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When it comes to wedding meals, whether you have a healthy budget or a tight one, a little bit of planning can go a long way towards ensuring a feast that guests will be salivating over for years to come.
The trick is keeping your meal simple, opting for good quality ingredients (or a caterer that uses them) and ensuring you choose food that everybody likes, not just the bride and groom.
“The most common wedding meal mistake people make is ordering only food they like,” says Anthony Sullivan from award-winning Sydney caterers Forte Catering and Events.
“If, for example, a bridal couple love prawns, you might see prawns crop up in the entree and main, as well as in a salad, so it’s really important to take your guests into consideration, but also to think about what’s going to be fresh and taste best when you’re getting married.
“There’s little point ordering a fig dish if you’re getting married in the winter when they’re not in season,” adds 39-year-old Anthony. “They won’t taste their best, but they probably won’t offer value for money, either.”
Anthony, a 12-time winner at the NSW Restaurant & Catering Association Awards, has loved cooking since he was a child growing up in Bathurst and, in the intervening years, has travelled and cooked in kitchens across the globe.
He’s currently Forte Catering and Events’ Executive Chef where he takes great pride in reinventing traditional dishes.
Having worked in hotels, restaurants and the catering industry for many years, Anthony says weddings pose a special gastronomic challenge, but that simplicity, generally, is a bridal couple’s best route.
However, over the years – and the many hundreds of weddings he’s catered for – several mistakes tend to appear and reappear:
1. Splurging in all the wrong places
People always remember the food at a wedding, especially if there is a lack of it! Hungry guests at a wedding is a big no-no and making ruthless cuts when it comes to the food is something that must be avoided at all costs, according to Anthony.
“While feasting on oysters, prawns and other delicacies is certainly tempting, it can be a little extravagant for those watching the bank balance. Your guests will be far more appreciative of a generous selection of less extravagant
items than they would a handful of expensive morsels.” Instead of reducing the size of meals, be wise with your selections and opt for main dishes such as salmon and chicken and steer clear of the more expensive options such as lamb or kingfish.
2. Not sticking to the seasons
There is nothing worse than sitting down to a hot and heavy meal on a sweltering summer’s day or nibbling on a cold summer salad in the middle of winter.
“It’s so important to keep the time of year in mind when selecting your dishes and it’s no surprise that food tastes best when it’s in season. It’s also less expensive than sourcing ingredients out of season,” says Anthony.
3. The unqualified sommelier
Just because you like a glass of red at the end of the work week, doesn’t make you a wine expert. Don’t be left flailing in front of the wine list picking wines based on their fancy names.
“Speak to your caterer and ask them to provide some wine pairings for you at different price points,” says Anthony. “And remember, you don’t need to blow the budget to have seamless food and wine matches,” he says.
4. Having wedding cake AND dessert
There’s really no need to have a dessert and wedding cake, according to Anthony.
“By the time dessert comes around guests are usually pretty jolly and are keener to hit the dance floor than a chocolate fondant. Serving a delicious wedding cake accompanied by some fresh cream and berries is a great way to keep costs down and guests happy,” he says.
5. Forgetting who will be eating the food
Anthony advises couples to steer clear of making the menu too repetitious or too adventurous. Exotic menus can provide an interesting twist for thrill seeking foodies but chances are, those with a simpler palate will become intimidated with what’s in front of them. When selecting the food that will be served on the day, the key is to consider who will actually be eating it.
“Guests will get bored if they have to sample seven different canapés containing the same ingredient, while the less adventurous guests may even opt to go hungry if the dishes are too exotic. A
variety of simple, fresh, clean flavours that are plated and presented well will ensure you have your bases covered,” says Anthony.
Whether you are hiring a caterer or having friends and relatives cook, Anthony says “the most important thing is to keep it simple.
“You don’t need to go too gourmet. When it comes to weddings – and any event, really – as long as the food is good and there’s enough of it, you’ll generally find your event goes brilliantly!”