Weddingnesday… food for thought

24 Nov

Ah, wedding food… why does it cost so much and is still liked by so few?

Recently we had the pleasure (read: torture) of hearing family opinions on food at other people’s weddings. I nearly cried for the poor people who must have spent so much money on their catering only to have their guests moan about it once they got home.

It genuinely freaked me out. After all, I thought the point of the day was to celebrate two people getting married, not be peeved that there was a buffet and not a sit-down meal.

Part of the difficulty for me is that I’m a strict veggie (and have been for over a decade) – so it’s very strange trying to make decisions about courses when they’re mainly meaty.
If I could subject people to an all veggie day I would but I can’t!

What we want is just nice fun food that people won’t get upset by… but at the same time
I don’t want to spend lots of money on something bland.

So my lovelies do you have any wedding food advice for this vegetablearian?

(How do I keep it fun and keep the food dinosaurs happy?)

What would you recommend? Or what have you had that people loved?
(Hog roasts are out I’m afraid that’s just too much for me!)

P.S. I’m good on all the sweet and snacky/bite-sized stuff (the fun bit),
it’s just the mains that’s foxing me!


1. jessie and tyler‘s wedding via martha stewart weddings
2. martha stewart weddings 3. jonas peterson via once wed


23 Responses to “Weddingnesday… food for thought”

  1. claire 24/11/2010 at 1:50 PM #

    I like catering for veggies when we have friends around for dinner – I love the challenge I always make extra as I know the meat eaters will want in too.

    The other week, I made provencal stuffed veg (‘petits farcis’), having just come back from France – sounds rubbish (stuffed veg make the think watery, tasteless) but they were absolutely delish. The recipe I used was this one but they strike me as something that would be good when catering for masses of people at a wedding as they can be totally prepared in advance.

    I’ve also made stuffed squash, stuffed mushrooms. For some reason, stuffed things go down well!

  2. Eleni Drinks Tea 24/11/2010 at 1:51 PM #

    Oh, just feed them vegetables and tell them to bugger off if they don’t like it!

  3. Rhianne 24/11/2010 at 1:59 PM #

    people are so demanding about weddings, bah. I’m going to upset so many people if I ever have one by doing what I want lol.

    Have you a list to choose from? What type of veg things are you having? Could you compliment them by just adding meat?

    The last wedding I went to had a posh bbq which was interesting, burgers and sausages with really nice bread and cheese…

    • HannahB 24/11/2010 at 2:31 PM #

      Well we had a barbeque at our wedding where the food was cooked in barrells outside and brought in on platters to guests who were seated in our house. The bbq included vegetarian kebabs, fish and meat. To accompany them my dad made three different posh salads- cous cous and aubergine salad, and others too with- harissa dressing, olives, capers- and baskets of bread. It was simple and cheap!

      Try looking at the Ottolenghi recipes on the guardian. He cooks vegetarian food for meat eaters! Eg:

      Warm halloumi and chicory with pomegranate and walnut recipe
      Jerusalem artichoke and goat’s cheese soufflé recipe
      Beetroot and saffron rice recipe
      Goat’s cheese and lemon ravioli
      Beetroot fritters with lemon and saffron yoghurt recipe

      They are all mouthwatering and you dont even notice that there isnt any meat!

  4. Jenny 24/11/2010 at 2:34 PM #

    We had a barbeque and that worked well for vegetarians as there’s plenty of good barbeque choices. Works best in the summer though, obviously. My main tips would be:
    1. sample the food (we didn’t but were lucky)
    2. go for simple quality over over-presented, overly-messed around with food
    3. avoid chicken dishes(worst wedding meal I’ve had was a dried out chicken breast)
    4. most importantly, don’t worry too much about what other people think. You can never please everyone. It’s your day so just choose what you’ll enjoy and focus on that on the day. That goes for all wedding-based decisions.

  5. Lucy 24/11/2010 at 2:56 PM #

    I too have been party to these types of conversations. It is sad indeed that the food is open to such strong criticism at weddings and all big events like business dinner dances etc. After all it’s often the main cost of having a wedding. I’d be happy with a baked potato I’m always just so happy to be at weddings.

    We had a selection of veggie and vegan friendly salads at our wedding along the lines of the ones Hannah is talking about. We were all on stopping our guests from licking the bowls clean! We made some and bought the rest from Waitrose (shhh!) -the ingredients were good quality and we only had a choice of about 6. I think too much choice and variety confuses people. So I’m a bit anti general buffets with 100 different things.

    I love the sound of the recipes Hannah and Claire are talking about. If you haven’t tried Ainsley Harriot’s Puy Lentil Salad (with veggie friendly feta) then you really haven’t lived. It multiplies for buffets very easily and has turned many a lentil hater in my family from the dark side…Email me if you’d like the recipe it really is delish.

    I think by far the best wedding/event food I have had was a buffet with just 4 salads (with optional grilled chicken for the meat eaters) followed by lemon tart, a dollop of cream and some raspberries. Mmm, so simple. I could eat that again right now and I’ve only just had my lunch!


  6. JoaniSchofield 24/11/2010 at 3:19 PM #

    It bothers me when people complain about the free food they are eating at a wedding. Choose something you like and enjoy your day!
    Will there be alcohol?

  7. loobyroux 24/11/2010 at 3:24 PM #

    i went to a wedding with a slow cooked pig, and bowls of different type veg. i guess if your veggie the pig isnt so good but something like this is yummy. they also had about 10 different cakes on offer for pudding. that was enjoyable coz it wasnt like a set out meal. you could help yourself to bowls of different things. the only thing that was set for choice was the starter. just do what you want to do luv. always the best way. after all it is your day

  8. Aimée 24/11/2010 at 3:32 PM #

    We have lucky enough to be invited to lots of weddings recently and have been treated to everything from traditional Mexican (in the depths of Mexico, complete with un-identifiable animal part soup…eek) to 10 course Chinese banquet, to traditional sit downs and classically dubious buffets. But the meal I remember the best I remember for its simplicity, for being tasty and filling and having meaning for the couple. Each course was set in the middle of each of the round guest tables in big bowls and platters for the table to help themselves from. It went as follows:

    Starter: antipasti style platters for each table, with smoked salmon and prosciutto, mozzarella, olives and marinated vegetables and dressed mixed leaves + lots of warm crusty bread.

    Main: a big bowl of spaghetti and a big bowl of Bolognese (veggie for them’s that requested).

    Pud: a big dish of Tiramisu! YUM

    The key to the success here was that every course was really well made – think classic Tuscan feast rather than insipid Italian chain restaurant. The couple went with Italian food after the groom proposed during an Italian cooking course.

    In short, choose something you both love eating, make sure there is plenty of it and don’t get bogged down in other peoples likes and dislikes.

    I loved the sharing idea, especially for starter and pudding 🙂 The antipasti type starter would be easy to do for both veggies and meat eaters.

  9. Caroline 24/11/2010 at 4:03 PM #

    I had a similar dilemma when we got married, not that i’m a Vegetarian, but that I wanted lovely food at an acceptable price. I booked with Grooms Catering Company in the end because Nancy, the catering manager, really got my ideas and didn’t try and sell me ‘STEAK AND KIDNEY PIE’. (yes really!)
    One thing I also didn’t want was for people to sit for hours eating and then being too full and tired to dance, so we first of all decided to have the wedding at 4pm in the afternoon so the guests would have all had some lunch. Then after the ceremony we had lots and lots of canapes for the champagne reception as a starter and then a buffet at the table for the main course with a vegetarian dish (can’t remember what it was now), poached salmon, a chicken casserole, potatoes and veg. So everyone could eat as much or as little as they wanted. Instead of a wedding cake we had chocolate cup cakes which were served as the dessert with ice cream and berries. All this plus 2 glasses of Champagne and wine for the guests came in at £30 a head which was great and everybody loved the food and at 10pm the waiters went round with bacon/egg rolls for the hungry dancers and evening guests. X

  10. the teapot explodes 24/11/2010 at 5:42 PM #

    Oh the joys of being a vegetarian. I completely understand, having been one for about 15 years. I like the suggestion from Aimee above – a Tuscan feast at a wedding sounds so amazing. So much nicer than a buffet table or unidentified beast on a spit. That sort of thing always means there’s a table being served last, who are drunker than everyone else, and then a table who finish long before the rest. Good luck!

    p.s. thanks for checking out my blog. Your San Francisco trips looks like it was loads of fun and has certainly given me some ideas!
    x Charlotte

  11. Cathy 24/11/2010 at 8:36 PM #

    It depends on the ‘style’ of your day, but how about a proper fish & chip van? A friend of mine had one at his wedding, complete with bunting and proper newspaper wrapping and the guests could go up as many times as they liked, it was cheap and everyone went crazy about it (myself included). It’s not veggie, but also slightly easier to stomach than a full on meat menu? There were battered veg for the veggies (courgette slices etc.) too which were delicious (I’m a non meat eating semi-Veggie myself). As I say though, it probably depends on the kind of wedding you’re going to have and it wouldn’t go with a five star venue! *g*

  12. Wes West 24/11/2010 at 9:04 PM #

    To be honest, I can’t remember the food we ate at our wedding (Opps, it was only a year and a half ago!). I’m a veggie and I think I had some kind of tarte thing? We had both a meat and veggie BBQ in the evening, which went down really well with the guests because it’s a much more social than making them sit down again.

    My advice would be to not pay too much for the food if it means cutting back elsewhere – people never remember and as long as they’re fed at the right time, they’ll be happy.

  13. francesca 25/11/2010 at 6:18 AM #

    people like to give their harsh opinions just when you don’t need them. not helpful! i hope you’ve got some interesting suggestions above. just remember you can’t please all the people all of the time. do what suits your personality and your wedding. x

  14. Elizabeth @ rosalilium 25/11/2010 at 12:40 PM #

    I like Aimee’s suggestion of sharing big platters and bowls of food in the middle of the table and Cathy’s Fish and Chip Van suggestion.

    But, I suggest choosing what YOU enjoy, make sure it’s served on time and enjoy your day!

  15. katie 25/11/2010 at 12:52 PM #

    we said “screw soup or salad!” and everyone seemed to like the antipasti for appetizers. it was just a bunch of cheese, olives and i think there was prosciutto but i didn’t have any. it was good to pick from though – i loved it! we did have a chicken main but for later in the evening we had freshly baked pizzas – maybe go for something like that? they were really nice.

  16. mysparethoughts 25/11/2010 at 1:17 PM #

    So being a meat eater myself but married to a vegetarian so I feel your pain. I have yet to figure out why people find it so hard to cater for vegetarians or why they decide that the veggie should get small portions – being veggie doesn’t equal being on a diet you should see how much food my husband can put away it puts rugby players to shame (no literally he has eaten his brother, who is shaped like a rugby player, under the table) – sorry random tangent.

    Anyway the food was really important for us we wanted one day where O could have something delicious.
    Starters and canapes were easy-ish most veggies will eat a cheese tart or soup – for meat eating canapes you can’t go far wrong with haggis balls.
    For the main course we had
    Veg wellington
    Lamb cutlets and mash – lamb is my favourite meat and should be pretty good at that time of year – remember to speak to your caterers about whether it’ll be served pink or if guests can request how it is served, could be a hassle with a lot of guests.
    Chicken – can’t remember probably with haggis. Yes it is bland and boring but we knew that we would have some guests who were very fussy eaters and would only eat chicken.

    In the evening we had a giant pot of bean chilli and rice and a chicken, bacon and leek stew with rice (I don’t like chilli but we could have easily done a meat version)

    I thought your OH was a meat eater?

  17. Becky 26/11/2010 at 11:40 AM #

    Such a tricky one…as a fellow veggie (and one who most definitely likes to feed people) I sometimes worry that when people come over for dinner or parties and don’t get offered meat that I am disappointing them. However, being a vegetarian is very important to me, and this tends to override everything else. I think Hannah’s suggestion of looking to Ottolenghi for inspiration is a good one, his food is so tasty and the recipes never seem like they are ‘missing something’ even with the absence of meat.

  18. HannahB 28/11/2010 at 8:43 PM #

    Let us know how you progress with this one Zoe! As a veggie lover, Really keen to know how it turns out! good luck x

  19. Littleclouds 30/11/2010 at 5:06 PM #

    I think you should go vegetarian if it doesn’t cause too much drama with the family.
    I’m not vegetarian myself but would not mind one bit if I went to a wedding where it was vegetarian, I’d find it interesting actually. I love trying ‘new’ types of food !
    I bet if the veggie food was tasty enough, people wouldn’t even notice !

  20. Rachael 02/12/2010 at 3:13 PM #

    I was a pesco-vegetarian when I got married two years ago, and our caterer talked me out of a seafood dish! We went with “grazing stations” with a pasta bar (lots of veggies and several different sauces!), a roast pork loin with mustard sauce, and a prime rib thing. We were friends with the owners of the venue, so they had the chef make me a special dish (sea scallops with mango chutney!) as a wedding surprise. All the vegetarians had plenty to eat, and the meat-eaters had a lot of choices. We got a lot of positive feedback about our wedding food!

  21. Sophie 14/12/2010 at 10:47 AM #

    My dear – you can absolutely one hundred percent go vegetarian. I did! Me and my boy had a day that was more us then traditional wedding – no sit down meal (no one likes the food, and no one likes where they get seated anyway!) no meat. We’ve both been veggies for a long long time and it’s important to us. We had a massive amazing paella made and handed out in paper takeaway containers with haloumi and yummy things, mugs of pumpkin soup handed round and finger food for miles – all veggo all delish. I hate that people assume because I’m veggie I dont eat a proper meal every day. Please don’t feel pressured to put a poor piggy on a stick to satisfy the rellies.
    That said I know the stupid amounts of direct and non direct pressure that people put on you to ahve the wedding they think you should have – good luck in ignoring them!
    ALSO: I’ve just found your blog and I think it is SUPER.

  22. Whimsycate 29/01/2011 at 3:20 PM #

    I’m a meat eater, but i have to agree with Eleni (boy did i giggle!) and Sophie – go for veggie – it’s your wedding!

    My soon to be sister in law is vegetarian, and she is having veggie tapas, and saying stuff to anyone who doesn’t like it, and me and Timmy (who is vegetarian) are probably going to by pass the whole issue by just taking our nearest and dearest out to a restaurant – not helpful for you i know, but i’ve enjoyed reading all the comments and there are a lot of good suggestions!

    Cate, x

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