Seeing as it’s the start of National Afternoon Tea Week, we thought we’d take a look at how we can give this traditional English custom a somewhat Indian makeover. Typically, brides and grooms believe they have to serve a traditional Indian feast after their Indian wedding, but actually, this isn’t really the case. The only thing that really matters is that your guests are satisfied and do not leave the event feeling hungry, in which case, why not mix things up and treat them to a luxurious surprise?
We know from personal experience that most Brits happen to absolutely LOVE tea, as does pretty much every Indian who walks the planet (bar a few) so you’re practically on to a winner if you serve up some post-wedding afternoon tea. If it’s an option you’re open to considering but are a little confused as to how to make it work for you, then please keep reading:
Afternoon tea often has a more upmarket and ‘posh’ vibe so ideally, it would work best if you have a seating plan ready for lunch, so guests can simply walk in to the room and take their seats. This option will also be handy for your catering team as they can make a note in advance of any special dietary requirements if necessary. Free seating is also an option, however just remember that there may be wasted spaces on tables which may end up being a problem depending on numbers, and how you decide to serve your food.
When you usually have afternoon tea, you’ll either be in a café or some fancy hotel or restaurant with personalised waiter service. When you have a wedding for 300 people for example, it may be a little tricky for your catering team to be as attentive, so we suggest you serve the food like this:
Keep some ready platters of cold food on the table; i.e sandwiches, scones, pastries etc along with teapots filled with masala chai or English tea if you prefer. Then lay out a separate buffet-style spread for hot food and other optional drinks so there’s sufficient choice for your guests (and no one will leave feeling hungry). If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to enjoy some high tea at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, then you’ll know this option works brilliantly. We recommend having a set waiter for every two-to-three tables so your guests feel well looked after.
This is where things can get really exciting. While it’s essential that you keep the British vibe intact, your guests will appreciate a slight Indian twist. For example, the traditional Bombay sandwich in finger form will go down an absolute treat. Scones with some spicy, chilli jam and pastries filled with exotic fruits or spices like nutmeg and cinnamon will also mix things up a little.
For the hot buffet, serve some traditional Indian favourites in canapé-form; pav bhaji, vada pau, samosas, sev puri etc will all work well. Don’t forget to offer your guests a variety of extra tea flavours, alongside coffees and juices. These can all be laid out on extra trestles and don’t necessarily have to be served on the table.
Invest in some stylish cutlery and crockery for your set up. Hire some fancy china tea sets to transport your guests back to the days of the British Raj, or if you prefer, look for quirkier or vintage options to give a more rustic vibe. Floral centerpieces or simple candelabras are all you need to make your table look the part.
The presentation of serving staff is also important. Perhaps ask your catering team if they are happy to ask the staff to dress in alternative uniforms. Smart aprons for those serving food, while tuxedos or dresses for those serving on tables will all help to create your perfect afternoon tea ambience.
This is something that is often overlooked during the food service at Indian weddings, which is a shame considering it’s one of the most important aspects of the day. If your budget permits, arrange for an instrumentalist to play live during the service – nothing too over powering though; a harpist or pianist would be a good option. Alternatively download some nice instrumental music on your phone or iPod and play this through a speaker, or if you’re having a DJ, ask him or her to help you out.
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