Weddings are all about celebrating the two people getting married, so it's easy to forget about the needs of your guests. If you have bathrooms ready and plenty of trash bags waiting to help clean up the reception dinner, guests can take care of themselves. Right?
When your big day finally arrives, know that your guests will have two things on their minds — they want to see you get married and eat some good food. You may have an idea of what you want to serve at your reception dinner, and the food you pick will probably be a crowd pleaser. But will you be taking care of all your guests' needs when it comes to food?
Don't spend another minute worrying about your guests! All you need to do is read up on what your guests want you to know when it comes to wedding food. After you do your research, you can be more confident that your reception will be a complete success. You'll also save yourself and whoever is helping you run the reception from dealing with last-minute concerns.
1. Food Should Always Be Available
Your guests will probably travel from all over the place to see you get married, and they may not know the area where your wedding will be located. They could skip breakfast or lunch to get to your wedding on time instead of trying to find their way around a new place when they're crunched for time. They may also be on a budget, since traveling can get expensive depending on what time of the year, you'll have your wedding and how many people they'll be traveling with.
While you're still in the planning stages, make sure there will always be food available for guests. Before the ceremony, have a basket that holds mini bags of pretzels or nuts for a snack while they wait. Make a snack bar with veggie options during cocktail hour and consider doing a buffet-style dinner. Even if everything else goes wrong on your wedding day, your guests will be happy if they never have to go too long without food.
2. You Should Go Big on Labels
Food trends come and go, but the allergies that often inspire those trends are very real. While not all of your gluten-free friends may be actually allergic to gluten products, it's still necessary to label all the food that's served if you don't have a menu.
Check with your caterer to see if any big allergens have been used in any part of your menu options. Make it obvious if there are ingredients like nuts, dairy or gluten in the food. It's also a great idea to ask guests to list any food allergies they have when they RSVP.
3. Presentation Is Key
If you've decided against doing a buffet dinner, your guests will be personally served each course. In such a case, presentation is what matters most when it comes to satisfying your guests. You'll want to be sure that your caterer knows how to plate food correctly by doing things like experimenting with color and plate size. Your caterer may even be able to give you a sample of what each course will look like during a private dinner before your wedding.
4. Local Food Can Be Fun
Many couples choose to have weddings at destination locations or in towns other than where they live. If that's the case with you, take a short weekend trip to visit the region where you'll be married. See what food is popular with the locals and try to use it in your reception dinner so that everyone can feel immersed in the locale. It'll be fun to try new things and let your guests truly feel transported while they eat.
5. Drinks Are Crucial Too
It's so important to have drinks available for your guests. Even if you aren't having alcohol at your wedding, be sure your guests always have access to drinks. Have water bottles standing by so that people can take a sip before the ceremony, then make sure refills are always given during your reception. You can serve the best food in the world, but without something to drink, your guests won't be able to fully enjoy what they eat.
6. Backup Options Can Save the Day
You may want to go all out for your wedding, and you should! It's a big celebration, and you should indulge in whatever fancy foods you love but provide backup options for guests who may prefer traditional foods. Young kids and people with allergies may not be big fans of dishes from five-star restaurants, so plan to include a great salad option and some staples too. Adult staples can consist of grilled chicken or pasta, and you can offer food like mac and cheese for the kids.
7. Messy Foods Aren't a Great Idea
Chocolate fountains and other messy foods can be delicious, but not so smart if they make up the bulk of your wedding food. Guests will go through napkins quickly and may opt not to eat the finger foods to save themselves from the cleanup. Try to minimize the messy foods you want to provide so that if guests don't feel like eating with their hands, they can cut their dinner with a fork and knife instead.
8. Hot Foods Should Stay Hot
Sometimes, cocktail hours run long. Your photographer may need more time, or you could get caught up switching between your ceremony and reception dresses. Talk with your caterer or venue chef so that if things get postponed, you know the food won't run cold. The easiest way to make guests unhappy is to have them stand around and wait for dinner that turns out to be cold.
Rent out warming equipment if your caterer won't provide it and have it on-site just in case. Guests will appreciate anything you can do to be proactive about your wedding food. Keeping food warm, making labels for those with allergies and having kid-friendly foods on the side of your main entree are just some of the things you can do to make your wedding reception a success.