Blog, Ideas & Inspiration

Pandemic wedding planning: The industry adapts

July 7, 2020

We recently joined forces with a few of our events industry colleagues for a live webinar; a pandemic wedding planning special entitled ‘My new normal  – How To Create a Special Wedding Day & Stay Safe’.

Sponsored by SEP (Surrey Events Professionals) and hosted by digital communications and PR expert, Tanya Selley of Irisa communications; the webinar was a live discussion on the future of weddings, emerging trends and solutions for the ‘new normal’ created by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

It was an interesting conversation. Friend of Inside Outside, Sarah Hammond of Rhubarb Catering also took part in the webinar. Sarah is a seasoned veteran of the local events industry, a fantastic caterer and someone whose opinions we value extremely highly.

Sarah answered many questions, made lots of suggestions and offered valuable opinions and ideas over the course of the hour long discussion. We’ve distilled Sarah’s answers into this weeks blog; giving you a succinct and helpful summary of Sarah’s view on how the events world is helping couples with pandemic wedding planning; so that they can enjoy their dream weddings despite the COVID-19 crisis.

Watch the video: A snippet featuring some of Sarah’s advice

Safely catering a wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic

Food hygiene was paramount before we’d even heard of Coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. Catering companies take food hygiene extremely seriously; they are closely monitored and must adhere to strict standards and codes of conduct in order to operate.

Yet COVID-19 has forced the industry to take a step back and revise it’s approach. It’s no longer about meticulous preparation and hygiene standards in the kitchen alone. It’s also about presentation, serving techniques, handling of plates, cutlery and glassware. Careful consideration must be given to physically distanced service to suit each specific venue, environment and event type.

During the webinar, Sarah explains that team at Rhubarb are carefully monitored when they turn up to work. Upon arrival at the Rhubarb offices, staff enter a holding area (a repurposed hallway) where their temperature is taken and where they undertake a careful sanitisation process before entering food preparation spaces.

When it comes to catering weddings, the process is a little more tricky. Staff can be monitored and sanitised when they begin their shifts. However, front of house staff will be interacting with guests during the course of the event. Careful management is needed in order to keep both staff and guests safe. Careful pandemic wedding planning and preparation is paramount.

Rhubarb’s service team wear gloves and facemasks when working in ‘close contact’ with guests. Gloves are changed between courses. Careful attention is paid to glassware; with guests putting glasses down between drinks it’s no longer safe to simply top up guests champagne glasses – in case they’ve picked up somebody else’s glass by mistake. Instead, Rhubarb now serve drinks in fresh glassware every time.

Food trends: Are sharing platters a thing of the past?

In recent times shared experiences have become a big deal in the events world. Sharing platters create a more social dining experience, with guests mingling and interacting as they serve themselves from large platters or food stations. Webinar presenter, Tanya Selley, asked Sarah how Rhubarb plan to handle requests for sharing style catering experiences.

Sarah’s answer couldn’t have been clearer; It’s going to be difficult.

The sharing experiences that we’ve become used to can’t coexist with the safeguarding measures required in the current climate. Food sharing experiences need to be adapted. Sarah’s suggestion for antipasti, cheese boards and the like – individual ‘sharing style’ platters, served to each guest.

For rustic weddings, individual picnic hampers filled with all of the goodies one would normally find at a food station or on sharing platter. For a more formal wedding, stylish, bespoke food boxes for presentation.

Sharing style main courses tend to be self-serve barbecues, roast legs of lamb or similar. Sharing salad bowls usually situated along the table. Sarah suggests replacing the self-serve elements with individual salad pots for each guest, with barbecued and roasted foods plated and served to each guest at the table.

Venues: What are my options if my ideal date or venue are not available?

One issue that many webinar participants expressed experiencing is the challenge of rebooking wedding dates with venues that are now oversubscribed with enquiries. Understandably, as new enquiries for 2021 vie with postponed weddings (as well as other events) from 2020, the most popular summer dates are in high demand.

Responding to a question from a frustrated bride to be, struggling to re-book her wedding date with limited options on offer, Sarah explained:

“Don’t be put off about having a winter wedding. If you can get a Saturday in February, March or April time don’t be worried about that. I think winter weddings are so much fun. They are snug and they’re warm and that might be a better option (as) often the most expensive Saturdays are those in the prime months of the year”. When it comes to marquee weddings during the winter months, Sarah is a confirmed fan, “…line it with velvet, fill it with stars and it’s beautiful!”

In fact, Sarah’s feeling is that marquee venues such as greenfield sites and farm venues will become more sought after and more popular than ever over the course of the coming eighteen months.

Sarah believes, that going forward, brides and grooms will seek out venues that are more secluded and available for exclusive hire.

What could be safer, more personal, private or unique than a marquee at your family home? Or, if you don’t feel that you have the space for a marquee at home, how about a marquee in a secluded field, farm or dedicated marquee site?

Interested in finding out more?

We’d like to thank Sarah for taking part in the ‘My new normal’ webinar. View the full webinar by clicking here. Alternatively visit the Rhubarb catering website to find out more about the initiatives and services that they are offering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic wedding planning? Talk to us.

We’d love to speak to you about your big day. We can help you to find clever marquee solutions; whether you are looking for a physically distanced wedding experience or just a fabulous wedding venue.

Our consultations, site visits and quotations are all obligation and cost free. Why not speak to a member of our experienced team today? Call 01372 459485 or email sales@inside-outside.co.uk

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