Nowadays you can pretty much please yourself when it comes to choosing how you cater for your wedding guests. Formal sit down, buffet, stand up bowl food, barbecue…it’s your choice!

The only rule is that you should never leave your guests feeling hungry or in need of refreshment. Guests who are starving and thirsty aren’t going to be having a good time!

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you still have lots of catering options. Marry later in the day so you only have to feed your guests once, or have an earlier ceremony and and serve a slap up afternoon tea!

Food styles are changing all the time and so we asked some experts what’s in store for 2014.

Nostalgic nibbles

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“Weddings are about cherishing happy memories and creating new ones, so why not recreate the food you enjoyed as children and reinvent classic dishes like bangers and mash or fish and chips?” suggests John Hearn, executive chef of food design and event management company Tapenade. “Using local produce where possible will personalise your menu that little bit more – and may be gentler on your budget too!” If you really want to add a personal touch, why not try His and Hers courses, with favourite recipes from each side of the family?

Mini sized pies are sure to remain popular. “Treat your guests to an array of British favourites such as steak and kidney, chicken and mushroom or beef and onion,” says John. “Platters served to each table, or buffet style, with a selection of side dishes such as tasty mash and seasonal vegetables will make for a sociable event. This trend can carry through to dessert with apple pie and custard or apple and rhubarb pie with a crumble topping.”

Best of British

According to John, canapés are still a popular option, either for informal dining or served before the main event. For 2014, traditional British fare in miniature form looks to be wildly popular – why not try small newspaper cones of fish and chips, mini steak and chips with a warm horseradish cream dip, or miniature ice cream cones?

Continuing the classic English theme, nostalgic tea parties will offer a more relaxed atmosphere and allow guests to mingle. “It’s easy to add a gourmet twist to a traditional tea,” says John. “Try finger sandwiches or fresh strawberry meringues. You could also offer a choice of flavoured sweet and savoury scones, such as wild watercress and dill scones served with oak smoked salmon and cream cheese, or fresh raspberry scones.”

If you’re looking for a more formal dining experience, John suggests a selection of upmarket edible delights. “With the increasing awareness and popularity of celebrity chefs and fine dining, some couples will want to recreate the ‘Michelin star’ experience with tasting menus, offering several smaller courses and a real gastronomic experience, for a truly memorable wedding breakfast.”

Brunch for brides

One hot new food trend for 2014 is the true wedding breakfast, with couples having their ceremonies first thing. “Due to the fact that morning weddings are generally cheaper than afternoon and evening affairs, we are seeing the rise of brunch as a catering option,” says the UK Academy of Wedding & Event Planners. “Think omelette stations, mimosas, pancakes, and Bloody Marys.”

If you have your heart set on food vans, good news – this playful catering option is still going to be popular in the upcoming years, according to the Academy. “Fun food elements are still fashionable and will continue to be so in 2014. Ice cream vans and food trucks are leading the way here and although this isn’t new, it is still hot!”

Another new and emerging trend is food ‘themes’ – that is, taking one food element and featuring this throughout. “As an example, try a food station featuring bacon, which is a hot food right now,” suggests the Academy. “You’d serve different dishes of food where bacon is the star, such as bacon doughnuts, mini bacon burgers, and bacon salt.”

Luckily for all you cocktail lovers out there, imaginative drinks aren’t going out of style any time soon. “Couture cocktails are here to stay but they’re going high end, with silver or gold sugar rimmed glasses and unique cocktail bars,” says the Academy.

Cookies take the biscuit

Handmade cookies will go from strength to strength in 2014 – whether you offer them as wedding favours or as dainty snacks for guests to nibble at teatime. You could make your own but we love these from The Cake Artist. Top tip – you could always double up the cookies as place names and favours if you personalise them (named cookies start at £2.50).


Delicious centrepieces

Another way of making your catering do double duty is to use cupcakes as table centres instead of flowers – we think this Beau Cake from the Cake Artist is stunning and will certainly get the conversation started between guests. Alternatively you could put a floral display of cupcakes like this on a dessert table.


The great wedding bake-off

The traditional white tiered wedding cake may have morphed over recent years into a tower of cupcakes or even tiers of different cheeses, but wedding cakes of some description show no sign of going out of fashion.

“When I start work on a new collection I always begin by taking a look into the key trends coming through in the wedding world, not just in wedding cakes but also in bridal fashion,” says cake artist Shelly Shulman, who creates some amazing confections through her business Cakes By Shelly. “A bride’s wedding dress often dictates the style and theme of the wedding, and so can have a substantial impact on the design of the cake.

“Just as brides are seeking an abundance of textures with their dress design, they are also seeking similar detailing for cakes, a look that is particularly stunning on an all-white cake. Ruffles, quilting and even delicate frills are all standout effects.”

The trend for dress-inspired wedding cakes doesn’t have to be limited to texture – Shelly suggests that Vera Wang’s 2014 black and white palette is a perfect choice for an elegant monochrome cake. “Such a minimalistic colour palette looks especially fabulous when combined with the 20s-inspired Great Gatsby trend that has been extremely popular this year,” she adds.

For vintage-loving brides, softly-coloured cakes are still set to be popular in the coming years. “The incredible Sarah Burton design, worn by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, inspired a renewed love for all things lace, and this is a trend that remains strong for coming seasons,” says Shelly. “I expect to see vintage-themed wedding cakes for a while yet! Lace work, sugar flowers and soft pastel hues work amazingly well and if you are not a fan of icing then the current trend of naked cakes is just up your street.”

For every bride seeking a neutral or monochrome colour scheme for their wedding cake, you will find another who craves colour for their big day. “Colour is a strong trend for 2014, with pinks and purples continuing to dominate the wedding industry,” says Shelly. “The great thing about colour is it can be used in very different ways. For a more traditional look, you can keep your subtle white or ivory icing, which beautifully disguises a stunning coloured ombre cake inside – a sure-fire conversation starter following the all-important cutting of the cake!”

Another beautiful way into integrate colour and design into your wedding cake is to consider a hand-painted cake – according to Shelly, these intricate creations are becoming more and more popular. “Hand-painted flowers look stunning and florals once again continue to be a popular trend as we move into 2014,” she says. “Even the simplest of wedding cakes can become breathtaking when painted to match those in your bridal bouquet.”

Plenty to be thinking about here as you plan your wedding breakfast for a 2014 wedding. We’ve a whole section on catering on the Wedding Ideas Forum so why don’t you join in the discussion with other brides or ask a question yourself if there’s something you need to know?