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I recently ran a poll on my Instagram asking what you as guests consider to have the biggest impact, be it positive or negative, on your overall experience. Hands down, food and drink came out top.
Dining out in delicious restaurants is part of this generations everyday lives (or at least it is in normal times!) What was once a little luxury is now the norm, and eating out is as much about the experience as it is the taste and quality of the dish itself.
This is something I believe we have carried through to weddings. We now expect more. Gone are the days that we just accept we’re going to get a dry bit of chicken as the wedding main. The food and beverage is now considered a significant part of the day, and as guests, it is apparently the bit we care about the most.
With this in mind, I’ve pulled together some F&B related top tips for you to consider when planning your wedding….
Photo Credit: Tell Your Story
1) Always do a menu tasting
Photo: Brandy Jackson
Whether you have a choice over your caterer or not will depend on your venue. Some allow you to use external catering options, others require you to use their in house dining option. Either way, both will offer a menu tasting, and this is something I strongly recommend that you do.
Firstly, it’s a really enjoyable part of the process. I am a massive foodie, so I was SO excited about our menu tasting. We managed to squeeze it in earlier this year on a trip to Spain, just before everything with Covid-19 really escalated. We had both our parents and my sister with us, and it was a really lovely part of the planning process, I’m so pleased we got to experience it together.
Secondly, this is your opportunity to check out the standard of the food you’ll be serving your guests. Most menu options will include their ‘standard’ options, and then offer upgrades on certain dishes, or wines etc.
These upgrades will carry a supplement, but with food & drink now ranked so highly on the overall guest experience it would be worth allocating your budget to really elevate your meal.
2) Consider dietary requirements & allergies
In almost every wedding party I see multiple guests who are gluten free/vegetarian/pescatarian/vegan amongst others. Gone are the days where a veggie burger was the only alternative option.
With dietary requirements a lot more prevalent now it’s important to consider the dishes for these guests as much as your would the main menu. No one wants to feel they’ve been served a substandard meal.
It’s important to remember for the canapes too, not just the wedding dinner. Make sure there is enough choice for those with dietary requirements/allergies, and that the catering team are aware of who these guests are so they can take them specific plates if needed.
Photo credit: Tell Your Story
3) Get your quantities right
Photo: Brandy Jackson
We have all been to that wedding where there just wasn’t enough food. What feels like hours before anything is served, a dismal number of canapes, empty wine bottles on the table after the first course.
Hungry guests are not happy guests. Am I right?
Couples sometimes feel food and drink is an area to cut back on if budget is becoming tight, but I really wouldn’t recommend this. Think about yourself as a guest as a wedding, how much would you want to eat and when? Use this as a guideline and scale up. Typically, the first opportunity to serve food is immediately after the ceremony at the cocktail hour; some substantial, and free flowing canapes at this time go down a treat!
Also, make sure there is always access to water. Not just during dinner, but throughout the day. This is particularly important if you’re wedding is taking place abroad and it’s expected to be hot.
4) Communication is key
This is probably my number one rule when it comes to keeping guests happy. It applies to aspects of planning, but especially food.
The worst thing is turning up to a wedding, you haven’t had lunch because you’ve been getting ready for the ceremony and think food will be served fairly soon after you arrive….and then it’s not.
If guests know what to expect they can plan accordingly; they’ll eat before they arrive if needed, and won’t wish away your wedding longing for the call to dinner.
The same goes for your bar. If it’s not within your budget to offer an open bar that’s totally fine but make sure your guests are aware of this in advance – and that they know whether to bring cash or card.
It’s simply about managing expectations.
5) Personalise where possible
There are so many innovative food and drink options now it would be lovely to incorporate some little quirks into your day if you can.
Whether it’s simply a ‘his and hers’ cocktail (based on your favourite tipples of course!) or an interactive ‘pimp your gin’ station little touches can go a long way.
If your wedding is abroad then I would really recommend trusting the local cuisine. Build your menu around locally sourced ingredients and dishes; even if they’re simple and stripped back, doing as the locals do will nearly always mean you get a better meal.
Photo: Brandy Jackson
Incorporate the countries traditions if you can, for example in Italy the wedding cake is often made in front of guests. This is a spectacle that always goes down well with guests as it’s not the norm; something different generates interest.
Also, don’t feel you have to eat/drink anything that just isn’t you. If there is that food item that you love but it’s not a typical wedding dish, then so what?! If it’s your favourite, make it a part of your day – authentic touches shine through.
Photo: Cecelina Photography
6) Evening food
Whether evening food is required or not will entirely depend on the timing of your day. For destination weddings, dinner quite often goes on until 9/10pm and an additional evening snack isn’t as necessary.
However, if you finished your meal at 5pm then several drinks later when guests have worked up an appetite on the dancefloor they’re going to get peckish again.
This is an area you can really get creative – you don’t have to stick to the typical bacon bap!
Nachos with a choice of toppings? Cheesy chips to replicate the end of many girls nights out? A jacket potato bar?
There are so many options, so have fun with it!
7) Pre and post wedding events
Great food and drink doesn’t just stop at the wedding day. If you’re having a destination wedding and plan to host pre and/or post wedding events then think about these too.
This is the ideal time to embrace the typical dishes of your chosen country – Pizza evenings, wine tastings, sharing paellas, tapas, pasta parties, leisurely lunches. When in Rome and all that!
Photo: Cecelina Photography