How We Self-Catered Our Wedding Reception

A year ago today, it was the day before our wedding. And we were making felafels. 

The rain had stopped, the sun poured in - and friends and family gathered around the kitchen bench in our hired house. Beers were opened, and everybody chipped in ... rolling balls of spiced chickpea flour, chopping potatoes for roasting, sliding squares of haloumi onto skewers. Skye set herself to work crafting lemon cupcakes, dusting them with chamomile flowers. My mom set out our thrifted glassware - all 100 pieces and $11 of it - while Nelle immersed herself in Tangled on DVD. Friends popped in to say hello and give us a hand as they arrived, from Brisbane or Sydney or Townsville or beyond, and the rain-chilled pool became noisy with children. Our wedding had started, a day early. 

Sean and Robbie :: photo by Rose xx

Tamsin appeared with the meat we'd ordered from Brisbane - tender, organic skewers and lamb cutlets to marinade with garlic and lemon, cumin and paprika - that Robbie's brother and friends would set themselves to grilling for us the next day. Suz and Jamie made souvlaki, and we tucked 16L of artisanal gelati into the freezer for safekeeping. Rose returned from the flower market, laden with great bunches of native blooms, boutonnieres and bouquets. We cooked and decorated and laughed and swam and nibbled.

And that night, Robbie and I sat side-by-side in our king-size bed and wrote our vows.

Robbie and me :: photo by Jason xx

We were always going to cater our own wedding feast - how else could we make it just how we wanted it? We planned our food carefully, based our menu around simple flavours and quality ingredients, and enlisted friends to help us cook it, dish it, serve it. For those few days, we had a huge extended family in our kitchen to make it all work. And it was amazing

We made simple Middle Eastern/Greek food, because it's easy to prepare ahead of time and in massive quantities, and can be eaten for the most part with one hand. Our preparation involved several trips to our favourite Greek deli, huge jars of roasted red peppers and dolmades, and significant olive-sampling. There were dips and flatbreads and dishes of home-marinated feta, sizzling meats and cheeses off the grill, and of course, felafels.

And even now, when I want to whip together a feast, it's often Greek. Some things I think are worth doing yourself - others, you buy. Let the ladies down at the deli make your baklava for you (we did, and used it as our wedding cake), and find a good brand of tinned dolmades. But marinate your own feta. Source the best meat you can afford, because you'll spice and grill it lightly, and you will tell the difference. Get the butcher to skewer it for you. Make hummus and baba ganoush and tzaziki - or buy it - depending on how you feel. Whatever you do, prepare as many things in advance as you can, involving as many people as you can, so on the day you can sit back and just be. happy.
photo by Jason xx

So it was that a year ago Robbie and I were married, at Noosa, just off the beach, in the first truly gorgeous day we'd had in a week. Nelle walked me up a sandy path in her cream satin dress and pink Wellies, and handed me over to her daddy with a kiss. We listened, we avowed, we were immersed in the moment. Sean gave the best non-legal ceremony anyone in a brown polyester suit has ever given, I'm sure of it. There were rings and kisses and then ...

we all went back to the house and ate for about twelve hours.

What did we eat? You've just seen our menu (I go through it below, in more detail). We printed it on postcards, so people knew to pace themselves. There was wine and beer and cider and soda and cordial with sparkling water, and just when the sun was dipping low, Gwen made cocktails. Friends grabbed white serving dishes and walked them around as we needed, and there was food everywhere, all the time. We started with brie and crackers at midday and finished off the hummus roundabout midnight, and we had the. best. time.

Robbie and I wanted to celebrate each other, but also this group of people who mean so much to us ... and that's how we did it. 

Happy Anniversary, sweeties.
Amanda xx

PS. Recipes here!

just some of the wine :: photo by Rose xx

Starters 12:30-2:00pm
Noosa prawns :: fresh off the boat
{bought on the day}

Prosciutto bites :: rolled with fig + feta
{made the day before}

Olive bar :: Sicilian, kalamata, chili-marinated

Dolmades :: vine leaves stuffed with rice + herbs

Brie wedge

{bought, though usually I make these}

Guava + baby mozzarella 
{made the day before}

Roasted nuts :: salty, sweet + spicy
{made a few days before}

photo by Jason xx

Mains 2:00-4:00pm
Lamb cutlets :: with cumin, coriander + paprika
{marinated the day before + grilled on the day}

Chicken souvlaki :: with garlic, lemon + olive oil
{marinated the day before + grilled on the day}

Beef skewers :: with Mediterranean marinade
{marinated the day before + grilled on the day}

Felafel :: baked chickpea bites
{made from mix the day before}

Marinated haloumi :: with chili + lemon
{marinated the day before + grilled on the day}

Roasted potatoes :: with lemon + sour cream
{made the day before}
photo by Jason xx

Desserts 4:00-6:00pm
Gelato bar :: chocolate, vanilla, mango + toppings
{ordered in advance, collected the day before}

Baklava :: Greek nut + honey filo cake
{ordered in advance, collected a few days before}

Lemon cupcakes 
{made the day before}

Tea + Coffee


  1. Happy 1st wedding anniversary!! Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful photos and your lovely menu. You are a beautiful family.

    My husband and I were married in our home (5 years ago) with only my children and our siblings present (both sets of parents deceased). Though we did not make our entire menu, we did make all our hors d'oeuvres and the family brunch that followed the next morning. Would not have done it any other way. So relaxed yet intimate and mostly just plain fun.

  2. @PaulaThat sounds wonderful! The best way to show and share love, I think :) xx

  3. So wonderful to read this... Makes me wanna plan my wedding menu already!!!! Happy anniversary you lovesick couple :) Ami x

  4. Don't forget all the fun with the honey spilling from the Baklava box on the way to Noosa or your running into the closed glass door, or...... Love you so much! And I think the Sean's suit was linen as polyester wouldn't have wrinkled!!!!!!
    Love, Mom Happy Memories!

  5. Don't forget the wonderful time we had licking honey from the leaking Baklava box on the way to Noosa, or you running into the closed glass door, or almost forgetting the permit, or.....
    It was a special time with special people.

    Love you--Mom

  6. Ami - I sense a post (or 10) on Malaysian wedding feasts is imminent ... xx

    And Mom! I'd totally forgotten about the leaking honey ... not about the running-into-the-door though ... (just -um- forgot to mention that :) ) xx

  7. I cannot believe it is 12 months since you got married. how time flies? Am thinking about the haloumi with chilli and lemon as I type - I know that would have been delicious. Would definitely love to catch up again soon if you are up this way..

  8. What a beautiful wedding. Happy Anniversary from me to you. I love your menu and how relaxing and inviting it was to those who attended. I'm sure that it was wonderful!


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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx