Gemma Wade: Royal Wedding party menu – the best of California and Britain

Pulling together the best bits of California and Britain is something that cooking teacher, food planner and recipe creator, Gemma Wade, of You Say Tomato, is pretty adept at. Ahead of this Saturday’s Royal Wedding, Gemma shares her recipes which bring together the best of both places – to reflect both the bride and groom (and her) homelands. Everything is prepared ahead, works for a crowd of all ages and will let you have a fuss-free party.

(Words and recipes by Gemma Wade)

‘The first time my mother in law witnessed my love of an over ambitiously themed Royal Wedding party still makes me shudder. Her first visit to us in California coincided with William and Kate’s wedding. It wasn’t pretty. I’ve learned my lesson and will be throwing a much more relaxed party for Meghan and Harry’s upcoming nuptials on 19th May.

Pulling together the best bits of California and Britain is something I’m pretty adept at, so to help you celebrate the big day, I’ve created a party menu with recipes that bring together the best of both places – to reflect both their (and my) homelands. Everything is prepared ahead, works for a crowd of all ages and will let you have a fuss-free wedding viewing party.

Why this will be a different Royal Wedding party from William and Kate’s

On William and Kate’s big day I was 7 months pregnant, red faced, rotund and running around after a 14 month old while making tiny scones, cucumber sandwiches and strawberry compote for a group of mums (moms) I’d met at the local playgroup. We’d only been living in California for two months so it was my chance to invite people over and show them a proper English afternoon tea. I brought out my great grandma’s china. At least two of my American guests wore hats. Oh and did I mention everyone brought their just starting to walk babies? Super relaxing.

That Royal Wedding, him being the future king and all, felt confined by rules and expectations, this one feels more modern, inclusive and approachable. Meghan and Harry picked Violet Cakes to make their cake because they ‘share so many of the same values regarding food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and of course, flavour.’ The fact that Violet’s owner, Claire Ptak, is, like Meghan, from California will have played a part too.

You’ll be glad to know I’ve learned to chill out with my party hosting. Thank goodness. So wherever you are, here’s a menu that you can make for your Royal Wedding party, to nibble on while you watch the day unfold on TV.

Here’s the menu:



(Above: The Markle Sparkle)

The Markle Sparkle
When I saw the flavours of the Violet Bakery wedding cake, I immediately thought of this cocktail. California trees groan with citrus, and gin and elderflower couldn’t be more English. So they marry together as perfectly as the royal couple.

Here’s my recipe along with some ideas for non drinkers

Giant Sausage Roll

Giant sausage roll
Just one look at Harry and you know he loves a sausage roll. I’m with him. Let’s hope Meghan has learned to love them too. A giant sausage roll is a brilliant party centerpiece. Let people cut a sliver or a wedge off with a bread knife. Add jars of mustard, pickle and a bottle of ketchup and you’re in for a treat.
If you’re celebrating the wedding in the US this makes a great breakfast for your early morning viewing party. Make the roll the night before and bake it as soon as you wake up.
Here’s my recipe


Coronation chicken tacos
Coronation chicken tacos
Coronation chicken is a classic English party piece. By serving it in tacos, not only do you bring the Californian side in, you make it easier to eat. Adding avocado, rocket, lime and pink pickled radishes makes this a dream.
Here’s my recipe


Palm Springs Date and Kale Salad

Make a platter of my Palm Springs date and kale salad. It is perfect for any vegan or veggie guests and works really well with the coronation chicken too.
Here’s my recipe

You can make your own version of the wedding cake by delving into the fabulous Violet Cakes cook book.
If you fancy something extra, or don’t fancy making a cake, these easy ice cream sandwiches will be perfect. They’re just soft salt-sprinkled chocolate chunk cookies with a wedge of ice cream squished in between two of them. What’s not to like?

Sea salt and chocolate chunk cookie sandwiches

Either make your own cookies (my chocolate chunk, spelt and sea salt ones are amazing – make them as individual cookies, baking them for 15 minutes, rather than one giant one) or buy good soft cookies – the kind they sell in the bakery bit at the supermarket.

You can make your own ice cream too but I won’t – just buy a good organic one. Vanilla works just great for me. Make sure you get the ice cream out of the freezer 10 minutes before assembling the cookies so it is easy to smear. And have plenty of napkins on hand too.

You can make the ice cream sandwiches ahead, filling them with ice cream then wrapping them individually in foil or parchment before freezing them. They can be eaten from frozen, ideally get them out 10 minutes before you want to eat so they are suitably oozy. Or let people make their own – messier but more fun.

Add some bought stuff
If you need to bulk this menu out, buy a few bits and display them on platters alongside the homemade things. This is no time for things being left in their wrappers.
I’d suggest:

A cheese board with chunks of figs, dried apricots, honey, duchy original crackers and nuts.
Tortilla chips and guacamole
Posh crisps

Don’t lower the tone with single use plastic
Ethics, sustainability and inclusiveness featured high on the wedding brief for these modern royals. They’ve asked for donations to 7 charities, including Surfers Against Sewage in lieu of wedding gifts.

To cut plastic use, we’ll sup our cocktails with these steel straws and wrap the food with these beeswax wraps until we’re ready to unveil it. It may add a bit more washing but please don’t lower the tone by using plastic cups, straws and forks. Ditch the paper plates too. We can pretend this is about saving the oceans but it’s also about doing things properly – food tastes so much better off a real plate.

The ceremony is 12 midday BST but with all the coverage of the run up, I’d plan on being close to the TV most of the day. Football fans should note that the Royal Wedding shares a date with the FA Cup final but the football airs much later in the afternoon, usually 5pm.

1 week (or 1 day) before
make cookie dough and freeze it in small balls. Or make and freeze the complete ice cream sandwiches
make pink pickled onions for the tacos

The day before
Make the coronation chicken
Make the cocktail
Chill all the drink

On the day
Make the salad
Make the sausage roll (it can be made and left, uncooked in the fridge for a few hours) and bake it an hour before people arrive
Bring the coronation chicken out of the fridge an hour before you eat so that you’ll eat it at room temperature
Chill the glasses for the cocktail in the freezer
Bake the cookies

Just before everyone eats
Heat the tortillas
Slice the avocados and limes for the tacos


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