From creative canapés and cocktails, to vegan catering and street food vans, these are the top wedding food trends for 2021…
The Top Wedding Food Trends for 2021
While 2020 saw many brides-to-be press pause on their wedding plans, and although the new lockdown measures haven’t exactly got the new year off to a roaring start, we’re wilfully looking ahead to a year of celebrations and weddings in abundance. And our cravings for all those wedding breakfasts and canapés are really kicking in.
When it comes to planning a wedding, catering for your guests – and all their different dietary requirements – can become one of the most expensive and complicated parts of organising your big day (even if the guest lists are smaller than they may have been pre-Covid-19).
We’ve consulted to catering experts up and down the UK, to get their insight on what we’ll be eating at weddings in the year ahead.
Three Courses of Indulgence
Events and wedding caterers, Caviar & Chips Catering got their team of expert, creative chefs together and looked into their fortune-telling mixing bowls to come up with some delicious predictions for wedding food trends in 2021.
One tradition that still’s proving popular in 2021 is the three-course wedding breakfast – not least because sit down dining was all that was allowed in the government’s post-lockdown wedding rules last summer.
“Over half of the weddings we have this year are currently planning between 60 – 100 guests. We have a few over 250 guests and similarly less than 10% with under 50 guests,” says Caviar & Chips co-founder and Executive Chef, Jonathan Carter-Morris.
“Of these menus, the majority are a three-course wedding breakfast (69%) with over 80% including canapés after the wedding ceremony.”
While extravagant and experimental hors d’oeuvres may get your guest talking, you can’t beat a classic canapé when it comes to your evening wedding reception.
“As for what our most popular canapés are, it looks like we’ll be making a lot of Arancinis this year as they appear on a quarter of our menus,” explains Jonathan Carter-Morris.
“Our clients love getting really creative with canapés, but we notice they do always like to have at least one crowd-pleaser on the menu, so we see a lot of Pork Belly and Mini Yorkshire puddings with Beef. And of course a classic Salmon Blini.
He did add, though, that some clients do opt for more creative options:”We do see some surprises and extravagant ingredients in the canapés too though. One wedding will be enjoying Swordfish Carpaccio, another Yakitori Chicken and one couple have swapped canapés for a whole leg of Parma Ham to be carved and served with Manchengo Cheese.”
Looking to put a twist on your dessert display? “A Sgroppino station is a great way to go,” says Joanna Mood from Zafferano. “This Venetian concept combines a cocktail and dessert – we predict espresso martini tiramisus are going to be huge.”
Treat younger guests to cute milkshakes with doughnuts looped onto paper straws, or create your own ‘garden’ with edible layers. 2021’s wedding food trends offer scope to experiment with savoury bites, too, including stuffed taco cones and arancini or lamb fritter lollipops. Go wild!
Over at Caviar & Chips, the age-old debate over a chocolate versus fruit dessert is alive and well in 2021.
“It never ceases to surprise us how often one of our clients is a chocoholic and the other prefers fruit and cream dessert,” says Executive Chef Jonathan Carter Morris. “So out of the 100 menus we looked at, 54% had chocolate as the main dessert ingredient, but I’m still not expecting that debate to be concluded!
“Lots of our clients are taking advantage of having choice and serving their guests a duo or trio of desserts – especially when they can’t make their mind up themselves! Over a quarter of menus will have more than one dessert on the menu and one in ten are choosing to use their wedding cake as part of the dessert course.”
When it comes to big-day beverages, the appetite for gin is not going anywhere with the rise of build-your-own-G&T stations and help-yourself cocktail bars. “These give you a chance to offer up a variety of mixers and basic ‘ice and a slice’ alternatives – pink grapefruit, cinnamon sticks and even peppercorns,” says Roya Nathwani.
Orange is also set to make a splash, predicts James Shelbourne, co-founder of gin distillery Silent Pool. “Earlier this year we saw a spike in coloured gins, with pink driving the charge. Next year, however, brands will move away from artificially sweetened flavourings, and we’ll see a rise in the rich and decadent – this is where orange will come into its own.”
As for your big-day toast, champagne is no longer de rigeur, says Dominique Douglas, wedding planner at Stylish Events. Cava, prosecco and crémant have become more favourable (and affordable) choices. “Cava has a drier taste, making it ideal as an aperitif, a toasting drink or food pairing,” she adds.
Having experienced a resurgence (thanks to Harry and Meghan’s 2018 nuptials), bowl food now means lighter, healthier dishes, like sushi and burrito bowls, are appearing as one of 2021’s top wedding food trends.
Eliza Caminada from The Social Pantry suggests that its rise in popularity – aside from its royal-wedding-menu status – is down to flexibility: “People always want to try something different, and with so many dietary needs to cater for, this style of eating allows guests to choose what works for them.”
“Plus, as more couples look to minimise waste, allowing guests to choose will help with this.” Choices vary from Hawaiian poké to noodles and falafel, but don’t be afraid to offer meatier options too; carnivores will go nuts for chilli and Korean steak bowls.
Farm-to-Table Wedding Food
Farm-to-table food is about making the most of the environment around you, be it growing your own ingredients, seeking out local suppliers, or sourcing produce from nearby farms.
And according to Eliza, this wedding food trend had already reached 2020 couples. “We have three weddings next year that are using their own homegrown produce, such as eggs, dairy and vegetables, which we’ll incorporate into our menus. It just adds even more of a personal touch,” she says.
One thing to bear in mind, however, is seasonality, so if your heart’s set on serving up pumpkin- and squash-based platters, an autumn wedding is your best bet.
Vegan Wedding Food
Veganism is definitely up there when it comes to wedding food trends, and as it becomes increasingly popular, you’ll likely see it cropping up much more in 2020.
If you already follow a vegan diet, you should have a good idea of what to avoid, but if it’s a fairly new thing for you, things to watch out for are meat and poultry, fish and seafood, dairy, eggs and bee products, including honey, bee pollen and royal jelly.
Wedding Welcome Cocktails
Skip the Buck’s Fizz and ditch the Prosecco – this year, we will all be sipping on lavish cocktails as our welcome drink of choice. Elegant-looking cocktails sporting an indulgent mix of spirits and flavours are taking over in the drinks space aiming to woo guests as they enter the reception.
Street Food Style
Whether providing the main culinary offering or a bit of extra fuel for the dancefloor, since the twenty-teens we’ve saw more and more couples opt for a food vans, carts and street food vendors to cater to their guests hunger pangs. This trend is certainly not slowing down in 2021, particularly as the pandemic has pushed more weds-to-be to consider outdoor weddings.
“Going into the evening food we see a big demand for street-food inspired menus,” explains Jonathan Carter-Morris. “27% of our clients will also be inviting additional guests to the evening party and so guest numbers will be increasing in the evening. Many of these guests will be enjoying dishes like Paella (34%), Fish & Chips (22%), Pizza and Cheeseboards (14% respectively).”
Late Night Wedding Food
As more couples choose to extend their celebrations to run over a two- or even three-day period, wedding parties are lasting much longer. This means your guests need to kept fed and watered throughout – both day and night.
Comfort foods are ideal for night-time snacking – think burgers, fish and chips, cheesy bites and sliders. Add a mix of sweet treats to balance out the savoury nibbles to keep energy levels high.
Wedding Grazing Tables
Although perhaps not the most social distancing-appropriate, it appears communal feasting remains a wedding food trend for 2021. But we think it may have more to do with the displays being a real feast for the eyes.
“There’s nothing better than watching guests digging in, and talking about the delights before them as they do!” says Toria Smith, founder of grazing caterer, Grape & Fig.
Choose anything from speciality cheeses, cured meats and antipasti to dips, bread, crackers and chutney, dried fruit and nuts – the possibilities are endless.
And for lasting impact, keep it colourful: “Grazing should be different to the beige buffets we’re so used to seeing – the most impressive tables should be heavily laden and adorned with props and foliage or flowers,” says Tori.
Roya Nathwani from Top Hat Catering agrees: “Grazing tables are designed to encourage guests to come back for more, and the abundance of food on show always creates a talking point, so get creative!”
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