General Wedding Planning, Wedding Advice

What is the best wedding meal? Buffet, plated or something special?

A wedding is a celebration, and celebrations need food. What you choose is entirely up to you; what kind of wedding it is, your budget, and what you enjoy eating.

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The irony of this decision is that often the bride and groom (particularly the bride) end up missing out on food altogether while they are constantly talking to people, getting photos taken, and having fun. Even dedicated food lovers often find themselves hungry at the end of the night- but generally, the venue or a kind friend notices this and will put food aside for the hungry pair.

Despite this, your choice of meal type is important because people love to eat. Choose a style that suits your wedding, whether it’s formal, casual or something in-between.

Buffet style wedding meal

Around half of weddings choose some form of buffet for their wedding meal. It’s great for less-formal affairs and means people can pick and choose what they like, take as much as they want, and then go back for seconds. There’s also a huge variety of types of food, whether you like a traditional roast with all the trimmings, Asian food, a spit roast, or a pile of BBQ meat with salads and breads.

These are also often a cost-effective option, generally the fewer dishes you choose, the cheaper the price per head. They are more casual, and for a backyard wedding, a buffet or BBQ is absolutely perfect. It doesn’t have to be flash- burgers and fries cooked on the back of a ute are perfect for the right wedding.

Restaurant-style plated wedding meals

You can either choose an à la carte style, where people can choose what they want from a limited menu, which they order when they RSVP to the wedding. Alternatively, you can opt for an alternate drop, where you have two meals and they are distributed equally, one by one. This usually works out OK, with people swapping when things get to the table to ensure they get the meal they want.

Some venues may offer ‘farmhouse-style’ meals, which is when platters of food are put on the table and people help themselves at the table. A great option that’s more casual than plated drops but less wandering around than a buffet. These are becoming more popular in New Zealand.

Canapés and hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail-style wedding

For a casual afternoon wedding, a full sit-down meal is not expected. If you make the timings clear on the invite, you can have a simpler affair by supplying only nibbles and canapes. These can either circulate with waiters, which adds to the staffing cost, or can be put on a buffet style tables and people can help themselves.

Wedding dessert options

As well as a buffet dessert or plated dessert along with the main, you can also use the wedding cake as dessert. Have the actual wedding cake and a sheet cake out the back already sliced, that way everyone gets a slice of delicious cake, but you’re not having to pay for a massive, three-tiered cake if you don’t want to.

Candy buffets are still a popular option and are beautiful when decorated in your wedding colours and style.

Unique wedding day food options

Celebrations are more than just a meal—there are opportunities for surprises and treats too.

Icecream trucks: On a hot summer’s day, after the ceremony, when guests are milling around and chatting, the joy of an icecream truck cannot be under-estimated. The kids will adore it, and the adults will secretly love it just as much. (And you know your wedding will become the most Instagrammable wedding ever).

Foodtrucks: Why stop at Mr Whippy when you could have an entire meal catered from a food truck? There are so many options these days, and the food can be seriously good.

Food stations: Another option becoming more common is a series of food stations. One might be making pasta, another Indian curries, another pizza.

Mulled wine: For a winter wedding, imagine being handed a steaming cup of spiced, warming mulled wine or non-alcoholic equivalent. Not only do they help to warm your guests up, but it tastes absolutely delicious.

Cheese cake: If the idea of a traditional wedding cake doesn’t inspire, what about a few rounds of camembert and blue cheese stacked on top of each other? It also handily converts to an entrée platter once ‘cut’, finished with dried fruit, crackers, fresh breads, honey and other accompaniments.

Pack a picnic for the bridal party: You’ve been busy all day, and haven’t really eaten (sounds unbelievable but it happens a lot). You and your bridal party will likely be thirsty and hungry. Arrange a picnic while you’re away getting photos taken- beer, champagne, cheese and crackers, fruit and anything else your heart desires. It’s nice to relax with your bridal party and enjoy something to eat before the reception craziness.

Themed food: Tacos and margaritas? Yes please! Churros with dulce de leche? Double yes. Pizza, pasta and Italian wines? Yes, yes, yes. If you’re a keen traveller or foodie, themed food is an option that gives you leeway to adventure.

How to manage food allergies and preferences

So how do you deal with the vegans, the gluten intolerant and those with special food needs? When you send out the invite, ask people to confirm if they have any special dietary requirements. Then, tell your caterer. If you’ve chosen a buffet, it’s standard for caterers to have a range of gluten, dairy, and meat free options. A plated meal will usually have a ‘silent’  specialised meal they can offer for those specific people. Caterers are highly skilled at accommodating needs of guests and can suggest ways to keep everyone happy.

Choose the wedding meal that you want

Choose the food that you love, because it’s about you, not old Aunt Mabel that thinks you should serve plated beef Wellington or your friend who thinks your wedding should be keto.

You do you. And it will be delicious, and perfect, and part of your epic love story.

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