Buffet, banquets, BBQs? Your guide to big-day feasting

Who knew there were so many ways to eat? When it comes to catering, the staggering variety of options can be overwhelming. Whether you go for a formal sit-down or a casual walk-and-fork, with some organisational flair and an appetite for creativity it’s easy to serve up wedding fare that’s exceptional to the very last bite.

  • Story by Photo Moda Fotografica

Who knew there were so many ways to eat? When it comes to catering, the staggering variety of options can be overwhelming. Whether you go for a formal sit-down or a casual walk-and-fork, with some organisational flair and an appetite for creativity it’s easy to serve up wedding fare that’s exceptional to the very last bite.

Formal sit-down dinner
The traditional sit-down dinner consists of a number of courses, including an entrée, main and dessert. This style is ideal for a formal reception held in a function facility. It’s also a great choice for couples who like matching wine to their food.

Banquet
A more contemporary, casual sit-down option is the family-style banquet, where dishes are placed in the centre of each table so guests can help themselves – think an Italian-style lunch of antipasto platters, baskets of bread and large bowls of pasta. This scenario encourages guests to interact with each other and allows them to choose exactly what they’d like to eat, and how much.

Buffet style
Because people will queue up for their meals, buffets are best suited to smaller weddings and daytime events such as high tea. Brunch dishes like scones, fruit platters and quiches are ideal – they will stay fresh and last the distance on the buffet for up to three hours.

BBQ
Sausages and seafood remain popular for outdoor nuptials. And while the usual paper plates and plastic cutlery aren’t really appropriate for a wedding, many supermarkets stock sophisticated wooden options.

Degustation menu
The ultimate in wedding catering is a degustation menu where a variety of tasting plates are served to seated guests. It’s a clever way to have fun with your theme, and it doesn’t have to be too costly: Simply use plenty of seasonal vegetables and fresh herbs, along with small amounts of local gourmet fare like Akaroa salmon or Canterbury lamb.

All inclusive
Catering for a wedding often involves supplying snacks in between meals and late at night. If guests have travelled long distances, sustain them with poached chicken or smoked salmon sandwiches and a fruit drink before the ceremony. This type of fare is also ideal to line the bridal party’s stomachs as they get ready, especially since they’ll be at your beck and call all day.
If you’re envisaging lots of drinking and dancing late into the night, serving snacks is a good idea – noodle boxes filled with fish and chips or chicken fingers will do the trick.

Cocktail
Hosting an event with canapés and fork-only dishes are a growing trend in catering. They create a relaxed, sociable atmosphere, work well in almost any venue and allow you to offer a wide variety of food.
The fare should be high-impact and fun – be bold with the flavours, but do include a couple of safe options for guests with a sensitive palate. Try fresh sandwiches – they are a feast for the eye and are easier to eat than fiddly pastry canapés.
The biggest mistake in hosting a cocktail party is not serving enough food. Ideally, plan to offer six to eight canapés per guest, plus three to four entrée-sized dishes. And to prevent people from still feeling hungry, most caterers recommend including more substantial fork-food options such as chicken curry served in rice bowls.
Also remember that you’ll still need some sort of seating, especially for older guests. Set up tables and chairs around your venue, or consider creating a lounge area.


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