Wedding breakfasts have come a long way since the days of rubber chicken – now you can treat your guests to a barbecue, a feast of seasonal Scottish produce or even a world buffet. In other words, there’s a menu to suit every celebration, and a drinks list to match – so tuck in!
Words by Sarah Gillespie
You wouldn’t pick a run-of-the-mill dress, or hire a photographer knowing they would take merely competent pictures, so why would you play it safe when it comes to deciding on your wedding breakfast? The rise of street food events and food festivals all over Scotland are testament to the emerging trend for hearty, delicious food made with the finest home-grown ingredients. Where wedding catering was once dominated by larger event firms, there is now a whole host of rising stars dishing up some mouthwatering alternatives to the status quo.
Doing something different is a surefire way to stand out and make your wedding memorable for all the right reasons, and food is one of the few elements of the day that everyone gets to enjoy equally.
“There is definitely a shift away from the traditional, safe, slightly dull ‘banqueting’ style of menu that is often associated with weddings,” says Jonathan MacDonald of mobile kitchen and event design company Scoop (scoopevents.co.uk), “especially as food is now one of the top things guests remember.”
From Scoop’s retro-American aluminium mobile kitchen (known as The Bullet), to candy trees, ice-cream trikes, candyfloss carts and popcorn stands, there has never been a wider selection of yummy additions that can be made to your big day. Some venues themselves are keen to offer something different – the Quay Complex in Musselburgh, for example, has added a ‘world buffet’ to its wedding catering options (thequaycomplex.co.uk).
Events company Millar Catering recommend a barbecue for your meal – but forget burnt sausages and cold burgers: they offer some seriously glam grilling: “It’s great to offer variety to your guests – you can literally have all your favourite foods sizzling joyously on the coals. Think succulent Tarbert Bay scallops, beautiful fillets of Scottish beef, tender delicately spiced pork loin, whole seabream stuffed with herbs and lemon or lovely garlicky, buttery portobello mushrooms,” says director Tony Millar (millarcatering.co.uk).
Themed weddings continue to be popular, and there is an abundance of options for couples looking to inject the food with fun. “We’ve created so many different themes,” says Chris Tonner of Beetroot Restaurants (eatbeetroot.co.uk). “Most recently we created a canapé menu for a Mad Hatter’s tea party. We’ve also held molecular dining and cocktail pairing evenings, and created a pop-up French restaurant. We relish the challenge of trying something outside our comfort zone if it’s unusual and creative.” Beetroot, he adds, offers bar snacks instead of traditional canapés, so guests can feast on gourmet Scotch eggs, nachos with home-pickled jalapeños and pulled-pork sliders with homemade BBQ sauce.
One way to make a gastronomic impact is by marrying your menu to the season – that way you can take advantage of produce that will be at a peak of taste and quality. “I love the flavours of autumn, with game being a highlight for me – grouse always features on our menus around this time. Pumpkin, squash, kale and chestnuts are also perfect for this time of year,” advises Chris.
Jonathan agrees: “Big, hearty braises and casseroles are great, and can be really good value. We’re doing a wedding this autumn where big pots of venison casserole and braised beef are being served in the middle of each table so everyone can dig in family-style, which is perfect for a relaxed atmosphere.”
One concern when deciding on the menu for your wedding breakfast is trying to appeal to a lot of different tastes. That’s why the combination of soup/chicken/pavlova has reigned supreme for so long. Scoop recently catered for a wedding where the main course was braised ox cheek – delicious, but definitely different! “Some people would advise you to play it safe with menu choice, but I disagree: you can challenge your fussier guests, and the feedback we had for the ox cheek was testament to that!” says Jonathan.
So how do you go about finding a caterer? “Don’t go with the first quote – shop around, ask your favourite restaurant if they do outside catering or would like to cater for your wedding. That’s how we started our outside catering business and it’s growing very fast,” says Chris.
Once you’ve chosen a caterer, arrange a tasting session and work together to create a menu you adore. Negotiate a balance between having input and dictating what you want. You are paying for the caterer’s expertise – it’s crazy not to take their advice!
The best way to your guests’ hearts is through their stomachs, so laying on a delicious feast is sure to guarantee your wedding will become the stuff of legend!