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7 Types of Food You Should Never Serve at Your Wedding Reception

These dishes may be delicious, but not the best idea for your big day.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Rodeo & Co.

Choosing a wedding menu can be tricky. In addition to selecting options that will appeal a wide variety of taste preferences, you also need to consider which foods may cause issues with guests. These could be foods that contain common allergens (like nuts or gluten), those that may leave your breath a little less than tolerable (we vote to skip the garlic!), or anything that's just too filling to allow for lots of dancing. To pull off a tasty, crowd-pleasing menu, professional chefs describe which foods to leave out. Trust us, your guests be incredibly well-fed.

 

UNIQUE MENU CARDS AND DISPLAYS

 

Cocktail food you can't eat with one hand.

During cocktail hour, your guests will want to walk around and socialize. With a glass in one hand, they'll only have one hand free to reach for passed apps. "When passed food is too complicated to eat and requires two hands, your guests will reluctantly skip the food that you have thought so hard to create for them," says NYC-based chef Yen Ngo. Even a soft shell taco can be too messy to eat with one hand, but swapping that soft flour shell for a mini hard one might be just the fix.

 

Out-of-season ingredients.

For the best taste experience, it's important to serve foods that will be in season on your wedding day. "Hopefully you're working with a caterer who can help you with this part," says Boston chef Kristen Campbell. "Food that's in season, and locally sourced if possible, is not only going to reduce your carbon footprint but offer you the best, most flavorful options."

 

Raw onions. 

No one wants to have bad breath at your reception, says NYC-based chef Amy Aversa. However, "If you love the flavor of onions but don't want your guests to suffer the consequences, ask your caterer to caramelize the onions instead of serving them raw," she says.

 

Common allergens.

Tree nuts—like pecans, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and brazil nuts—are just some of the leading causes of food allergies, Aversa says. If you're going to add nutty flavors, stick to just one kind. Then, "Be sure your caterer makes guests aware of the dishes containing tree nuts by printing menus and briefing their wait staff on any hidden allergens."

 

Messy foods.

Eliminate the spaghetti and tomato sauce option immediately. "Avoid anything with a high splatter factor," Campbell says. "Even for the most casual of weddings, your guests have made a point to look nice, and you should respect that."

 

Items containing spinach.

While hors d'oeuvres like spanakopitas, spinach quiche, and spinach-artichoke dip may be popular, "tender pieces of spinach can easily get stuck in your tenth," Aversa says. She suggests kale as an alternative, as it is a sturdier green (and a less-likely culprit).

 

Dishes with lots of butter and/or cream.

If your food items contain lots of dairy, chances are your guests won't eat as much because they'll be full, Ngo says. (Plus, you'll want to make sure they won't be too full for dancing!) "Guests want to eat as much as they want and still have plenty of room for desserts," she adds, so she recommends reserving butter and cream ingredients for after-dinner sweets.

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