We are getting married in 7 weeks and are having a BBQ.
We are still having the typical table plan and the meal will be a 'sit to eat' meal.
We've chosen three types of meat - chicken, sausage and lamb kebab. There will be a BBQ outside where the food is cooked and the tables will be called up one by one to go and select their meat. The BBQ is just outside the marquee in a separate covered area so if the weather isn't great it won't matter.
The sides will be served on each table. We're having wedges, new potatoes, a cold pasta dish, salad, coleslaw, fried leeks and fried onions, and various bread roles and garlic bread.
We're having no starter, but will have platters of mini-desserts brought to the tables afterward, so staying with a 'picnic' theme. Mini cheesecakes, elclairs, cakes etc.
We had a menu tasting a few weeks back and it was awesome! The full sit down, 3 course meal has always been the boring bit I can't wait to get over with at weddings. A BBQ really appeals to me as something a bit more original and enjoyable.
The best bit about your wedding is that you can have it however you both want it.
If you want starters have starters. If you want a seating plan and everyone sitting eating together you can have that, even if the food is a hog roast or BBQ, because you get to choose how it is done. You can have speeches, or not, you can have them at any time!
BBQs and hog roasts are great in the summer, I have been to weddings with casual ones and weddings where you are called up by table to get your meat and then the other stuff is on the table already, and they have all worked.
The most important thing is that there is enough food for your guests, and they are not hanging around bored at any stage., oh and that you do what you want to do. It's your party!
I went to a hog roast one last month, it was very informal, all the salads, new potatoes, veggie alternatives etc were laid out on long buffet tables, you took those first, then went out a door to the terrace where the caterers were cooking and serving the roast, got your meat, mustard, apple sauce etc and went back inside to sit down. There were no tables just masses of chairs in groups in the hall (modern church), the puddings and drinks were also buffet style, speeches followed and then cake and coffee also served buffet style. It took a while to get the food, but was nice and relaxed, good for children as they didn't have to sit still for ages, everyone was milling around, you could go outside for a bit etc.
I went to a more formal hog roast one a few years ago, with seating plans, one table at a time called up to get food, that worked well too.
The one I went to recently was entirely held in the church building (big modern one). 1.30 wedding, food at 3ish, all over by 5.30 (no evening do).
The other one was held in a big barn that was let out for functions, had two big rooms IIRC, one was used for the meal and one for a ceilidh in the evening.
I guess you need to be looking at venues without in-house catering (so not hotels and conference centres). A large village hall with a nice garden would be good, or a big barn for the rustic feel. Or a marquee.
Why not look up a few local hog roast caterers and ask them about places they've catered for weddings?
I hope it works as that's what we're planning! We are having a seating plan, and speeches, but no starters. Plan is that people will take their seats, then go up one table at a time to serve themselves hog roast, then the hog roast people also do strawberries and cream for pudding. Speeches after pudding.
We've chosen that partly because it's cheaper and partly because we have quite a lot of children/teenagers coming so don't want to make the sit down element too long for them My DS has rather miserable memories of being stuck on a table with teenagers he didn't know for about 3 hours at a family wedding recently - so we wanted it a bit more informal.
We're having canapés instead of starters, and tea and coffee served afterwards outside hopefully, so that people can mill around for those bits.
We've gone for a licenced wedding venue, which has cost us a bit, but allows us to then do what we want for food, etc during the day and to have the actual ceremony as part of the day. Our wedding is 2pm and we were advised to go for a 4pm meal, and then we've also got some lighter evening food too starting around 8pm (don't figure anyone will be hungry much earlier than that)
Lots of catering companies are quite self-contained so can come more or less anywhere - so you could do a community centre, etc - though you might need to sort out some sort of bar. You'd need to do the legal bit separately of course if you go for an unlicensed venue (which are much cheaper) - either in a church or registry office.