In traditional Western weddings, the Wedding Breakfast (a formal sit-down meal) is one of the main features. To attempt to cater for a wide range of tastes, likes or dislikes (not to mention dietary requirements) of the 80 or so guests, many wedding venues have tried to make these as easy to manage as possible, which can result in some fairly similar outcomes! One way of making your wedding different to other people’s is to try and make this more personal. The menu may be limited by different factors, however how you dress the Dining Room and tables for your guests can create a real sense of occasion.
The Wedding Breakfast has its origins in late Georgian times, when the wedding ceremony always included a Holy Communion. This would have required the bride and groom to have fasted (not eaten) since the night before so that they were deemed eligible to receive the Holy Sacrament. As part of the Communion the priest would have blessed and distributed a selection of wine and bread or cakes, therefore meaning that the bride and groom would ‘Break Fast’. This over time developed into a meal at lunchtime, after the morning marriage service, and now we still use the same term to describe the large, formal meal that takes place (usually about 4.30pm!) during an English wedding celebration.
Often dining rooms are set with round tables for 8-10 guests, each with a series of place settings, name cards and copious quantities of glassware. In the middle of each table is a wide expanse of nothing-ness which you can use to your own means to create a centrepiece for your guests to admire. Often florists jump in and create some stunning works of floral art for your guests to admire, surround with candles or similar. These can create beautiful coordination as they will match the flowers that the bridal party carry, and other decorations around the venue. The will also follow your colour scheme of your stationery and bridesmaid dresses, both creating and completing the ‘look’ of your day. Flowers are romantic and versatile as they can be moved around during the day, so these make a fabulous focal point. Don’t be afraid of adding to them, or around them, however with items of your own to create something more personal.
Table names are a great way of putting your mark on things. Catering teams will need some form of name or number for your tables so that they can make sure that the correct guests receive the right food. Numbers, however, can be a little problematic. Being seated on table 2, for example, can give your guests a sense of importance, but being placed on table 14, may not result in the same reaction! To combat this, table names are an easy alternative, as no one can guess which is more important that the other! I have seen many different themes; many people go with places that are important to them, or films that they have seen together, but here are a couple more that I have seen recently that I have quite liked!
On the left was a wedding reception themed with the couples’ favourite books. The top table (of course!) was Beatrix Potter’s ‘Peter Rabbit’, and other table included ‘The Wind in the Willows’. Each table had a beautiful, hard-backed edition of the book in question, presumably so the guests could read aloud to each other in between courses! A good party theme was different types of sparkling wine. Each table had an (empty!) bottle wit the name held into the cork and then every guests’ name card was itself mounted onto a champagne cork. A lovely keepsake, and a suitable theme for a wedding celebration!
If, however, you would prefer the more traditional table numbers, try to think of way that you can still add in something personal to them. I saw this at a wedding this summer, which I thought was priceless: each table number had two photographs, one of the bride and one of the groom, but both as babies or toddlers. (This was also a great way of getting in ‘those’ embarrassing photographs, without the need for long PowerPoint presentations as part of the speeches…!)
Whatever you choose to do for your wedding, remember one thing: your day is unique because it is yours. Your friends and relatives know you, so no matter whether you have booked a Castle or a Cabin to celebrate in, by creating a theme and personalising the things that you can, you will make the day truly unique just by being there. But try to make it different, and a day that everyone will always remember.