What better way to celebrate your wedding than with a proper feast? Gathering together and marking special occasions by sharing drinks and special dishes – these are something that holds an important place in every culture and country. For a wedding, this has extra special importance, as two families come together to celebrate their new relationship and community.
When organising a wedding dinner it’s best to think outside the stereotypical beef or fish entree followed by fruit cake or a towering (and possibly frightening) confection. Wouldn’t it be better to enjoy something moreish? The search for this amazing wedding feast will start with your chosen wedding venue. Perhaps you are looking forward to working with a chef and exclusive caterer or perhaps you want to avoid the headache of dealing with one more vendor when you organise your big day? Both are easily achievable – great caterers are never too far away and there are many locations out there waiting and willing to offer the delicious feast of your dreams all prepared on-site.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you get your feast off to a good start – just remember – too many cooks spoil the broth! And, at the end of the day, the only ones who truly need to be pleased are you and your significant other.
Pick a venue that matches your menu
A wedding venue is a significant investment and is one of the first decisions that you will need to take. It could also be one of the largest budgetary items on your spreadsheet. When looking at different venues, consider what type of meal you want to serve. Will it be a buffet or a sit-down dinner? Or perhaps you would prefer a reception with finger food? Or BBQ?
Well, each of these ideas sounds delicious, but also, each of these meals requires you to make a choice. If you will be in a garden venue, then you might want to offer finger food and allow people to circulate. A three-course sit-down will require substantially more investment in fit-out – plus tents if you are holding it during a season of problematic weather. If you choose a historic venue, which may go so far as to offer full seating as part of their wedding package, you may run into trouble if you hope to pair your beef entree with a hearty red wine. You may find yourself disappointed if there are rules that forbid dark-coloured beverages in place in order to protect the historic flooring. There are also organisational issues to consider. If you have chosen a trendy restaurant or pub with a dance floor and you want a buffet meal, it is important to make sure that the dance area does not interfere with the flow of people moving about the venue with their plates.
The solution to all of these questions, of course, is to speak in-depth with all of the venue managers you meet with. Prepare a list of questions to discuss ahead of time and take notes so that you can make your decision later knowing that you have been fully informed of all the details. There are many of these types of checklists available online and are well worth printing out. Also, ask the venue manager’s opinion about what has worked in the past for other celebrations, this kind of expert knowledge can’t be beaten as they certainly know their location better than anyone. You might also check venue reviews as they can also be informative.
Meet with the chef
Once you’ve decided on your venue and are clear on which sort of meal service you want, you will need to meet with the chef – whether at a catering company or the venue itself. If you have chosen a wedding package, you will likely have a choice of already prepared menus to choose from, just be aware of any potential pitfalls for allergy sufferers.
When meeting with an executive chef just remember that they will not necessarily be the person actually cooking on the day – think of them as a sort of management consultant. However, they will know who will be in charge of the kitchen on our big day, and if you are more comfortable with the idea of being introduced to them as well, feel free to meet with them.
It is important to remember that the logistics of feeding a crowd of 150 people all sitting at the table at the same time is a far cry from those involved in a home-cooked celebratory dinner or a meal at a restaurant. Whatever your vision or ideas, you also need to take the chef’s expert advice on what can be served on time and to amazing effect. There is plenty of room for creativity and individual flair in a wedding feast, but that comes after a hearty dollop of reality.
Make sure it’s ready
A few months before your wedding – generally three months – you should have another meeting with the food vendor. The purpose of this meeting is to have a tasting of the range of dishes that you can choose from. This meeting should include your wedding A-Team – you and your partner, the executive chef and any other coordinators involved with the wedding.
Make sure that you are offered a few choices for each course. And don’t worry about asking questions – check if they have photos of dishes prepared for other events or if they have any advice based on previous experience. You are the decision-makers, but it never hurts to see what makes others enthusiastic. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a follow-up tasting if you remain unsure, there is a reason why this has been scheduled for three months in advance. Don’t forget to check in about the wine pairing as well.
Remember that your tastes need to factor into the whole experience as well. If you have opinions on the garnish or presentation you should share them and discuss if they are feasible. If there are amendments to the dishes that you feel strongly about, this is the time for you to say. And once you have finished up, feel no hesitation about following up with emails that summarise and set out your decisions. And keep checking in, politely, as the event approaches. Keeping abreast of developments leading up to the day will save you enormous headaches later.
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