Well, it depends! You should have food you love, and that you know your guests will love. Wedding food needs to have broad appeal, because generally you are dealing with a broad range of guests. Grandma to funky cousin Genevieve. Hipster friends and your Dad.
Most of the time when I'm planning an event, I start with food.
Weddings are a bit different though. Food's important (obviously), but it's not the whole thing. So when looking at at what style of food we would serve at our wedding, we were looking at venues too and what they had to offer across the board.
So, food choice is closely tied to venue choice.
My favourite food style at a wedding has got to be canapes and platters, closely followed by a three course, sit down dinner with a MENU WHERE YOU GET TO CHOOSE WHAT YOU EAT, LIKE A LA CARTE! BOOM! Obviously these ones are generally choice of three, four or five maximum. When they are done well (usually by a fine dining restaurant), they are exceptional, but they can run in to some execution issues as it is such a complex way for a restaurant or venue to cater a wedding. Spring Food and Wine in Brisbane CBD used to do a pretty good version before they closed, and I went to one at Ricky's in Noosa that was pretty bloody spectacular. Tip though: don't choose chargrilled prawns as an entree option. They are nearly ALWAYS overcooked. Tough dish to do for a bazillion people at once, maybe?
My original vision of 'our perfect wedding' looking like this: hire an estate or homestead for a weekend, bring in all vendors including a fabulous chef (hopefully Alistair McLeod) and do a cocktail style wedding (roaming canapes) with a cheese and antipasto buffet as well.
Long story short: it didn't work out. We got married less than six months after we got engaged and open dates were non-existent or on Wednesdays. Hmm. 'Not having a pain in the ass wedding' was pretty high on the priority list, so we vetoed a Wednesday wedding! Except Ekka Wednesday, I reckon that would be awesome!
Also, these 'DIY' style of weddings are a heap of work and some have more rules than inner-city venues. One place we were looking at wanted all guests off the property by 11:30pm outside of those staying in onsite accommodation. At least in town they don't kick you out until midnight!
If we could've found a beautiful venue where we could've had Al Mcleod in and we could've BYOd booze and partied until 5am, we would've booked it! If you know of a place in South East Queensland like that, let me know in comments!
So, I started looking at full-service venues, still with our cocktail party style wedding in mind. We were pretty anti 'round tables, alternate drop' as we wanted the party to be a bit more interactive, so we were set on cocktail style.
Outside of great food, we were also looking for:
1. Good booze packages/BYO options
2. A venue that would let us do our ceremony and reception in one place
3. Good wet weather options. Like, really good. (A good move given the crazy winter rain we've had recently!)
4. Nice bathrooms (yup, I'm weird)
5. Exclusive use (no other brides on site please!)
6. Easy access for friends and family - i.e. $50 taxi distance for most people. Coast and country were out.
Easier said than done.
After about 4 weeks of trawling venues and venue packages, we decided on Mirra Private Events and Dining in Fortitude Valley.
Not the most romantic general area to get married, but what a beautiful space!
I'd been there once prior for Stylemasters in 2015 (wedding stylists have a style-off! Pretty cool) and the canapes had been phenomenal. So we were set to go on hot canapes and cheese/antipasto stations.
Note: cocktail style receptions are not cheaper*. When I spoke to lots of people during the planning process, there was an assumption that this is a cheaper per-head cost. Generally speaking it is not. Mirra charges the same for sit down as they do for canapes and two fork dishes. I've seen this at many function spaces.
Mirra has plenty of beautiful couches, patio tables and chairs in the courtyard etc. I really wanted ample seating for everyone and the venue was certainly set up for that.
We changed our minds.
When we booked in for our canape tasting, our lovely Events Coordinator mentioned there was only one other couple who had booked for a cocktail wedding in the next six months. That got us thinking. There might be a reason behind the sit-down thing.
I love speeches and I started imagining our MC herding our guests like sheep at speech time. 'OI! WE'RE DOING SPEECHES!' Hmm... maybe sit down does have something going for it!?
So we booked in for the sit-down tasting and split the difference: 90 minutes of hot canapes and a cheese table to die for and 90 minutes/2 hours of sit down; banquet style. So shared platters of three meats and three sides. Plus hot bread and french piped butter to begin! Bliss.
The split was elegant and hearty. In my mind the food in the first half of the evening was elegant, interesting and geared towards mingling. Allen the chef did Canadian scallops seared and served with XO butter on soup spoons, lamb baklava, brioche with lamb and mint gel, miniature chicken and fennel sausage rolls (bonus!) and coconut prawns with ginger dipping sauce. Once I get photos back from the gorgeous photographer, I will update this post will all sorts of porny food pics!
Once we were seated an banquet tables after 8pm, we were served warm bread and butter (yuuuummmm), roasted sirloin, chicken thighs in leek veloute sauce, pork fillet, various jus and sauces and vegetable sides. Roasted potatoes with rosemary and sea salt, grilled vegetable medley, seasonal steamed vegetables with butter and lemon olive oil. The ample amounts of meat and veg meant that we knew all our guests would be full and be able to choose what they did and didn't want to eat. The interactive part of the feast-style encouraged conversation and interaction between guests, too. Brilliant!
The only thing I'd do different in the future would be to put the bridal party on a long table with the rest of the guests. We had two long tables and a bridal table. While we did get the husbands of the bridesmaids to sit with them on the table (best man rode solo), it was still not as fun for us as for the rest of the party (in my mind). My idea behind this is that we had no one on the opposite side of the table to chat to or to pass food to. So we were passing food lengthways up and down the table and looking out at the room. We did this so 'everyone could see the bridal party' after a complaint that 'a quarter' of the wedding wouldn't be able to see us if we sat on the long tables with everyone as they would have their backs turned to us. I shouldn't have listened. I reckon we would have had more lols and interaction had we been with the big party and not on display at the top. Pros and cons for both I suppose!
We had wedding cake plated for dessert and while I adore Gillian Bell's cake, in retrospect I would've paid a small supplement to have a plated dessert instead of a cake. I adore cake, but Allen is a brilliant dessert chef and the rocky road desserts he turned out for the gluten-free guests looked so amazing the rest of us were envious! Plus, isn't is sort of more normal to eat a dessert at the end of a celebratory dinner? You don't go to a restaurant and look at the cake menu! Especially at night?!
Either way if you do have a wedding cake it's a great idea to have it served for dessert as it will save you the $10-$15pp for dessert on top of your cake costs, and most likely your cake will actually get eaten. How many times do you see plates of cake drying out on wedding tables because people don't want cake after dessert? Or maybe they are still chugging Chardy and aren't interested? If you want the cake eaten, serve as dessert!
So, what style of food did you have at your wedding? Or what are you planning? Or what would you have? For your fantasy wedding, if you did it again or when it happens for you?!?! TELL ME!! I have wedding withdrawals!! Food stations? Food trucks? Banquet style? Alternate drop? Choice of 3 options, sit down? Tapas?! TELL ME!!!
PS: going to a wedding this saturday! So excited! Rumour has it's going to be picnic baskets and hot gourmet pies! I'm not upset!! Hope I don't spill a pie down myself. Maybe that cream coloured jacket is a bad idea....
*Okay, so we had a sit down wedding and we hired gorgeous gold Tiffany chairs for the ceremony and dinner so it did end up costing more. $7.50 per chair. They can go up to $15 per chair in Brisbane and can go as low as $5 if you are willing to drop off and pickup yourself. I may have ended up hiring them for the ceremony anyway, I may not have.