Get off to a sparkling start...

Peach & raspberry sunsets
Peach sangria


Mix and match crostini
Greet guests with these bite-size canapés - to serve 20 guests, you'll need to make about 80 crostini.

Crab salsa crostini
Classic smoked salmon crostini
Peach Coronation chicken crostini
Summery greens & goat's cheese crostini

Canapé know-how

  • Canapés are a wonderful way to start a smart buffet, but keep them small - no bigger than a mouthful - so they are easy to eat.
  • Keep things simple by assembling them in a production line. Lay out all the bread slices on a large surface, then top with each ingredient individually.
  • Get some helpers if you can, and if space allows, even if it's only to chop up a bunch of herbs.
  • Lay out the platters on the table or ask youngsters to help pass them around.
  • To save yourself time and space, for a more relaxed occasion, fill a big bowl with crostini and put the toppings in smaller bowls, so guests can serve themselves.
  • Buy the best-quality ingredients you can. As the crostini aren't cooked, you'll be able to taste the difference in good smoked salmon and fresh crab.
  • Use any leftover herbs to decorate the serving plates.

The main meal

Roast beef with carrots

Roast beef may not be the cheapest main course, but it's about ten times cheaper than getting caterers to cook it - and you can be assured of the quality. Beef fillet is perfect for the big day. It's got more wow-factor than any other cut of meat and actually has more flavour when served at room temperature.

Keep your table and serving dishes clean and uncluttered. White always looks stunning, especially in summer. Make your delicious, fresh food the star of the day.

Vegetarian extras
Asparagus, lemon & ricotta tart
Slow-cooked summer blush

Sensational side dishes
Marinated new potatoes
Mediterranean fig & mozzarella salad

What to drink

Summer punch with glasses
  • Planning a wedding or a special anniversary party is a great excuse to experiment with Champagnes, as well as sparkling wines, including prosecco and cava.
  • Look out for discounts and always check the size of the case: Champagne frequently comes in a 6-bottle case not a 12-bottle case. Think about ordering magnums (1.5 litres) - they look dramatic, and the wine stays younger longer. All Champagnes will improve if you store them for 3 months at home in good conditions - avoid extremes of hot and cold.
  • What to buy? At the top end are Bollinger or Krug. Less well-known, but of very good quality is Billecart-Salmon. Other names in this range are Gosset, Henriot, Pol Roger and Taittinger. Easier on the pocket are the supermarkets' own brands, especially Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Shop websites are worth visiting as offers change monthly.
  • If you would like a trip to Calais, plan it beforehand with internet research. There are good deals, but you won't be able to hire glasses or arrange sale or return.

Find out more about food and wine matching

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