Tips for Planning a Vegan Wedding Buffet – Part 2
This is part 2 of the 2-part series on Tips for Planning a Vegan Wedding Buffet, read the first part here. This part covers last minute food ideas, venue tips and food hygiene info plus some troubleshooting.
Last minute food ideas – quick and easy
It is two days before the wedding, you have run out of time and/or you are panicking and have decided there isn’t going to be enough food. Here are some quick and easy foods to buy in or prepare. They aren’t your main show stopper but can be nice accompaniments to the main dishes that you’ve planned – just make sure they compliment what you’re already doing. We make pretty much all our food from scratch so rarely buy stuff in, but it often happens that people panic in the run up and this can help you manage it if that person is you.
- Find your nearest vegan grocery store and ask them for advice
- Find your local vegan seitan supplier and ask for an emergency delivery
- Find your nearest vegan caterer, vegan café or vegan restaurant and find out what they can provide for you
- People love crisps!
- Hummus and veg sticks or salsa and tortillas
- Veg spring rolls and dipping sauce
- Stuffed vine leaves
Suppliers often say no if asked at the last minute, so to state the obvious try and avoid this!
NEED A BIT OF PREPERATION
- Marinade some drained olives in olive oil, garlic and chopped preserved lemon
- Get some good fillings and make some sandwiches or wraps – Tofurky vegan meat goes down well, vegan cheese and pickle, vegan cream cheese and cucumber. Or get some handmade seitan or vegan cheese from your local vegan seitan/cheese supplier
- Toasted nuts and seeds
- Fruit plate
- Sausages on stick – Taifun or Frys work the best
Visit the venue
Visit the venue beforehand so you can check the facilities in the kitchen and see where the kitchen is in relation to where the food is being served. Or at least get the venue or person booking you to send you some photos of the kitchen and serving area.
Things to take to the venue
Amongst other things, we always take a gas lighter, bin bags, knives and a board. Plus tea towels, vegan washing up liquid, surface cleaner and hand wash. A lot of venues either don’t have knives or they are locked away. Take a cheap knife in case you accidentally leave it behind at the venue – make sure it is sharp though. If you’re cooking rice, don’t forget the colander!
On the day
This is our rough routine for the day of a wedding.
Get up between 3am and 5am to do as much last minute baking as we can fit in.
Pack the van and make it all fit. Sometimes easier said than done – for our very first event we forgot to sort out crates to put everything in. So make sure you have something for packing. Any packing that you can do in advance of the day, do it.
Drive to the venue. This is the most relaxing part of the day except for mentally torturing yourself by going through a list of everything you were supposed to bring and realising you forgot something vital. To avoid this make a checklist and check it off as you pack. List the food as well, sometimes dressings and small jars disappear to the back of the fridge.
Arrive at the venue. Focus first on the hot food – getting it ready to go in the oven, get the ovens on etc.
Things to allow more time for and arrive earlier
- Setting up a tent up and making it into a temporary kitchen can take a while.
- Hot food adds on more time and you will need more people there to heat it up and keep an eye on it and get all the timings right.
Things can go wrong, but there are always steps you can take to avoid potential problems.
The food runs out
How much the guests eat depends on when they last ate, if there is a starter, even the size of the plate. If there isn’t a starter make extra main course. Try and find out details about the crockery being used or bring your own. Ask for a plan of the day so you can get an idea what food is being served when and if they’ll also have other food.
It’s a dilemma because you don’t want food wastage, but running out of food is not an option so it’s better to make extra food to allow for all the different variables. And a good way to use leftovers up is to find out where the nearest homeless shelter is – have an option on your booking form so that the wedding couple can give you permission to take leftovers there.
Oven runs too hot or doesn’t work
When you are in touch with the venue ask them if there is anything you need to know about the oven and other equipment in the kitchen.
Menu too complicated
This makes it hard to heat everything up and keep it all topped up – simplify hot food when there are lots of people to one or two choices. Generally, try and simplify everything – have less cold food choices too. As you get more confident you can increase the complexity if you like.
Electric supply is 16amp
Make sure you check and if necessary bring an adapter if your appliances are 13amp.
Kitchen a long way from where the food is served so communication breaks down.
Bring a gazebo and tables and set up as much as you can right next to the buffet tables, including food to be heated. If you have to heat the odd bit of food elsewhere (e.g. in a separate kitchen) that is much easier to manage.
You make a similar menu two weeks running and the first wedding couple love it and the second wedding couple aren’t so keen. Make sure their expectations match what you are going to do – be clear on all the food you are going to serve, how and where you’ll serve it. What you’ll serve it on. How many of you there will be etc. Work out everything down to the last tiny detail. If a potential problem comes up before the day deal with it straight away and be honest and say what you can and can’t do.
You arrive and the kitchen has been left in a mess OR you get stuck in roadworks/traffic
Allow yourself time to deal with any problems that arise on the day. Check your route for roadworks. The traffic during UK school holidays can be very very busy, especially on Saturdays. The Summer school holidays run from mid-July to the end of August.
Your vehicle breaks down on the way to the venue
Minimise the chances of this happening by getting it serviced regularly. Sign up to be a member of a breakdown service – AA seems to have the fastest response.
A Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate is useful and they are straight forward to get. You can study for and get the certificate online for £15-25, it takes about 2 hours to do. You might also find that your local council runs courses.
For full guidance on how to comply with food hygiene regulations, go to the Food Standards Agency website where they provide a food safety management pack which you can download.
If you decide not to do the catering yourself, get in touch, we can help!