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What Is A Wedding Breakfast?

A wedding breakfast is a traditional term used in British culture to refer to a meal served after a wedding ceremony by the newly married couple and the guests that attended the ceremony.

Despite the name, the wedding breakfast is typically a midday or dinner rather than an actual breakfast.

What is a Wedding Breakfast?

The traditional wedding breakfast isn’t actually breakfast based, so don’t worry. You don’t need to be planning a full English breakfast spread after your afternoon ceremony. Instead, the term refers to it being the first meal a newlywed couple eats together.

The term “breakfast” comes from the fact that in the past, it was customary for the wedding ceremony to take place in the morning. The reception would follow immediately afterward with a meal. In years gone by, the couple would fast from the night before. Then they would break that fast with their first meal after their vows.

Today, however, many wedding ceremonies occur in the afternoon or evening. The term “wedding breakfast” is still used to refer to the meal that follows, regardless of the time of day.

Most modern weddings have a wedding reception dinner which is often deemed a form of the traditional wedding breakfast.

The wedding breakfast is usually a formal, sit-down meal attended by the bride and groom and their guests. The menu can vary, but it typically consists of several courses, including a starter, a main course, and a dessert. Wedding speeches and toasts often accompany the meal. It is a time for the newlyweds and their guests to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company.

Let’s explore the tradition behind the wedding breakfast. Plus, and some delicious ideas you may want to try on your big day!

decoration objects on the wedding

History of wedding breakfasts

The history of the wedding breakfast can be traced back to medieval times in Britain. Back then, the wedding ceremony usually took place in the morning. The newlyweds and their guests would attend a Mass or church service, followed by a small meal of cakes and ale.

Over time, the wedding breakfast evolved into a more formal affair, emphasizing food and drink. In the 17th century, it became fashionable for the wealthiest families to hold elaborate wedding breakfasts. These would feature multiple courses, including soups, meats, sweets, and wine. These feasts were often held in the gardens of grand estates or in the dining rooms of large houses.

During the Victorian era, the wedding breakfast became one of the more popular wedding traditions. It was seen as an opportunity to display wealth and social status. It was common for the bride’s family to host the breakfast. They would spare no expense in making it a lavish affair. This often included hiring a caterer or chef to prepare a sumptuous feast with exotic foods and elaborate table settings.

Today, the wedding breakfast has evolved again. Many modern couples choose to serve a more wedding luncheon or dinner following their ceremony.

This British wedding tradition is a celebration of the newlyweds’ union. It is a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy a meal. It remains a cherished part of wedding culture.

wedding breakfast outside under large tent.

Wedding breakfasts today

Today’s idea of the main meal after a wedding can vary depending on various factors. The wedding venue, the cultural background of the couple getting married, and their personal preferences and budget.

However, some general trends and common elements are often present in today’s main meal on the wedding day. One of the first things to consider is the seating plan at the reception venue. This may dictate what kind of space you have available for the food you want to offer.

One popular trend in wedding meals is to offer a variety of options starting with a drinks reception and then incorporating vegetarian and meat-based dishes to accommodate guests’ dietary preferences and restrictions.

Buffet-style or family-style meals are also popular. They allow guests to choose what to eat and provide a more interactive and social dining experience. A summer BBQ for the whole wedding party is perfect for a festival-style wedding and can be a lot of fun.

Another common feature of modern wedding meals is local, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients. Many couples now opt for farm-to-table menus or incorporate local specialties into their meals to showcase regional cuisine.

In terms of specific dishes, popular options include appetizers such as bruschetta, charcuterie boards, or mini quiches; entrees such as chicken, beef, or fish with sides like roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes; and desserts such as cake, cupcakes, or dessert bar with a variety of sweets.

Ultimately, the exact appearance of a wedding meal depends on the couple’s preferences and vision for their special day. Some may opt for a formal, multi-course plated meal, while others may choose a more casual, laid-back buffet-style reception.

The key is to create a delicious, satisfying menu that reflects the couple’s tastes and style.

Seafood pasta and paella with mussels. Spaghetti Alle Vongole .

Delicious Wedding Breakfast Ideas

There are many good meal ideas that you could consider for your special day. The best option for you will depend on your personal tastes, the time of day, and your wedding style. Here are a few examples:

  1. Cocktails and appetizers: If you’re having an evening wedding, consider serving cocktails and appetizers after the ceremony. This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a more relaxed and informal atmosphere. You could offer a variety of finger foods such as cheese and crackers, bruschetta, mini quiches, and skewers.
  2. Afternoon tea: Afternoon tea: If you’re looking for a more casual option, consider serving afternoon tea. You could offer a selection of teas, finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and various cakes and pastries.
  3. Buffet or food stations: Buffet or food stations are a good option if you want to offer your guests various foods. You could offer a selection of hot and cold dishes, such as pasta, grilled meats, salads, and vegetables. This is a good option if you’re having a larger wedding and want to ensure everyone has enough to eat.
  4. Family-style dinner: If you’re having a smaller, more intimate wedding, consider serving a family-style dinner. This is an excellent option to create a cozy and intimate atmosphere. You could offer various dishes passed around the table, such as roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables.
  5. Brunch or lunch: If your wedding ceremony occurs in the morning or early afternoon, consider serving brunch or lunch. You could offer a variety of breakfast foods, such as omelets, pancakes, and bacon, or lunch options, such as sandwiches and salads.
  6. Food trucks: If you’re having a more casual wedding, consider hiring a food truck to serve your guests. You could offer various options such as burgers, tacos, ice cream, or other popular street food options such as pizza vans.

Sit Down Meal

A sit-down plated dinner is a popular choice if you’re looking for a more traditional and formal option for a wedding meal. Here are a few tips for planning a formal meal at an evening reception:

  1. Offer a choice of entrees: To accommodate your guests’ different tastes and dietary restrictions, it’s a good idea to offer a choice of entrees. You could offer two or three options: a vegetarian option, a chicken or fish dish, and a beef or pork dish. Including the wedding menu in the invitations is a great choice to have this element sorted well ahead of time.
  2. Consider a three-course meal: A three-course meal is a classic option for a formal wedding dinner. It typically includes a starter, main course, and dessert. For the starter, you could offer soup or salad. You could offer your guests a choice of smaller main meals for the main course. You could offer a selection of cakes (or the wedding cake itself), tarts, or other sweets for dessert.
  3. Offer a glass of wine and other beverages: To complement your meal, offer a selection of wines, as well as other beverages such as cocktails, beer, and soft drinks.
  4. Consider table service: To create a more formal atmosphere, consider having your guests seated at round tables with white tablecloths and offering table service for the meal from the catering staff.
  5. Hire a professional caterer: To ensure that your meal is of the highest quality and served in a timely manner, it’s a good idea to hire a professional caterer with experience in formal events.

Is the wedding cake part of the wedding breakfast?

The wedding cake is typically served as a dessert course at a wedding meal but is not usually considered part of the main meal. After the meal has been served and eaten, the wedding cake is brought out and cut by the newlyweds. Traditionally, the couple shares the first slice of cake, and then the remaining slices are cut and served to the guests.

In addition to the wedding cake, some couples may offer other dessert options as part of the meal, such as a dessert bar or individual mini desserts. These can be served in addition to or in place of a traditional wedding cake.

It’s worth noting that the exact timing and presentation of the wedding cake can vary depending on the wedding and cultural traditions. Some couples may choose the wedding cake as part of the meal, while others may choose it as a separate dessert course after the meal.

Additionally, some cultures may have different customs and traditions surrounding the wedding cake, such as the cutting of the cake being performed during a specific part of the ceremony.

Final tips

Whatever you decide to do for your wedding feast, consider your guest list and their dietary requirements when planning your wedding food, and offer various options to accommodate different tastes and preferences.

Whether you opt for the more traditional options, such as a sit-down dinner or treating your wedding guests to an array of food trucks – remember that this is your special day with close friends and family, so eat the food you enjoy and have fun!

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