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Weddings: The Food of Love

From a vegan feast to sausage, mash and gravy, what will you serve at your wedding? Sara Whatley explores the world of wedding catering

What is the best way to keep wedding guests happy? Make sure their tummies are full of course! Will the newlyweds choose a four-course feast or a kebab van in a field? When it comes to wedding catering, anything goes.

There is nothing worse than being hungry at a wedding, especially as you are not in control of when you eat and often the day is on a different schedule to normal. So, make sure there are plenty of pit stops that will keep both guests and the happy couple raring to go all day long, and hopefully deep into the night as well.

When it comes to what the wedding menu should be, that is entirely up to the bride and groom. There are so many options to choose from; literally thousands of cuisines, styles and serving options the couple could opt for.

A good place to start is for couples to think about what food they actually enjoy. Are you a laid-back pair – happiest with a pizza on the sofa, or do you like fine dining and exotic cuisine? Or perhaps a more traditional style of eating tickles your taste buds, a classic Sunday roast for example.

Pinpointing this may help to steer the direction of the wedding menu. It is also important to consider the rest of the wedding party and to take any allergies seriously. For example, you would have to be sure that everyone is okay with spice if you are planning to serve a fiery Sri Lankan curry for your wedding breakfast and also perhaps plan an alternative non-spicy dish for those that can’t cope with the heat.

The wedding venue will have an influence on the catering as well. If it is a classic wedding hotel or venue, they often provide catering as part of the package, in which case you might be able to tweak the menus to fit your fancy. This may be a sumptuous three or four-course meal, with accompanying wines. Not forgetting the canapés on arrival and the buffet style evening meal as well.

Or it may be a more DIY wedding, with the couple bringing the catering in themselves. Now the whole world is your oyster! A popular choice for this type of affair is a hog or venison roast. Not only does it fill the air with delicious smells of roasting meat, but it generously feeds a good crowd at a relatively low cost.

Local produce and sustainability might be high on the couple’s list of priorities, so finding a caterer that can take that into account is a must. There are so many local producers in Sussex, from meat, fish and vegetables, to wines, beers and spirits too. Why not invent your very own wedding cocktail using only local ingredients?

There are a few ways to keep the budget down when it comes to catering, and one of them is to think of the serving options. Opting for buffet or picnic style catering where guests serve themselves is a lot more cost effective than having a sit down meal with waiting staff. Happily this might be your ideal wedding breakfast option anyway; it’s a very social way for guests to dine, and it gives them a large element of choice as well.
Later in the evening it’s a nice idea to have some more food available.

A popular and fun option for this is to have a catering van come in. Wood fired pizzas; fish and chips; or hot dogs and burgers in buns. Catering vans also make a great option for a festival themed wedding: think a field decorated with bunting and straw bale seating areas, perhaps a stage for bands and performers, and various food stalls and  vans dotted around the edges. Good fun and yummy too!

Not all weddings are large affairs. If it is a more intimate  wedding then perhaps a cheese and wine party, champagne and oysters, or even a fancy afternoon tea. Don’t feel pressured to serve a big meal to everyone; sometimes small and luxurious is even better. Dare to think outside the box when it comes to wedding catering.

Love sushi? Serve that instead of canapés. Evoke a favourite Spanish holiday by bringing your friends and family together over a huge shared paella. Or relive your childhood and have an ice cream van arrive when it’s time for dessert, signalling its arrival with nostalgic chime bells. What a hoot to all pile out and line up for a classic 99 with a flake... and maybe go back for a second one!

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