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F is for Food (That we Made Ourselves) by Lexie
Food, glorious food! There are no two ways about it, feeding your guests is going to take up a good chunk of the budget and as the wedding breakfast is generally one of the focal points of the day, it’s going to be an aspect that is remembered and affects everybody. Plus, who doesn’t love a good spread!
As with most things wedding related there are a myriad of options when it comes to food; the formal meal with a buffet later, a tea party, a fish and chip van, bacon butties at midnight…(anyone else getting peckish?!) For us though budget was key, we simply couldn’t afford £40, £30, £20 a head. Plus, while I’m not fussy about food, I could be described as being quite particular! So like the rest of the wedding it was DIY all the way.
This decision obviously affected our choice of venue as we needed somewhere we were allowed to do the catering. Fortunately we found the perfect place and the mention of the hog roast people just around the corner clinched the deal for my husband! Now I love a good picnic with a selection of salads, cold salmon, you get my drift so that seemed like a good starting point. One option here is to go down the Waitrose/M&S route which my parents were very keen for us to do, but that would have been a little too straightforward for me, I’m nothing if not a little overambitious. Besides, even M&S potato salad doesn’t quite live up to the homemade variety in my opinion and boiling potatoes isn’t exactly hard right?
So, that was me decided, I would be doing the food myself. Close to where we live is a fabulous cheese shop where we spent a lovely morning sampling cheeses and meats. Cheese boards would come out later in the evening and canapés would be baskets of cured meats, falafels, caperberries; an antiapsti/mezze mishmash! Yes the falafels were homemade. One of my wonderful bridesmaids made pea falafels that I never even got to try they were gone so fast! Then for the main was the hog, with a few different salads a veggie moussaka and a whole salmon. Dessert, courtesy of locally grown raspberries and strawberries plus a mound of whipped cream and shop-bought (gasp!) meringues would be ‘make your own mess’. The whole raft of dietary requirement was covered, sorted!
Of course, while I was happily and greedily planning this, my parents thought I was completely insane and I had many moments of self-doubt. Fortunately, my husband had total faith and we pushed on.
Now, time for a warning. If you want to spend the hours/day/week before the wedding being pampered, relaxing, being absolutely confident the food is going to be incredible this is probably not the route for you. If however, you like to be in control, enjoy cooking and making your own food, the satisfaction of doing your own food might well be worth it. In my opinion here are the pros and cons of doing your own food, plus a few tips.
- Complete control of the menu/ingredients.
- Make it fit your budget exactly.
- A great sense of achievement when everyone’s eating and enjoying!
- Lots of work.
- Needs a suitable venue with enough cooking and fridge space.
- Can be complicated ensuring dietary requirements are covered.
- Choose food that can be made in advance.
- Choose dishes that work well when made in large quantities.
- Use seasonal, local produce.
- Ask for help, but don’t necessarily expect it.
- Keep the choice of food small, but be aware of dietary requirements.
- Be organised, make sure you won’t have to do make three different dishes the morning of the wedding!
- Ask friends or family to help you serve up.
- Think about all the things you would expect on a table if you were going to a restaurant, e.g. bread, butter, seasoning. You don’t have to have them all, but at least you know you’ve thought about it.
- Remember crockery and cutlery which you might usually expect the venue or caterers to provide.
- Choose food you love!
There is something I haven’t really talked about though, something that made doing our own food very special. It wasn’t just the food, but that was a key aspect. You see I had help.
Our friends and family. I knew my bridesmaids were happy to get stuck in, the whole cake table was courtesy of one bridesmaid! However, I really wasn’t prepared for just how much everyone else wanted to help out. My brother and his boyfriend went out to buy pounds and pounds of soft fruit the day before the wedding, my brother then proceeded to turn into head chef – many people asked for his moussaka recipe. He along with my cake making bridesmaid also iced the wedding cake. Meanwhile his other half turned decorator in chief. My dad cooked the salmon in between ferrying my mother and sister to hair appointments and it just went on. As people arrived from all over the country, their first question was “What can I do?”
Of course, not everyone wanted to spend precious free time peeling potatoes, absolutley fine, but the number of people who actually really wanted to surprised me. My family were initially worried that people would have to help themselves to food as we had no waiters or waitresses and there would be tidying up to do. However, it turns out that most people really enjoyed being involved and playing their part in our celebration.
You see, whilst everyone was working hard in the kitchen they were all getting to know each other. My mother-in-law busy slicing tomatoes with my schoolfriends for example, meant that the next day everyone from all the different areas of our lives had already met and got to know each other a little bit. You know that bit in a wedding ceremony wher all your friends and family say “we will” well that wasn’t in our ceremony, but we couldn’t have felt more loved or supported. We will always be grateful to our friends and family who truly made our wedding.