We have featured some beautiful small weddings lately. Some couples are choosing to postpone their dates and some are choosing to reduce their guest numbers and crack on. Small but perfectly formed guest lists with celebrations in boutique venues, private dining and quirky places with charm, character are taking place up and down the country. With the potential savings being made on not feeding the masses, we’re seeing even greater creativity and attention to food and drink on the menu. Whether you’re planning your wedding day with just a few friends and family and celebrating with a dinner party for 8. Or perhaps gathering your nearest and dearest in a hired house with a sea view and 30 or so guests gathered on a beach for seafood inspired street-food, we’ve got some great tips and ideas for your wedding catering. Taken from award-winning caterers Caviar & Chips experience of crafting bespoke menus for weddings all over the UK and creating food and drink exactly how couples imagine. Co-founder, Marc Hornby, talks us through some of the trends they’re seeing for small weddings and some of the menus they’ve created that guests will be enjoying in the coming months.
Note that this article was written with all small weddings (present and future) in mind. You and your caterer can work together to plan a small wedding that complies fully with the COVID restrictions at the time of your celebration.
We love creating menus that include canapés. It’s a great part of the menu where you can get really creative and playful with the ingredients and presentation. A part of the day that works really well as an ice breaker and also sets the tone for what guests will enjoy for the rest of their menu. Canapés are designed to be a one or two bite and this in itself can often be a topic of conversation in our briefings with couples. Some want substantial canapés that are at least two bites and then others much prefer a delicate taster that is quick and easy to eat …i.e. not messy! We’ve had a few briefings from couples recently planning small gatherings where canapés are going to be the main event. They don’t want a sit-down meal, but rather a cocktail party theme with guests mingling, moving around and the food moving around with them. Serving champagne, sparkling wine and cocktails throughout the day and evening and with a steady flow of delicious canapés continuously being served to guests. We’ve had Great Gatsby themes, New York Jazz bar and summer garden parties all with a broad range of canapés. We often suggest some bowl foods too as these can be a nice way to break up the menu and give guests some slightly more substantial dishes to enjoy, but still be light, quick and easy to eat without the need to sit down. We’ve created some really fun canapés with heart-warming backstories such as mini-shepherds pies that we created for a couple celebrating their wedding under a stretch tent in the garden. Their first meal at the groom-to-be’s grandparents’ was Shepherd’s Pie when they were just 16 years old….and the bride-to-be was vegetarian at the time! It was something the groom-to-be forgot to tell his grandparents, but the meal was enjoyed anyway and so it made it on to their wedding menu! We’ve created mini-meals with canapés such as mini fish & chips or mini Yorkshire pudding and beef. We’ve taken inspiration from holidays such as Lamb Kofta & Tzatiki from Greece. Inspiration from street-food such as Fish Taco, Green Chilli Mayo & Shredded Vegetables or of course there’s our signature canapé Caviar & Chips! We’ve created bowl foods that include things like King Prawn Laksa Curry, with boiled rice toasted chapati, Crispy Lamb Salad, Coq au Vin and even sweet ones with mini Eton mess! Then you can add a little more pizzaz with an amuse bouche and perhaps think of Butternut Squash & Chilli or even a pallet cleanser towards the end of the menu and try a Pousse Café. A Pousse Cafe is a layered drink with whipping cream, Jack Daniels, maple syrup, egg yolks, and fresh chives. Certainly a mix of ingredients, but served in a shot glass your guests will wonder what on earth it is and then want a second and a third!
Let’s imagine your wedding day with a small gathering of guests coming together for a garden party. Quite often we have clients explaining that they’d like something relaxed and informal like a buffet, but want to avoid making guests queue and creating a food table that looks more like a food fight after 10 minutes of service! One of our suggestions is a table picnic. With our chefs on hand to help serve guests and a selection of beautifully presented dishes that work well together and enable guests to try a variety of delicious ingredients that they can eat at leisure. A great example of a table we created recently included: Salami, Prosciutto & Mortadella Nocellara Olives & Sun-dried Tomatoes Hummus & Crudités Honey-roast Ham & Pink Beef Feta & Red Pepper Tart Garden Salad, Mustard Vinaigrette Charred Mediterranean Vegetables Harissa Artichokes Blue Cheese & Caramelised Onion Sausage Roll Mushroom & Leek Sausage Roll Chicken, Lemon & Herb Mayonnaise Finger Sandwich Spiced Hummus, Red Pepper & Pickled Vegetable Finger Sandwich Smoked Salmon, Cucumber & Watercress Finger Sandwich Blue Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Apple, Celery & Grapes This selection of ingredients has a great variety of flavours with influences from both Mediterranean, almost tapas-style format, through to traditional English picnic and classic ingredients.
We’re seeing small gatherings of friends and family working nicely with a relaxed almost mini-festival vibe especially when celebrating outside in a garden, courtyard or field near a river. Choosing foods from favourite pop-up restaurants, festivals or street-food vendors has been a popular choice and our chefs really enjoy getting creative with “no rules” style cooking. Preparing everything from tacos to bao bun and dirty burgers to American style BBQs. Going street-food for your wedding day doesn’t mean basic food from a box, but you can get really creative and have a great variety too. We’ve had some weddings where we’ve created a food station for each course of the wedding breakfast. One great example is Pad Thai to start, Chicken Balti Pie for the main course and then crepes for dessert. We prepared this on a small farm courtyard and guests really enjoyed the relaxed nature and simplicity of ordering food when they wanted it throughout the day.
Moving to the other end of the spectrum we’ve seen some couples looking to save money on inviting hundreds of guests and instead choosing to cater for their wedding with a Michelin-star experience tasting menu instead. We’ve had six, eight and even 10-course menus taken from couples’ favourite food experiences. Sometimes using nostalgia from the food they ate as children and even dishes using ingredients that they love getting our chefs to create a truly unique dish. The wedding breakfast becomes the entertainment and the meal in one and we often pair each dish with a wine or drink that enhances the food and experience. The tasting menu is like a story unfolding as guests make their way through canapés, aperitif, amuse bouche, starter, fish course, bowl food, meat course, dessert, cheese course and digestif and after-dinner chocolates. For one couple who met in London, but lived in California and both travelled extensively, we created a 10-course tasting menu for 15 guests that was inspired by food from their favourite places. Their wedding breakfast was hosted in a vintage coffee shop basement with bare-brick walls and vaulted ceiling and had a great intimate feeling to the meal. Our menu briefing was informed by how their relationship grew from their first date to their first holiday together. The first meal they had in their new home and from the restaurant they ate at on the day of their engagement, the menu really was a taste of the experiences that led them to their wedding day.
Now, this may be unique to us at Caviar & Chips as not many caterers also run a pub, but we have had couples ask us if we can recreate their favourite pub foods. Hearty, wholesome, traditional pub classics such as a classic Prawn Cocktail, Pie of the Day, Warm Chocolate Brownie and great tasting ales. We have a 16th century pub in Warwickshire in the old town of Kenilworth. A stone’s throw from Kenilworth Castle our pub, The Famous Virgins & Castle, is a lovely old, wonky inn with a private dining drawing room, cosy snugs and enclosed courtyard garden that guests can enjoy great tasting, freshly prepared pub food with beers, ales and spirits on tap. We had a small wedding for 30 guests recently where the couple just loved spending time with friends and family in the pub. It was their weekend tradition and so we welcomed guests with a glass of English Sparkling Wine and they enjoyed canapés in the garden while chatting and talking about the ceremony. We then moved into the pub drawing room and the bride and groom had chosen what their Soup of the Day and Pie of the Day would be for their menu. Our chefs prepared everything fresh in the kitchen and guests enjoyed wines and beers from the bar as well as the cosy atmosphere of the historic building. Afterwards, we prepared a delicious Mac ’n’ Cheese with a variety of toppings that our chefs prepared in the beer garden for guests to enjoy outside and it became their pub for the day. For more menu ideas and inspiration for your wedding breakfast and food and drink catering, you can see examples on our website www.caviarandchips.co.uk. We start all of our menus with a blank piece of paper and craft a menu with you to create your perfect menu.
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