One of the most exciting—not to mention delicious—wedding planning to-dos is selecting your menu. Oftentimes, this comes with a full-on tasting for you and your fiancé (and sometimes your parents, too). Of course, choosing what's tastiest is not a bad way to go about the process, however, it's also important to keep in mind what your guests will like and what is most sensible for the evening itself. To help you avoid common, but potentially catastrophic, plating pitfalls, we asked professional wedding caterers to share items they'd never serve at their own receptions. Their responses might surprise you.
Ever wonder why pork is rarely one of the options available for a plated dinner at a wedding? It may be due to its fatty content and natural saltiness, which are two reasons why Amber Weaver of Thandie Catering says she would never serve it at her own wedding. "Yes, it is my day and I should be able to eat what I want (I do not eat pork by the way), but I also do not want someone to hurt themselves that may have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, not to mention the pork allergies people may possibly have—known or unknown," she says.
Jennifer Earnest, co-owner of Chef's Garden Catering & Events, believes in using locally-sourced foods whenever you can, but especially when it's a regional specialty. In her neck of the woods, that means serving fresh, local shrimp is a non-negotiable. "If your budget can only afford farm-raised shrimp, just sub out the shrimp for another ingredient," she says. "Chicken and salmon sometimes get a bad reputation, but when prepared well guests love both, and they speak to the caliber and capability of your chef."
Jenny Elmes of Full Circle Catering admits that while they're popular choices for cocktail hour, she'd never serve sushi or raw oysters at her own wedding. The reason? There are just too many variables—freshness, knowledge of supplier and caterer, chef, catering staff, the weather, shipping, and more. "It's a lot to deal with and think about when you are serving your closest and dearest friends and family," she says.
Basic Dinner Rolls
If you're going with a bread option for your wedding, Earnest suggests not skipping the standard dinner roll in favor of something more exciting. "A basic dinner roll dries out when it goes from hot to room temp, which is why I'm a big fan of breads that are great at room temperature, like Focaccia, sourdough loaves, and ciabatta!" she says.
Serving lamb chops as an appetizer was once all the rage, and Zena Polin of The Daily Dish Restaurant & Catering Company and The Dish and Dram, isn't thrilled about the fact that it's starting to make a comeback. "They can be delicious, but they are not meant to be eaten standing up," she says. She is also opposed to a rack of lamb being served during dinner because it's expensive and awkward for many people to eat. "Lamb chops eaten with fingers is a messy process and then the guest is stuck with the bone until the next waiter comes with a tray or the current waiter stands there awkwardly waiting for the guest to finish."
Anything Very Spicy
"Even within cultures in which people grew up eating spicy foods, taste buds change, and chances are you will have guests that can't handle the even the lowest level heat," says Xavier Erran, Event Sales Manager for Kevin Taylor Restaurant Group. Instead, he recommends making all dish options mild, and placing a variety of different spices and sauces on the table for people to manage to their liking. "As an alternative, you can take the tiered approach and offer a mild, medium, hot, or very spicy option separately, which allows your guest to choose a meal they will genuinely enjoy," he adds.