There's so much involved when it comes to planning a wedding, from who to invite to what to wear. Even with a wedding planner helping out, it can be an incredibly stressful time for a couple, and it's all a matter of deciding what your priorities are when it comes to the big day. Some couples are all about the venue, and wanting to ensure every single decoration is as perfect as possible. Other fashion-forward couples want to make sure they, and all their bridesmaids and groomsmen, look absolutely amazing. For most couples, though, the most important part of the reception is the food. After all, it's what so many people remember.
Chances are, no one will be able to remember exactly what centrepiece you had, or even what your first dance song was. They will remember, though, if they had to eat a plate of dry, flavourless chicken, or if they had to duck out and grab fast food because the dinner was so late. They'll remember the awful hors d'oeuvres and the cheesy signature drink that no one wanted. Food is a big part of any celebration, weddings included, so most couples really want to make sure they get it right.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of ways to make a mistake when it comes to the food you serve at your wedding — here are just 20 food mistakes that people always make (to their guests' dismay). Take note to ensure you won't make these errors on your big day, or for any big celebration you're planning in the future.
20 Not Thinking Seasonally
Sometimes, given all the advances that have made it possible for grocery stores to stock just about everything year round, it's easy to forget what's actually seasonal. However, when it comes to your wedding, you should do a bit of research to ensure your guests are getting the best ingredients. If you're planning a winter wedding, no matter how much you've always dreamed of bruschetta for the appetizer, it just might not be the best idea when you know you won't get great tomatoes that time of year. Look to the season and to what's local to your area for some cues when it comes to planning your menu.
19 Trying To Please Absolutely Everyone
One of the best and worst parts of weddings is that there's such a wide variety of people. On the one hand, your friends from college get to meet your family and work colleagues, which is great. On the other hand, you're trying to plan a celebration that will make everyone from your super chic BFF to your grandmother happy — and that's a big order.
The reality is, you just will never be able to please everyone — you need to try to just please as many people as possible with your menu.
Even if your foodie friends aren't stunned by the menu, if the majority of the guests enjoy it, that's a win.
18 Choosing Dishes That Are Difficult To Eat
We know, we know — you and your partner love seafood, you have tons of memories that include lingering over lobster on date night, so it makes sense that you'd want your wedding menu to reflect that, right? Well, not exactly. You need to keep in mind that your guests will be all dressed up, and many may not be familiar with certain foods. So, while it sounds super luxe and decadent to serve something like whole lobster, the reality is you'll have a ton of people attempting to crack open those shells while in their formal wear — it'll just be a big mess.
17 Ignoring Allergies And Food Preferences Entirely
Obviously, you don't want to serve an entirely vegan menu to a wedding full of carnivores simply because you have one vegan friend. You shouldn't go for a gluten-free cake simply because there are two celiacs in your family.
However, you should certainly inquire about allergies and make sure there are options available for everyone.
Perhaps it means having a small selection of gluten-free pastries available, or adding a third entree option that's vegetarian to ensure your veggie friends aren't just eating salad all night. Small tweaks like that aren't that tough to make, and it ensures all your guests leave happy , with full bellies.
16 Offering The Wrong Quantity Of Hors D'oeuvres At Cocktail Hour
You'll definitely want to get your caterer's expertise on this one, because it's one of the trickiest things about feeding your guests. On the one hand, if you don't offer enough hors d'oeuvres, your guests may get a little too happy, a little too quickly, from hitting the bar with an almost empty stomach. On the other hand, you don't want to offer so many delicious bites that they'll be full before your delicious dinner is served up. It's a tricky balance, and it's one that many couples get wrong, so you'll definitely want to pay special attention to the numbers on this one.
15 Not Taking Kids Into Consideration (If Your Wedding Is Kid Friendly)
The issue of kids at a wedding is a personal one — some couples really want to ensure the adults have a fun night, kid-free, and others want the entire family to come along, kids included. The first step is obviously specifying what kind of wedding you're having. And then, if you've expressed that kids are welcome to attend, you'll want to have something on the menu that's kid-friendly. Some kids may be gourmands who are more than happy to eat what the adults are served, but there are many picky eaters who would prefer something a little more safe — so perhaps get a few plates of mac and cheese for the littlest kiddos.
14 Trying To Get The Caterer To Make A Family Recipe
Can a caterer make your grandmother's famous marinara sauce and meatball recipe? Yes. Will it taste exactly the same as when your nonna used to make it? Absolutely not. Most caterers have carefully crafted a menu of options that are tasty, but that are easily made at large quantities, and able to withstand issues like transporting and reheating. That beloved family dish may be tough to replicate on a large scale, or it just may not be the type of dish that can be made ahead of time. While a caterer may agree to recreate a family recipe, you probably won't get the end result you want, so just steer clear.
13 Assuming The Buffet Is Automatically A Cheaper Option
Many people seem to think that a buffet is automatically a cheaper option, and that's just not true at all. Sure, if you go for a super bare bones buffet, and don't have a lot of staff on hand to refill things as needed or clear away plates, you may have a cheaper bill at the end of the night. However, most people want the buffet experience to be positive as well, and having all those choices can definitely add up. There's no one type of service that is automatically cheaper — it all depends on what you're serving, and what experience you want your guests to have.
12 Not Considering How Your Menu Will Look On A Plate
Obviously, you're not looking for every single one of your guests to document their meal on Instagram, so you don't need everything to be flawlessly plated. However, you should at least put some time into considering how things will look — after all, we eat with our eyes first! It may sound delicious to serve short ribs and steamed mushrooms and roasted potatoes, but you'll end up with a plate full of brown-ish stuff that doesn't look all that appetizing. Make sure you have some colourful additions in there as well, even if it's just a simple salad or some steamed vegetables.
11 Picking Only Super Premium Ingredients
You're really excited about your wedding, you love food, and you want your guests to all have a great experience, so you're immediately looking to serve things like crab legs and duck breast and all your gourmet favourites. Everyone will love it, right? Well, not exactly. When you're serving things wedding-style to a huge amount of people with a wide variety of palates, it can actually be better to stick with things like pasta and chicken because they're crowd pleasers and a whole lot more budget friendly. Add a few luxe touches to your hors d'oeuvres, maybe, but not the entire meal.
10 Only Considering Your Own Taste When Planning The Menu
Your wedding should obviously reflect who you are as a couple — however, many people try to stand out from the crowd and showcase their personality so much that they end up creating a menu only they really love. If you spend some time together in Japan and want that reflected in your wedding day, great — add a few twists to your menu. However, don't serve a sushi extravaganza if you know half your guests won't really dig raw fish. You should enjoy the food, yes, but so should your guests — so try not to plan something so niche that it'll have half your guests hitting up the drive through on their way home.
9 Not Doing Your Homework
We know, we know — there are so many details to pay attention to when it comes to planning a wedding, and it's tempting to take all the shortcuts. After all, if a caterer has a successful track record, they must be good, right? Well, not always. It's really important to take a bit of time to research what other clients have said, and see the kind of feedback others have provided, before making your decision. After all, it's a pretty big deal — the food is easily a few thousand dollars, depending on your guest list, so you want to make sure you're making the right choice.
8 Not Asking About Additional Charges
Weddings are definitely expensive, but the last thing you want is to be blindsided when the caterer sends you the bill. Sure, you agreed to the price of the food — but then you notice that they charged to have staff to clear the plates away, and they charged for cake cutting. They offered to have a bartender to serve champagne at midnight, which was a nice touch, but it turns out you had to pay for that bartender all night long. There are so many potential hidden charges that your caterer may not add to the contract in big bold letters, so you want to make sure you know exactly what you're paying for.
7 The Absolute Worst Mistake — Not Having Enough Food
This one is largely the responsibility of the caterer, but it's also your responsibility since you're the one who knows the guest list. If you have a plated dinner where guests make an entree choice, make sure that you know exactly how many people ordered the beef and how many ordered the chicken. If you've opted for a buffet, make sure they know how many people are coming so that they can prepare (and, if you happen to know half the family are pretty big eaters, maybe mention that to the caterer as well). The worst thing that could happen, apart from perhaps your guests getting food poisoning, is running out of food.
6 Not Sampling The Food Before The Event
When your schedule is already jam packed with a hundred other wedding-related things, it's easy to place a low priority on something like sampling the food your caterer will be serving. After all, they prepare those dishes time and time again, surely they know what they're doing, right? Well, you'll still want to taste them, especially if the food is a really important component of the wedding to you. Maybe the menu sounds fantastic, but once you try it, you realize every dish is totally flavourless. You may not have the opportunity to taste every single dish, but just trying a few will ensure you know what their cooking tastes like — and whether you like it enough to serve to all your guests.
5 Not Having A Clear Budget In Mind
Even if you're not sure exactly how much the food will cost, you should at least have a rough idea in mind about what you want to spend. It will help your caterer tailor their offerings to exactly what you want. If you have a super limited budget, they may almost immediately nix your idea of an over-the-top, plated five course meal, because they know it'll cost way more than you want to spend. Likewise, if they know the sky is the limit, they may present a few extra options that your guests will love. Regardless, being clear about your budget is a definite must.
4 Not Including Some Wiggle Room In The Numbers — Just In Case
Perhaps you're lucky enough to have a wedding guest list where everyone has impeccable manners — but more often than not, there will be a bit of drama. There'll always be someone who brings a plus one, even though you specifically told them there was no plus ones.
Someone may crash your party, and you still want to be a gracious host, even though you purposefully didn't invite Cousin Tom.
Many couples want to stick as close to the actual guest list as possible to keep costs down, and you definitely don't want to waste a ton of food, but it's a good idea to have a little bit of wiggle room, just in case.
3 Spending Way, Way Too Much On The Bar
Let's be real — when it comes to the bar, many couples way, way overthink things and end up spending too much money. They want to have every single drink option available, they splurge on great drinks, they have a ton of extras to craft specific cocktails... and it just gets way too out of hand. You obviously want to have a few options for your guests, because everyone has different preferences, but you're definitely not required to cater to every single person and ensure every imaginable cocktail is available. Pick some great options, and your guests will probably be more than happy, even if they can't get the exact drink they usually order at a regular bar.
2 Not Getting The Timing Right
This is another one where you'll want to lean on your caterer's expertise, but you also want to make sure you're giving them all the information they need. If you have the food delivered too early and things end up running late, your guests may be eating dried-out or even cold food. If you tell the caterer to come way too late, to make sure they don't arrive early, your guests may be grumpy and starving by the time dinner is served. You want to plan things very carefully to ensure everything runs smoothly — and that includes communicating your expectations to the caterer.
1 Not Considering Your Vendors In The Head Count
You've carefully checked and double checked every RSVP and know the exact number of people on your guest list. However, when the reception is happening, you suddenly realize that you have a six-piece band, photographer, and wedding planner, all of who haven't eaten all day.
Talk about a bad hostess!
Many vendors won't automatically expect a meal, but if you're not planning to serve them one, you need to make that very clear — and ensure they have time to get their own food at some point. It can be a whole lot easier to just add a few extra people to your guest list.