Working out what food you're going to serve your guests can be one of the most agonising decisions you'll have to make when you plan a wedding. Even though your guests are there to share your special day and enjoy good company, many people feel like they really have to impress with the catering on offer.
To come up with the best plan, it's a good idea to tailor your decisions to the time of year and the venue of the wedding. For summer weddings with an outdoor party, it's particularly important to ensure the food fits the situation. Here are some ideas to help you put together a solid plan for the catering.
Let people serve themselves
There's a tendency for outdoor weddings to be less formal than indoor ones, and that is certainly the case with the food. In most locations, a sit-down meal is just impractical, so it's better to have some kind of buffet or station where people can collect their food themselves. Make sure anyone who finds this difficult, such as elderly guests, can get help if they need it.
While you'll need tables and chairs for people to actually sit and eat, it does away with the bustle of waiters bringing food and encourages people to organise themselves.
Don't overcomplicate it
When you're dining al fresco, you're not going to want an extensive, complex menu with several courses or a massive choice of foods. It's quite easy for catering services to provide food for all tastes and dietary needs without having hundreds of dishes available. And, when eating outside, people aren't expecting lavish, expensive food — delicious simplicity is key.
What food says 'outdoors' to you?
Thinking about eating outside in the summer, two things probably come to mind: picnics and barbecues.
With the first option, a selection of cold foods can be prepared in advance and served up when your guests are ready. You can even decorate the food table and eating areas to reflect this picnic idea. The great thing about having a cold buffet is that it's so versatile, and a caterer will be able to offer you plenty of wonderful dishes to make everyone happy.
If you prefer a barbecue, all you need is one or two people to man it and keep cooking. You can let people help themselves to bread and toppings, for example as a DIY burger station. The smell of food grilling will get everyone's appetites going.
Be prepared for changes
Occasionally, the weather can let you down, so it helps to be prepared. Having the seating area in a marquee ensures everyone can stay sheltered if it looks like rain, and cold food can also be served in there. If you're having a barbecue, it might be a good idea to hire a small gazebo to keep it undercover without enclosing it.