Big weddings are back and with them comes the joy of celebratory receptions and wedding feasts. Our lifestyle editor discovers what’s on the menu this year as the hottest wedding food trends for 2022.
Spaghetti midnight Feasts
Perhaps it was two years of limited travel or maybe it was Stanley Tucci’s hit TV show ‘Searching For Italy’ captivating the nation in a hungry haze of mozzarella, perfectly cooked pizza, and San Marzano tomatoes, that set the tone. Becauase when it comes to late-night wedding food, 2022 is all about Italy. Bacon sandwiches are out and pasta is in. Think steaming bowls of spaghetti arrabbiata, vats of tagliatelle with slow-cooked ragu, and cacio e pepe served right out of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano. Founder of Lettice Events Holly Congdon shares the story behind one Italian midnight menu. ‘A lovely groom we catered for used to go to a nightclub in London where they would bring out bowls of spaghetti at midnight. Something similar was a must for him.’ Lettice Events served big rustic bowls of spaghetti Pomodoro with parmesan shavings. ‘The guests went wild for it’ says Congdon.
Offering an infinitely more delicious choice than a breakfast bap, Lettice Events can create a whole range of Mediterranean delights for your wedding, including tagliatelle with wild rocket and basil pesto, spaghetti puttanesca, and classic carbonara.For a truly dramatic Italian feel, bring an element of performance to your pasta with London’s leading luxury caterers, Rocket Food. Guaranteed to please, their pasta stalls feature marble work surfaces with chefs rolling and shaping fresh pasta and serving it à la minute with the finest seasonal ingredients such as La Latteria burrata and heirloom tomatoes or poached native lobster.
English Sparkling Wine
For centuries, champagne was the celebratory choice for a wedding day. Whether stimulated by Brexit or last year’s HGV driver crisis fueling a national champagne shortage, British bubbles are making their mark when it comes to toasting the big day. With good reason too. Many sparkling wines bottled on these shores have gained global recognition for their quality and flavour. One of England’s longest-established producers, Nyetimber, has received multiple gold awards for its selection of vintages. Particularly delicious is their Blanc de Blancs Magnum Vintage 2013 which was awarded Gold at the 2021 International Wine and Spirit Competition. Vintage champagne is a wonderful choice for the toast. For those having their wedding at home, there is something particularly lovely about opting for one made on English soil. It’s fair to say that whilst there are many English sparkling wines, not all of them are equal in quality. But a handful of winemakers are delivering bottles that are arguably better than many that come from the Champagne region. Relatively young to the sparkling wine space and already cited as one of the best is Coates & Seely. Founded in 2009 by friends Nicholas Coates & Christian Seely, Coates & Seely are bucking the trend of many English producers by focusing purely on quality over size. Instantly noticeable upon first taste of their Brut Reserve NV is the complexity of flavour. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with reserves from previous years, and lees-aged for at least two years, there is a depth to the wine that rivals many of the top Champagne houses. Other sparkling wines to consider when choosing your bubbles of choice are Kent-based Gusbourne, and Hampshire-based Exton Park.
Centre Stage Wedding Cakes
Since the Ancient Roman era when wedding ceremonies ended with a cake made from barley being broken over the bride’s head (believed to bring good luck), there has always been a moment dedicated to the wedding cake. A pause for applause whilst the bride and groom cut the preliminary slice, representing their first task taken together as a married couple. Although a special one, for the last decade the wedding cake moment has been short. Often the cake is seen for a matter of minutes before being whisked away to the back kitchen, only returning once supper, speeches and many glasses of champagne have been had. By this point, most of the party are dancing the night away, too immersed in a whirlwind of throwback tunes to be thinking about sponge cake and buttercream. But the trend is changing, and this year the wedding cake is taking centre stage. Isobel Macmillan-Scott of Isobel Bakes says ‘more couples are asking for wedding cake as their dessert’, something she actively encourages. ‘It saves budget on the pudding that can be spent elsewhere and it means people really enjoy it too.’ It seems everyone is still keen for a slice, with wedding cakes large enough to feed the entire party remaining the tradition. But a far cry from fruitcake and fondant icing, couples are opting for cakes that dazzle in decoration. Lily Vanilli, who launched into the wedding cake scene with her Marie Antoinette inspired cakes says that during the pandemic she received many requests for intricate 80s inspired wedding cakes. Think baroque piping, icing pillars, and sugar-glazed frills. Since the relaxation of rules, and big weddings being back on the cards, the trend for opulence has only increased. ‘Almost all of our cakes are in this style and we love to see it!’ says Vanilli.
Personalised flavours are also becoming more popular says Macmillan-Scott who just recently had a request for earl grey crème pâtissèrie with peach compôte! Wedding cakes are also making their entrance fully dressed (or fully-iced). The trend for naked or semi-naked iced cakes has fizzled out. A change that is welcomed by bakers such as Macmillan-Scott who explains that if the sponges aren’t protected by a layer of buttercream they tend to dry out. The good news is that this year there’s set to be no dry cake and everyone will get a slice!
Keeping It Local
With sustainability becoming every day practice and more of us concerned with where our food has come from and how far it has traveled, couples are seeking out locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. As well as being the greener choice, it can be a great way to share personal stories too. One way to incorporate these intimate details into your wedding menu is to use local wild and foraged products, says Holly Congdon of Lettice Events. ‘The UK is a natural larder of ingredients if you know where to look’. One example Congdon gives is using seaweed harvested from the beach where a couple got engaged to cure salmon for a salmon ceviche taco canapé. For a bride and groom who met in Aberdeen, Lettice Events used Scottish wild heather honey within a Goat’s cheese mousse profiterole.
Using the locally grown flora is another beautiful way to add personality to your menu. ‘Whenever the wedding venue is a private home, the garden is always a source of inspiration’ says Charlie Grant Peterkin of Rocket Food. ‘Flowers, foliage or even vegetables add a wonderful seasonal element when garnishing canapés, serving trays or even place names’. It’s the personal touches that people remember most on a wedding day, and keeping ingredients close to home when creating your menu is a beautifully effective way of making it entirely bespoke to you.
Carbon Neutral Cocktails
Natural wine is more of a stylish norm than a novelty nowadays but 2022 brings a new dawn for spirit-based drinks. Cocktails at weddings remain a popular choice, especially for a post-dinner boost but this year there’s a definite shift in climate consciousness when choosing them. One of the companies pioneering the trend is Devon-based Two Drifters Distillery. The world’s first carbon-negative distillery, their rum is made from scratch using surplus molasses from the Tate & Lyle Thames Refinery. With the popularity of rum-based drinks on the rise, especially for summer weddings, this forward-thinking liquor is an excellent choice for your midnight mojitos. For the vodka drinkers, Sapling Spirits use wild-farmed regenerative organic wheat to create their smooth vodka as well as making their bottles from recycled glass and planting a tree for every bottle sold. Johan Svensson, founder of Drinksfusion (the leading experts in creative and bespoke cocktails) has been focusing on sustainable drinks for years. As well as working with organic and local spirits suppliers, Drinksfusion make their own cordials, shrubs, and liqueurs using foraged and seasonal fresh produce. ‘By making our own products, we can preserve flavours from a particular season for later in the year. For example, you can preserve wonderful spring and summer aromas in vinegar or sugar-dust, and big autumn berries and summer fruits in liqueurs and cordials.’ Set to be popular this year are reinvented classics. Drinksfusion will be serving up their rose and rhubarb sours, bramble negronis, and their Foragers Margarita, a summer forest twist on the Mexican classic, using featuring homemade liqueur made from British wild summer berries, Salisbury honey, and wild cherry syrup.
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