A party isn’t really a party without good food. This couldn’t be truer of weddings, especially ones that last the best part of a day, as is customary on our celebration-loving island. Neriku’s own, Anne Marie Zammit, shares her thoughts on the latest evolution in wedding catering options and the considerations you need to make to create the perfect culinary experience for you and your guests on your special day.
Q: Tell us about your experience with managing weddings. How did you get into the business?
A: From a young age, I always helped out with the family business, especially during the school holidays. I liked the creativity involved and supporting my family. At the same time, I was determined to make my own way in the world, so I became a pharmacist, then went on to study a Masters in marketing. A decade later, here I am coming full circle and spearheading the wedding arm of our business.
Immediately I noticed that weddings and events is the area where I felt myself and enjoy being involved with. I have now built a like minded team, which share the same passion and energy. We are always up to date about the latest culinary trends which give us inspiration to create our own distinctive original ideas. We are excited for our big plans for the future!
Q: What do you love about planning weddings in particular?
A: I know this is so cliche to say, but it really is true. I love meeting the couple, getting to know them and getting involved in their day. I enjoy having special requests because it keeps us on our toes as a company, inspired and ready to exceed expectations.
And then the actual day itself, I love the energy. There’s a buzz in setting up and getting everything ready. Then you get to see everyone having fun and enjoying it. And the cherry on the cake is that moment when the couple comes to thank you after a successful wedding. There’s just so much joy packed in one day. It’s brilliant.
Q: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in local weddings in recent years?
A: With our big families, typical Maltese weddings used to have huge numbers of guests, sometimes up to 600 or 700 people. But in the past few years, we’ve seen that average guest count decrease. Maybe it is a reflection of the fact that our families have become smaller. However, it’s interesting to note that although the average guest list decreased in size, the average spend per guest has increased. To me, it looks like couples are seeking a more meaningful celebration with their nearest and dearest.
Q: Does this mean that couples are getting more involved in their plans?
A: The saying goes; ‘the devil is in the detail’, and that is key! Firstly, couples want to host the best experience for their guests and secondly they want that their personalities shine throughout the wedding.
When it comes to food, abundance is always a priority, but we are getting more requests for personalised concepts and that wow factor. We’re also seeing a lot of requests to accommodate different lifestyles; dietary requirements and eco - friendly approaches and we’re more than happy to use these requests to inspire us to create new, exciting ideas.
Q: Is there an area where you believe Neriku is innovating when it comes to wedding catering?
A: Interactivity and personalisation features here again. Live cooking food stations are always well received. For example, a Tagliata station is a great station to add to your wedding. The meat is grilled on - site on a BBQ, creating that char grilled flavour and that epic smell. The meat is than carved into thin slices and served with fresh rucola and parmesan shavings. Our chefs will also accommadate those guests who have different preferences on how rare they like to eat their meat.
Q: So how does working with Neriku on a wedding look like?
A: Every year we launch a new wedding brochure consisting of a variety of wedding menus and food stations. However, we are flexible and we take pride in being able to adapt menus to the couple’s culinary tastes and budget, to address their needs and desires. That’s why our wedding specialists work closely with our couples from day one. We also make sure to have at least one meeting at the venue to discuss layout options that are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. On the day, the wedding specialist you have been working with throughout the process will be there to steer the ship together with the rest of our team. We even go the extra mile and meet our clients after the wedding to take on their feedback. The point is, you are not just a number to us, we are invested in giving your dream wedding.
Q: Do you have a piece of advice for couples planning their weddings?
A: It’s very easy to get carried away by popular wedding trends. Weddings are also events that involve a lot of people and a lot of opinions. It is important to have a team of professionals which provide advice but it is also important that couples keep true to themselves and do it their way.
Q: And finally Covid! How do you think Covid will impact the wedding industry?
A: Covid has impacted the wedding industry greatly. Unfortunately, all Spring & Summer weddings were postponed/cancelled.
Currently, events are taking place again however the ‘new normal’ for celebrating weddings during the pandemic is different. The need of the hour is social distancing, in addition to top – notch hygiene standards and contactless services. Therefore, an organized plan and mindful execution in terms of venue set up, seating arrangements, catering services need to be in place to organise a smooth and safe wedding.
It is now up to us vendors to think outside the box! We need to create ways how to adhere to all the necessary precautions whilst still creating a magical wedding for the couple and guests. These new practices are most probably here to stay, so we need to embrace them and make them work for everyone.
Whilst practices and changes will take place, one thing which I think will not change is the desire to organize a wedding! Celebrating a marriage is a big part of our culture and I firmly believe that Maltese weddings are here to stay.
Interviewee: Anne Marie Zammit; Events, Sales & Marketing Manager
Interviewer: Cassi Camilleri