How to Plan a Wedding Barbecue

Getting married is a momentous occasion but it can be costly. As a consequence more and more couples are looking for ways to hold their wedding reception that are more intimate, imaginative, and most importantly, won’t break the bank.  

Enter the wedding barbecue.

This is a great way to cater for your guests in a more casual and convivial atmosphere. It’s far less expensive than a traditional sit-down meal and adds a fun atmosphere to the nuptials.

The disadvantage of a wedding barbecue is that it can take a lot of planning and preparation beforehand. But, never fear, here’s our simple guide on how to plan that perfect wedding barbecue.


Appoint a Head Chef

The first thing you’ve got to do is find someone who can man (or woman) the grill throughout your barbecue. Not the bride or groom, or the mother, father or granny – they’ll be far too busy. Whoever you choose should be a willing cook, able to give the grill their constant attention and not likely to slope off for another Bucks Fizz. If you can find two people to share the responsibility, even better.  It’s an important job and should be put into the hands of a reliable, barbecue experienced, multi-tasking superstar who will take pride of place in your wedding album and who you’ll thank profusely for years to come.


The Equipment

Not only will you need the barbecue and grill, you’ll also need work surfaces - one for storing the uncooked food and at least one for the ready-to-eat food. Make sure you keep these foods separate at all times – raw and cooked foods should never be mixed either on the grill, on plates or using the same utensils.

Beg, borrow or ask as an early wedding gift the biggest grill you can lay your hands on. The size or number of grills you’ll need will depend on how many people you are inviting to your reception.  If you have more than one chef, they could each take on a barbecue offering different foods – perhaps one with vegetables and one with meat and fish (don’t forget the vegetarians in your party).

Think about the number of people that you are inviting, the amount they are likely to eat, and the amount of space this takes up. Factor in the salads, side dishes, breads and desserts – not all the food will come from the grill.

As for the type of barbecue you should get - charcoal or gas – gas is the easier option. Gas barbecues don’t need to be warmed up (a charcoal barbecue can take 40 minutes to heat up), they cook faster, they don’t take so much attention and they are easier to clean.


Preparing the Food

This is an essential part of the planning. Preparation a day or two before can save an awful lot of stress and hassle on the day. Slicing, chopping, and marinating can all be done ahead of time. As can the preparation of many desserts and salads. If you freeze any food, make sure it’s totally thawed out before barbecuing. Many hands make light work so enlist friends and family to help.


Crockery, Cutlery and Decorations

This is something that can be planned well ahead of time. Choose the crockery and cutlery you want to use. Sort out glasses for drinks. Don’t forget napkins, tablecloths and any decorations you want for the tables. A decorated garden can be absolutely beautiful. For an evening reception, think about putting lights or lanterns in the tress or on poles lining the paths. If there is a theme to your wedding, plan the decorations around it.  Lay out wonderful picnic rugs and cushions on the ground, and seats for less agile members of your party.


Planning the Menu

Plan your menu carefully. What kind of food do you want to give to your guests?  Do you want a traditional barbecue, a more exotic tasting barbecue or a gourmet barbecue? Your budget and style will dictate this.

Chances are you’ll be catering for a large group and will be restricted by time, space and money to a certain extent. Don’t choose thick pieces of meat, they’ll take a long time to cook. Go for tasty, quick to cook items.

Gourmet sausages, marinated pork tenderloin, and Teryaki chicken are just some of the meats that work really well on a barbecue. These plus a range of delicious grilled vegetables, maybe some bbq prawns, salads, rice, and unusual breads make quite a feast.


The Great British Weather

No guide to planning a wedding barbecue would be complete without a mention of the weather. If you’re holding it in The Maldives, you can stop reading now, but if you’re staying here in Blighty, take note - it can and does rain.  A little preparation will save an awful lot of heartache. There is a solution to the possibility of it raining on the big day but don’t imagine you can just drag your barbecue indoors. Charcoal and gas grills produce carbon monoxide and even small amounts can be dangerous. The safe bet is to hire a canopy, which is equally useful in the blazing sun. Put a contingency plan in place and you won’t be glued to the forecast for the month before.

Good luck and have a wonderful day.