Catering for every taste and age group can be one of the biggest challenges facing a bride-to-be. But trends are moving away from traditional sit-down wedding breakfasts, to more informal, budget-friendly and creative ways of satisfying hungry guests. All hail the wedding buffet stations!

Taster stations

Director of Guides for Brides wedding directory, Alison Hargreaves, recognises that offering an array of ‘taster’ stations can prove to be an imaginative and artistic way to feed hungry mouths. It’s a clever way to incorporate different tastes, customs and cultures into your menu.

“When planning a wedding, where the food is a little less conventional, it’s worth checking with your venue first to see what they are able to do,” says Alison. “Some venues may have restrictions or extra charges for bringing in catering options that they may not offer.”

Informal catering

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Some wedding venues are only too happy to provide a blank canvas for a gastronomic bride and groom. Mark and Louise Bradley, owners of Dodmoor House near Weedon in Northamptonshire, host around 120 weddings a year and have seen the trends in catering evolve over the six years since its opening.

“We often find that those couples who are stretching to afford the venue, need to make savings elsewhere,” says Mark. “We always use caterers who are flexible and inventive with their food, so that couples feel they are getting something a little different and personal to their tastes and financial situation.”

“Budget isn’t always the reason behind the more informal style of catering like BBQs and buffets,” he adds. “Lots of couples are looking for something alternative and more and more are shying away from the set traditional three-course meal. At recent weddings, we’ve seen make-your-own burger bars, pick ‘n’ mix sweet shops, crepe machines and ice-cream vans.”

If you’re looking for unique ways to feed your wedding guests, here are six ideas to wet your appetite…

6 unique ways to feed your guests

Cocktail hour

Food in cocktail/shot glasses, late night snacks and dessert tables for wedding receptions heavily focused on dancing and good times.

Bowled over

Bowl food or walking buffets fill the gap between canapés and a full-on wedding feast. Usually served by waiters, it’s slightly more substantial than a mouthful but has the added bonus of giving your guests lots of choice.

Picture perfect

Planning a cinema themed big day? Serve your guests mini hotdogs, flavoured popcorns and nachos! A tasty treat, especially if you’re theming food around your favourite movie or providing entertainment for guests during the evening.

Fairground attraction

For outdoor celebrations, create your own festival or carnival atmosphere with coconut shy, hoopla and traditional food trucks serving burgers, hotdogs, baked spuds, doughnuts and even candyfloss.

It’s a classic

Celebrate true British food with your own take on a classic pub, complete with personalised home brew. Serve your guests fish ‘n’ chips, seafood or even pie and mash. How about a sausage station complete with locally sourced mustards, relish and sauces?

Extra time

If budget and imagination allow it, those added extras can create a real wow factor to your wedding feast – bespoke drinks stations like coffee bars, cocktail masterclasses, or wine and beer tasting for the adults. Sweet tables, edible favours like homemade chutneys and pickles, bottles of home brew and ice-cream stands always go down well.