can expect to pay more for a tasting menu or plated options, as more preparation is involved.
The buffet menu
Geared towards a more informal style of wedding, or those who are choosing to do their day their way, a buffet menu boasts the advantage of offering guests a wide variety of dishes. Plus, it can easily be personalised to draw on your likes as a couple. If, for example, you love travelling, serve guests an array of dishes from all the countries you have visited.
Keep the queue fast moving by inviting one table up at a time, and ensure the buffet is easy to access for guilt-free seconds.
This style of food option is great for those on a budget and choosing a venue or catering company with high standards will ensure the cuisine served is top notch.
Another great option for a less formal style wedding, a bbq is perfect for the summer months (especially if you’re pretty much guaranteed good weather). Again, several themes can be incorporated such as festival vibes, if you’re music lovers. Whole hog roasts are a popular choice, while caterers will be able to serve a host of dishes such as marinated meats and fresh fish, guaranteed to go down an absolute storm with guests.
Treat guests to a little bit of everything, hassle-free thanks to this handy option. With a sharing style, multiple dishes and sides designed for sharing are left on each table. This style of menu is designed to encourage conversation as guests bond over food. Plus, it eliminates the fuss of plated meals or the disorder that can come from a buffet option. If you and your partner are foodies, definitely don’t rule out this option of a fuss-free sit down meal.
Choose your caterer
Once you’ve decided on what style of menu lends itself best to the vision for your wedding day, next on your list is choosing a caterer to deliver it. To nail it, it’s all in the research. While skilled caterers will be apt at fulfilling a wide variety of food styles, there will definitely be some who specialise in specific areas. Begin your research by visiting caterers’ websites, checking out their online galleries and seeing if these photos complement your wedding day vision. Read reviews online and email them a list of questions, which should be answered to your satisfaction. If you need somewhere to start, check out our list of Northern Ireland Food Vendors With A Difference here.
Choose your menu
With your food style decided and caterer chosen, it’s time to get specific and decide on your wedding day menu. A good caterer will be able to offer a wealth of suggestions and menu options, which appeal to the masses. Things to consider include seasonal produce, getting meals to guests while they’re still hot and how many options you can give guests at the lowest price. The best way to nail it is by attending a tasting. All good venues or caterers should provide you with the chance to come along and taste dishes so that you can draw a conclusion on the best dishes to serve guests. You’ll also be able to talk numbers and raise any issues.
Choose your wine
Wine and food go hand-in-hand so choosing those which complement dishes will ensure an amazing gastronomical experience. For couples with a penchant for wine, this will probably take a little mulling over. If wine isn’t high on your list of priorities, get advice for someone who knows it well.
As a general rule, serve guests between 2-4 glasses of wine. A standard sized bottle of wine includes five generous glasses, allowing you to calculate what you need. For an intimate wedding of say 50 guests, a minimum of 100 glasses would be needed, which equates to roughly 20 bottles.
And of course, you’re free to offer more or less than this if you want. Remember, that if you decide to source your own wine, many venues will charge you corkage per bottle, so sometimes it actually works out cheaper to run with their selection.
Finally, if you really want to up the ante and treat guests to an experience unlike any other, there are a wealth of cocktail stations worth considering. From sangria to pimping your Prosecco, get tons of inspiration in our blog post here.
Choose your wedding cake
Once upon a time, the wedding cake was somewhat of a prop at the reception. Couples had to have it but no one paid much attention to it. Nowadays, it’s a spectacle and very much a focal point, offering plenty of style, not to mention flavour.
After you’ve chosen your wedding menu, turn your attention to your cake, opting for something which you feel will complement the food you’re serving and the theme for your wedding day.
Or, if like us, you prefer to do things a little bit differently, there are many amazing alternatives to the classic wedding cake, which you’ll find perfectly rounded up in one handy #inspo post here.
And there you have it. While deciding on a wedding menu can be one of the most stress-inducing aspects of planning a wedding, go with your gut and treat guests to a gastronomically delightful experience.
We Can Be Heroes Food Focus Guide
Click on the links below to read the rest of our series
- Part 1: Killer alternatives to the classic wedding cake, here
- Part 2: Northern Ireland food vendors with a difference, here
- Part 3: Wedding cocktail station ideas to WOW your guests, here
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