When planning a wedding, there is no idea too big or small to ensure the best time will be had by all. From pre-wedding parties to recovery brunches, here’s how to use food and flowers to make the big day as spectacular as possible.

A reception at The Lanesborough

Words by Tallulah Rushaya. This article appeared in The London Magazine’s May edition.

When planning a wedding, there is no idea too big or small to ensure the best time will be had by all. And importantly, it’s a chance for you to show who you are as a couple.

The year 2022 is the first since the pandemic of international travel returning to normal and unlimited wedding guests, meaning there is even more reason to celebrate with loved ones.

From Food to Flowers: Setting the Scene for Your Reception

Wedding flowers by Larry Walshe

“We are seeing more couples opt for a full weekend of celebrations in the UK especially if their guests are coming in from abroad. Exclusive use venues are hugely popular ensuring couples can host their friends and family with multiple events.

“Rehearsal and welcome dinners are hugely popular as is the ‘recovery brunch’”, comments Chenai Bukutu, award-winning wedding and event planner and founder of ByChenai (bychenai.com).

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Organising activities not on the wedding day itself provides ample time to spend with those you have missed seeing. “We try to make each event stand out from the wedding day itself incorporating music to keep the energy high or activities like clay pigeon shooting which is a hit with international guests,” says Bukutu.

Wedding Reception: Choosing Your Flowers

Larry Walshe Flowers. Credit: @andyourstory

Floral arrangements heighten the atmosphere both visually and through scent. “The wedding arch is still one of the most requested decor elements – wild and tumbling outside the church door or creating a dramatic entrance into a reception space,” details Bukutu.

“Our clients care greatly about the guest experience, so personalisation and bespoke details are key. This influences everything from welcome gifting to tablescapes and bespoke stationary – we have had invitations created with illustrations of the family home or pets, we have designed place mats that also serve as a place name and menu.”

Weston Hall. Credit: Grace Nicole Photography

From the bouquet to centrepieces, flowers can unify your theme. “In 2022 we are observing more couples opting for a beautifully English ‘luxe country’ look, filled with texture, depth, and movement over compact designs of one or two flower types.

“We saw this style really peak for the wedding of Harry and Meghan in 2018 and ever since, it has been gaining in popularity. So much so that we are travelling across three continents this year, creating a quintessentially English look,” says celebrity florist Larry Walshe (larrywalshe.com).

“Usually between 8-12 different flower types are combined with luscious seasonal foliage to offer an effect with timeless elegance.”

Wedding Reception: Choosing Your Food

Floral cake design at Rosewood London

With culinary selections, be imaginative. “After the uncertainty of the last few years, couples are feeling confident about holding lavish celebrations that make the most of the day. Many are selecting multi-sensory culinary experiences that anchor guests in the moment,” finds Clementine Lowrey, sales director of Blue Strawberry (bluestrawberry-tabletalk.co.uk).

“Mindful wedding breakfasts that are highly personal and created specifically for the couple concerned. Clients are increasingly opting for vegan starters and desserts.”

Aubergine and lamb with miso by Blue Strawberry

Couples are making more eco-friendly choices with a “keen focus on sustainability – in terms of ethical food sourcing and styling choices – such as eco-friendly floristry and wedding favour alternatives,” says Lowrey.

Regarding food and drink trends she cites, “spicing things up – we have exciting flavour influences coming from Japan, eastern Asia, and the Levant is also proving a popular choice.

“And we’re also seeing couples opt to shake up welcome drinks with botanical cocktail stations, featuring an array of fine British spirits, alcohol-free alternatives, mixers, and locally sourced garnishes.”

A traditional feast at The Cadogan Hotel

No wedding is complete without Champagne. “First and foremost, you should pick something that you love to drink, it is after all your day,” says Barbara Drew, Master of Wine at Berry Bros & Rudd, the 17th century institution (bbr.com).

“A sparkling wine such as the 2013 Berry Bros & Rudd Champagne by Mailly, Grand Cru (from £39) will wake up the palate before your wedding breakfast. This Champagne has a lovely balance of fresh, citrusy acidity, combined with a beautiful toasty flavour from six years’ ageing in Mailly’s cellars.

“Just as important are wine pairings with your chosen menu. Even the finest of cuisine can affect the taste of a wine and vice versa. Choosing white wines with plenty of acidity, to help cut through any rich or strongly flavoured food, will certainly help to ensure the matches work well,” advises Drew.

“Something like a Riesling or a Picpoul de Pinet will be incredibly versatile for lighter dishes.” With red, Drew recommends to, “try and choose grapes that aren’t too tannic. A Pinot Noir or fruity red from the Southern Rhone is likely to have broad appeal for all your guests.”

This article appeared in The London Magazine’s May edition.

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