Three classic ‘mocktails’ to spoil non-drinkers with…

Booze selection is typically given careful thought when planning most weddings and other celebrations.

In many ways, though, catering for the drinkers at your party can be more straightforward than providing for those avoiding alcohol. You’re never short of ideas when it comes to mixing spirits into fascinating and exotic combinations, after all…but what about when it comes to making the non-drinkers feel equally pampered?

It’s always important to provide an interesting and diverse list of drinks options for the abstainers, designated drivers, supervisors, mums-to-be, dieters, and anybody else who’ll be opting to keep a clear head on the day/night.

One handy way to do this is with a bright and varied ‘mocktails’ menu – and, to that end, we’ve picked out three superb recipes that have always proved easy winners in our experience. Ingredient lists, techniques and serving ideas for each are outlined below.




A play on the classic mojito, but without the rum – this is a superbly flexible drink, ideal for summer, that always looks alluring and is easy to doll up with various combinations of fruits, juices and leaves. It should always include mint and lime for that characteristic flavour profile, though. Note that the muddling stage can be done in advance, meaning your glasses are prepped and ready to go when it’s time to add the fresh fizz.


8-10 mint leaves per glass

Fresh lime juice – about 30ml per glass

Rum extract – one teaspoon per glass (use a dash or two of vanilla extract if you’re struggling to find the rum version, although it’s relatively easy to get online)

Brown sugar – around a tablespoon per glass

Soda water to top up – you can use clear lemonade or even limeade if you prefer, in which case omit most of the brown sugar (just leave enough in there to help with the muddling)

Ice – cubed or crushed, depending on whether or not you want to serve it with straws

A dash of fresh orange juice – non-traditional and entirely optional, but goes very well with cranberries (see below)


Place the mint leaves, lime juice and sugar into a highball or tumbler – you can sugar the rim of the glasses beforehand if you like – and muddle together to bruise the mint, releasing flavours and aromas as the sugar begins to break up and dissolve. Fill the glass with ice cubes, then pour over the rum extract and finally top up with soda water. Garnish with an extra mint leaf of two. For twists on this recipe, try adding a handful of raspberries or cranberries to the muddling mixture, partially crushing them up as you bruise the mint, lime and sugar together.




Cold cocktail alcoholic wine drinks in glass with straw on a table in AnzioClassic Spanish sangria is based around red wine mixed with chopped fruit, a splash of orange juice and a few spices. By switching out the wine for either a non-alcoholic version or a grape-based fruit juice, it’s really easy to adapt into a wonderfully tasty (and healthy) party punch bowl, which is the serving suggestion we’ve based the measures below on. A brilliant choice for daytime or outdoor events, it can easily be made a few hours in advance (or even kept overnight, depending on what fruits you add).


Red or white grape juice – the main ingredient, so enough to fill whatever size of bowl you’ll be serving (white grape juice is generally easier to find than red, although this can be substituted for non-alcoholic wine if you’re looking to make it taste super-authentic)

Blueberries – one punnet per bowl

A few generous handfuls of small or chopped fruits – our favourites are more blueberries, raspberries, oranges, peaches, and sliced bananas for a slightly Caribbean twist

Fresh orange juice – around 2-3 full glasses per bowl

Fresh lime juice – around 2-3 limes, fully squeezed

A cinnamon stick – optional, gives a sweetly spiced note that can be great for an evening or winter version

Ice cubes – around 2 standard-sized trays per bowl


Blend two generous handfuls of blueberries with your base liquid, whether it’s grape juice or alcohol-free wine. Pour this into a serving bowl, along with the orange and lime juices. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine well. Add your ice, chopped and sliced fruits, and cinnamon stick if using, then cover and let the sangria sit in the fridge for a couple of hours until nicely chilled. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.




A fantastic idea we found at the online recipe hub Always Order Dessert, this alcohol-free twist on the sharp, sophisticated character of the classic champagne, lemon and gin-based French 75 makes for a very ‘grown-up’-feeling tipple. It’s perfect for toasting and other special occasions where you want to enjoy a slightly more complex flavour profile without resorting to adding booze into the mix.

You’ll need a cocktail shaker to make it properly – and be sure to serve it in fluted or coupe glasses for that optimal air of refinement!


Fresh lemon juice – roughly half a squeezed lemon for each drink you’re going to serve

Good quality tonic water – the main liquid ingredient, so around half a glass per drink

Lemon or orange bitters – two dashes for each drink being made

Sugar – one teaspoon per drink; very fine white caster sugar works best here, as you don’t want the drink to have a granular texture (alternatively you can use a simple sugar syrup, made and cooled in advance)

Ice – cubed, enough to fill the cocktail shaker about 2/3 of the way up


Tip your ice cubes into the cocktail shaker and allow to sit for a few seconds. Add your freshly squeezed lemon juice and fine white sugar (or sugar syrup), along with a couple of dashes of bitters for each drink you’re pouring – a full standard cocktail shaker will typically make two drinks. Shake well until the mixture is nicely chilled, then strain into two flutes or coupe glasses; the mixture should come about a third of the way up a standard flute. Top up in the glass with good quality fresh tonic water, and garnish with a slice of lemon (you can add a stirrer if using flutes).


 Article provided by Plato Catering Hire

Want to Get Married in Summer 2018 But Have Nothing Planned?

Here’s What to Do…

You’re undoubtedly looking forward to getting married. You might have settled on the date a while ago and suddenly you look at the calendar – it’s already January!

You’re getting married in summer 2018 and your wedding day is approaching fast – perhaps just a little too fast. Especially as you haven’t organised anything yet…

Fear not, as there is still time to get planning and arrange your 2018 summer wedding. It won’t be too stressful either.

Here’s what you need to do:


Sort out the guest list

The most important thing to do is to finalise your guest list. The number of people you’re going to invite will influence many of the other things – your venue, the catering and even the entertainment.

Once you know how many people you’re going to have there, you can tailor everything else around this number.

Sort it out as soon as possible to move on to the other details.


Create a wedding budget

You can then set a budget for your big day. This is crucial.

Because the cost of getting married has increased, budgeting will help you make better decisions.

It allows you to pick priorities – do you care more about the floral arrangements or the catering? You can always adjust your budget as your planning progresses but it’s beneficial to start with estimations.

You might have to make some tough decisions and drop some things you’d really liked to have had for your wedding, but it’s better than planning the whole thing and realising you either can’t afford it or now have a massive credit card bill.


Pick a wedding theme

Before you book a wedding venue, entertainment and buy the wedding dress: pick a wedding theme. If you have a specific theme you want, it will influence the other parts of your planning. Creating a medieval themed wedding is a lot easier in an actual castle rather than a super-modern ballroom!

Your wedding theme can be anything – you can use a specific colour combination, a historic era, your favourite movie and so on. You can be as specific or as broad with your ideas as you want.


Book the venue and catering

Finding the right venue can be the hardest part of planning a wedding this close to your ideal date. Some of the most popular venues are booked as far as two to three years in advance. Summer is a busy time and if you’ve not yet booked your wedding venue, chances are you might not get your first choice, especially if you’re not willing to budge on the date.

Start by considering your venue and narrow down the search based on location and the type. Do you want an outdoor venue? Would you prefer a venue that allows you to provide your own catering? Do you want venue with a specific feature, such as a lake nearby?

It’s important to be clear about what you want from the venue. For example, certain venues might have different policies regarding things like wedding bands, wedding fireworks and catering. Ask questions for everything you want to know, and find a venue that meets your demands.

You can take advantage of venue directories online and use them to find your dream venue.

When booking the venue, you can also sort out your catering. You might book it together with the venue or opt to have an outside caterer create your dream menu.


Move on to finer details

That wasn’t so bad, right?

As soon as you clear the above hurdles from your way, you’re almost there. After that, it just becomes about fine-tuning and adding elements that turn your wedding from good to great.

The next big things on your list are:

  • Wedding Invitations. Send these out six to eight weeks before the date.
  • Your Wedding Outfit. What are you wearing? If you’re having a themed wedding, then this may require some focus. Do bridesmaids or others featuring in the wedding need to match?
  • Your Wedding Entertainment. Find a DJ or a wedding band that fits your theme. Choose a professional with plenty of wedding experience – it guarantees you create the right ambience and your guests enjoy the party.

You don’t have to go crazy at this point. Think about table card designs and napkin colours later. When you have the above sorted, you can move on to these extra elements, like the floral arrangements, placement cards, and the politics of who is going to sit where.

Most importantly, enjoy the planning process!

Even though your summer 2018 wedding is only months away, you still have plenty of time to sort things out and create the wedding of your dreams.

Cool Ingredients for a Magical Winter Wedding

There are lots of great reasons to opt for a winter wedding rather than going the more predictable summertime route.

For one thing, it’s likely to work out a fair bit cheaper if you’re not trying to compete with everyone else at the height of summer’s peak wedding season. Venue hire is the single biggest area you stand to save on: renting a space can cost you half in December, January or February what the same location would do in June-August.

On top of that, you can really go to town for a winter wedding; creating a cosy, romantic wonderland for your guests – the colder months are truly the time when the increasingly trendy hygge style really comes into its own.

Make use of glinting fairy lights, intimate candle glow, crisp winter evergreens, and encourage your guests, bridesmaids or groomsmen to dress in more vibrant jewel tones than they typically would for a more delicate, pastel-shaded summer garden environment.


There are a few other great décor and food ideas we’d always recommend you consider for your winter weddings, including:


Start with white

Reflecting that most picturesque of winter weathers – gentle drifts of pure driven snow – you can use a predominantly white theme for winter weddings that feels both traditional and whimsical, yet modern, clean-lined and minimalist.

However, a touch of minimalism needn’t be boring in the slightest: selecting pure white linens and coverings as the basis of your colour scheme effectively creates a blank canvas for you to play around on to your heart’s content. We suggest pairing crisp, clean expanses of white with little flourishes of silver, gold and deep, seductive jewel tones – ruby, amethyst, sapphire and jade – to create a cosy and truly magical ‘Aladdin’s cave’ vibe that will warm the cockles of all attendees.


Serve spiced soups and mulled drinks

Planning catering options for winter weddings also gives you a great chance to deliver some real crowd-pleasers. There’s just no denying that a steaming pot of creamy, nutty, velvety seasonal soup, lifted with festive spices (and perhaps served with an oven-warm crusty garlic bread) is just fundamentally more alluring on a basic human level than any scattering of fridge-chilled canapes.

Mulled wines, ciders, cinnamon-spiked hot toddies and buttery rum punches also appeal to similar hard-wired comfort-seeking instincts. And, for those not looking for a double warming whammy of heat and alcohol, why not try setting up a DIY hot chocolate bar, where guests can personalise a lush cocoa mix with any number of sweet treats and toppings?


Bring the outdoors in

With its romantic imagery of snow-speckled pines, vibrant holly, romantic mistletoe, glistening berries and aromatic chestnuts, winter is a fantastic season for giving nature pride of place at weddings – and what better way to do so than by making use of the vast range of wreaths, runners and garlands we all associate with the festive season?

These little oases of deep forest green, ruby red, soft browns and pearlescent white are an uncomplicated way to turn any bleak midwinter scene into an instant Narnia. Pine cones, winter fruits and baskets of nuts can be adorned with all manner of artistic decorative touches and used as place markers, ornaments and even traditional costume accessories for a stunningly different organic look.


Additional top tips for a smoother winter wedding:

Keep it to one venue if you can. You don’t want your guests to have to keep switching locations, particularly if the weather is harsh when getting around town in your finery can be complicated and expensive. If a single location isn’t possible, try to find somewhere where the reception area is as close to the actual service venue as you can manage.

Leave blankets, shawls and wraps by exits for those that will want to pop outside now and then. You can also set up fire pits or chimeneas for cosier outdoor spaces that people will want to linger and chat in with a glass of something warming.

Encourage people to bring a sensible pair of shoes as backup. Nobody will want to be wearing wellies or hiking boots on the dancefloor, of course – but in the depths of winter, it’s usually a fair bet that anyone who doesn’t have anything sturdier than strappy sandals in their car boot will soon wish that they did!

Plan travel in advance, allow more time, and have several ‘plan Bs’ in place. If you’re unlucky – or lucky, depending on your perspective – you may even end up being snowed on. That’s a fantastic slice of good fortune in terms of your wedding photos, of course…assuming the photographer can still make it. If not, who’s been nominated to step in? Is there someone on hand who can fix makeup and hair in the event of a sudden flurry, gale or shower?

Factor in extra room and personnel for coat, bag and shoe check-ins. Everyone will be turning up with a lot more baggage for a winter wedding than they would for a summer wedding, so plan accordingly and make sure you don’t end up having to give up half your venue space to an enormous mound of damp parkas, gumboots and snoods!

Article provided by Plato Catering Hire

Choosing Table Linen for Your Wedding Breakfast: Key Trends and Colours

Neurtal Wedding Decor

When it comes to the choosing the finishing touches to your wedding breakfast venue, there’s a lot to think about, and many trends to consider. From the furniture to the glassware, the crockery to the table linens, bringing everything together for the perfect dining room setting can be a complex process. Whilst these may seem like minor details, these are the details that will tie the whole room together in terms of look and style and set the tone for your big celebration. Your wedding breakfast is the first meal you will have together as man and wife, with the company of your closest friends and family. So every small detail is just as important as say the cake, or the choice of champagne, or the food on the menu. And when it comes to linen hire, there’s a whole world of colour schemes to explore. Here are some key looks and trends to consider for your wedding day (written by Independent Wedding suppliers, Plato Catering Hire):

Neutral Wedding Theme

Neurtal Wedding DecorWhites and neutrals are extremely popular for weddings and work especially well for classical venues, timeless themes and your typical white wedding. But that doesn’t mean that choosing your table linen will be an easy task. Because with lighter hues, it’s harder to create a sense of depth in your table design, meaning that you’ll need to match your table cloths, chair covers, centrepieces, crockery and glassware perfectly. Opt for a true white for a clean look or try warm nudes for a softer appearance. Peachy nudes and dusky pinks work particularly well with gold hardware and gold toned décor.

The Woodland Wedding

Woodland Wedding DecorThe rustically beautiful and nature-inspired woodland wedding is one of the biggest wedding theme trends in 2017; and we’ve seen the use of wooden logs and pine cones, wild flowers and foliage adorn tables in the most creative of ways. Whites and neutrals work well when it comes to table linen, providing a stylish contrast between fabric and nature. Or alternatively, experiment with earth based tones such as mushroom browns and greys, soft beige, muted olive or verdant greens.

Vintage Wedding Theme

Vintage Wedding DecorVintage weddings come in varying styles, some chintzy and cute and others highly sophisticated. So there’s a lot of room for creativity here. Bright table cloths mixed with clashing crockery and patterned table runners is a fantastic way of exploring the eclectic style. Or choose feminine pinks that evoke a sense of vintage romance.

The Monochrome Wedding

Monochrome Wedding DecorCreate a contemporary, ultra-luxurious ‘black tie’ feel at your wedding breakfast with dark colourways that will contrast beautifully with golds, silvers or whites. The monochrome colour scheme is all about being bold, and gives the bride and groom a chance to be somewhat indulgent and ostentatious with their selection of room décor.

Rustic Weddings

Rustic Wedding DecorIf you are planning a rustic wedding theme, you may want to consider no table cloths at all. Wooden tables are a huge trend in 2017/18 and the use of a simple table runner is often the best way to highlight the beauty of solid oak furniture. Carefully select table mats, napkins, runners and chair cushions and use neutral tones classic, understated charm.

Contributed by Plato Catering Hire.

Hiring your wedding day crockery? Here are a few things to consider

In all the excitement of your big day, when you’re planning your own wedding reception, the practicalities like crockery can often be forgotten. Some wedding venues charge a premium for hiring wedding crockery, asking extortionate amounts for the serving plates, glasses, cutlery and everything else you need on top of the cost of the catering. Some venues will not even allow the crockery to be provided by third parties so it could end up costing you a fortune.

Thinking carefully about the small details like wedding day crockery rather than simply accepting the first quote you receive could help you make big savings to spend on the more important things. So, if you’re arranging your own wedding day crockery, here are a few things to consider…

  1. Collection or delivery?

Many wedding crockery hire companies will give you the choice to collect the crockery or have it delivered ready for the big day. Of course, a delivery service will not necessarily come for free. If the hire company is local then collecting the crockery yourself could save you a little money, though delivery is far more convenient.

  1. Terms and conditions

As always, it’s important you take the time to understand the terms and conditions of the crockery hire service. Is there a minimum order amount? How much will you be charged for crockery that’s damaged? It’s worth calling a few companies to ask these questions and get a quote to see what’s right for you.

  1. How many glasses will you need?

If you’re not going to have some poor soul washing racks of glasses during the wedding itself, you’ll need to think carefully about how many glasses you’re actually going to need. If you think that each drink will need to be served in a clean glass, then you’re likely to need at least three per guest.

  1. Always order extra

Depending on the number of guests you are expecting, we would advise you to order at least ten more plates, sets of cutlery and other pieces of crockery than you think you’ll need. Crockery can all too easily be dropped or misplaced during the day and there may be other people that need to eat, such as the photographer or other vendors, you hadn’t factored into your calculations. If you’re not sure exactly how many guests there’ll be, put in your initial order for the higher amount as most rental companies will let you change your order a few days before delivery without charging an additional fee.

  1. What else do you need?

When you’re organising your own wedding reception, hiring the crockery is just one of a seemingly insurmountable mountain of different items to consider. To help jog your memory, a few other things you may need include tables, tablecloths, napkins, chairs, patio heaters, bread baskets, lighting, garden furniture and of course, a bride or groom!

For any additional questions about hiring the right catering equipment for your big day feel free to contact Plato Catering Hire.