We've all had the standard meat-and-potatoes fare at weddings, and most of us would agree we've been underwhelmed by these offerings. So, it's no surprise that couples are going beyond the expected and choosing more unique food options for their wedding menus. (Popcorn packets, ice cream sandwiches, and donut walls, anyone?) However, some of those food ideas simply aren't practical, caterers warn—and they almost always make more of a mess than a positive impression on your guests.
"While there is no better way for a couple to put their personal brand on the [wedding day] than with the dining experience, there are some trends that, as planners, we wish would come with a warning label," says Leah Malin, director of catering at Boston's Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. Here are eight of the foods caterers say are simply too impractical to serve.
"Adding a course is adding time at the table," explains Malin. So, while soup may be okay for couples who want to a lot of time dining than other activities, it's not a smart choice for couples who can't wait to hit the dance floor. "Serving soup and keeping it hot, [especially] while guests are up and moving, presents service challenges," Malin says. However, if your heart is set on soup, consider adding it to your cocktail hour. A "soup sip" station, in which soup is served in shot glasses, can be enjoyed while your guests are [moving]," she says.
String pasta—think: spaghetti, fettuccini, and angel hair pasta—are delicious, but not easy to eat when you're wearing white or fine, dry-clean only clothing. "Although it's associated with romanticism, it is impractical for guests to eat," explains Claudia Aguas, Atlanta-based Bold Catering & Design's director of sales. Instead, she suggests serving pasta that can be speared by or fit on a fork, like cavatelli, rigatoni, or rotini, "that's an easy bite," she says.
"Unless your venue has a cotton candy machine, pre-bought and pre-packaged varieties do not have the same look, feel, or consistency as what you've pinned on your wedding vision board," warns Malin. And renting a cotton candy machine isn't cheap; you'll have to pay for additional staff to man it, Malin says—and recommends that you find another sweet treat.
Meat on the Bone
Chicken breasts and steak may be played out, but switching things up by serving meat on the bone—such as bone-in chicken thighs or pork ribs—isn't a good idea, says Aguas. Yes, "it's succulent and tantalizing," she admits, "but it is not practical for guests at a reception."
Ice Cream Paired with Cake
Nothing goes better with cake than ice cream. But wedding cake is most often served at the end of the meal, when guests have begun to dance. And "there is nothing worse than having a great time on the dance floor only to come back to your table to discover the ice cream on your cake plate has melted and the cake is all soggy," says Malin. But you can still serve this sweet treat—as long as you're willing to serve it separately. "A better way to [serve it] is to have a staffed station that can control the service and have guests enjoy it when they are ready to cool down," says Malin. "It even presents a whimsical opportunity to serve out of an ice cream cart or table top freezer to ensure the best possible quality food experience."
You can save money by serving shrimp that still has its tail on. But, "although less costly than peeled and deveined shrimp, it tends to be more messy," warns Aguas. (Plus, guests might not know what to do with the empty tails.) If you'd like to serve shrimp, Aguas says it's worth upgrading to a peeled option instead.
CBD is having a moment with food and drinks. But, "it is important to remember that while legal, the effects on members of your guest list are unknown," Malin points out. Because of that, she advises not serving anything that includes CBD. Perhaps "it would be best to keep a CBD-infused cocktail or edible to the bachelor or bachelorette party," Malin suggests.
Crab Legs with Drawn Butter
"Refrain from selecting crab legs with drawn butter, as these will not be friendly to your clothing if spilled," explains Aguas. "Drips happen, and [crab legs] can be quite intricate to eat." If you love crab and can splurge, consider serving crab cakes instead, Aguas suggests.