Whether it’s to save costs, or just to create a relaxed and sociable atmosphere, more and more couples are opting for a buffet-type meal instead of a sit-down supper with several courses. In the summer, in particular, this can be a great way to entertain guests and if you’ve got the weather to go al-fresco all the better.
If a buffet conjures up images of limp salad and vats of lukewarm, unappetising food – think again. There are plenty of ways to make your wedding breakfast go with a bang.
Follow the jump for our guide to holding a fabulous wedding buffet
Finger or fork?
The first thing you need to decide is whether you’ll be having a ‘finger’ buffet (essentially featuring foods that don’t require cutlery) or a fork buffet, which does. Advantages of a finger buffet (other than the fact that you won’t have to ‘fork out’ on cutlery!) is that it creates a more informal atmosphere and guests can usually pick at the food over a longer space of time, and they usually won’t need to sit down. Food will typically include sandwiches, canapes such as mini quiches, tarts and and pizzas followed by a dessert. My suggestions for a storming finger buffet would include:
• Make a few appetising dips that are a bit more interesting than the usual homous (but do buy a few pots of homous too – homous fans will be most displeased if you don’t!). You may have youw own ideas, but my favourite is avocado creme, which is a simple combination of one mashed avocado to half a tub of philadelphia seasoned with a few drops of Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper and finished with a sprinkling of paprika.
• Serve any dips with legions of pitta bread, crusty French or Italian bread and (if you must) a few boxes of the trusty breadstick.
• Truffles are the easiest thing in the world to make at home. There’s a recipe here that tells you how to make a batch in about 10 minutes.
A fork buffet, however, has the advantage of being a bit more like a sit-down meal in terms of courses (you can organise it into starter, main, etc) so will be a good compromise for those who’d prefer a traditional meal. You can still include the above suggestions in your meal, but additions might be:
• new potatoes for a summer wedding, roasted for winter
• charcuterie-style hot and cold meats and gourmet cheeses
• Your favourite salad, to serve with the main course
If none of my ideas appeal, there are several sample menus for both buffet types, here!
Holding a buffet, you’ll be totally in charge of the drinks on offer, which can be expensive, so the main advice here is to buy in bulk, preferably from outside the UK. A ‘booze cruise’ to France is a good (and enjoyable) way of achieving this!
Don’t get hung up on having ‘real’ champagne: one glass of Cava will be enough to get your guests mingling, and is no longer seen as any less ‘acceptable’ as a celebration drink. For an interesting variation, add fruit puree to make bellini, which tastes great and makes the drink go further. A punch can also be a great solution, especially for summer weddings.
First, you’ll need to decide if you want to hire or buy your glasses. If you’ve got a lot of guests, then hiring will usually be cheaper, and can be done through a local supplier. But depending on how much of a snob you are there’s always the option of using disposables. You can get a pack of 25 basic rigid plastic glasses for around £5, or more classically shaped ones at about a pound each. You can also get plastic champagne and even martini glasses.
For a small, garden party style wedding, you might want to splash out on some really lovely glassware you’ll want to use again, or perhaps even go for something quirky. These champagne glasses are particularly cool if your weddnig has a contemporary theme, and Etsy is a great place to look for unusual drinking vessels.
Decor and equipment
If you’re having a sit-down buffet, decor need be no different from how it might look at a formal wedding reception. But if you want to go for an informal feel, are holding a garden party or a reception in a small marquee or at home, there are plenty of ways to achieve this in a stylish way. You might want to consider:
• A cupcake stand turns a plate of cupcakes or muffins into a stunning array of little cakes that will make much more of an impact on the table. This one’s epic!
• Lighting You can have a lot of fun with mood lighting whether you want to go for sweet, romantic fairy lights, paper lanterns or tea lights. A few of my favourites include these ingenious table-top wine glass mini-lanterns, these floral hanging lanterns from John Lewise and for a budget option, these amazing DIY ‘lily’ lights from Esprit Cabane that are made from dismembered egg boxes!
• For a really special DIY touch, why not make rose-petal ice cubes to spruce up ice buckets? You can find out how to do it here
• If your bridesmaids won’t kill you afterwards, you can theme the occasion by giving them pinnies and designating recognisable ‘buffet helpers’ to keep everything running smoothly.