Eunice Power's bumper guide to getting married
What’s big in the world of weddings? Caterer Eunice Power has the inside track on current trends
Friends instead of family
Guest numbers have taken a dramatic drop so the focus seems to be on quality rather than quantity – and it’s all about friends. Family guests are forensically chosen and kept to a bare minimum. It is only closest comrades and confidants who are getting the golden invites. With the benefit of hindsight, I question the wisdom of this trend – friends come and go, family are here to stay, for better or for worse.
While the wedding parties are getting smaller, the bridal parties are getting larger. Can’t choose your nearest and dearest? Couples are upping their numbers to four-plus bridesmaids and groomsmen. And of course there has been the introduction of bridesmen, to create a role of honour for the bride’s male best friend.
Since the change in legislation last year the demand for Humanist ceremonies has exploded. Solemnisers from the Humanist Association are already almost completely booked out for 2014.
What day? What season? What forest?
Sunday weddings are becoming more and more popular, as are winter weddings – personally my favourite. There’s nothing quite like dusky afternoons, heavy velvet, soft fur, candles and roaring fires. Think slow cooking, poached pears, mature Cashel Blue, baked quince and starry nights.
Woodland ceremonies are also an emerging trend, with long wedding veils, flowing dresses, twinkling fairy lights and the crunch of twigs underfoot. Together with a lush green canopy overhead, the setting amounts to a very beautiful, natural, sophisticated affair.
A room of one’s own
Alternative venues such as barns, theatres, tents and warehouses are becoming “the” thing for 2014. Couples can personalise such places and create unique experiences for themselves and their guests.
Traditional canapés are still popular but there has been a rise in tapas – little dishes such as warm black pudding combined with chickpeas, raisins and pine nuts, cones of vegetable crisps and spiced nuts to accompany the “bridal Bellini”.
Signature cocktails for bride and groom
These allow for beautiful presentation at the drinks reception, especially when they are served from a crystal drink dispenser. The cocktails provide an elegant talking point and encourage guests to mingle. They are a great alternative for those who don’t love bubbly.
The whole idea of “Bring me food” platters creates an informal-feast mode of dining. Sumptuous sharing platters along with good bread, dips such as beetroot hummus and baba ganoush, contribute to a more communal experience around the wedding dining table, making everything much more convivial and natural.
Long tables, often humbly dressed with battered silverware, honest-to-goodness earthenware and cotton table cloths, are taking over from traditional round-table dining.
Simple and elegant main courses
Quality ingredients well sourced and seasonal, served simply and elegantly is what it’s all about for 2014. Side dishes and accompaniments contribute hugely to the overall experience.
There is a return to homemade favourites, chilled light soufflés, Eton mess and, believe it or not, traditional apple tart and good vanilla ice cream.
Turophile heaven – the cheese cake
Couples are also opting for a cheese cake, reminiscent of Roman times. Beautiful tiers of cheese with apples, grapes, chutneys, membrillo, decorated with fresh herbs and flowers. These are usually served after dinner on big wooden boards where turophiles gather and feast.
Trendy food for afters
Late-night snacking on something a little different has spread to encompass a myriad of options including barbecue burgers, pizza, hot dogs, even paella. People want a treat after all that dancing.
Stacked sponges left un-iced but filled and decorated with fruit and/or flowers are huge at the moment. They’re rustic, natural, look homemade and are soaring in popularity, especially in Ireland where we like things to be a little imperfect and homey.
WHAT'S IN BETWEEN
Little pots of marmalade, shortbread with the couple’s initials, packs of homemade postcards of the bride and groom are all really sweet, thoughtful and time-consuming gifts, 50 per cent of which are left on the tables at the end of the night. Is all that effort worth it ?
Love, this way...
These have definitely bitten the dust. A rare sighting since 2010, they’re a bit too Celtic Tiger for today’s couples. Personally I’m grateful for their demise – strawberries and marshmallows dipped in cascading chocolate were never my idea of a perfect hors d’oeuvre.
Four-hour drinks receptions
I know photographs are important but you want your guests to have a vague recollection of your wedding day.
Carving meat at the table
Seriously, who wants to don an apron over the silk dress and carve beef for the masses?
Sambos and cocktail sausages served as a barman bellows, “Last orders”.
Baby blues and pinks are fading away, making way for neutral palettes with metallic accents; rich berry tones with gold; cool teals and mint with alabaster white.
Don't miss our special Wedding issue tomorrow in The Irish Times Saturday Magazine