How you feed your guests on your big day is entirely up to you. It’s one area where you don’t have to follow fashion or formality. You should do what suits your budget, the time of year and the atmosphere you want to create on your big day.
Traditional sit-down meal
First off, you could go the traditional route and have a formal three-course, sit-down dinner.
This is a very comfortable way to entertain your guests and make them feel special by being waited on by catering staff.
You can enjoy planning your seating plan and you’ll be able to choose from a variety of menus. People will comfortably chat for a couple of hours over dinner and they don’t have to queue up at a buffet to select their meal, which can disturb the flow of conversation.
However, a three-course dinner is expensive and whatever you choose for the menu, there will be some people who aren’t keen on what’s being offered. Also, you may find that if you offer a rich dessert, your wedding cake may end up being largely uneaten. Why not save pounds by offering your cake as dessert instead?
A buffet-style wedding breakfast
If you’re having a more informal party then why not offer your guests a buffet? A buffet has a number of advantages, it will work out as being cheaper than a sit-down dinner. You can offer a variety of dishes – meat, fish and vegetarian so you can be confident that you’re catering for all tastes and preferences. A buffet also makes it easier to cater for people with food allergies. And if you’re having a DIY wedding then a buffet is something that everybody can contribute to – even if you don’t want the main part of the buffet to be DIY, you could have a DIY dessert table, perhaps?
Bowl food taster menus
Another option for catering is to have bowl food, which is a bit like a cross between a buffet and offering substantial canapés. Waiting staff bring will bring round trays of small bowls containing dishes like Thai green curry, fish and chips, noodles, risottos and guests can help themselves to whatever they choose. It’s a chic option for a city-style wedding.
Hog roast dinner
Hog roasts show no sign of going out of favour and if you’re having a rural affair, then this is a truly delicious, rustic-looking option. Serve a buffet of salads and vegetables to accompany the main dish and finish off the meal with an ice cream van for dessert. Another option is to have a mobile fish and chip van for your guests – the perfect mid-evening snack!
If you really are on a tight budget, then you could consider forgoing the wedding breakfast altogether and offer up an afternoon tea instead. Ask baking friends to contribute homemade scones and cakes, and serve delicate finger sandwiches for them to enjoy. You can dress up your tables very prettily with tablecloths and hang bunting or pom poms overhead for a celebratory touch. Serve plenty of tea, coffee and soft drinks, plus plenty of fizz for the wedding toasts and the speeches. It’s a lovely way to feed your guests, especially if you’re planning a vintage-style wedding.
Working out your wedding food budget
To get planning your wedding breakfast budget like a pro, we asked Alison Tinlin from Plans and Presents to give us her top tips for organising great food for a great price…
- Budget about 25-30% of your wedding spend for catering
- Reducing your guest list will reduce catering costs
- Choose a venue that is self-catering or where you don’t have to use the in-house caterer
- If you have a small guest list hold your reception at a restaurant
- Consider marrying later in the day to cut down on the number of meals you have to serve
- Use sparkling wine instead of Champagne for the toasts
- Get married earlier in the day and have an afternoon tea reception
- Ask a caterer friend to help if the guest list isn’t too large and see if they will give their services as a wedding gift
- Remember, the more courses you offer, the bigger spend per guest!