Let's be honest. The food is quite a big deal at a wedding. For you and for your guests. The wedding reception is where you get to see all your guests properly and the food is central to that event.
I am sure we've all been to weddings where we're ready to chew the usher's leg off because there seems to be hours between the wedding bit and the reception bit. Or there are a few miniscule canapés waved about with big jugs of Pimms and the food to booze ratio is a bit out! Sometimes there is just too much food!
As you may expect, I have been to a fair few weddings. Usually I have a few sandwiches (Beef & Ham Prince's sandwich paste is preferred - I'm very low maintenance) and lots of water made available from the venue, is perfect for me. But I like to think it means I have enough experience to offer some advice.
The time of your wedding, location of the service and the reception and the advice of your venue can determine what time food is served, what type of food and how much of it. Involve your photographer in your planning as they can advise how much time you will need for photos. It may not be as long as you think, or your guests can head on to the reception to tuck into some canapés as your final shots are taken with just the wedding party.
The term wedding breakfast originated in the 1800's and comes from traditional religious beliefs, as lots of wedding traditions do. The bridal party would have fasted before the wedding and so a celebratory meal would have broken that fast. These days a wedding breakfast is commonly a meal of three or four courses served in a fairly formal banquet style. But as with all traditions you can take from this one what suits you and your wedding.
One summer idea I love is having afternoon tea after a mid afternoon wedding and then a hog roast in the evening. All the bride's friends made cakes and scones and there were huge clear jars of macaroons and cake stands of cupcakes with an urn of tea & the obligatory Pimms. The bride had hired vintage china and filled jugs with wild flowers.
Instead of pudding you could consider having an ice cream or churros van.
If you want to opt for a three course meal then consider having the wedding cake as the dessert, this would work really well if you have a sponge I have seen so many cakes thrown away as they get cut so late in the evening.
If you are having a small wedding and still want a more formal sit down meal then consider hiring a restaurant, one you love, one you went on a first date to maybe?
Above all do what you want, if the venue you set your heart on is insisting on a four course wedding breakfast and you want a high tea or vegetarian buffet then my advice is to chat to the venue manager, they should be flexible, never forget it is your day.