Hungry guests are unhappy guests.

By Lauren Wellbank
March 16, 2020

Many guests arrive hungry to a wedding. Whether it is because they are saving room for the meal you've been raving about for months or because they have spent all day getting ready for the celebration and ran out of time to eat, there's a good chance that at least a few family members and friends will arrive with empty stomaches. But can you provide snacks for your guests during the ceremony without having to worry about ruining their appetite for the cocktail hour and reception? We talked to Shannon Tarrant, the founder of Wedding Venue Map, to find out, and to get tips for keeping your guests well-fed on your wedding day.

Related: How to Decide Which Style of Meal Service Is Right for Your Wedding Reception

Snacks Before the Ceremony

While some wedding venues (like a church cathedral) may not be the most appropriate place to offer snacks to your guests, many locations are very conducive to providing a little sustenance to your friends and family while they enjoy witnessing your vows. "Providing [your guests] with a little bite will help keep them focused on what matters instead of on how hungry they are." Tarrant advises that you keep disposal and clean up in mind when deciding what type of snacks to provide. Anything that has its own packaging will need an obvious and accessible place for disposal. Another thing to wary of is loud wrappers. The last thing you want interrupting your vows is the crinkling sound of a bag of chips being opened.

Timing Is Everything

Deciding when you should offer your guests snacks will depend on your schedule of events. "[A] 5 p.m. ceremony with cocktail hour [that immediately follows] allows for lighter hors d'oeuvres before dinner served around 7 p.m." Tarrant says, "But a 6 p.m. ceremony leaves guests really hungry at dinner time so the cocktail hour would need to offer heavier options."

Of course, you cannot hope to meet your guests every need. Making sure they do not get hungry between the ceremony and reception is not your responsibility, but rather a nice way of showing your guests that you care. "Offering a light bite at arrival is both courteous and potentially problem-solving." Tarrant says.

Send Them Home Smiling

Many wedding receptions go on for two to three hours after dinner has been served. This means that many of your guests may have danced off everything that they ate during the dinner service, leaving them hungry (and maybe even a bit tipsy) when the end of the night finally rolls around. Tarrant recommends that couples provide some snacks towards the end of the reception for guests as they leave (as long as there is no after-party).

Couples can put a personal spin on things by serving a personal favorite. If they are known for their love of a certain burger joint or their fondness for candy, providing the guests with a late-night run to the border or a candy bar as they are leaving adds a nice personal touch. They can send their guests home with a full stomach and a smile.

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