Couples spend an average of $70 per head or roughly $6,528 on food for a wedding, depending on the size of the guest list.
Whether you come in under or over that number, you want your money to count. You also want your guests to feel satisfied, enjoy what they eat, and talk about how great the food was.
Hiring a catering company for your wedding is step one. A quality caterer can steer you away from making bad food decisions. But don’t just rely on them.
Going into the planning process with a list of things to avoid helps you stay on track. Learn from the mistakes of others and watch out for these wedding food no-nos.
1. Food That’s Too Light
Imagine your guests sitting through a long wedding service. Some may have even gone on a diet to show up at your wedding looking great. They’re looking forward to indulging in a nice meal at the reception only to be greeted with light hors d’oeuvres of little substance.
You aren’t responsible for satisfying the biggest appetites on your guest list, but providing enough hearty food is important. That’s especially true if you serve alcohol at your reception. Make sure the hors d’oeuvres at your cocktail hour help balance the alcohol to keep everyone from getting intoxicated too early in the night.
2. Overly Fancy or Difficult Food for a Wedding
Does your dream wedding menu involve fresh Maine lobster flown in for your special day? Not only will that option blow your entire wedding budget, but it’s also not very practical for eating. Imagine your guests trying to wrangle a whole lobster in their best wedding outfits.
That doesn’t mean you have to settle for something boring, though. You can balance unique and flavorful dishes with affordable ingredients.
Consider the ease of eating dishes to keep guests comfortable. Eating gourmet tacos is easy whether you’re sitting at a table or mingling with other guests. But busting open crab legs can get messy in a hurry.
3. Mishandling Dietary Concerns
You can’t accommodate every little dietary preference from your guests. Trying to please everyone is a quick way to increase your wedding planning stress. And you still won’t be able to meet everyone’s preferences.
At the same time, completely ignoring dietary issues, especially food allergies, leaves guests feeling frustrated. It could even cause a medical emergency.
Planning your menu based solely on your food preferences can leave guests without much to eat, especially if your tastes are highly specialized. Your clean-eating vegan menu may leave your meat-and-potato-loving Midwestern family feeling hungry. A sushi bar in lieu of any other food options is unappealing to many people, including many kids on your guest list.
Yet trying to offer something for everyone isn’t practical from a budgetary standpoint. Offering too many options gets pricey.
Strike a balance by offering a few different options that meet various needs. You still may have some people who don’t like the food, but at least you’re reaching most of your guest list.
It’s also a good idea to include a line on the RSVP about food preferences and allergies. This lets you offer an alternative meal if someone on your guest list has a legitimate dietary restriction.
4. Ignoring Aesthetics
Good flavor is important, but how will your wedding menu selections look on a plate? Consider how dishes look when plated. Some look sloppy and are difficult to make presentable no matter how good your caterer is.
The color of food is another aesthetic factor. If you choose bland-colored food or dishes, there’s no wow factor on the table. Add in some colorful dishes or garnishes to make your wedding food Instagram worthy.
5. Forgetting Seasonality
Think about the produce section when you grocery shop. Fruits and vegetables that are in season look better, taste better, and cost less. Now, apply that same logic to your wedding menu.
Choosing seasonal dishes adds a special touch to your wedding food. It can also help keep your wedding food budget under control. The resulting flavor will likely be better than it would if you forced dishes with ingredients that aren’t in season.
For a summer wedding, you might start your meal with a berry-topped green salad with strawberry vinaigrette. For a winter wedding, switch it up with a citrus-based salad. Those simple changes please the taste buds and the budget.
6. Not Exploring Options
Going into your catering decision with an open mind helps you make the best choices. Some couples feel that buffets are the only way to go to save money, but they may end up costing more. Others think buffets are tacky without realizing they can be upscale and elegantly presented.
Think outside the box, have a taco cart wedding at a trailer park!
Work with your caterer to explore the options for wedding food. Get pricing for all options to see what works best with your budget. Ask for a tasting to help you choose the menu options.
7. Underestimating Food Needs
Running out of food on your wedding day is a quick way to have your event remembered for the wrong reasons. Having an accurate headcount allows your caterer to prepare the right amount of food for your wedding.
Bumping up your count a little to give yourself wiggle room accounts for people who may not RSVP. It also covers someone who brings a guest without RSVPing for them.
Don’t forget to include vendors in your head count. It’s customary to provide food for vendors who will be on site during the reception. That might include your DJ or band, wedding planner, assistants, and catering staff.
Check with your caterer and review the contract to find out the deadline for providing the head count. Some caterers charge a fee for changes to the head count closer to the event.
Book Quality Catering
Choosing food for a wedding is one of the biggest decisions you have to make once you decide to say, “I do.” Keep the common wedding food mistakes in mind when picking a caterer and choosing your menu options. Making the right decisions can save your budget, keep your guests happy, and make your wedding memorable for all the right reasons.
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Choosing the Right Food for a Wedding: 7 Big Mistakes to Avoid
Choosing the Right Food for a Wedding: 7 Big Mistakes to Avoid