Everyone knows that the wedding breakfast and reception will eat up the biggest chunk of your budget.
With more and more brides trying to feed their hungry guests for less, we asked John Hearn, the Executive Chef at catering company Tapenade, to reveal this year’s best budget-friendly food trends…
“Informal dining options such as buffets, bowl food and rustic platters are shaping up to be hot this year,” says John. “These all give guests the freedom to move around and enjoy proceedings, making for a more relaxed atmosphere. Remember, the key is to include a good mix of meat, fish and vegetarian options to accommodate all guests.”
Our MD Rachel Southwood chose ‘substantial canapés’ instead of a traditional three-course meal for her big day. “It meant that guests could chat and mingle and we didn’t have the stress of sorting out a seating plan.”
John also thinks this is a great way of making your menu unique. “Offering canapés as a starter or dessert adds a fresh twist and provides a good talking point for guests. Think miniature steak and chips with a warm horseradish cream – lovely!”
Another huge trend this year will be reinventing classic dishes. “Pay homage to your childhood favourites, with a fresh twist,” says John. “Think pie and mash, mini sirloin hamburgers, bangers and mash, or fish and chips all made from local produce.” I particularly love the fish and chip option. If it’s not formal enough for the day time, it would definitely work for your evening guests, and it may work out cheaper than a buffet.
When it comes to desserts, the key is to think small! “Opt for dessert tables or platters with an array of miniatures,” adds John. “Smatterings of your favourites such as cupcakes, mini cheesecakes, dainty trifles, chocolate brownies or crumble will allow guests to tuck in. And with light portions they won’t be left feeling lethargic, meaning they can dance the night away!”
One particularly lovely trend I’ve spotted in our real weddings recently is the ‘bring a cake’ dessert table. Brides are asking friends and family to bring their favourite homemade desserts – cakes, flans, gateauxs and more. It’s a cost-effective way to add a personal touch, guaranteed to get everyone talking.
For a novel menu idea, why not serve an actual ‘wedding breakfast’ a la Carrie and Big in Sex and the City? “A beautifully served full English with locally sourced produce, fresh orange juice or fruit to start and pancakes or waffles for dessert,” suggests John.
“This is a great way for couples to give their guests a unique experience and works particularly well for weddings held earlier in the day. At Tapenade, we have also created a dessert that links to the ‘wedding breakfast’ idea – a real egg shell filled with crème brule and served with biscotti soldiers!”
Rachel’s top tips on saving £££ on the wedding breakfast
- Get your timings right – Schedule your ceremony away from meal times and you can get away with substantial canapés, cutting your food bill in half.
- Cake is enough for your dessert – Opt for a two-course meal and serve your cake as dessert instead. Or ask friends and family to bring homemade cakes and serve them in a less formal setting with tea and coffee.
- In season – Pick menu items that are in season and locally grown. It will taste better and, in most cases, cost less.
For more unique wedding food ideas that won’t blow the budget see tapenade.co.uk or check out our handy planning section.