However, positive news aside, it might leave some of you wondering how to make a micro wedding feel special and luxurious for your closest friends and family. Indeed some of you might also be worried about possible changes beyond your control such as final guest numbers.
We asked Jens Nisson, Executive Chef Director at Bubble Food, for his and his teams tips and advice around catering for small, intimate weddings during coronavirus.
Reviewing the current guidelines, what is and isn’t allowed with regards to catering for a small reception right now?
As of August 15th, wedding receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnerships are permitted for groups of up to 30 people, in a COVID-19 secure venue. The big change here is the fact that you and your family are now allowed to ‘celebrate’ the wedding in the form of a reception with a seated meal, rather than guests witnessing just the ceremony.
The number of 30 attendees must include any third-party suppliers such as photographer and external wedding planner but does not include any venue staff or third-party catering team.
Weddings at private homes, either inside or in gardens, are still not permitted as it is assumed by the government that these are not COVID-19 secure venues, meaning they will not have the same safety procedures in place as professional venues. Larger wedding receptions are being reviewed along with the scientific advice but it’s an evolving situation so we’d advise all venues and their couples to keep an eye on gov.uk.
With a smaller guest list, what opportunities are there for couples with their menu choices and timings?
When it comes to food and drink, a smaller number of guests allows for a far more adventurous and interactive menu. The budget can be put to good use by adding theatre and excitement to the event, encouraging couples to treat their guests to an experience that would otherwise have been impractical or unaffordable in large numbers. Venues should see this as an opportunity to show themselves in the very best light, setting new standards and encouraging all suppliers to raise the bar with them – think food, furniture, lighting, crockery, glassware, design and flowers.
What should couples be asking or telling their caterer and/or venue and when?
Close communication between venue, caterer and couple is absolutely key, particularly regarding guest numbers.
With post-travel quarantining and local lockdowns likely to be a part of life for some time, everyone involved in the event will understand that numbers could fluctuate. Keep talking and encourage couples to notify you if large groups of the party are due to be travelling in the immediate run up to the wedding i.e. a last-minute hen party or stag do.
By now, all venues and caterers should have an easily understandable, effective and tested COVID-19 safety policy that keeps guests safe but won’t overshadow the day. We’d encourage couples to share the key points with guests ahead of time. Critical considerations include access points and any bottlenecks in the venue that could be mitigated by separating entrances and exits, and staggered arrival times. The ultimate aim is to make sure that guests can move around freely at a safe and comfortable distance. There are some confusing policies we’ve come across that make guests feel awkward for little practical benefit.
As always, effective, professional organisation will make the experience feel smooth and natural as well as safe. We’d encourage venues and couples alike to challenge third-party suppliers to deliver the exceptional boutique experience that a small guest list allows.
How can couples create an intimate yet luxurious dining experience for their friends and family?
Having smaller guest numbers opens the door to more fun and experimentation with the menu. Why not try fun tapas starters under miniature glass domes – creating the feeling of a sharing menu but in an elegant and safe way?
Do you think going forward, micro weddings will continue to be a popular choice for couples?
We have noticed that couples will use the 30-guest limit to get married sooner surrounded by close family and friends to celebrate in an intimate environment, with a larger party planned for 2021 when restrictions allow.
Other than preventing self-service buffets, there is very little in terms of food and drink service that is restricted by the guidelines. Intimate weddings can still be fun, sophisticated, creative and luxurious with brilliant cocktails, canapés and any number of courses served to a select guest list by a well organised professional caterer. With careful curation, the event can be as formal or relaxed as the couple wish.
Bubble is known as the couture of event food design, creating visionary spectacles that engage and excite guests and delight clients. They are known for their theatrical flair, but behind the style lies beautiful flavours and exceptional food. All of which is delivered with incomparable skill.
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