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Wedding Food

Hello all, hope everyone is having a good Thursday so far!

I recently got engaged, and am planning a December 31, 2010 wedding. I have only been to 2 wedding2 my entire life, one was a "potluck" style reception when I was about 12, and the other was appetizers at a country club this summer.

I am stuck on what to serve. My options are pretty limitless in terms of food.

So, I am asking 2 questions:

1. What is the best food you have had at a wedding?
2. What would you like to see more at wedding receptions?

We are planning on inviting close to 400. We are in our mid 20's, and have a good mix in the guest list, ages and otherwise.

Thanks so much for your suggestions!


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  1. It wasn't at a wedding, but I think one of the best event foods I've seen was a mashed potato bar. They had three kinds of mashed potatoes (red, yukon, and garlic) that were served in sundae glasses. They had three different cheese sauces (cheddar, gouda, and swiss) as well as an assortment of other toppings, including jus, butter, sour cream, bacon, chives, and caramelized onions. Congratulations on your engagement, and good luck with the planning!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mindlessfan

      That's funny! That is one of my ideas - I love the idea of a mashed potato bar. One of the venues we are considering has that as an option, and I really like it. Your list has more extensive "toppings" so I am going to ask about those as well.

    2. To answer your questions, the best food I have had at a wedding was when one of my friends had their reception at a German restaurant. They had a buffet, and the food wasn't entirely German, but I only sampled from the German dishes and they were outstanding.

      For your second question, I really think you have to decide what it is best for your event and decide what your caterer can do well. I am in the middle of planning my own wedding, and it is hard for me to make decisions on the food too. The best way I can tell you to think about the food is to think about the flow to your reception. How do you see the food presented to the guests, plated dinner, family style, buffet, etc.? What about a cocktail hour? Do you have a theme for your wedding that might translate into food?Since you are having a New Year's Eve wedding/reception, think about heavy vs. light foods, carbs vs. proteins, because you don't want to put everyone in a food coma before midnight. I would also think about serving something like a passed appetizer towards the end of the night, sliders w/fries are popular where I live. I also talked to my coordinator about food yesterday, and she told me to serve what I want to eat. I specifically asked her about lamb vs. beef, we are doing stations, and she said there was enough other food that if someone didn't want lamb it wouldn't matter so we should please ourselves.

      Lastly, if you want to talk about this feel free to email me. I am trying to finalize my menu, and could use a sounding board that is also interested in food. Happy planning!


      4 Replies
      1. re: lizzy

        Lizzy, Thanks! It's nice to talk to someone who can relate. I'm happy to be your sounding board - I love wedding talk. :)

        1. re: linz_e_moore

          Me too! :-) It would be nice to have/be a sounding board for someone who also likes food. I also think it would be nice because it would truly be a neutral voice.

        2. re: lizzy

          I agree with you but...well, let me just say my wedding was a year and half ago and I really wanted the food to be good because my hsuband and I are both very into food. However,, we didn't go with anything too wild or adventurous since that wouldn't suit most of the guest.s, even if we would have liked it that way ourselves. And the food was good, and so many people raved about it, and I don't even remember what I ate. So, not that you shouldn't please yourself but I don't think the food is what you remember most about your own wedding, even if it is something you remember about other people's weddings.

          Also, the caterers I looked at all did tasting so you could get a sampling of what they could do. If they do that in your area too, take advantage of it.

          1. re: cookie44

            I agree with you too, I think part of making guests feel comfortable includes serving menu items your guests would want to eat. However, if you are able to have more than one option for your guests then why not go with whatever suits your fancy. Using my own example, we have a seafood heavy menu and so I asked about also serving either beef or lamb. She told me not to worry about it, if someone doesn't like lamb then there will be plenty of other things they can eat. I agree with you about serving wild or adventurous food, but I also think it's okay to think outside the box when it comes to wedding food.

        3. I think a gigantic issue is going to be feeding 400 people on any kind of timely basis. Some friends went to a wedding recently with 300 people and the main event was a taco bar where one's taco was "built" by a server. People waited hours for food and some just left. I think you must count heavily on your cater's experience with such a large number --- and I'd make darn sure s/he had actually catered that size party. Definitely multiple stations and have them space all over the room(s) to minimize impasses. And, yes, to serve what YOU like to eat. I think you're a very wise person to allow this much time.

          And, BTW, best wishes to you and yours.

          1. 1st of all CONGRATS!!!!! I have been to many weddings as I have a large family and a large group of associates. The BEST food I had at a wedding was this summer. It was my Uncle-in-law's and he used a local caterer. It was buffet stye and there were about 200 ppl. The had a great selection of meats and seafood, but my favorite was the lamb pops. The were beyond tender and flavorful. The salmon was great too. For the 2nd question...I got married two 1/2 yrs ago and we had about 400 ppl at my wedding. We used Boston Market to cater our wedding. Don't laugh! Everyone raved about it! When we arrived they had plated on every table a beautiful chop salad with bright veggies and cranberries. The servers in the buffet line wore traditional chef attire complete with high chef hats. We had chicke (served in quarters-huge) and roast beef which was actually really tender and juicy. Then they had all the sides. My wedding reception started at around 5:30 and everyone was fed and could go up for seconds if they wanted to before 7. I am not sure how wealthy you or whomever you are maryying are, but my husband and I payed for most of the wedding ourselves and for a budget and stomach friendly caterer we really liked Boston Market. 400 ppl is alot to feed especially at 25-30 dollars a plate. Then with the invitations, dress, flowers, decoration for the church and/or reception area, thank you gifts, dj/band, transportation, reception hall, cake, open bar, table favors, ect.ect. I hope you will have help financially and otherwise! I can say, however, looking back I would have invited the same amount of ppl, I just would have prepared better for it.

            1. I have had food at weddings that has ranged from vile to incredible. Two instances, in particular, stand out as special.

              The first was at a black tie affair where, apparently, I was the only guest who ate caviar - much to the dismay of the Bride's father. I found myself alone at what is best described as a caviar and vodka ice tower. Caspian sevruga and osetra, domestic salmon and whitefish, a battery of the traditional accompaniments, complimented by chilled crystal shot glasses of Stolichnaya. Under the encouraging supervision of my host, I gorged myself like it was Kruzchev's birthday, eating more caviar in 30 minutes than I have in the rest of my life combined. I have no idea what other food was served that night.

              The second was at a casual wedding set on a bulkheaded finger of land jutting out into the Chesapeake Bay - an absolutely breathtaking setting on the Eastern Shore. Even more breathtaking, however, was the Bride's brother's wedding present: two massive coolers - one filled with oysters and the other filled with clams, all of which he had cultivated himself and harvested an hour or two before. What a magnificent feast we had - a true Waterman's wedding! Cases of Frambois were added to the mix as we ate the bivalves both raw and steamed. The brother's "farm" was loctated near the southern end of the Bay and shellfish refleacted the saltier water in which they grew. The best oysters I've ever tasted and there were hundreds of them!

              So, from my experiences, I submit two thoughts. First, keep in mind the tastes of your guests - a sushi bar is wasted if your guests shy away from raw fish. Second, sometimes something as simple as a special ingredient can provide you with a stellar foundation.

              1. The best food I've ever had at a wedding wasn't at the fanciest wedding I've ever been to -- the food there was lackluster at best, overcooked, generic, and bland.

                The best food was at a wedding where the bride was Mexican and the groom from coastal Georgia, and they had food to represent both of their upbringings. Tamales, chiles rellenos, rice and beans on her side; and the most gorgeous shrimp and grits I've ever seen or tasted on his side, plus biscuits and a few other things that escape me now. Buffet style, homemade, and incredible. I'm telling you, the memory of the shrimp and grits... I can almost taste it!

                The reason everything was such a resounding success is because it was food they loved, prepared by people who loved them. They had a big wedding too, but an army of aunts and sisters and grandmothers made quick work of all that stuff.

                What I'd like to see more of is food that reflects the bride and groom -- stuff they love, stuff that tells you about them, that's different. What I'd like to see MUCH LESS of is the generic "beef, chicken, or fish" options, served with insipid rice or potatoes, bagged salad, overcooked vegetables, and vague desserts. Shoot. That, to me, is one step up from hospital food.

                Congratulations! And good luck! :)

                1. I've attended some great weddings so it is difficult to pick a "favorite" because of the individuality of each celebration.

                  I guess I'd pick a Yugoslavian friend's. It was served family style by women from her church to each table. Platters of roast, potatoes, vegetables. Fabulous.

                  1. Congrats on your happy event, Linz - The best food was when i was invited impromptu to a formal wedding in New Orleans. I had to borrow clothes from the bride as all I had was shorts and swimwear. It was QUITE the feast of NO specialties - shrimp, crawdads (peel your own), jambalaya, etoofee (sic), etc. It was for >than 300 people and there was not any waiting around. They had several manned stations for helping yourself. Obviously, the place knew what they were doing - I think it was a place that ONLY did weddings. The ceremony took place and then the music started (after photos which was a minimal time) and all the seats were whisked to the sides and tables were brought out fully dressed. It was one of the most impressive weddings I've been to and the food was excellent. Service was impeccable and I was truly an outsider (only knowing the bride) and had a great time.

                    Enjoy your day and talk to your fiancee. You both have time to decide what you both want.

                    1. I went to a wedding recently where there was only one main course- steak, and the service was incredibly slow. I think we all sat down to eat at around 6 and the main courses didn't come out until around 7:30. I think most of the money went toward the open bar (open all evening). For a wedding of 400, I'd think I'd go the buffet route instead of the sit-down route since I imagine the service will take even longer than it did at this country club wedding. You can also make sure there are options for everyone. Something like the mashed potato station would be good for almost everyone. I think you want to pick food that you like, but at the same time make sure there is something everyone can eat.

                      I think the person who recommended some sort of small plates later into the night had a great idea. Presumably you'll be sticking around until the wee hours and people might want something to munch on. You may want to consider having the cocktail hour after the dinner for that reason.