When it comes to discussing wedding menus with my clients, the ‘hog roast question’ is right up there with the ‘wedding cake as dessert question’.

There is a time and a place for hog roasts, and it’s not necessarily your wedding day. But how can you tell whether it would suit your day? I hope this helps.

Bride at Wedding Hog Roast

Don’t have a hog roast if…

1. …you’re uncomfortable with the phrase “big, bloody, raw, dead pig”

At the end of the day that is what it is; trotters on, head-off, hairy skin crisping, tail waving in the breeze. If you are at all squeamish (or have invited even one vociferously vegetarian guest) advance down this route at your peril.

2. …you haven’t told your guests

Picture the scene: female guests wobbling across the lawn in their high heels, trying to eat a hot bap elegantly without ruining their manicure or dropping ketchup on their beautiful dresses, tutting as their other halves wipe greasy hands on their new suit trousers.

Please, if you are having a hog roast, mark it clearly on your invitation so that people come prepared wearing wedge heels and with wet wipes to hand.

3. …it was all his idea

Men. Meat. Fire. Often I find the hog roast idea comes from a groom who has whimsical dreams of standing next to the BBQ… sorry I mean hog roast… whiling away the hours with a few beers and a group of his mates. This isn’t what happens on your wedding day. If you don’t believe me ask your married friends about their experiences. Accept that you’re hosting a big event for many, not an afternoon at home for a few.

4. …you’re worried about the weather

Hog roasts involve fire so cannot be done indoors, hence good weather is essential. In the UK it can rain on up to 200 days of the year, so I urge every couple planning their reception in Britain to “hope for the best but plan for the worst”.

However, if you are willing to bet that your wedding day will be on one of those precious remaining 165 days (minus those in freezing winter) then go for it. If you are set on an outdoor extravaganza, better to move the location to Bondi Beach or Provence.

5. …you want a relaxed atmosphere

Hog roasts (like buffets) do not, as you might think, provide a relaxed ‘eat what you like when you like’ meal. In fact the opposite can be true. The hungry people rush in first, other guests wait politely and end up with less, family cliques move 20 chairs round one table and (ironically) a lot of guests choose to sit and wait for someone else to bring them their food anyway. If you really want a relaxed atmosphere, great service is the key.

Do have a hog roast if…

1. …you’re looking for vintage style or a rock ‘n’ roll look

Be aware that there is a good way and a bad way to do a hog roast, but never a particularly pretty way. For good see Vintage at Goodwood, for bad see local rugby club.

No two hog roast providers offer the same thing, so choose carefully and double check that you’re getting ‘English village fair’ rather than ‘kebab shop window’.

2. …you’re wearing a frock (not a gown) or jeans (not a suit)

I know first-hand that long, expensive, structured, embellished bridal gowns do not mix (in any way) with grease, grass, mud, ketchup, smoke and a bap. However, rock ‘n’ roll weddings, short, funky, 50’s-style frocks, bohemian style summer dresses and medieval bustiers look fabulous.

3. …you’re inviting less than 50 guests

The average pig will serve 70 people, as a snack, so I think 50 people per pig for a meal is perfect.

4. …it’s your pig

I did a fantastic wedding for a foodie couple who had raised their own pig for the purpose of having it butchered for their wedding. They provided the finishing touches to the meal (herbs, greens, flowers) making it so very personal. I love creating bespoke menus; it is a message to your guests and a reflection of who you are. We had the most amazing day in their Orchard and it all felt absolutely right.

5. …you never want to speak with your vegetarian friends again!

Guest post by Julie Gray of Bovingtons

Image from Guy Collier Photography