Fancy celebrating your nuptials with stiff-collared formality and impossible-to-eat canapés? Hmmm, not so much. With a big chunk of any wedding budget going on food and drink, many couples are ditching uninspiring wedding breakfasts and instead making the big day a gourmet-centric affair, says Clare Hunt
Wedding food has an iffy reputation. Often memorable for all the wrong reasons, or – worse – not memorable at all. For the food-focused affianced, putting gastronomy firmly at the centre of the day delivers an unforgettable occasion.
From easy-going tapas to super-fine dining, your favourite epicurean delights can be tailored to any style of union. After all, if it can’t be all me-me-me on your wedding day, when can it be?
An affair to remember
Country house takeover? Nothing revolutionary there. Haute-cuisine restaurant takeover? Okay, that’s something else. For real foodie celebrations, the West Country is well provisioned with top-flight restaurants your guests may never otherwise visit.
Indulge your fantasies by heading to some of the fabulous spots where dining is taken extremely seriously. From Michelin starred marvels to quirky spots that craft their gourmet goods with produce straight from the kitchen garden, you can find something that feels beautifully bespoke to your style. The Trencherman’s Guide is a good start to find restaurants and foodie hotels that make the grade.
And don’t forget the opportunities to play lord and lady of the manor at a gorgeous hotel. Exclusive use is becoming increasingly popular and provides the freedom to have the party to end all parties – and the survivors’ breakfast the next day is priceless.
At Michelin starred Lucknam Park near Bath, for instance, the sky’s the limit when it comes to your wedding day whims – arrive by helicopter, enjoy a wedding breakfast by candlelight, scoff a midnight snack or take a romantic horse ride around the estate. Understanding that contemporary couples want to put their own stamp on the day, the real foodie hotels are open to you customising the experience – whether that’s bringing in an ice cream trike midafternoon or using your own carefully crafted gin for the toasts.
All the fun of the festival
If you’re not careful, your wedding day can whizz by in a head-spinning blur. So if you want to spend it mingling with your guests (rather than lording it at the head table), go festival-informal. Perfect for outdoor events with a laid-back-but-buzzy vibe, food trucks serving topnotch specialities are the places to find really indulgent treats.
Try mouth-watering organic pulled pork, juicy chin-dripping burgers (was that white dress really a good idea?) and other meaty thrills from the likes of Coombe Farm Organic’s shepherd’s hut. Or tuck into pimped-up mac ’n’ cheese from Gourmet Street Kitchen.
Hiring a collection of different vans means there’ll be something for everyone, or go for a mobile caterer who’ll serve a bespoke menu but still be informal. Titley Green will work with you to decide on a spread of South West-sourced food that’s as homely or lavish as you like. All served from a vintage caravan, of course.
A toast to the bride and groom
Get the party started with some very special drinks, well, it would be improper not to, wouldn’t it? Harness the power of the South West’s gin-naissance by inviting your very own gin bar to help lubricate the celebrations. The Jagger Gin Bar is housed in a converted horse trailer and stocks a boggling array of local gins, along with all the right mixers.
Adding a shiny touch of luxe is easy if you have a twinkly old-school airstream at your disposal. Luckily, The Buffalo – a travelling bar (pictured) with plenty of retro style – is on hand to serve up fizz, personalised cocktails and a bespoke bar menu, from the arrival of the guests to the end of the night.
Let them eat cake (or not)
Unbelievably, some people don’t like cake. Others don’t fancy it right after a three course meal and just before hitting the dance floor. But it does make a stunning centrepiece and cutting it is a fun tradition.
You can go alternative with a profiterole/cupcake/macaron tower (though, mwah – bit passé), defy convention with a pyramid of chocolate-dipped strawberries or ditch propriety and have a wedding ‘cake off’ – challenging your guests to BYO homemade bakes. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, opt for a quirkily tiered stack of artisan cheeses, adding pork pies if you dare. Check out Quicke’s or The West Country Cheese Co. for inspiration.
By forsaking cake entirely you can squeeze in extra pudding in the shape of artisan ice cream. Thai-inspired ice cream rolls from Sliced Ice are frozen and rolled (with indulgent extras) to order. Ice cream trikes like Sevanetti’s, serving Marshfield Farm ices, can be on hand to keep guests cool on a hot night.
Gastro wedding ideas
For an unconventional stag or hen do, visit one of the South West vineyards for a tour and tasters. Camel Valley and Knightor Winery in Cornwall, Sharpham Wine and Cheese in Devon and Three Choirs in Gloucestershire are all a good shout.
Take a chocolate-making course at Gilbert & Swayne in Somerset if you fancy whipping up bespoke table favours.
Calm pre-ceremony jitters with a delivery of brunchtime treats from Pinkmans in Bristol. Their sour-dough-nuts (try the honeycomb mousse), flaky pastries and savoury brioche will put a spring in your step as you head up the aisle.