Let them eat cake...
EVEN the chocolate fountain has found its way on to the menu of the wedding caterer, as couples strive to offer their guests treats that are ever more exotic or fashionable.
Most caterers will be able to source a large version of the latest culinary must-have and there are now some very high quality varieties of white or milk chocolate, as well as options such as bright red coulis fountains – and even punch or champagne versions.
This reflects a growing demand for caterers to take their lead from a more discerning and food savvy client who is no longer prepared to simply choose from a few available options without any personal input into the details of the menu.
With more people eating out than ever before, and the ubiquitous celebrity chef TV shows, caterers are having to raise the bar in terms of what they offer guests for the wedding fayre.
Catering expert Jamie Landale, managing director of the events and catering operation Wild-Thyme, says much of the advancement in high spec catering is down to a growing shift in responsibility for planning and funding the wedding celebrations.
“Traditionally, the parents of the bride would fund the whole wedding with the groom’s parents perhaps offering to help in some areas,” he says. “However, many of our clients are high earners working in the City and coming home to Scotland for a traditional celebration.
“Quite often, they may have a joint income far in excess of that of their parents, and in wanting their special day to be perfect in every detail, they are quite prepared to take on the expense and the organisation of the whole event so as to get exactly what they want.
“Parents may have the consideration of wanting to give their daughter the best they can while being aware that they may have another three daughters to send down the aisle over the next few years, whereas the couple themselves only have their one special day to arrange and they want to make the most of it.”
In food terms, anything goes, and couples no longer restrict themselves to the traditional. One couple on the Isle of Bute recently celebrated with an entire Moroccan theme, with food served in authentic tagines, red crystal goblets, Persian rugs and wall hangings.
Themed wedding dinners extend to co-ordinated colour stories incorporating floral arrangements, linens and tableware.
Another growing favourite for an intimate summer wedding, of up to around 30 guests, is a professionally-catered picnic on the grounds of a private estate hired for the day, with croquet on the lawns (and wellies and brollies in the car boots!).
Cakes, too, are deviating from the norm with many couples opting for a huge five tier array of specialist cheeses.
Others might plump for a decadent dark chocolate and fondant concoction, and a particular favourite this year is the ‘croque en bouche’, a giant cone of cream-stuffed profiteroles piled high and drizzled with rich dark chocolate sauce.
“My favourite request recently,” reveals Jamie, “was from a couple who wanted a gigantic creme brulee. Rather than cutting the cake, we gave them a small silver hammer to smash through the brittle sugary topping.”
Jamie’s advice to couples struggling to devise a menu that will cater for the tastes of all of their guests is simple – instead of worrying about how many guests will want fish and who doesn’t like chicken, think about what your own favourite dishes are and work on that. Any individual guests with special requirements can then be catered for.
Just remember, it’s your day and guests are usually happy just to be there to help you celebrate. Of course, if there are any special dietary circumstances, such as a guest who has a nut or shellfish allergy, make sure the caterer knows – and find out who’s vegetarian.
Other than that, the rule of thumb is to just please yourself ... within your own budget.