When it comes to weddings, food and drink is often anticipated, sometimes mediocre, and almost always one of the priciest parts of your day.
However you plan to dine and whatever you love to eat, this A-Z of wedding food and drink ideas has all the tips, inspiration and helpful info you need to cook up a mouth-watering wedding breakfast that will be remembered.
A – alcohol
Let’s dive straight in. For most weddings, alcohol is a contentious topic. Should you give your guests a free bar, or should the booze only be on you for the wedding breakfast? This one’s an entirely personal decision and depends on your budget priorities.
B – bake off
Keep it to the bridal party or announce it on your invitations – whatever way you organise it, having a wedding bake off is a great way to fill your dessert table for free, taking the place of the third course or providing food for the evening party. Crown the winning baker of the best cake during the speeches for extra fun!
C – cake
There are cheese towers, naked cakes, iced masterpieces, croquembouche and even stacked pies to choose from – the trouble won’t be finding your cake, it’ll be sticking to just one! Savoury cheese towers are great options for doubling up in your evening buffet.
D – do it yourself
Cook up a cold buffet in advance, put together a sweets table, make your own sausage rolls for the evening – the DIY food options are endless. Just make sure you choose dishes you can prepare in advance to avoid any wedding day stress.
E – eating
You might have some wedding food and drink ideas, but have you decided how you’ll actually eat them? Will you picnic al fresco, enjoy a barbecue banquet, or sit down to a formal dinner?
F – fizz
You need something fizzy for the speeches and, while Champagne is traditional, prosecco and sparkling wine can be equally enjoyable and gentler on your budget.
G – good fun
One of the best ways to make your wedding breakfast memorable is to make it fun. Include surprise desserts, have your guests don aprons and carve meat at their tables, or embrace entertaining waiters – whatever appeals best to you!
H – hire
Some of our favourite wedding food and drink ideas are ones typically hired in. Think popcorn carts, candy floss makers, ice cream bicycles, fish and chip vans… we’re getting hungry just thinking about it!
I – Instagram-worthy
Your food and drink will be a party for your palate, but are they a party for your eyes and photographer, too? Make sure your food is served beautifully – whether you use pretty dishes, serve beer bottles in rustic buckets or have a cake table centrepiece.
J – jugs
Of water, of Pimm’s, of cocktails… you get the picture.
K – kitchen
If you’re bringing in your own caterers to create your wedding food and drink ideas, make sure you double check what you need to arrange yourself in terms of kitchen space and equipment and what they and your venue can provide. If you’re having a marquee wedding, this might mean booking an extra tent for them to work in.
L – lunch or dinner
The time you sit down to your wedding breakfast will depend upon the time of your ceremony. If your meal will be early afternoon, make sure you have a plan for evening catering too so no one goes hungry.
M – menu
Whether your venue is going to be cooking up a storm or you’re bringing in your caterers of choice, be sure to sample the dishes beforehand to pick only the best. Some plates look great on paper but aren’t quite the favour you imagined, so always try first, and don’t forget to check out these alternative wedding food choices.
N – numbers
Your venue or caterers will need to know numbers, so ensure you get your RSVPs and menu choices (if relevant) back in plenty of time to let them know, then proudly display the food choices you made using one of these wedding menu designs!
O – origin
If it’s important for you to know where your food came from, for it to be fresh and local, make sure that your suppliers know this. Your venue might well have their own kitchen garden to take full advantage of, too.
P – three little pigs
Pork pie canapés, a hog roast in the day, sausage sandwiches in the evening – there are so many ways that pork works wonderfully on your wedding day!
Q – quaffable
We all know that good wines are highly quaffable, but how about the soft drinks? Don’t limit guests who don’t drink or who are designated drivers to a mundane choice of water or coke. Introduce decanters or Kilner jars of traditional lemonade, luxury cordials or non-alcoholic cocktails for the perfect alternative tipple.
R – raise a toast
The speeches are almost definitely on your wedding day list, but have you thought about where they’ll come in the running order? Decide whether you’d like to raise a toast before, during or after the wedding breakfast so that waiters are on hand to top up glasses and that they’re not busy bringing food out.
S – starters
Stay traditional or swap your starter for sociable canapés. These bite-sized treats will keep your guests occupied while you’re off having your photos taken.
T – tea time
The tradition of having tea and coffee after a meal is a lovely one, so don’t forget it. If you don’t want to keep guests in their seats for too long, make it more informal by having a self-service tea and coffee bar for the best of both worlds.
U – umbrellas
You might be wondering why we’re talking about brollies on an A-Z of wedding food and drink ideas, but we do have a reason! If you’re eating al fresco, you’ll want umbrellas to cover the tables and food serving areas to protect them. They’re also great for giving your guests some shade at summer weddings, or as a back up if it rains.
V – vegetarian friendly
Will you have vegetarian options available and have you tried them yourselves? Make sure guests RSVP with any dietary requirements so your caterers know what they’re catering for.
W – will it wilt?
This applies to all manner of wedding food and drink ideas, but especially to your cakes or buffet-style dishes. If salads are to be left out for a long period of time, make sure they’re stored or served properly so that they won’t wilt. Likewise, if it’s a hot day or warm inside your venue and you’re planning on displaying a buttercream cake all evening, you’ll need to make sure it stays cool so that the icing won’t melt.
X – kisses
Whether it’s polite kisses on the cheek or a romantic moment with your new husband or wife, there’s going to be lots of kissing going on, so consider whether you want any strong garlic or bold flavours in your dishes that might linger longer than desired afterwards.
Y – yummy
Whatever you serve, as long as you tick this box you’re onto a winner! While you want to keep your guests as happy as possible, ultimately this is your day, so choose the food that you find yummiest and that hopefully your guests will do too. If you’re still a little stuck, these three ways to choose your wedding menu will have you sorted in no time.
Z – zzz
It’s worth thinking a little about how you’ll time your food with other parts of the reception, like the dancing! If you’re all stuffed and have enjoyed a few glasses of wine, some guests might feel more inclined to nod off than to dance the night away. A solution one of our real couple’s came up with was a petit fours dessert bar, so some guests could head straight for the dance floor while others could fill up on pudding if they liked!