Monday, 25 July 2011

How to cater an afternoon tea wedding (part 1)

If you are reading this blog you may well be thinking about the possibility of self catering your own wedding. So get ready. Get ready for the look of horror as you tell people you are cooking
your wedding feast. Your friends, family and even your vicar will probably tell you you are bonkers...and you probably are. But self catering your wedding means you have completely free reign over what you and your guests eat, it means you can invite as many people as you like and you can save a lot of money.

Over the next few posts I will take you through how we planned, budgeted and designed our wedding menu and hopefully give you a few tips on what to do and definitely what not to do.

I might as well start with the engagement. After the proposal, after all the smiling and kissing and texting and celebrating, we went out for a meal. After the standard argument about why I order the hottest pizza and then ask for it with no chillis we made a list of priorities for our wedding. It looked a bit like this...

1. Lots of friends and family

2. Great, no fuss, simple food

3. Lots of amazing drink

4. A very tight budget (£5000- this changed but I will come to that later)

5. A fun and informal day

We talked about food. The other half was keen on pasties. We both wanted easy food that everyone would enjoy and wasn't too formal. We quite quickly agreed on canapes, with an afternoon tea and a hog roast in the evening.

We wrote up our guest list. It started at 220. It was finalised at 155 (now do you understand the self catering?). So the first job was to decide on how much we had to spend. We allocated about £1000 of the budget on food which is about £6.60 each. If you've started getting quotes from caterers you'll realise this is a fantastic price and you are probably thinking 'scrap the caterers I'm doing it myself.'

So stop. Stop and consider whether you want to spend the day of your wedding making canapes with one hand and applying mascara with the other? Do you want to spend 4 days after your wedding washing up? Do you want to be buying mustard six months before your wedding because it is on special offer? Have you got an amazing team of family and friends who will get up at 630am in the morning to help? Caterers are worth every penny. I've helped out a caterer at weddings and she can do what I could never achieve. But we didn't have that choice. If we wanted our friends to be with us, this was our only option.

Part 2 is all about the canapes. Why I chose them and how they were made.

All photos are by the fairly wonderful David McNeil

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