I literally live for entertaining. I’m such a hostess geek, and love nothing more than trawling through Pinterest for ideas and inspo if I’m having a special dinner party. I think it’s so easy (and fun) to do these small, thoughtful things that really elevate your gathering – the love is in the details.
For our wedding day, it was therefore super important to me that there were a lot of special details. Also, since so many of our wedding guests have visited our home for dinner or a BBQ I wanted it to feel familiar and I didn’t want to change the way we did this dinner too much (which is weirdly called a wedding breakfast) just because it was celebrating our marriage. I wanted it to feel very “us”…
Whenever we have friends over, I always serve food in a family, sharing style. I think it’s so much nicer than serving individual plates — it gives your guests the power to choose what they want to eat, how much they want to eat and it’s a great conversation starter. So we instantly knew that we wanted to do the same for our wedding day. My husband and I designed the menu ourselves, and we basically did some classics that we always serve at home — but we elevated it a little, to mark the special occasion. I even gave the chef the recipe for my roast chicken with lemon, thyme, and garlic, which was served as the main course (I’ll share the recipe soon – it’s foolproof).
The table setting in terms of aesthetics and functionality was super important to me. I absolutely loved researching different ideas and options (again, mostly on Pinterest) I worked with my florist – Georgia Westwood – to design a cool candle and leafy set up for the center of each table. We got married at Aynhoe Park House in Oxfordshire. From the outside, it looks like any gorgeous stately home. But from the inside, it’s something very different altogether… And that’s the reason we fell in love with it. The place is crammed with taxidermy, interesting artworks, and kooky corners. It’s very OTT. So I felt like the flowers had to be very minimal and toned down. Otherwise, it would be too much. For the wedding breakfast tables I opted to do a series of potted plants and herbs, with simple hurricane candles and every table also had our favourite Diptyque candle, so the whole room was filled with the scent of figs.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when planning your wedding is the seating plan. Where do you seat people? How will they find their table? And will you have a favour for the guests? I really struggled with this one. And sadly I definitely can’t help you with the seating politics, I can, however, share some design inspo and cool functionality hacks…
For the ‘how the guests will find their table’ problem, I decided that I wanted something simple, modern but classic, and functional. So I bought a bunch of these tiny glass bottles with corks online and worked with my calligrapher to create individual, handwritten labels with each guest’s name. We filled these bottles with limoncello (and a non-alcoholic version where necessary) and the calligrapher — Kate Cronk — made these gorgeous swing tags with the table number to attach to the top of the bottle. I loved it because it was simultaneously a seating plan and a cool little favour for our guests. These were arranged in four sections on a table (which, to be honest, was far too large and if I could change anything they would definitely have been placed on a smaller table), in alphabetical order with a sign that said: “Find your name and discover your table number. Drink me when the maid of honour gives the signal!” My bridal bouquet was placed in a vase at the center and my sister and maid of honour invited everyone to drink the limoncello in her speech. It was really fun, and then people went home with a special little keepsake.
To flag the table numbers, I bought ten glass bottles from Ikea, and some vinyl calligraphy stickers from a seller on Etsy. It was so simple to do, it was more expensive-looking than it actually was and it was also functional since we filled them with water for the table.
Then there was the question of how do the guests find their exact seat at the table? The solution I choose was one of my favourites. I bought several sheets of this gorgeous marble tiling and the very best raised gold stickers I could find on Amazon. My Nanny and I then pulled each individual tile off of the backing paper, sanded it down, and stuck the guest’s initials to them. Again, this acted as another favour of sorts – because as I expected, many of our guests nabbed theirs after the dinner and took them home. We placed them on the guest’s plates and it looked so cool – really beautiful, timeless, but also quite modern since everyone is obsessed with marble these days (myself included).
Then it came to thinking about the menus. And I knew straight away that I wanted to do the origami-style fold that I so much loved as a kid. I thought it would bring a fun, tongue-in-cheek element to the otherwise quite grown-up and elegant table setting. Kate Cronk helped me with these, and we also included the amazing artwork that Donald Drawbertson did of Gareth and me ahead of our wedding day (which we also used for the wedding invites).
Crockery and cutlery wise I kept everything classic and simple. I gave guidelines that everything, including serving plates, bowls and platters should be either white/cream china, wooden or glass. This meant that everything was muted, and the taxidermy peering over the diner’s could take center stage. At one stage I did toy with the idea of hiring crockery and cutlery that was a bit more special than Aynhoe’s package offer, but I’m glad I decided against it. I feel like the tables were beautiful and the food was so pretty and colourful – I can’t imagine people would have noticed the difference and our bank balance definitely would have.
We also placed ‘advice for the bride + groom’ cards on each setting with a black biro, and I’m so happy that we did this – as almost everyone filled these out and we have some lovely (and hilarious) keepsakes from our guests.
Back to the food… I’m a condiment nut and I really don’t like having to ask for sauces, being served pathetic little portions of them or not having my favourite easily available. So in honour of that I put a condiments tray on every single table, with almost every sauce you can imagine, plus three different types of organic butter, and three different types of salt. I do this at home (although not as extreme), so it was a no-brainer to put it on our wedding breakfast tables.
So that’s my wedding breakfast table 411. Hope you enjoyed it and that you find some inspiration for your wedding or special event. If you have any questions please drop me a line and I’ll be sharing more wedding stuff soon.
Follow me on Pinterest here.