It’s strange to think that this time last year Jamie and I were in full wedding planning mode with so many debates, discussions and decisions yet to have about what/where/when…
Like many girls I grew up dreaming of my “big day”; fantasising about the dress, the venue, the groom etc BUT, there was always one other aspect that occupied a great deal of my time and thought – the food! Big surprise right?!
And, one of the nice things about being a little older when we tied we the knot was that I’d had the opportunity to go to numerous weddings and gather thoughts and ideas about what I liked, what I didn’t like, what worked well and what not so much.
I dreamed of something different from the normal canapés and 3 course sit down “Wedding Breakfast” – I wanted the food to be abundant, for it to be as much part of the experience as the music and dancing. And, especially importantly, I knew that I didn’t want anyone to find themselves in a position where there was nothing they could eat or drink – something I’ve experienced at many events through being gluten free and, on occasion, the designated driver.
In short, I wanted our guests to feel as special as Jamie and I were hoping to. And our starting point came before any vows had even been said I knew that, as a guest, the excitement and rush to get ready for a loved one’s wedding can often mean forgetting about the fact that we might not have access to food or drink for quite a while –never fun especially if you’re prone to becoming “hangry” and so I wanted our guests to be able to quench their thirst and top up their tummies with some light refreshments before the fun had even begun – and so that’s what we had!
When our guests arrived on the Saturday evening at our venue, The Grove in Hertfordshire, they were met by stunningly attired wine butlers offering them a choice of Prosecco, red or white wine, a cocktail or a selection of fresh juices – if none of that appealed then there was a fully stocked bar available which was open throughout. Glass in hand they could then choose from the delicious hot and cold canapé selection that the fabulous waiting staff were on hand to offer them – and boy did they have a choice!
If they wanted something hot then they could pick from:
Beef fillet served in a mini Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream
Salt cod croquettes with a basil cream
Satay chicken skewers
Corn fritters, avocado salsa
Or, if it was something cold they craved then they had the choice of:
Fresh Tuna Sushi “Pizzas”
Smoked chicken & fresh mango filo parcels
Ginger cured salmon
Zesty Ponzu with pipettes
Crushed edamame beans or chargrilled zucchini
Heirloom tomato, basil & olive bread
We also offered a selection of olives, nuts, crisps and vegetable crudités with various dips
However, that wasn’t all!
We wanted to make sure that our guests were properly “fuelled” for the evening of fun, celebration and merriment that lay ahead and so, whilst Jamie and I were having our last few photos taken (separately) and our make-up touched up (him not me!) our guests could also take their pick from one of the chef-manned food stations that had been set up around the reception room that were serving:
Freshly carved smoked salmon with a choice of rye bread, capers, chopped shallots, lemon wedges and freshly cracked black pepper
A selection of mezze including chicken shawarma, humus, falafel, tahini, tabbouleh, Israeli & olive salad, red cabbage, Moutabal, Kibbe pickles and freshly baked pitta bread
Made to order crispy duck pancakes with julienne of cucumber and spring onion and a fresh hoi sin sauce
Appetites (temporarily) sated and many photos taken it was time for the ceremony and so, serenaded by our with our violin and pianist duo, our guests were beckoned into The Grove’s stunningly decorated grand ballroom to take a seat at one of the many exquisitely laid tables that filled it. Having both been walked down the aisle on the arms of our parents and with vows said and rings exchanged it was time for the party – and of course the dancing – to begin!
Later, after what felt like hundreds of photos being taken, kisses exchanged and spins around the dancefloor, we were all in need of some refreshments and so, as if on cue, it was time for the main feast to begin!
Now, given the amount of food that already been served and that we were planning on (still) having, we thought it would make sense to forego a starter and, instead, focus on a main course and (arguably the best bit of any meal) dessert!
Whilst our guests were being served their choice from an option of beef, fish or vegetarian main courses (details below) a selection of salads and freshly baked breads were delivered to their tables for them to choose from. The menu included:
Roast rib of beef served with pomme purée, a potato rösti ring, green beans, caramelised shallots, heritage carrots & red onion confit
Roasted seabass with parmentier potatoes, roasted cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, spiced raisins, chargrilled courgettes, cauliflower couscous and micro herbs
Cauliflower steak with quinoa, butternut squash puree, truffle & mushroom mousse, roasted & braised heritage carrots, parsley and chervil crust, pumpkin, spinach and a lovage emulsion
Accompanied by a salad choice of:
Roasted cauliflower with tahini
Roasted aubergine & pomegranate seeds
Chargrilled broccolini with chilli
And a selection of breads including:
Focaccia with rosemary, ciabatta, flatbreads and breadsticks
To round things off our guests were served French apple tart with vanilla bean ice cream and salted caramel sauce accompanied by freshly brewed coffee, tea and herbal infusions and petits fours including, as a special treat for me, some of my legendary raw chocolate brownies made especially by our catering company Tony Page Ltd (as good as my own – almost!)
Remember how I said that we didn’t want anyone to feel left out? Well we wanted to make sure that our younger guests felt special and were catered for too and so they were treated to their own menu that included scrumptious southern fried chicken and chips with corn on the cob followed by a fabulous knickerbocker glory.
That feast completed and our guests and their appetites satisfied we carried on enjoying the celebrations, photos, music and dancing well into the early hours of the next day…where there was still more to come!
The next morning the 80 guests who had stayed the night at the hotel were all invited to join us for our first proper breakfast as “man and wife” – something that we had both always liked the idea of – not only to make the celebrations go on longer but also so that Jamie and I could catch up on people’s highlights of the evening before and any magic, mischief and mayhem that we had potentially missed!
So, with me wearing my mother’s own stunning wedding dress, Jamie and I welcomed our guests into a private room that had been decorated with some of the beautiful flowers and table decorations (which included ornamental kale – had to get food in there somewhere of course!) where a lavish breakfast buffet had been set up. Guests were invited to tuck into a selection that included freshly squeezed juices, muffins, pastries, freshly baked breads, yoghurt, fresh fruit and mueslis as well an array of cold meats, cheese and fish with hot options including a full English breakfast, pancakes, waffles and eggs any style also on offer alongside a variety of teas, coffees and other drinks.
After lots of food, laughter, the exchanging of stories and taking of yet more photos, it was time for us to bid farewell to our guests, and for Jamie and I to leave as man and wife!
Looking back on it now I’m SO pleased (and rather hungry!) with how it all turned out – the experience as a whole was more than I had ever hoped for and dreamed about – and that especially goes for the food but, most of all, the groom!
Special thanks go to all of those who helped to turn my dream into reality; our friends, family, the wonderful staff at The Grove in Hertfordshire as well as the following:
Production and band @creationeventsltd
Make up @michellepeters_mua
Click the link below so you can get a sneaky peak into what we and our guests savoured at The Little Wedding.