My Wedding Day Menu – Alexandra Dudley
My Wedding Day Menu – Alexandra Dudley

My Wedding Day Menu – Alexandra Dudley

Food and drink can be one of the most expensive parts of a wedding, and many couples can feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing suppliers and menus. To help, SL’s food columnist Alexandra Dudley has shared the dishes and inspiration from her own wedding last summer. From canapés and champagne to caterers and cake makers, here’s what Alexandra and Freddie went for on their big day.
Photography: @THECURRIES.CO

I always knew I wanted to incorporate an element of Italy into the menu, while leaning into British seasonal vegetables. I love Italian food and the way it celebrates the beauty of simple ingredients cooked well. My wedding was in May when British asparagus is at its best and I really wanted to celebrate it. My father is based in Norfolk, where the asparagus is exceptionally good, but the wedding was in West Sussex at my mother’s house, so it was a bit of an ode to another part of the world that means a lot to me. The starter was charred asparagus and spring peas with Italian burrata and an almond pesto – a mix of two of my favourite things. Our most popular canapé was a pea and mint arancini which was a fun play on one of my favourite Italian aperitivo snacks, made with British new-season peas.

I knew what I wanted, but still took a few ideas from other weddings I’d been to. I went to one that served asparagus with beurre blanc and it was delicious. Wonderfully indulgent and light at the same time, which is what I think you are looking for from a wedding starter. I’ve also been to lots of weddings where they do sharing platters, which was what I wanted at first, but after going to a few weddings that did it this way, I found that the execution was often quite tricky to get right, especially when there are lots of flowers and glasses on the table. I spoke to a few wedding planners and caterers who also shared their insights on the amount of waste that sharing platters often result in. Sharing platters need to feel generous to look good but rarely does everything get finished, and sometimes with a wedding being so busy it can be difficult to store leftovers properly. I knew I didn’t want any food waste at the wedding so opted for a plated starter and main.

I originally wanted sharing platters, but after going to a few weddings that served the food this way, I found the EXECUTION WAS OFTEN QUITE TRICKY to get right, especially when there are lots of flowers and glasses on the table.

Our caterers were Social Pantry. I’d been to a number of events where they’d done the food and also worked with them on a few high-profile events where I’d been consulting on the menu and they had created the food. I fell in love the inventive way they present their canapés and their commitment to sourcing the best ingredients. I think it was the first time I saw their arancini pops that I knew I wanted them at my wedding. They display the arancini on long sticks poking out of a box of grass and they look fantastic. I have a bit of an obsession with canapés and knew the expectation would be high for the ones at the wedding. I really wanted people to be wowed by the canapés and to enjoy them.

We had the menu tasting at Social Pantry’s wonderful space in Battersea. It was one of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding process and was far more special than I’d ever imagined. There was British sparkling wine on arrival before we went upstairs to a mock-up laid wedding table, meaning we got to really see how the tablecloth, napkins and cutlery felt alongside the food. We tasted 12 canapés and settled on six. I don’t eat red meat and so wasn’t overly fussed about the mini burger sliders they did but Freddie was adamant they were staying. There was definitely some compromising, but it was a huge amount of fun.

Having our wedding at the family home didn’t affect our food choices. The caterers came and set up the day before, which they advised was a wise option. I’m glad we did it because we had a bit of a drama with the van not being able to fit through the gate. Setting up the day before also meant that on the actual wedding day I was free to just focus on getting ready and not managing people arriving. We also had a wonderful wedding coordinator, Lavinia Stewart Brown, who helped on the day to liaise with any suppliers and iron out any issues. There were a few minor hiccups that occurred on the day which I had no idea about because Lavinia sorted them out seamlessly. She was indispensable.

Presentation was very important. I always try to make my own food look as good as it tastes, so it was important the food looked beautiful. One thing that was important to me was that the plant-based option looked almost identical to everyone else’s. I know from experience that sometimes it can feel a bit awkward eating something different to everyone else. Social Pantry were fabulous at making the plates all look as good as each other. When I entertain, I often think about height and colour. At the original tasting we had a different vegetable with our main, but we felt it looked a bit bland so swapped it for a greener, brighter vegetable medley and a crowning piece of crisped kale for height.

I spoke to a lot of people about their wedding cakes and I tasted ones from a few different bakers. Isobel Bakes came highly recommended from a close friend of mine whose husband also works in food. She said it was one of the best parts of her wedding and that sold me. I had a very tough time choosing a flavour. We nearly went with a pistachio sponge with fresh raspberries but in the end went with lemon. It was a four-tiered lemon drizzle sponge with lemon-curd marbled buttercream and was delicious. I wanted it to be really lemony and wanted the icing to be a little thicker than a lot of wedding cakes, so that it was closer to the texture of carrot cake icing. I think people can get a bit fidgety around pudding time, eager to get dancing. I really wanted people to eat the wedding cake, which is why we did it as pudding. Wedding cake is also perfect dancing fuel. We left the cake plates out for the first hour of dancing and had tea and coffee available. I think every plate was clean. 

We really wanted late-night food, but unfortunately it was just too far out of our budget. I was also aware that most people have had a few drinks by then, so probably aren’t so fussed about what they are eating as long as there is something. In the end, Freddie and I went to Booker’s the day before and stocked up on loads of retro crisps. We filled two huge log baskets with packets of Hula Hoops, Skips, Monster Munch, Quavers, Twiglets and even a few packets of Jaffa Cakes and Smarties. The Monster Munch went first and I woke up to at least six messages from friends saying how much they loved the crisps. In the end I think it was perfect! 

We served champagne, white wine and rosé at the reception – with gin and tonics and San Pellegrino soft drinks available too. We went with Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve NV for our champagne. I knew we’d get through a lot, so needed something that wasn’t hugely expensive. Nicolas Feuillatte is very much a day-to-day champagne and is particularly popular in Paris. As with most champagne houses, some vintages taste better than others. The Brut Reserve NV has a minimum of three years’ cellar maturation which makes it a bit more reliable than the cuvée. The rosé we served was Mirabeau Pure. It’s my favourite rosé and the best one on the market. We actually bought most of our champagne and wine from Waitrose Cellars which I highly recommend. They often have great deals on and work out cheaper than going to specialist suppliers. As well as standard bottles, we bought a case of magnums from Mirabeau which looked wonderful on the tables. 

It all went pretty much to plan on the day. I was fashionably late to the church by about 15 minutes as we accidentally put the veil on backwards first. The wonderful Amanda Harrington (founder of In Parlour) noticed as I was about to head downstairs to get into the car and fixed it. There were a few more things on the day (table names being in the wrong place etc) but Lavinia was brilliant and sorted everything without us even knowing.

WEDDING CAKE IS PERFECT DANCING FUEL. We left the cake plates out for the first hour of dancing and had tea and coffee available. I think every plate was clean.

If I did it all again, I’d probably have more canapés. They were just so popular, especially the manchego choux buns with quince purée. We also had a band and a DJ, and the changeover between the two was a bit jarring, so I’d recommend just opting for one or the other, or at least having them play at different stages of the day rather than back to back. 

I received two great pieces of advice that I now pass on as my own. Make sure you take a moment to step back together and just soak in the day. You speak to so many people that it’s easy to hardly see each other at all. The other piece of advice was to try and hold hands where you can, so even if you’re talking to different people you’re connected. It seems a bit silly and mushy, but it was wonderful advice. One of my most memorable moments was just before Freddie and I walked into the marquee. I can’t remember exactly what we said to each other just before but I remember feeling so full of happiness and love. It was like we were floating as we walked into the marquee. 

For more from Alexandra, follow @AlexandraDudley or visit


For The Champagne Reception

Spring pea arancini with pea purée
Manchego choux buns with quince purée
Dorset crab with crème fraîche on wholemeal croutes
Avocado and heritage tomato tacos with spicy slaw
Pulled chipotle chicken on puffed black rice crackers
Mini brioche burgers with baby gem & truffle mayo


Burrata, griddled garden asparagus, peas, broad beans, fresh mint & zero-waste almond pesto
Griddled garden asparagus, peas, broad beans, fresh mint & zero-waste almond pesto


Corn-fed chicken breast with crushed new potatoes, griddled courgette, chard, crispy kale & black garlic ketchup
Grilled broccoli steak with dukkah, crushed new potatoes, zero-waste broccoli purée & crispy kale


Wedding cake – lemon-drizzle sponge with lemon-curd marbled buttercream


Venue: At home in West Sussex 
Caterer: @social_pantry
Wedding Cake: @isobel_bakes
Dress: @phillipalepley 
Bridesmaids: @ghostfashion
Flower girls & page boys: @littlebevanlondon
Florist: @thisflorallife
Marquee: @wigwam_marquees
Stationery: Menus, place names, seating chart @handcraftedbyhanya; Invites @geebrothersprinter; Thank you stationery @papierweddings
Photographer: Joe
Videographer: @weddingsbybeejharris
Wedding Rings: @ralieghgoss
Make-Up: Amanda Harrington @inparlourbridal @inparlour
Hair: @jasonsuttonhair @joshwood
Gift List: @theweddingshopuk
Wedding Planner: @stewartbrownevents

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