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F is for Food (The How-To) by Erin
To say that food is important to me would be an understatement. I live to eat. Food makes me happy. Salty starters, sweet temptations, aromatic concoctions, all of the above make me weak at the knees.
So when it came to planning our wedding, food was a priority for me, more so than it should have been. I wasn’t too fussed about the colour scheme, music mix or table plan, but I wanted the food to be right. Not fancy necessarily, but something that the people I loved would enjoy, as we all came together to celebrate this happy day.
All of the weddings I’ve been to have featured food. It’s a given that once you have your guests together, you’ll at some point be feeding them. And although I’ve been to weddings in all sorts of beautiful venues, the food itself hasn’t always hit the spot. I think sometimes venues can get a bit lazy in what they offer, and we are so used to the ‘Chicken or Beef?’ option, that we forget it doesn’t have to always be the solution.
For me, it’s important that the food on offer tastes good (duh!), suits the season, suits the venue, and also isn’t too rich or stodgy. You’ll be wearing a gorgeous dress, looking your best, and your guests will also have zipped and buttoned themselves into clothes not necessarily built for comfort. There is nothing worse than feeling bloated after a meal, especially when you’re then expected to hit the dance floor…
Think about where you’ll be, what the season is, and what you like. This year we went to a gorgeous wedding in Morocco and the food was perfect – after the heat of the day we enjoyed salads glowing with herbs and pulses and spicy tagines with couscous. The food tasted of Morocco, and it was served in the centre of the table for sharing – a lovely way to help guests around a table to get to know each other.
When my best friend got married last year in the middle of winter to her lovely man, who happens to be a former chef, it was only fitting that they chose a fine dining menu showcasing local seasonal produce. The food was the show stopper, just as it always is at their house – even if you’ve just popped over for an ‘oh, I just threw this together’ last-minute lunch.
Mr H is English and I’m Australian, and we happened to be living in Sydney when we got married, so opted for something outdoors and by the sea. Nothing over the top – a simple outdoor ceremony in our favourite park, followed by a reception at the local surf club.
Given the warm weather and seaside setting, I wanted food to match. In the end we opted for a ‘gourmet BBQ’ menu offered by the club – a selection of quality meats: steak, fish and chicken, chargrilled to perfection and served with fresh seasonal salads and rustic bread rolls. It sounds simple, and it was, but it really suited.
I know many brides say they were too excited/nervous/happy/distracted on the day to eat anything, but I made a point of sitting down and enjoying the meal in full with my new husband at my side. It was delicious, and we both clinked our glasses as we shared our first meal together as a married couple (eeek!).
Before we decided on our venue, I looked at all sorts of other options. At one point I was even considering a ‘pot luck’ type approach, where guests were invited to bring a plate of food with them to contribute, as so many of my friends and family share my love of cooking. But in the end the logistics just wouldn’t have worked, seeing as we had guests travelling from all over Australia and the other side of the world.
If the venue allows it, there’s no reason you can’t get creative. Love sushi? Why not serve a Japanese inspired menu? Or perhaps a selection of tapas style dishes in the middle of each table? Or if you’re having a winter wedding, then a large warming dish like moussaka or large bowls of pasta served with garlic bread and salad is simple, tasty and effective. You could even lay out each table with gingham checked table cloth, and top it with a ‘picnic’ for guests to devour of all your favourite things.
And what about dessert? The most simple solution is to choose a wedding cake which doubles as dessert for your guests. This is especially easy when you’ve chosen something rich like mud cake, which the kitchen can dish up with a few strawberries and a dollop of double cream to make it into a stylish pudding.
We had a three-tier traditional fruit cake for our wedding, made with love by my Dad and Grandma. It was especially wonderful, as it was the same recipe my Grandma had made for my parent’s wedding 35 years earlier. My Grandma was 93 when I got married, so needed my Dad’s help in weighing out the ingredients and stirring the mixture. Dad was her hands.
Decorated by my friend’s mother and topped with fresh hydrangeas, the cake was exactly what I wanted. But it wasn’t really right for dessert.
The venue offered a few options, but they were very expensive and didn’t sound great. Then my Mum suggested a cake from Lindt – their cafe makes cakes for events, and it worked out much cheaper than sourcing dessert from the venue, even after they’d added their ‘cakeage’ fee. It was just right – layers of chocolate decadence, but still quite light as it was made up of mousse and soft sponge.
The fruit cake was served with tea and coffee at the end of the night, along with cheese platters. Cheese is one of my favourite things, so I needed to incorporate it somewhere. Some couples these days even opt for a ‘cheese cake’ – each tier formed by a wheel of cheese. These sure look impressive, and are the perfect option if you don’t want something sweet.
My friend Kate recently featured a ‘cake buffet’ at her wedding, provided by her friends who love baking, and this went down a treat as well I’m told. We couldn’t be there in person, but the photos of the cake display are the stuff of dreams. Simple and effective, and what a lovely way for your friends to feel part of your special day.