Updated: Mar 11
Ok so you have ticked off you wedding menu for your day guests off your to do list. This could perhaps be a traditional three course sit-down wedding breakfast, or an informal hot fork buffet, but the next thing on your to do list is to consider is what evening food style to go for? With that question it can be easy to underestimate the importance of the evening food. Evening food is important, and it is definitely worth allocating some of your budget to it. Evening food gives your guests that midway boost through the evening due, so these are the questions you need to consider when choosing your evening menu.
1. What type of food should you provide your evening guests?
2. Is it going to be meal?
3. Is it going to be just a snack?
4. Or should you provide anything at all?
These are questions that couples ask every time they are at that stage of their wedding planning journey. Evening food is such an open playing field, with no set rules and yet so many choices.
Traditionally when catering for the evening party of a wedding it contained, a sandwich finger buffet. Guests would wait in line for ages (since we Brits are so good at queuing!) to place food on their plates to then sit down and eat.
But as we all know times have changed, the traditional evening sandwich buffet is starting to disappear and here is why:
Firstly, the timings of wedding ceremonies have changed dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years. Where couples used to get married significantly earlier and then would have a sit-down meal at 1pm, meaning the guest were hungry again by 7pm. Fast-forward three decades and most couples are now getting married between 2pm and 4pm. The most popular time that everyone is sitting down for their wedding breakfast now is around 4.30 – 5.30pm, so due this no one wants a buffet two hours later, therefore evening food has now been seen to be served around 8pm – 9pm.
Secondly, now that evening food is being served later, it is going out at the same time as the DJ or band is playing, and so a formal buffet style approach tends to put all the fun to a stand-still. So, because of this most couples prefer to look at options that can be served without the party having to stop.
Thirdly, some couples do not have day guests and evening guests anymore – there are couples that are starting to just have all day guests. Traditionally couples invited just close family and friends to their ceremony and wedding breakfast, then they would invite everyone else for the evening ‘do’. But now with the times changing we are seeing more and more couples deciding to have all their friends and family to both parts of the day, meaning that as all their guests have eaten a three-course meal at 5pm, they will only need to provide a snack in the evening.
Now it is the part where those questions are answer:
Do we need evening food at all?
The answer in 95% of cases must be yes. This is because despite feeding your guests a lavish three course meal at the wedding breakfast (to which you think they would be full to the brim!) they will almost surely want something later to keep them going. Also do not forget you have provided them champagne and wine all day – your guests will need something to soak it up with! Guests will expect to have some food during the evening.
So, what sort of evening food is a good idea?
Simple snack foods… These are for instance mini fish and chip cones, mini beef burgers, mini hot dogs and bacon or sausage sandwiches, these are become quite a popular choice. These can be eaten in one hand, whilst holding a pint or a wine in the other.
Live cooking… This is growing in popularity and involves the chef cooking in front of the guests and them coming up to grab the food, like a market stall. With this you get entertainment and food! This could include things like paella, chicken fajitas, or Chinese stir-fries. Great if you have a specific theme.
A hog roast… This is a classic and is still a popular choice to this day. It is great for a huge crowd. A hog roast is best for evening parties of 100 – 140ppl. It is simple and a hearty food.
Mezze or cheese buffet… OK, so the word buffet has been mentioned. But this is different, this is more an informal buffet. This type of buffet includes big spread of antipasti, cheeses, rustic breads, and olives for people to graze at. Or perhaps if you are a lover of cheese you could do wedding cheesecake, stacked high with different traditional English cheeses, accompanied by crackers, bread, chutneys and crudités.
A sweetie cart…This is a great addition to your evening party because you guests can pick on little bags of sweeties all night and even take some home. The kids love them too!
A barbecue… This is another great evening food option. Who does not love a yummy burger? Add salads and dressings and guests can create their own ultimate burger.
Around the world… Take inspiration from your favourite global cuisines. Serve noodles, nachos, sushi, curries, burritos, US favourites or Mediterranean inspired dishes that remind you of your favourite holidays.
Touch of sweet desert… Freshly made doughnuts or churros are everyone’s favourites. But do not forget a tasty dip or two for your churros
Popcorn is another fabulous option. Let guests help themselves to freshly popped popcorn and you can even provide personalized bags or boxes.
Why not hire in an ice-cream truck serving gourmet cones? Perfect for summer weddings when the evenings are warm.
Do not forget to ask your caterer/venue to put your wedding cake out for people to take during the evening too. They should be done free of charge for you.
So, we have now said goodbye to the boring buffets and can say hello to creative and unmissable evening menus. Lots of couples are enjoying doing something fun and unique evening menus. Which means that guests are getting a tasty treat and the foodie experience part of the entertainment.