Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Wedding Trends: Botanicals, birds and Irish booze

Irish Times May 14th 2016

Eunice Power has been catering weddings for more than a decade and shares her expertise

The 2016 wedding season is officially open. As always, I am excited to see what trends will emerge.

Weddings are certainly getting bigger, and Humanist ceremonies are overtaking traditional church weddings. Humanist celebrants are as scarce as hen's teeth, so if you are thinking of a change of career, it's definitely one to consider.

This year, retro is in (circa 1960/70). Expect prawn cocktail, sherry consommé, dressed chicken and ham, followed by big bowls of sherry trifle on the menu. I haven't been asked to dress a chicken yet, but I reckon my days are numbered.

Irish gin is having a moment, giving rise to the trend of gin and tonic receptions, with lots of cucumber and peppercorns - instantly lifting the spirits.

Gold cutlery adorns tables and simple, beautiful botanical themes run throughout, from pressed flowers on the invitations and menu cards to wonderful garlands of foliage on dining tables. The fresh scent of eucalyptus is refreshing, its bluey green-tinged leaves are divine. It's all very simple and understated and leaves a lingering effect.

A flock of origami birds suspended from the rafters gives a magical presence and is simple to achieve. Making origami birds, once you get used to folding them, is addictive. They can be made months ahead.

Long tables are being favoured more than the traditional rounds, and are actually much more sociable.

Outside venues are becoming increasingly popular, from marquees in the garden to teepee tents in the woods. Big, old houses are very much desired, as such venues allow couples privacy as well as a canvas to express their own style, as opposed to the hotel offering. Lots of winter weddings are also on the cards this year - a winter of log fires, slow-cooked beef ribs, candles and fur-trimmed elegance.

Couples are putting as much thought into the day after celebrations these days. This is an Olympic year, so don't be surprised to be invited to a mini Olympics.

Sack, egg and spoon and three-legged races are the order of the day and competition is fuelled by Bloody Marys (made with artisan vodka, of course), followed by a well-deserved feast of (still popular) pulled pork, delicious pick-me-up salads and, if you're lucky, a vintage ice-cream van serving 99s. The next day box should certainly be ticked on the RSVP.

A sign of the times, perhaps, but DIY touches are a little less popular now than before. Gone are the days of making your wedding dress, bridesmaids' outfits and going-away suit - my mum made all of the above for my own wedding.

But these days brides - and bride grooms - often make their own cake, and sometimes the wedding favours. See my recipe for a gorgeous DIY wedding cake opposite. This cake is a light Genoise sponge with rich, dark chocolate mousse lying beneath a vanilla Swiss meringue icing. It can be made and frozen weeks beforehand and iced a day or two before the big day.

The recipe was given to me 20 years ago by my neighbour, wonderful baker Mary Curran. This cake is fool-proof, robust and delicious, and it travels well. Mary brought it to the UK in her car, to her son's wedding and it survived the journey unscathed.

We rarely, if ever, see wedding gifts being brought to weddings. It's all envelopes now. More often than not I meet the red-faced best man asking, "Did you see a bundle of envelopes? I can't remember where I left them."
I have a childhood memory that sticks in my mind. A cousin of my father was getting married and my mum and I went to deliver a wedding gift. We were brought into the drawing room to inspect the wedding presents, which were all laid out: bundles of towels, a canteen of cutlery, a barometer, a Kenwood mixer, a candlewick bedspread, a dinner service, a tea service and saucepans, to name but a few.

I actually doubted my memory and yesterday checked with my mother, who said indeed it was not my imagination - laying out wedding gifts for inspection was de rigueur, and she reliably informed me that the British royal family still do it.

That tradition seems to have died off, thankfully. Who wants to see bundles of Brown Thomas vouchers or a wad of cash? They don't make for quite the same viewing.