Of all the wedding traditions, one of the more baffling is the idea of having a 'wedding breakfast'. It sounds like you and your guests should be tucking into avo on toast or scrambled eggs with salmon.
In fact, the wedding breakfast is the meal you have after the ceremony and is unlikely to take place in the morning. It's your main eating event of the day, and is usually followed by the wedding speeches.
Years ago, the wedding breakfast would have involved a sit-down meal of a minimum of three courses, or a buffet at a more casual affair. When it comes to deciding on your wedding food these days, however, there's a huge range of options, from street food trucks and grazing tables to hog roasts. When it comes to wedding décor ideas, dining tables have also become an important element, with our Instagram and Pinterest feeds flooded with inspiration every day. From round tables to a long banquet set-up or a casual outdoor dining experience, couples are coming up with increasingly creative ways to enjoy their wedding meal.
If you’re not sure where to start first when it comes to planning this important meal or you’re still feeling a little confused (and understandably) disappointed as to why it’s called a wedding breakfast when there’s no sign of fluffy pancakes, read on for our insider advice. We promise you’re going to love planning yours almost as much as you’ll love eating it!
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Why Is It Called a Wedding Breakfast?
The term wedding breakfast dates back to the 17th century when wedding ceremonies were usually part of Eucharistic Mass and so newlyweds would have been fasting ahead of the service. The meal they shared afterwards was literally breaking the fast. Although it doesn’t initially seem it, these days it still makes sense. The breakfast is the first meal you have after the ceremony and the first meal you eat together as a couple.
What Time Is the Wedding Breakfast?
The usual order of the day is the ceremony followed by a drinks reception - to break up the day and to ensure guests don’t get hungry, canapés are often served. After a couple of hours of drinking and munching, it's time for the wedding breakfast.
The speeches traditionally take place after the wedding breakfast. However, if you have any nervous speakers, consider having the speeches before, so everyone can tuck into their food worry-free!
What Food is Served at a Wedding Breakfast?
Anything you like! Whether we're talking British classics or a gourmet pizza van, your wedding breakfast should be designed around your tastes, just like the rest of your day. Do consider guest dietary requirements and make sure your venue or caterer knows about any allergies and intolerances. Other than that the choice is yours.
If you have booked a venue with in-house catering, they will often provide a tasting free of charge and have a menu with a number of options for you to choose from. If you’re booking your own caterer, you can explore all the options including food vans and world foods. Most caterers will also offer a tasting service so you can make sure you get it right.
What Do You Feed Children at a Wedding?
Make sure you check with the parents of any children attending for allergies and also if any infants will be able to eat the wedding breakfast or if they will be bringing baby food. Venues will often give you the choice of a children’s menu or a smaller portion of the adult wedding breakfast. Bear in mind that children won’t often be able to go as long as adults without food and so, for example, if you would like to have speeches before the meal think about bringing out a starter before they begin. If you can, it's a nice gesture to include something to keep children occupied if they finish their food before the adults - a colouring book at each child's place setting, for example.
Where Do We Eat the Wedding Breakfast?
Again, it’s up to you and it will depend on your venue. If you’re hosting a summer BBQ, it makes sense to set up seating outside, and this is a great choice for more laidback wedding breakfasts. For an al fresco meal, just make sure there's sufficient shade for your guests if you're eating while the sun is still shining. Your venue may have a choice of indoor spaces to enjoy your reception and will be able to advise on the best room for you based on your numbers. When it comes to seating, you can choose to seat people at round tables or on long banquet tables. You can sit at a traditional long top table facing your guests or at a round table with your parents and bridal party or even at a sweetheart table for just the two of you!
How Long Does a Three-Course Wedding Breakfast Take?
We'd say two to two-and-a-half hours, including time for toasts and speeches. If you're having evening guests, they generally arrive after the wedding breakfast, so it's important to stay on schedule to avoid having them wait around.
What Drinks Are Served at a Wedding?
Wedding drinks receptions usually start with champagne or another sparkling wine, but you can serve whatever you prefer - beer and wine, bespoke cocktails, Pimm's at a summer wedding, for example.
It's also thoughtful to have some soft drinks on hand. Wine is usually served with the wedding breakfast. However, depending on what type of food you're serving, you could also have an artisan craft beer, for example. After the meal, there's often a bar, and either you provide the drinks or guests pay for their own. Venues will often provide welcome drink options along with wine lists and packages for your wedding breakfast. Most venues will allow you to bring in your own wine if you wish, but many of them will charge corkage. Corkage is a cost per bottle for uncorking the wine.
What Is the Difference Between the Wedding Breakfast and the Reception?
The reception is the name for the entire post-ceremony celebration, from drinks to dinner to dancing. The wedding breakfast is the name for the main meal of the wedding day.
What Other Food Do You Serve at a Wedding Reception?
In addition to the main wedding breakfast, foodie treats to consider include:
- Canapés - these are usually served during the drinks reception to stop guests getting hungry before the wedding breakfast.
- Evening food - to keep guests' energy levels up as they dance the night away, and/or as a nice way to make evening-only guests feel welcome. This can be anything from a buffet to street food vans.
- A grazing table - this is a table filled with charcuterie, breads, dips and cheeses. It's a modern alternative to the buffet, and can be a substitute for canapés at the drinks reception or a good help-yourself evening food option.
- Doughnut walls - as you'd expect, walls of doughnuts, which you can ask or caterer to create or easily DIY.
- The wedding cake - a tradition that's a must-have if you have a sweet tooth.
- Food wedding favours - anything from mini pots of homemade jam to infused olive oil.
- A wedding sweet table - easy and inexpensive to DIY, a table of all different kinds of sugary treats is guaranteed to delight your guests.
Ready to plan your wedding breakfast? Check out these wedding catering suppliers to help make your foodie dreams come true.