Wedding catering Scotland: Ballintaggart, Kate's and Hickory on their Outlander-inspired events and dealing with naughty dogs
“My wife, Kate, and I were catering for weddings long before we started our business in 2017. From April to October we cater for two to three a weekend across Scotland.
We’ve organised weddings with only six weeks notice as well as events that take three years of planning. We work closely with couples to fine-tune the details to their ideas and budget. Their vision is discussed with our wedding planner and chefs which is followed by a tasting session where we finalise their menu.
Destination weddings to Scotland are popular, thanks in part to Outlander. We had clients who travelled from America. The bride wanted to have the ceremony and wedding meal on a remote hillside in the Highlands. In the end they changed the location to a beautiful walled garden. Despite many attempts at explaining the unpredictability of Scottish summers, the bride was adamant it wouldn’t rain. Everything was set for an alfresco meal despite the forecasts. The heavens opened between the main course and dessert, her guests were soaked but the bride was happy.
Serving from different kitchens definitely brings challenges. We’ve worked through extreme weather in marquees. One time we had the power cut just before the meals were to be served. At a recent wedding, a bride’s dog decided to play tug of war with the bottom of her dress. One of our staff spent the majority of the meal kneeling behind the top table and stitching her wedding dress back together
So far this year, we’ve catered for three completely plant-based weddings. For many events, up to 20 per cent of guests invited will be on a gluten free/vegan diet.
They’re looking for elements that stand out, like oyster bars or lobster rolls in lieu of traditional canapés
The wedding industry is also heavily centred around aesthetics. Many people provide us with Instagram and other social media pictures during consultations”.
“We can create weddings anywhere in Scotland, from fire pit cooking a whole lamb deep in Glencoe, to serving picnics in Perthshire mountain bothies, often foraging for seasonal
ingredients along the way. A couple once stopped their celebration at Ballintaggart Farm halfway through to enjoy a wild swim in Balnaguard Falls. We’ve learnt to expect the unexpected and do whatever is required to enable our couples to create magical memories.
Ballintaggart was founded in 2016, as a refined rural restaurant and cook school with rooms. A cottage was added to provide more accommodation, and in 2018, The Grandtully Hotel by Ballintaggart opened. We held our first wedding in 2019 at Ballintaggart Farm, and grew our business with The Feasts by Ballintaggart in 2020 to accommodate the growing demand for bespoke feasts. I run the business with my brother, Andrew, and we have two head chefs: Jordan Clark and Harris McNeil.
Good food shared generously should be at the heart of any celebration. Helping to create someone’s special day is an incredible privilege.
Beautiful sharing boards and feasts has become a signature for us and has increased in popularity. They’re indulgent and look spectacular.
Each wedding is unique, and getting to know the couple is incredibly important. We devised our own questionnaire and ask where our couple met, their favourite restaurants, what their five desert island ingredients would be, what they cook for their loved ones and their favourite breakfasts. This provides inspiration to create a menu that’s filled with meaning.
No request is too extravagant. We’ve created full vegan weddings, as well as gluten and dairy free wedding cakes - this allows our chefs to showcase their skills and highlight Perthshire produce. Vegan and vegetarian dishes aren’t an afterthought. Presentation is incredibly important. We recently had a wedding feast featured in Vogue Weddings, but we would never sacrifice the taste and experience of a dish for the look.”
"Hickory started in 2012. As well as our wedding business, we manage corporate events, festivals and large event bars and hospitality. We’re now proud to manage four exclusively-Hickory venues, Cairns Farm Estate, Eskmills Venue, Errol Park and Dovecot Studios. We also operate retail spaces such as Dovecot Studios Café.
In summer, we manage eight to 10 weddings a week, sometimes six a day in multiple locations across Scotland.
We consider the couple's cultural background, special memories, and personal stories to create a menu that resonates with their love story.
Covid caused chaos for many of our booked brides and grooms. We’ve worked tirelessly to reschedule and, thankfully this year, we’ve delivered our last postponed wedding.
Interactive food stations are hugely popular – cheese fondue anyone? Things like build-your-own taco bars, sushi-rolling stations, gourmet burger bars, and made-to-order desserts. One big trend in wedding food is the emphasis on farm-to-table and locally sourced ingredients. Couples are increasingly conscious of sustainability and supporting local communities.
Any wedding planner will know, no matter how well you plan something, external factors can throw a spanner in the works.
One wedding was set to take place in a stunning garden. However, on the day it bucketed down. Luckily we had a backup plan and swiftly transformed an indoor space into a romantic oasis. The couple was amazed by the beautiful ambiance, complete with twinkling lights, draped fabric, and lush greenery.
One of my favourite weddings was with a couple from different cultural backgrounds. They wanted to showcase their heritage and we curated a vibrant and dynamic celebration”.
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