Planning a wedding is no piece of pie. It's your dream day, you want it to be perfect, are invariably not a professional event organizer, have a limit to your budget, and oh, you will need to feed up to 150 people, on average!
No wonder people have pre-wedding breakdowns.
I mean, let’s be honest. The thought of feeding up to 150 guests or more is enough to drive anybody over the edge. What is more, you don’t want to torture these guests of yours by serving them something unappealing. They are the people you love and care for after all.
And, your wedding day is supposed to represent the sublime bliss of the union between you and your soon to be spouse. The last thing you want the memory of it to bring up in people’s minds is of an unappealing plate of food they couldn’t eat - or worse, a memory of eating something which made them ill. Wedding food can be famously horrible, with potentially salmonella-filled under cooked cuts of meat served up, and all manner of other accidental gag factors.
The thing that ultimately makes wedding food notoriously memorable for being bad is this. Essentially, guests at a wedding are trapped with whatever food is given to them. It’s not like they can just leave, right? It's your big day, and for the duration of the reception, most guests will feel like they need to be there - no matter how famished they may be.
So, the question is, what can you do to make your own wedding memorable in way which does not involve people recounting, years afterwards, a food poisoning or starvation situation?
To start off with, not these 20 things!
Eliminate these 20 danger factors, and you will be off to a running start to wedding food that will not make guests wish that they never came.
20 Forgetting To Label Shellfish Dishes
Planning a wedding is a multi angled thing. There is a lot to keep track of, and one thing which can easily be forgotten is labeling shellfish dishes.
Shellfish allergies can be pretty serious, and if you happen to have an unmarked platter of crostinis topped with shrimp pate lying around, this could lead to someone being hospitalized.
One could argue that yes, well people need to look at what they are putting in their mouths. But, at a wedding one is often so busy mingling and focusing on the event, that a shellfish intolerant guest could easily ingest an item containing seafood without even knowing until it is too late.
19 Too Few Hors d'Oeuvres
It can be tempting to cut cost on the hors d’oeuvres and allocate more of the food budget to the entree course. However, this can lead to poor outcomes.
Hors d'oeuvres can avert catastrophe in two interlinked ways. Firstly, if there are lots of tasty hors d'oeuvres served, this can make up for any mishaps that may occur during the main meal. If the food is delayed, at least people will already have tanked up on some snacks and be happy to wait a little and have another drink while the food is on its way.
Speaking of drinks, if there are not enough hors d’oeuvres, and guests are hungry, they may drink more they intend. We don’t need to get into how that can pan out badly.
18 Not Serving Dessert At Big Weddings
Another wedding food downer for guests is to not to serve dessert at large weddings with lots of people in attendance. It's pretty obvious why this sucks, but let’s break it down a little. Firstly, there is this massive cake standing about. Which obviously makes just about everybody crave something sweet. From here there are two options.
Option A, the guests get a slice of cake. In some cases there may not be enough, which is obviously a disaster.
Option B, the guests who are not immediate family, do not get any cake. This option just blows for all the obvious reasons.
17 Serving Ink
But... who eats ink? Ink, as in squid ink, is actually a popular ingredient in gourmet style dishes served at events like weddings. It's pretty unusual, and let’s face it, black is just classy. Squid ink also adds flavor depth to things like paellas, pasta and other seafood dishes.
The problem with squid ink is that it really stains. Badly. And seeing as most people will be wearing their best to attend a wedding, and there will usually be a lot of pastels about - a splat of ink could really wreck someone's day and make them wish that they had never attended.
16 Serving Lobsters
Lobsters are lovely. They speak of celebration and relaxation. But. As wedding food they are not really the greatest option. For the simple fact that while the flesh inside a lobster may be succulent and sweat, you have to get to it.
Eating lobster can be messy at the best of times, and to be honest, is best done in a casual shirt, or better, swimwear! Even the most pro of lobster eater may soil their finery tackling a lobster at the reception table. What is more, not everyone is familiar with eating lobster, and having to break into one and trying to get to the flesh could really turn the meal into a nightmare for some.
15 Serving Sloppy Joes
Sloppy joes are not wedding fair. Firstly they are just not classy enough for a wedding. You can’t even call them an entree without sounding ridiculous. But even more importantly, they are, well, sloppy! Some people think it is funny to serve sloppy joes at their wedding. Sort of edgy. But it's seriously not cool.
Forcing people to eat sloppy joes at a wedding is just cruel. Ground beef in sauce, ready to slop, just about anywhere. Potential locations include a bridesmaid's dress, a trouser crotch, or down the side of someone’s face.
We don’t care how much some people like sloppy joes, the unanimous vote is that they are not wedding food, and should be kept well away from the ceremony.
14 Serving An Entree Full Of Chili
The same principle of having kindness for wedding guests applies to chili and hot peppers. It does not matter if the bride and groom eat habaneros whole on weekend mornings. Most people have a low level of tolerance to hot and spicy food.
Besides rendering one bright red in the face, and causing one’s mouth to feel like it is on fire, and often causing severe eye watering, incredibly hot food can, um, also cause diarrhea or cases of loose stools. Accompanied by a burning sensation in a place we don’t want to talk about in print.
‘Loose stools’ are not what people want to have to endure as a result of eating food at a wedding. It's not romantic in the slightest.
13 Raw Food
Raw food is a rage, and serving salads and raw veggie dishes shouldn't cause too many problems at a wedding. It is raw meat dishes that are the issue. Sushi, sashimi, steak tartar, and carpaccio are all foods which one should not serve at a wedding.
Raw meat can harbor listeria, which is the main culprit of food poisoning. While it is totally possibly to eat raw and rare meat without contracting food poisoning, the conditions that wedding catering are done under (eg remote location, inadequate refrigeration etc) heighten the chance of food poisoning occurring.
So while the idea of sushi at a wedding sounds stylish and chic, the possibility of someone vomiting their brains out kind of puts a damper on this menu.
12 Not Considering The Kids
Weddings are not kids parties, and understandably the happy, probably childless, bridal couple want to eat something other than chicken nuggets at their wedding. However, if there are going to be children at a wedding, and the food is pretty ‘grown up-ish’, some provision needs to be made for them.
Just like adults, kids get bratty when they are hungry. By having nothing kid friendly at a wedding where kids will attend, disruption and tension is almost guaranteed. Hangry screams do not make for great table-side chatter. And some of the guests just may be forced to go home early, so that they can feed their children!
11 Clearing Plates Too Fast
Weddings can be tiring for guests, and even more so if you have to hold onto your unfinished plate as if it had legs and the ability to scuttle away.
Wedding caterers seem to have a knack for serving food really slowly, and then trying to make up for this by clearing away plates really quickly. This does not leave much opportunity for eating to get done.
We have heard tell of people getting up to go to the bathroom, only to come back and find their entire meal whisked away and in all likelihood sitting in a trashcan somewhere behind the scenes. Of course one could guard against this, if you are okay with taking your plate to the bathroom.
10 Boring Hors d'Oeuvres
They say that first impressions make all the difference, and this is definitely true for wedding hors d’oeuvres. By the time the hors d’oeuvres roll around, everybody is usually famished, and eager to replenish themselves with some tasty morsels.
Boring hors d'oeuvres sets the tone, and are guaranteed to underwhelm and put a damper on things. The bride and groom may be content to eat up each other’s gaze, but the rest of the people present may need something a little more solid.
Crackers and stuffed eggs with a blob of mayo on top may go down well on a Friday night at the in-laws. But for the wedding day, this type of hors d’oeuvre just makes people's hearts sink, in anticipation that the main will undoubtedly be something awful.
9 Serving Too Much Fried Food
We all love us some fried food. Even those who say they don’t probably secretly dream of deep fried goods. But, there is a limit to how much fried food to serve, particularly at a wedding. Fried food in excess is not exactly classy. If almost everything at a wedding that is served, is fried in some way, the whole affair will stand out as a greasy occasion in guest’s minds.
Not only that, eating too much fried food can cause heartburn, indigestion and a running stomach. Which are not the most appealing of memories for guests to hold of a wedding.
8 Serving Food Which Has Been Trucked In
Just to clarify, by this we don’t mean food trucks. Food trucks are the catering option that is taking the wedding scene by storm these days, because while the food may not be served in a luxe site down style, it is guaranteed to be hot and freshly cooked.
Numerous people have reported that no matter how good a traditional catering company’s food is at the tastings, on the day of the occasion, when they are serving 100-150 plates of food, the quality deteriorates.
This may be somewhat inevitable, as each plate will not get as high a level of attention as at a tasting. However, food which is driven in by the company from somewhere else, and not prepared onsite, has an even higher chance of being congealed and unappetizing.
7 Mixing Meats In The Main
Having a meat on meat entree such as a surf and turf can sound like a wonderfully gourmet option to serve at a wedding. There is a caveat however. Not all people like all meats. Serving two types of meat together in a meat on meat dish entree can lead to increased amounts of unfinished food.
In addition, if it is a combination of seafood and meat, this means that anybody who is allergic to seafood will not be able to eat their entree at all. And be left very hungry for rest of the duration of the reception and wedding celebration.
6 Styrofoam Plates
Okay firstly Styrofoam plates are just not the thing to use at a wedding. Is the marriage disposable? No. Well neither should the plates be.
Anybody who has eaten off of a Styrofoam plate can attest that they come with a major downside. Styrofoam plates are so flimsy, that they can literally buckle and spill food all over you, if one is not careful. Once this happens, you will probably have food all down your front. A great look, especially at a wedding, which will also probably come with a dry cleaning bill attached. Or, if lucky, you manage a wild swing, the falling food misses you, and you have nothing left to eat.
5 Service That Lasts Forever
A common problem at be seated and served wedding meals is that the service time can be really long. While this is understandable, it can really stuff up the vibe and cause extreme hunger in guests.
What usually happens is that a portion of people get served, while the others wait for the plates to trickle in. Tortuous in the extreme, especially if the guests have not had anything solid for most of the day.
Waiting at a table for an hour, while watching other people eat their entrees, only to have your own arrive ice cold and congealed, will make most guests wish that they hadn’t have had to come.
4 Tough Entree Meats
Wedding food costs can add up to a small fortune, and in the planning stage it is understandable that the idea could present itself that serving cheaper cuts of meat could cut down on these escalating costs.
But, the more cost effective a cut of meat, the tougher it usually is. If not cooked right, tough cuts of meat can result in a less than stellar wedding meal. Jaw aches are inevitable, and conversion takes a noticeable dive when masticating the meal is taking all of the guest’s energy.
The end result, guests spend an uncomfortable time chewing and listening to the heavy click of cutlery in the ensuring silence. This awkwardness can extend its dampening effect into the after dinner gathering.
3 Starving The Guests
Weddings usually take time. Everybody has to arrive, the happy couple has to be married, photographs taken, etc. By the time the wedding meal is served, guests may have been in attendance for up to three hours.
Depending on at what time the reception started, guests may not have eaten anything for up to six hours.
Minimalism may be all the rage, and small portion sizes decidedly modern and sophisticated, but, there has to be enough food for guests to eat to sustain them through their attendance of the wedding.
Drops in blood sugar, weakness, hangryness and irritability are not symptoms the average wedding attendee enjoys, and this can lead to a grouchy and unsociable set of wedding guests.
2 Corn On The Cob
Okay, Its summer, the weather is sweet, and it's a Southern style wedding. But as much as we all enjoy getting our teeth into some cob on the corn, most wedding guests do not want to have corn from the cob in their teeth.
Nothing makes for better photos and more at ease guests than yellow fiber-filled smiles right? Wrong! Having corn sticking out of your teeth, is one of the most uncomfortable things to have happen at an elegant occasion. The only thing more uncomfortable may the feeling one gets while trying to surreptitiously rectify this with your thumb nail, and hold a conversation.
1 Canned Coleslaw
We have heard of people serving canned coleslaw at their reception. Yup. Can you get anything more off-putting than canned coleslaw? Ugh.
Canned coleslaw has to be about the most disgusting food imaginable, to serve anywhere, let alone at a wedding. And it does NOT matter how convenient it may be.
Any guest who goes to a wedding that is serving canned coleslaw will wish he or she had never gone. Just so that they did not have know that coleslaw in a can existed.
Other foods which fall into this category include, packets of chips, and jello as dessert.