Wedding Cakes and Menus
Cook Up a Wonderful Wedding Feast
Feeding a party is no small feat, but a crafty and creative couple can pull it off with impressive style. From smart food choices and wedding cake alternatives, to clever timing and reliable help, the decisions you make now will make or break your reception experience when the big day rolls around. Get creative and use your knack for organizing to plan your wedding meal and carry it off without a hitch.
Clever Tools for Home Baked Wedding Cakes
It's no surprise that wedding cakes can eat up a big part of a wedding budget. After all, these are artistic statements as much as they are desserts, demanding a lot of time and talent from the pastry chef. Luckily, this enormous effort is not absolutely necessary for a sweet ending to your wedding, although you may need to compromise here and there.
Unfortunately, baking your own cake is likely out of the question. Even accomplished bakers will back away from this ambitious project because of the tight time frame: a fresh looking and fresh tasting cake must be made no more than a day or two before the event. Even crafty, creative, superhero brides probably won't be able to manage such a feat when they have countless other projects to finish, so it's best to call upon a team of friends and family or a couple of talented amateur pastry chefs to tackle your cake.
If you want to simplify even more, opt for a collection of cupcakes instead of a towering cake. There are several advantages to wedding cupcakes, beginning with transport: it's no secret that the higher the cake, the greater chance of destruction en route to your celebration, while dozens of cupcakes can stack nicely in safe little boxes. Secondly, you can call on multiple bakers to contribute, which will spread out the workload and allow for a few different flavors without the extra effort.
Tips for a Successful Self-Catered Affair
Organization is your number one priority when you're catering your own wedding. A fair bit of research and tasting is required before you can find the best menu for your budget, style and theme, and then you'll have to line up a team of eager cooks to carry it off. But don't fret – not only can a self-catered wedding be done, it can be done very well with the right approach and a bit of forethought.
- Timing is everything. If you don't want to fork out too much money on food, consider having your reception on either side of a traditional meal time. When you treat your guests to a sit-down dinner, you wind up paying a lot more than if you had offered a light lunch or a nighttime snack. Just remember to specify the type of reception you'll be having on your invitations, so your guests know they can expect tea-time snacks, an evening of hors d'oeuvres, or late-night nibbles.
- Pre-made is Preferable. If you're going with a cocktail reception, source good frozen hors d'oeuvres that can be thrown into an oven or defrosted and served quickly. You may be tempted to dish up inventive and complex haute cuisine, but that could backfire, especially if you have a small kitchen team and a huge room of guests. Reign in your gourmet urge and opt for something you know you can carry off easily.
- Stick to Healthy, Easy and Approachable Dishes. Choose casseroles, dips and other communal menu items that are served in a few big bowls rather than individual portions. These types of foods will be much easier to store, serve and refill, which saves effort from start to finish. And while one or two exotic choices can be an interesting touch, more food is sure to be enjoyed if people recognize the dish, so include some party staples.
Once you decide on your wedding menu, draft a team of people who know their way around a kitchen. You might not want to burden any wedding guests with hard work on the big day, but perhaps you have acquaintances that weren't quite close enough to receive an invite. For instance, you could always ask the manager or servers of a favorite local bar or restaurant if they would care to serve at your reception. But if you'd rather not impose on anyone, grab a couple of aprons and serve the food yourselves – you'll be hard-pressed to find a greater expression of gratitude toward your guests.