Today’s guest post comes to us from Sam Ketterer of Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy, based in London, England. Enjoy:

Food represents an essential part of our daily lives. And since no one eats the same meals day after day, the variety of food we consume plays an equally important role. Which begs the question… given that a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event and an opportunity for a bride and groom to wow their guests, why do so many couples still fail to impress on the catering front? On the menu it’s always the same, unimaginative roast or pan-fried beef, chicken, lamb or salmon.

There are signs however that the tide is beginning to turn. With access to a diverse range of fantastic foods from all over the world, an increasing number of brides and grooms are realizing that they do not have to serve up the same, tired old dishes on their wedding day.

Read the full post after the cut!

Alternatives to Beef or Lamb

Venison can no longer claim to be the bride and groom’s primary luxury alternative. A selection of specialist meats now include buffalo, bison, elk, reindeer, kangaroo and ostrich – all of which your chosen wedding caterer can quickly and easily source directly, either from their usual suppliers or a specialist supplier, farm or butcher. In fact you too can easily find a wide range of alternative meats from suppliers online or even on your local high street from a local butcher or supermarket!

Not only are these meats comparable with our traditional meats but they are also considered superfoods since they are all much lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in protein, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 + 6. Moreover, because they tend to be raised on farms that adopt a natural, organic and ethical approach to farming, they also offer significant health benefits since these animals will have grazed in fields, often without being fed cereals, antibiotics, hormones and steroids to speed up growth.

So then, what do they taste like? And are they expensive?

Well, in much the same way as lamb tastes like lamb, beef tastes like beef — and everything else tastes like chicken! These alternative meats all possess their own individual flavours. In general they tend to be more flavourful, in part due to the natural way they are reared. Not only can they easily replace our traditional meats in just about any menu or recipe of your choosing, but you may be surprised to discover that even couples getting married on a budget can afford to serve them as a main course to their wedding guests.

For example, buffalo steak farmed in the UK is similar to beef steak, but sweeter, leaner and richer in taste. An 8oz 21 day aged rump steak is comparable in price to an aged beef rump steak – from only £5.00. Note, buffalo as in water buffalo, as opposed to North American buffalo, which are in fact bison. Bison, farmed in the UK, is also similar to beef. It is as lean as buffalo and more tender than beef, when cooked properly. And the flavour, although meaty is more delicate. Again its price is reasonably comparable to beef, with an 8oz rump steak costing around £7.50.

Elk, again farmed in the UK, is similar to venison, although more tender and with a milder taste. An 8oz elk leg steak is also around £7.50. Reindeer, farmed in Sweden, unexpectedly tastes more like a prime cut of beef than venison, but with a richer flavour. Due to it being a seasonal meat, fresh is only available in the Autumn. Year round, an 8oz reindeer steak, frozen costs from £6.00.

British farmed ostrich is somewhere between to beef or veal and duck but with a unique and quite a strong gamey flavour. 6oz ostrich steaks cost around £5.50. They are also available frozen from one of the UKs national supermarkets for a few pounds. Kangaroo, farmed in Germany or Australia, can be compared to beef and venison. It’s lean and rather gamey. A 5oz steak, frozen, costs £5.00. And if these are not alternative or exotic enough for you, or you want to really astound you guests, why not consider springbok, kudu, impala, eland, zebra, lama, alpaca or even camel?!

Springbok, impala, kudu and eland are South African antelope, referred to locally as venison. Naturally they have a quite refined and subtle game taste and texture similar to venison. 8oz Impala and kudu steaks cost around £6.00 with springbok at £8.00, frozen. Alpaca and lama from South America tastes like a lighter, sweeter cut of beef. 8oz alpaca or lama fillet steak, frozen, cost £6.00. Camel is a bit like veal – sweet, somewhat gamey with a fat content similar to beef and is a delicacy in the Middle East. A 6oz steak, frozen, is from £4.50. Whilst zebra, like horse, is said to possess a sweeter than beef taste with a subtle game flavour along the lines of venison. It is around £7.00 for an 8oz fillet steak, frozen.

Please note: All prices quoted are retail for fresh meat or fish (below) unless indicated. So they should be cheaper through your caterer, who will benefit from wholesale prices!

Alternatives to Chicken

Well, there are several options aside from duck. For instance, when in season: quail (whole, £5.00) or guinea fowl (fillet, £3.50). Or grouse (fillet, £4.50), partridge (£4.50 for 6oz of fillets) or pheasant (fillet, £6.00). Or even goose (£20-40.00, whole, frozen). Again your caterer can easily source, prepare and cook these for you upon request.

Alternatives to Salmon

There are plenty of specialist fishmongers and suppliers in your local town or city and across the UK. One of the best sources for specialist fish is Billingsgate Fish Market in London, where you will find a wide variety of tuna, snapper and shark, as well as sail fish, mahi mahi, marlin, swordfish, king fish, barracuda, barramundi, parrot and grouper, among countless other species. For an idea of costs, high quality fresh yellow fin tuna (6oz steak, £5.00), fresh wild red snapper (8oz fillet, £5.75) or swordfish (6oz fillet, £4.50). Frozen shark steaks, £4.00 and frozen marlin steaks, £4.00.

For those of you that are still a little concerned that your guests might be fearful of eating the likes of buffalo, shark, ostrich or quail, you could always consider venison, tuna, wild boar, duck or even veal.

So then, opting for a luxury alternative to beef, lamb, chicken or salmon does not make much of a difference to the overall cost of a wedding. It will however have a dramatic impact on the wedding guests, who are likely to be surprised, delighted and quietly impressed with being offered the chance to sample such a unique and contemporary main course. They are also sure to remember the meal for many years to come!

Sam Ketterer is a Managing Director of Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy. Absolute Perfection is the longest established wedding planning company in London and Sam is one of only a handful of wedding planners operating in the UK since 2003. He also tutors aspiring young (and not so young!) wedding planners through the AP Wedding Academy.

To learn more about Absolute Perfection Wedding Consultancy, please visit their WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to their website. Do you have any questions or comments for Sam? Add them to the comments below!