What it is: The classic option, this one never goes out of style. A plated, formal dinner adds a touch of class to any occasion: keep it traditional with an entrée, main and dessert, or go grand with an all-out banquet.
Why we like it: First-off, your guests will know the drill. Everyone eats at the same time, everyone gets their share, and everybody sticks to the schedule. For guests travelling a long way, a beautifully presented plate of fine food is a sure fire winner. And don’t underestimate the ease that it gives to the planning of the day – spreading out toasts between courses keeps your guests engaged and entertained. Not to mention the fun that you can have with a seating plan...
Best bites: In the North East, we’re spoiled by a generous helping of fantastic wedding venues known for their fine-dining credentials. For a classic country wedding, Beamish Hall in County Durham do fine regional fare in majestic surroundings. If you’re after a taste of extravagance, look to Le Petit Chateau, due to open in Otterburn in April 2016 – its sister site Newton Hall is famed for locally sourced feasts up to an indulgent nine courses.
What it is: Wedding food doesn’t have to be formulaic. Playful, relaxed, and that bit different, food stations add a bit of fun to wedding dining. The idea is simple – food is spread out across different carts and tables (‘stations’) dotted around the venue. The result is a really creative crowd-pleaser.
Why we like it: There’s one big bonus to this option: variety. Don’t want to stick to one cuisine? Want to add a fish and chip van? An oyster bar? Food stalls can satisfy all tastes. And if a few guests turn up late in the day, you can fit them in just fine. Everybody gets what they want, and has fun getting it.
Best bites: Got a sweet tooth? Stations needn’t be savoury. Hire out a vintage style sweet cart from the Artisan Wedding House complete with chocolates, popcorn and doughnuts to get your guests reliving their school days. Want a more grown-up pick-me-up for later in the evening? Keep things whimsical with Coffee Supreme’s mobile coffee cart and offer your guests barista-style espresso on site.
What it is: If you want to hark back to a golden era of glamour, chivalry and high teas, then scones and jam are the way to go. Typically served between 2pm and 5pm, think elegant finger sandwiches, delicate scones and moreish petits fours. Mismatched china, vintage cake stands and Pimm’s a-plenty keep this classic tradition bang up to date.
Why we like it: Who can resist a miniature macaron? There are few things in life more pleasing than sipping fine tea (or something a little stronger) whilst tucking into a plate of bite-sized sweets. What’s more, it’ll save you time and money – getting the food out of the way early means plenty of time on the dance floor later.
Best bites: For out-and-out elegance, Newcastle’s Café Royal have nailed afternoon tea. Their in-house bakery produces some of the best pastries, scones and cakes you’ll find in the region: these are petits fours with a big impact. For something a little off-piste, pick and mix your own cake selection from The Pudding Parlour in Hexham, where all manner of indulgent bakes are available for collection.
What it is: Relaxed and informal, the buffet is a wedding staple for a reason. With long tables bearing a feast of different dishes, this one keeps your options open. Opt to employ servers behind the buffet to keep things traditional, or go casual and let guests serve themselves.
Why we like it: An easy and cost-effective way to go big on choice, a buffet does its best to keep your guests happy. Food allergies and dietary restrictions can easily be catered for with extra plates and stations, whilst the service style will get your guests mingling.
Best bites: If you want the organisation off your plate, stick to a specialist caterer or choose a foodie venue. Stay savvy by opting for a venue that offers in-house catering: Langley Castle near Hexham keeps things gourmet with everything from classic quiches to a spit roasted pig. Alternatively, specialist caterers can come to you: Virginia’s Cordon Bleu Catering’s selection of hot dishes and finger snacks can be served anywhere in the region.
What it is: There’s no need to feel pressured into an elaborate food spread – cocktail-style receptions are all the rage. This up-and-coming trend swaps a formal dinner for hors d’oeuvres, for a chic party vibe that gets guests on their feet. If you’re getting wed late in the day and want to max out mingling time, this option reaps big rewards.
Why we like it: Worried that a formal meal isn’t your style? This is guaranteed to keep the party ticking along nicely. It works especially well for very large wedding parties, and with food available all night, guests can tuck in whenever they please.
Best bites: Canapés should pack in the flavour. The Vermont Hotel in Newcastle keep things gourmet with wild smoked salmon blinis and caramelised figs with stilton cream and chive featuring on their canapé menu. Best of all, their Redwood bar is one of the coolest cocktail haunts in the city. Alternatively, The Viewing Box at the Baltic is licensed for civil ceremonies and ideal for canapé receptions, making for a sleek, chic city wedding.
Quick tips for a show-stopping wedding cake
First off, consider how many guests you’ll be serving, and design your cake accordingly – three tiers will typically serve 100 guests.
Right On Time
Don’t leave it to the last minute to get your order in. Three to six months in advance gives plenty of time for the cake to mature and decoration to be finished.
When ordering a cake, do your homework. Keep things chic by opting for a cake design that matches the style and colour scheme of your wedding.
Think you have to stick to tradition? Think again. If fruit cake isn’t your thing, there are hundreds of alternatives: whether coffee, citrus or chocolate. If you’re stuck for ideas, a cake-tasting session is a great way to sample flavours and find out what works for you.
We’ve no shortage of specialists in the North East, meaning there’s a wedding cake for every taste and budget. For something classic, Celebration Cakes by Julie are experts at sleek, stylish cake design. If you’re after a cake with a little more quirk, Chester-le-Street’s Mrs Bou Cake bake sweet designs in far-out flavours: think piña colada and apple crumble. Cake not your calling? Savoury is in style – Blagdon’s Northumberland Cheese Company and Tynemouth’s The Deli Around The Corner make multi-tiered cheese centrepieces with all the wow factor of the classic sweet.