In our series of suppliers’ blogs, we’ll be sharing the very best ideas, advice and inspiration from different wedding industry experts. This week we’ve been speaking to some of the UK’s top wedding catering suppliers. Read on for their thoughts on the results of our latest wedding survey, as well as how to choose wedding food to suit your style and all the latest wedding catering trends…

Julia Brightman at Afternoon Teas by Crème Brew Lait

Afternoon Teas by Crème Brew Lait - wedding catering

 

“I started my business two years ago to fulfil a lifelong ambition of catering for special occasions,” says Julie. “This was after a period of cancer treatment, which made me realise that life is too short to not chase your dreams. Afternoon Teas by Crème Brew Lait is all about producing good quality food using locally sourced ingredients. Presentation of the food and venue is key. We always set up and add extra touches, such as beautiful table linen, pretty vintage china and fresh flowers on the table. This is combined with a friendly but professional hostessing service. We take care of all the details to ensure that everything is truly perfect.”

What to eat when

Our bookings normally follow quite quickly after the engagement. We find that most couples don’t want to be engaged for too long and will start looking at venues and dates. Afternoon tea is now very popular, as not everyone can afford a hot sit-down meal. It's definitely a more cost-effective option. Our brides this year have combined their afternoon tea with other evening food, such as paella, fish and chips, hog roast or pizza. 4 pm is generally the most popular serving time.”

Pushing the boat out

“One of my most extravagant weddings was for a bride who didn’t want to be too conventional. She wanted to incorporate some different food cultures, as well as serving traditional afternoon tea. So we served a savoury afternoon tea, with pork pies, cheeses, pickles and chutneys. We also prepared dishes of fruit, platters of sushi and finished with a tasty trifle.”

Budget-savvy yet memorable

“The most budget-friendly wedding I’ve catered for was for a more mature couple. The bride was turning 60 and she decided to surprise her children and get married on her birthday. They didn’t suspect a thing! While they went off to the registry office I set up a special afternoon tea for their return. The wedding tea party was for six, including the bride’s four-year-old grandson, so we had teddy bear-shaped sandwiches and other themed food specially for him. It was such an intimate gathering but one of the most beautiful and special weddings I’ve catered for. It will always hold special memories for me.”

My top tips…

“Don’t spend more than you can afford on wedding catering. There are lots of cost-effective options that will please your guests. You are the most important person on your wedding day too, so it should be about your likes and dislikes. Don’t waste time trying to make everyone happy, just keep calm and give me a call. We will always come up with a solution!”

 

James Bumpass at TFG Catering

TFG Catering - wedding catering

“I’m the chef behind That Fish Guy,” says James. “I’ve been a chef for over 20 years and I live in South Wales with my partner and our son, Fred. We launched our business That Fish Guy four years ago with one van and a bit of interest in the street food scene. Now we’ve recently acquired premises to grow our full catering brand and have four beach-themed vans. They go out across South Wales and the South West serving traditional fish and chips and street-food-style wedding catering.”

When should I book?

"We see both sides of the coin on this one. A lot of people contact us early, which is great for us, but we’ve had a few occasions this year where people have contacted us with just weeks to go before the date. If you have your heart set on a caterer or a specific type of food, get in touch as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. Our summer weekend dates are booked a year in advance.”

A blow the budget wedding

“I don’t think anyone can beat the four-day wedding festival we catered last year. There were glamping tents, personalised wedding welly boots and leather jackets for the bridal party. There was also four full days of catering and bar service, plus different musical acts each evening. So much thought had gone into that wedding. It really was out of this world.”

Savvy style

“We do a lot of festival weddings and you can either blow the budget with that style of do or make it fit what you have. We did a beautiful wedding in South Wales recently. The bride had asked all the guests to contribute to a large picnic by a lake after their ceremony and they had our traditional fish and chips in the evening. The flowers had also been sourced wild from the venue. Everyone attending had pitched in with something and it made for the best atmosphere.”

Do couples spend more at different times of the year?

“Actually, I think people eat less at summer weddings but that doesn’t really affect what couples will book. Everyone gets worried about under-catering but it’s easy to forget how busy people are on the big day. Out of season, there's the weather to contend with, so it’s important to also have hot food and drinks on hand.”

The most popular wedding breakfast choices…

“I’d agree with your latest wedding survey that a sit-down meal is the most popular choice, although I think it’s a more casual affair these days. Many couples approach us and say, ‘I’ve been to tons of weddings where it's paté, chicken then cheesecake. I want the opposite of that’. From our own menu, the sharing board starters are by far the most popular, and these can be tailored to any taste. Our most popular main is braised shin of beef with horseradish mash, tender stem broccoli and baby corn, followed by individual Kilner jars filled with trifle. It’s simple, tastes and looks great and gets all the guests talking about the food. Our average wedding breakfast would be for 100 or 150 for the evening. We did do a huge wedding party last year that had 300 evening guests. That was quite the party!”

Dinner is served

“3 pm is the most popular time for the wedding breakfast, followed by evening food served between 7.30pm and 8 pm. Make sure you ask your caterer how long it will take for all guests to be fed and have time to eat before you plan the evening food. We have so many couples who book separate catering for the evening but when we arrive the guests have just finished eating. It’s very easy to accommodate but make sure you consider your timings. The serving, eating and clearing may take a little longer than you think.”

Wedding catering trends

“Street food has firmly left the streets and hit the wedding circuit! The amount of people who hire in their favourite traders to do their evening food is massive. Also, the trend for less formal weddings and wedding catering has continued. I think people have seen that taking control of their catering can save them money. They can also get what they actually want, instead of just taking what the venue offers you.”

My top tips…

“It’s a good idea to compile a list of some of the meals that you both love. Also, allow plenty of time to book your caterer and keep it simple. Finally, remember the wedding is about you and what you like and want. Don’t try and please everyone. Just let everyone be pleased for you!”

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