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The People Want Options


The People Want Options | A Practical WeddingThe People Want Options | A Practical Wedding

Every time I’m in charge of the food for a family event, the following scenario occurs.

1. I pick some kind of uniting theme, think about how much food we’ll realistically need for the amount of people we’re expecting, take the budget into account, consider what kinds of foods and food groups I love to see at parties, and plan the menu accordingly.

2. I make a grocery list.

3. My mom looks over said grocery list.

4. The questions begin.

5. I answer the questions (somewhat) patiently, and we go to the store. To my mind, there are no more questions. But somehow, when we’re standing in the bakery section of the grocery store, the questions begin again.

“Are you going to make those bacon-wrapped dates again this year?” 

“Well did you think about having those spinach and cheese puffs?”

“Are you going to make that popcorn mixture with the white chocolate that you made last year? That was so yummy.” 

No, no, and no. Because while those bacon-wrapped dates are amazing, they aren’t on the menu. We are going to have plenty of food, and I kinda had a thing going with what I’m planning to serve. I don’t want to just add to it for the hell of it. So we go back and forth; I insist that we don’t need that extra food and she insists that we do. And eventually, she gives me her go-to defense for all the stuff she’s throwing in my cart: “People want options.” “But we don’t need shrimp cocktail. I have all these other appetizers,” I say, removing the shrimp from my cart.

The day of the event, she’ll run out to pick up an ingredient we need and come home with three more appetizers that weren’t on the menu. When I get annoyed, she does it again. “Well, people like to have spinach dip,” she says.  “WHAT PEOPLE?” I finally demand, elbow deep in the buttercream I’m making for the new recipe I’ve decided to try and sweating bullets. “These aren’t strangers showing up to our house in an hour. Stop saying ‘people’ when we literally have five people coming over and we can just name all of them.”

“People want options” has become kind of a running joke in our house when we’re planning events; I can call her out on saying it and she’ll acknowledge that she does, in fact, do this, but… she still does it! And I still think it’s ridiculous.

So earlier this year, when Eric and I were talking wedding budget and wedding food, I was not happy to hear a similar pattern emerge from him.

“I just think if people come all that way, they are going to expect a really nice dinner.”

“Well, I know you love breakfast food, but I just don’t know if our guests are going to want to drink mimosas and eat eggs and waffles the whole time.” 

“I just think that our guests would really appreciate having the steak option.”

“Because PEOPLE WANT OPTIONS?” I said. Eric is well aware of how annoying I find it when my mom says this. And yet here he was, using “guests” as a substitute to “people” in that common refrain.

With all due respect to those who will attend our wedding, I have to say this: those attending our wedding are not people. They are not even guests. They are our friends and family.

Who will really appreciate the steak option?” I demand. “Jordan? Cara? I want names! Who in your life really travels to a wedding, has a decent meal, and then is disappointed that it wasn’t a better meal? Who, exactly, is flying in for our wedding for the food? I WANT NAMES.”

Using names is important when planning—and worrying—about your wedding. When we talk about “guests” or “people,” we reinforce the idea that your wedding is a show, therefore you must delight and impress your audience at every turn. When we turn them into nameless, faceless strangers who all have the personalities of the worst commenters on wedding articles, it becomes easy to believe they are holding us to an impossibly high standard and judging every choice we make (or don’t make). But when we use the terms “friends” and “family” or just call them by their names, it’s so much easier to remember that they love us and care about us and will, most likely, be delighted to get some free food after bearing witness to a really important event in our lives. Talking about “our guests” creates a sense of “us vs. them” that makes me sad.

I’m fairly certain everyone in attendance on my side has seen me crying and/or naked at some point in my life. Most of them will have seen me doing both at the same time, and I’m fairly certain Eric’s side could say the same thing about him. (Side note: if you want an intimate wedding like we do, this is a great test for narrowing down your guest list!) So just because it’s our wedding day, they will suddenly forget the day we were born or that time with the tequila and start demanding steak?

People want options. Guests want a really nice steak dinner. Friends and family? Don’t remember the food.

Photo by APW sponsor Gabriel Harber

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  • Jessie

    This is a wonderful perspective. I know I’ve never cared much about the food at weddings, so I have no idea why I’m so worried about serving the ‘wrong’ things at my own wedding. Thanks for this!

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    My sister did the ultimate talk me down from the ledge the week of my wedding when I was freaking out that I’d dragged people to Florida for crappy weather. She looked me in the face and said, “They didn’t come for the weather. They came for you.” Which was exactly right and perfectly what I needed to hear right then. They’re not coming for the food either. (Though who exactly wouldn’t be delighted with mimosas and waffles?!?!) Of course we did our best to make sure we had great food and I did make sure that people, by name, were taken care of, namely our friends who are vegetarians and keep kosher and the friend who doesn’t eat seafood. But you are exactly correct in reminding all of us that these aren’t some anonymous group of people showing up expecting to be impressed. They’re people who love you and want to celebrate with you. If they’re flying in, it’s for you, not the weather or the steak (or the band or the flowers or the chairs or the centerpieces or whatever is currently stressing you out).

    • hampton

      if we’re being honest, I would *crash* a wedding for mimosas and waffles.

  • Sara

    Excellent articulation of an excellent point.

  • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

    I really love this post! Yes to giving name to your fears and insecurities (like, actual NAMES) and watching them evaporate (the insecurities, not the peeps)!

    And I LOVE the Naked/Crying/Both litmus test to determine who your intimate people really are. Awesome!

  • Margi

    Mimosas and waffles sound like the best.wedding.ever.

    I’m totally going to start using the “crying and/or naked” litmus test for my relationships. LOVE it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

    My husband likes to back up his criticisms by stating that “everybody” will feel the same way. It’s helped me also to ask him to name specific people he knows for a fact how they feel about said topic. It forces the “people want options” folks to admit its THEM that want/need/think these things. Bravo for already knowing how to get your point across.

    P.S. We had breakfast for dinner for our wedding – no steak in sight and there were only compliments, no complaints.

  • Mayweed

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. Or what Sara said.

  • Kelly

    Perfect. Well-written, funny, and spot-on.

  • Brenda

    Thing is, I think people actually don’t want options as much as they (or we) think they do. I know if I am faced with a large buffet with many different options, I wander around being indecisive and worrying that I won’t get to try some of everything, and inevitably eat too much and feel bad. Same thing with diner menus. Give me a choice of two, maximum three, meals, or just put some food down in front of me, and I’ll be happy, even if it’s not the greatest food ever.

    It’s the paradox of choice. We actually don’t want all those options, we only think we do. And I also haven’t remembered the food at any wedding I’ve been to, and it didn’t matter.

    • One More Sara

      YES! I went out to dinner for tapas last night, and it took me SO LONG to decide which ones I wanted. And at other restaurants I tend to choose the safest/most familiar dish anyway.

  • Jenn

    I am definitely guilty of the ‘people want options’ phrase, because in general I sure as hell want options. And that has definitely played a part in our food menu, giving as much variety as we can. But that is because it’s important to me, and to my partner.

    It sounds to me like you’ve come up with a great theme, breakfast food, and should stick to your guns because it is what you want.

    It all comes down to what is right for you, and just as your guests will appreciate the unique and quirky waffles and mimosas (sounds awesome by the way), I think my guests will equally see our mezze style menu and see how perfectly ‘us’ it is.

    I think the advice about giving ‘people’ names is really important, and we have had to remember to do that, at least my partner has often reminded me of this when I make a broad statement and he says, who exactly are you worried about? And then it’s a much easier issue to deal with.

  • Sara W

    This! My now-husband would say, “Well, people might care that we don’t have cake/have a small buffet/don’t have liquor”. My first question was “Who???” Even if he gave names, my follow up question was “Will it affect their mental or physical comfort?” If the answer was no, then we moved on.

  • http://partialto.tumblr.com LIZ (SINCE 1982)

    Oh man, did I need to hear this today. I’ve recently returned from a destination wedding where EVERYTHING AND THE KITCHEN SINK was offered (and it was lovely! which, maybe part of my problem!) and am now struggling with crippling insecurity over the fact that our wedding, though requiring a huge majority of the guests to travel to an expensive city, will not come with many “perks” (awful word, but I can’t think of a better one – I mean welcome gifts, an itinerary of arranged-and-hosted activities/meals lasting several days, etc.) – basically nothing is arranged for those who are coming beyond, well, the wedding itself and the reception immediately thereafter. And our reception will not have multiple rounds of passed appetizers, or a carving station, or an ice cream sundae bar, or or or … and I have consequently found myself wondering if people will feel it was “worth the trip” to come. Let me repeat – I have been wondering if our FRIENDS and FAMILY will feel cheated because they traveled to New York and ONLY got to see us pledge our everlasting love and devotion. You are so right, Rachel – when you replace the words “people” and “guests” with the words or names that should actually go there, this worry loses a lot of its weight.

  • Ana

    THIS! We decided on beer + wine instead of the open full bar to cut costs and make things easier for us. Now my fiance wants to offer FIVE different kinds of beer at the wedding, because “people want options”. I was having no luck convincing her otherwise (especially when I asked her for SPECIFIC names of beer-drinkers who wouldn’t like our previous 2 options), but now I’m thinking the option-wanting is a reflection of her self-consciousness about not having liquor in the first place. I’ll ask when the topic comes up again (this weekend!).

    • One More Sara

      We are doing a beer/wine bar too! Think about when you go order a drink at a bar. Say you want wine. How would you order it? A red, dry white, sweet white. At most bars, you can’t get much more specific than that. How would you order a beer? probably just light or regular (or dark, but that would be pretty crowd-specific). We are adding in an extra option of an import beer (Heineken.. nothing super fancy) bc my fiancé is Dutch and generally avoids American beers (except Yuengling. NOM YUENGLING). I would say offering a standard light beer, a regular beer and one specialty beer is plenty.

      • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

        We are avoiding the alcohol conundrum by not serving it – it was going to add a lot of cost to our venue, and really, folks aren’t coming to drink!

        HOWEVER, we are stocking our drinks ourselves, whcih has led to many “but people want coca-cola!” conversations. I just shrug and grab what’s on sale and hope we’re offering our friends and family enough decaf and diet options that nobody is left without a drink.

      • Caroline

        I think this is so interesting because I’ve never ordered wine or beer like that. (I don’t really go to bars though.) there’s a big difference between a wheat beer and an IPA, and while they are both regular, I’d only drink one of them. It’s different at a party. when do you ever have/ need more than a red, a white, and 2-3 beer choices? That said, people really don’t need that many alcohol choices. We will have 2-3 beers ( a cream stout, probably an Irish red, and an American twist on a hefewizen. But we’re brewers and people expect to be exposed to something new and yummy more than they expect to be exposed to something they already like. Our fiends and family would be disappointed to miss the chance to try our homebrew. I know because they bug me about it. “Will there be enough to take some home? You should make special labels so we can save the bottles.”
        We’re offering 1 white wine, and probably no red (mom doesn’t want the couch stained). We’ll serve mead also (2-3 types) but I don’t expect most people to drink it. It’s just I’ve been so excited for several pre-engaged years about brewing wedding mead that I will have 15 gallons set aside by the wedding.

        So while we’re providing a lot of craft beer and mead (mostly because it’s fun for us to plan and look forward to), we’re probably just providing one wine. (My fave, a Riesling if we can find a good one in our budget). My friends and family will come to see us married and enjoy whatever alcoholic beverages we provide, but they really won’t miss whatever we don’t serve (like red wine, hard alcohol, etc.)

        • One More Sara

          That sounds like so much fun to try! Maybe it’s a regional thing to order wine dry or sweet? If I ever try to order just a white wine, the waiter/bartender always immediately asks if I want dry or sweet (most people prefer dry, so when they don’t ask, this is probably the default). If you know enough about wines to confidently order specific types (zinfandel/chardonnay/sauvignon blanc/etc) then chances are you would want more [carefully selected] wine choices at your wedding. I almost never drink beer, so if I were out drinking I would probably only order Miller Lite (or whatever was cheapest) or Heineken, which happen to be 2 of the 3 we’re offering. My BIL is super into craft beers, mostly Dogfish Head (Delaware represent!!), and my fiance can’t stand them. Different strokes for different folks!!

          If you love beer and love making beer, it makes tons of sense to have an interesting and wide variety, but if it’s just another beverage in the lineup, there isn’t really a reason to have more just because “people want more choices”

          • Caroline

            Ahh. That makes sense, that it is about how much you know/care. Also, probably where you are. I mostly order wine at restaurants, so a bigger selection than at a non-wine bar. My extended family is in the wine business so while I don’t know as much as I would like, yeah, I have the knowledge to order by name and was taught that’s what you do.

            And my fiancé is president of the local homebrew club, so craft beer is big here. While a lot of our family and friends are looking forward to trying our craft brews, that’s because it is our beer, and we’ve spent years teaching them we know a lot about beer and will open the craft brew door for them to explore. The truth is, if we weren’t having fun with the beer and mead (I brewed the first wedding mead when we were 3 years pre-engaged lol!), most of our family would be perfectly happy with a local IPA, and a local steam/California Common. But for us, it’s fun.

      • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

        We did beer, wine, and sangria (kind of a signature cocktail type offering, but only because *I* really wanted to drink sangria, which I only managed to have half a glass of because I was too busy… we essentially paid $300 for that ha;f a glass since nobody else would have known one way or another)

        I fretted a lot that people would want liquor or think it was a shabby wedding because no alcohol. Nobody said a peep to me, except about how wonderful the wedding was. Do what you want, not what the “people” want.

    • Samantha

      We are doing a wine/beer bar only too. We are purchasing and supplying it all ourselves and cutting the liquor just makes it so much easier. Also we figure anyone who might choose a liquor drink also likes either wine or beer! I think we are doing 3 wines (white, red, blush) and a few beers – a few kegs – a light, a regular (prob. Sierra Nevada) and then we are going to a bucket of bottles and mix in a bunch of delicious craft/local brews which we love.

      • http://spaceysteph.blogspot.com Stephanie

        This sounds like a great wedding. How cool with the craft beers, I wish we could have done that.

    • Other Katelyn

      We are particular about our booze, so we did wine and beer only but got GREAT local wine. One beer (A dark Belgian), one white (dry-ish Sauv Blanc) and one red (a very drinkable Cab-Merlot blend), plus a sweeter prosecco for toasts. No one said a word about wanting more options. Match it to what food you’re offering and you’ll be fine.

    • Laura

      We’re doing full open bar from cocktails thru cake, then consumption-based beer+wine only for the dance party portion of the evening.

      And trust me, I spent hours and lost sleep agonizing over what to do about booze (I just can’t reconcile continuing to pay $10/hour for *every guest* to drink copiously all night long, especially since some guests don’t drink at all and most likely a chunk of them will leave after we cut the cake… and I love my guests, but they don’t really need to be drinking hard liquor all night… plus, beer and wine are the only somewhat-reasonably-priced consumption-based alcohol options provided by our venue).

      So when “people” (ahem future father-in-law) started to worry that “people” (ahem presumably himself and maybe his buddies) will want “options” (ahem whiskey) all night long, I basically broke down. And he offered to throw money at the issue, if that was the main factor (which, no. It was principle). Areyoufuckingkiddingme. Blarrrghhhhh. But thennnn I realized, he probably won’t even notice, he’s just freaking out about “people’s” expectations. And/or I will make him a flask that he can keep on his person at all times.

      Also, regarding how many wine/beer options are available? Research has shown (citation needed) that having a limited number of choices actually speeds decision-making without compromising satisfaction. So keeping the options low will probably optimize bar traffic *and* guest enjoyment!

    • Sarah

      We did beer/wine/iced tea/lemonade. For beer, we had like 5-6 types and people only drank Yeungling, so what was the point of all the other options? We were only supposed to have Yeungling, Blue Moon, and Corona, but father in law freaked about having options and got all these random cases, leaving us with all these half full cases of gross beers no one wanted to take home at the end of the night. We had about 50/50 on red and white but used most of the red to make Sangria, and that went AWESOMELY (except for a few drips on the dress. oh well, it was after pictures!). Not sure anyone knew, or cared, the specific type of wine it was, so glad we didn’t get multiple types of reds and whites.
      If it’s hot, without liquor Southerners will SUCK DOWN the nonalcoholic drinks though, so that’s the one place I wish we would have had more options! Fancy lemonade bar would have been cool.

      • Jess

        We decided that while we are decidedly beer snobs, our families overall cared more about the beverages offered. So my now-husband’s parents who live in Oregon and frequent vineyards picked the wine. I suggested to my dad to have 2-3 different types of beer, preferably all local from CO. So we ended up with a selection of 50 different 6 packs… basically beer from every brewery in the Beer Capital of the US. I thought “S***! People are going to be overwhelmed with too many choices”… but instead our friends said things like “your wedding is like a beer drinker’s candy store” and the caterer said “I’ve never seen such a selection!”… Point is: let whoever care’s take care of it and it will all end up okay (although make sure to drink that IPA from your wedding quickly, before it goes bad!).

  • Sam

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post. I am one of those lurkers that reads and never comments of anything, but after emailing this off to everyone I know I think I should probably also send a little note your way too. I have purchased and returned several items after thinking more clearly about them – including gorgeous expensive vases that I HAD to have for the reception only to later think about that fact that not one of our guests will notice if we use buckets instead of those gorgeous really expensive vases to hold our flowers. It’s hard to remember that we’re celebrating our wedding with our friends and families and not trying to impress our guests.

    • LILY

      Yes! To celebrating, and not impressing. Priorities…

  • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

    One more thing: Every once in a while APW comes out with something that is just incredibly f-ing USEFUL to help make our inner freak-out landscape more manageable. THIS is an actual technique that immediately reduces stress. A PRACTICAL wedding indeed.

  • http://www.snippetsof.blogspot.com Sarah E

    So spot on. I love this : I WANT NAMES.

    Hilarious and true- I could so see myself saying that.

    • KW

      It’s especially funny if you imagine yourself as a mobster or undercover detective trying to ferret out information.

      • http://snippetsof.blogspot.com SarahE

        Oh, I’m totally doing the slow-motion-put-on-aviator-sunglasses things as I say it.

        • Hintzy

          I just imagine slaming down a yellow legal pad and a pen on a desk… like Gibbs on NCIS

          awesome, I love it.

  • Martha

    Waffles & Mimosas? You better watch out Rachel or you will have a whole bunch of “people” at your totally awesome wedding!

  • Teresa

    We had a brunch wedding and people LOVED the breakfast food–no one asked for steak, I swear!

    • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

      Brunch is my favorite. :)

  • Charis

    Really love this, it’s like the ‘masses’ who make up your wedding guest list are dictating a lot of the decisions, and the individuals which make up your guest list a lot less.
    I often find myself thinking ‘are my partner’s cousin’s kids gonna like the food?’ and forget about what me and my partner actually want to eat.
    I am also finding it very difficult to come up with afternoon tea menus that cater for 1 vegan, 1 vegetarian, 2 pescatarians, 2 nut allergies, 1 coeliac and a type 1 diabetic…. I think salads all round!

    • Mira

      Salads all the way! We’re in the same boat, except it’s more than one in each group, and some in multiple groups (including my husband-in-10-days) and I think this is one situation in which giving the people choices actually makes your life easier.

      Our solution is a vegetable-heavy buffet that’s entirely gluten-free and mostly vegan, plus a chicken dish for the folks who will eat it. Salad-wise, we’re doing green salad, roasted veggies, french lentils, and green beans with almonds. It’s gonna be awesome

      • Charis

        Wow your food sounds reallllly nice! I may have to steal some of your salad options :)

  • Jessica

    This reminds me of a similar technique for combating stereotypes that I read in a children’s novel somewhere – maybe Madeline L’Engle?? It’s called “name two”: anytime you want to talk about a particular group of people as having a specific quality, you have to name two people that you know who are like that.
    Eg, “People need guns for self-defense!!!” “Ok, tell me two people you know who have used a gun in self-defense.”
    And you know what? In that particular example, the person I was talking to came up with one example. OK, not a true “sample size,” but it changed the tone of our conversation to have it brought down to the level of specific real-life experience and helped us both understand where we were coming from. So yeah, a helpful technique outside of wedding planning as well. :)

    • Rachel

      I love this! I’m definitely going to use that in other situations now!

  • Sabee

    I think part of the pressure to “wow your guests” comes from the idea that some people attempt to invite everyone they’ve ever met (and some people they haven’t) because “that’s what you do”. So, in some cases these aren’t the bride and groom’s nearest and dearest, but also the bride’s father’s boss and his wife and the groom’s grandmother’s sorority sisters, none of whom the couple has met.
    Sometimes, the “it’s not just your day” thing translates into family using a wedding to show off the bride and groom, and their good taste/soiree throwing skills, to other people. Which is missing the point of a wedding, but I’ve still see it happen more times than I can count.

    • http://myminimalistwedding.wordpress.com Alyssa

      Personally, I question if family members I have never met are close enough to be invited, especially since I am VERY close to my sweetheart’s family.

    • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

      I might be worried about this one. We’re both happy to have everyone- the more the merrier! We’d love to have everyone bring friends and have fun, but my parents then put business partners on the list. I know they’re important to my parents, and they are more than welcome at the wedding, but I’m worried that as details get decided, my father will be freaked out that the wedding isn’t going to be a huge affair. We want to be pretty simple, and my father likes to show off. I don’t know what I’ll do when we come to that particular bridge though… Advice?

      • JASHSHEA

        Hope it’s not too late for advice! My dad acted similarly – wanted to invite 20+ people that I didn’t know at all and then gave me crap about how much the per person costs (tables, chairs, food, alcohol, etc) were going to cost him.

        Stand your ground, however you need to define that. Dad was allowed to invite his uncle’s cousin’s lawn mower or whoever, but I drew the line when he started complaining about things we couldn’t “afford” as a result of the giant GL (thing I didn’t really prioritize anyway, like videographer or uplighting).

        Good luck!

        • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

          Thanks Jashshea! It isn’t too late for advice (we just started planning, so plenty of time to make mistakes and think things through!) Unfortunately, I’m worried my dad will go the other way. “What do you mean you’re having a simple ceremony with a light buffet after? I invited my coworkers, and I want them to be really impressed. We need 6 more chandeliers in the reception venue!”

          Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but what if he thinks our plans are too simple?

  • http://andshelovesyou.com youlovelucy

    Only one person remembers the food at our wedding, and that is one of Bryan’s groomsmen, who is vegan. We didn’t pick hardly anything he could eat, so we had the caterer make him a separate plate (which they happily obliged). He was floored that his eating habits even crossed our minds, but they did, because he’s a FRIEND and not a mysterious guest who may possibly want a vegan option.

    It is worlds easier to pick 1 (maybe 2) things that you like, and then if you feel like it’s going to be *really* meaningful to do/get something different for that one friend or family member, just get it for them. The rest of the friends and family don’t need that option, because they will be just fine! You know they will, because you know them, obviously.

    I did let myself get swayed by our cake person that “people” don’t like red velvet or german chocolate cake (our favorite cake flavors) but we went with another amazingly delicious chocolate cake instead and everything was just fine. But then at a wedding we went to just recently we watched friends and family f*cking DEVOUR this red velvet cake. Sigh. I was punk’d, I tell you. PUNK’D.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

      The baker who made our desserts definitely questioned what I was picking but I happily kept my selfish mindset of wanting to share my loves with our guests – not try to please everybody else.

      Course I was ordering dozens of sweet rolls and donuts and coffee cakes two days before my wedding because I just hadn’t gotten around to figuring out desserts until then. So that may have been part of her confusion. :)

    • Coco

      Who doesn’t like red velvet or german chocolate cake (the first being the OH’s fav, the other one of my many favorites)??? Who?

      We didn’t go with those flavors since it’ll be in the spring and we liked the lighter/fruiter flavors, but still!

      • Moni

        I don’t! I hate coconut and am not a fan of the food coloring taste that many red velvet cakes have. But it really doesn’t matter because I would have a. eaten red velvet, b. eaten another dessert if it was available, or c. not had dessert and been perfectly happy with it!

        As a guest, I’d much rather see the couple choose food that they love, even if I don’t like it, then for them to go completely bland and generic in an attempt to please everyone. At my favorite wedding was one they served a Southern menu of fried chicken or catfish, greens, mac & cheese and hush puppies, with wedding pie for dessert. The couple preferred pie to cake, so the bride asked any family members who wanted to participate to bake a pie, and they ended up with over 30 different pies in almost every flavor imaginable.

    • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

      Lucy, I’m vegetarian, and I remember the food at (some) weddings. I do not go to weddings for the food. I do not even expect to eat because I don’t expect for anyone to remember/think about/plan for my vegetarianism. I eat a little something beforehand, snack on what is veg friendly and look forward to the cake. So whenever I do go to a wedding and there is a special meal for me, I absolutely remember it! :)
      Having said that, I am now remembering the last wedding meal I had. My friend that got married is a former vegetarian and he totally had special meals served for myself, my husband, and my best friend, as we are all vegheads. It was a fantastic dish of polenta and perfectly steamed vegetables in a red sauce.

      Also, I just really like to eat and remember really good meals, whether it’s at a wedding or not. ;)

      • Caroline

        Right? I totally remember good food. I was thinking just the other day about how I still remember my favorite meals for years ago. I distinctly recall each time I’ve been to several of my favorite restaurants as are out of my budget usually but amazing so I’ve only been once or twice.

        That said, I don’t really remember most wedding meals. The food wasn’t that great and that’s okay. I remember the ceremonies, the dancing, sometimes the toasts. It’s about getting married.

        (Can I mention how har it is not to say people or guests? I guess this is a tool I needed! Thanks.

        • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

          I remember wedding food mainly because I have a weirdo memory. For example, I can remember what I wore to the first day of school from sixth grade. Basically, I remember details from important days and weddings are important and good food is something I remember.

          But I definitely don’t remember decor or centerpieces. And since we are on the topic of food, I am thinking about all the good meals I’ve ever had, including Thanksgiving from freshman year of high school. I went with a friend to her grandma’s in MO. That was some of the best food I ever ate. Her grandma made everything from scratch: dinner rolls, potato soup, graham cracker crust chocolate pie. If I could travel back in time I would get that dinner roll recipe and bring some with me to the present. I think of that meal every year on Thanksgiving, wishing I could go back and have it again.

          Yes, I’m an odd one. ;)

      • KH_Tas

        Yeah, the vegetarian option at the last wedding I attended stuck in my memory both for the high quality of the main and the very low quality of the entree. The latter was the caterers’ fault though, and no reflection on the couple.

  • http://andwontonmakesthree.wordpress.com Heather

    This was such a great perspective and post about wedding food. People aren’t going to your wedding for the food… at least they shouldn’t be. :p We were on a budget for our wedding and chose our favorite food, figuring that most people enjoy Chinese buffet and went with it. It turns out people don’t need that many options after all and thoroughly enjoyed our reception. We also only had two kinds of beer and wine, a variety of sodas and water for beverages. While people mention they loved the Chinese buffet idea, that isn’t what people say made our wedding awesome. Food is food, and people really aren’t going to remember it. They are there to celebrate, not be food critics. Always go with your gut, though. Wedding planners and vendors don’t always know best.

    • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

      We did a taco bar. I remember feeling slightly worried that there weren’t enough options as I was seeing complex, fancy menus everywhere, but I really wanted to do a taco bar as that is easy to please veg and omni peeps. We did serve a couple of appetizers, that were also our favorite and didn’t necessarily go with tacos. Everyone loved the taco bar. I think doing something with a specific food theme absolutely can work. :)

      • Daisy6564

        This is what I want! If I were making the decision truly based only on the wants of my love and I, this is what we would have. “People” (my parents and grandparents) will want the lump of meat/buttered veggies standard found at most banquet halls. They are a meat and potatoes bunch.

        My betrothed is a vegan. He initially said that he wanted an all vegan reception because he feels very strongly about it. Vegan man + meat and potatoes family = disaster.

        My attempt at a middle ground was to suggest options! We haven’t planned a menu yet but I insisted that we have delicious vegan options (for apps too, often the hot apps are all meat) then a small amount of meat at dinner for those who must have it. It went over with the fam better than I expected.

        • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

          Yup, we had a vegan taco bar. One of my friends baked vegan cupcakes from Isa and Terry’s cupcake book for dessert. We didn’t take opinions on the food, we just told our family what we were doing, but no one batted an eye as we are both vegetarians so it was probably expected. Also, we didn’t have any grandparents that would be coming so we didn’t have that obstacle. At the wedding we didn’t tell people that it was vegan. There were beans and mock chicken and we had signage, but some people just assumed it was real chicken. And it was funny because one of B’s friends raved about how good the chicken was and he didn’t believe it when he was told that it was mock chicken. haha. :)

          I think having options sounds like a good middle ground in your situation. You want your betrothed to feel like he can actually eat at his own wedding. ;)

          • http://thehumanehuman.blogspot.com Pippa

            I LOVE this. We’re also having a vegan reception, and I’ve been asked questions about whether or not my guests will be okay with this, if they’ll cope… and here I am, thinking well we’re not serving them their own pets to eat, so I think they’ll cope just fine.
            Basically, we’re not telling those who wouldn’t otherwise guess that the food is vegan. And I bet you anything they’ll love the food :)

          • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

            Exactly! It’s not like it was a secret. We just didn’t advertise it. If people asked about it, then we told them. Otherwise, we just let people be blown away by the deliciousness. ;)

          • Daisy6564

            Yes to the groom being able to eat at his own wedding!

            Also, in “real life” whenever I bring him to anything for my side of the family there is panic from my fam who supposedly does “not know what vegan means” or offers of vegetable soup (cooked with chicken broth) or steamed veggies (drenched in butter). This despite me being a vegetarian going on 6 years and explaining to them many, many times what veg/vegan means.

            My solution recently has been to host all of the holidays myself. I make delicious, mostly vegan meals and just don’t tell them. No one complains, every one compliments, and when I occasionally reveal later that is was vegan they can’t believe it.

      • Sam

        We are doing a taco bar too! And so did some friends last summer for their wedding. At the time I thought, “Tacos? I’ve never been to a wedding with tacos, yum!”

        We are also doing some apps before. We were having a hard time narrowing it and my caterer made a good point: more options = people just eat more. They will want to try all the options, even if they aren’t that hungry. And then they won’t eat the taco bar as much. So you end up spending more money even though people will still eat the same total amount, just less of the main meal.

      • Sam

        We are doing a taco bar too! And so did some friends last summer for their wedding. At the time I thought, “Tacos? I’ve never been to a wedding with tacos, yum!”

        We are also doing some apps before. We were having a hard time narrowing it down and my caterer made a good point: more options = people just eat more. They will want to try all the options, even if they aren’t that hungry. And then they won’t eat the taco bar as much. So you end up spending more money even though people will still eat the same total amount, just less of the main meal.

  • LILY

    Rachel, this is fantastic. You hit the nail on the head. My worries have been more of the decorations-variety, but this applies nonetheless.

    Especially this: “Family and friends? Don’t remember the food.”

    I am emailing this post to my fiance right now…even though he might say “I told you so!” :)

  • Kira

    Ohmygosh, this is so true and useful. Thank you! I have totally been doing this for our wedding, albeit with a slightly different slant (i.e., our guests will totally be into the food). Like, I will read a wedding forum topic and freak out about how the guests won’t want to eat our crazy delicious menu of ale-braised lamb, quinoa salad, garlicky kale, and gorgonzola-onion gratin, because “People like boring chicken and steak at weddings,” when I have eaten with practically everyone who’s coming within the last year and know perfectly well that almost all of them are adventurous, enthusiastic eaters. Ditto “we have to have light beer, because it’s a wedding, and wedding guests like light beer! What are we doing with this IPA and brown ale?” even though I have drunk beer with everyone and know they much prefer craft beer to tasteless macrobrews. What the heck. “I WANT NAMES!”

    • Brenda

      Your menu sounds amazing! Can I come to your wedding? :)

  • Jenny

    I’m going to print this out and hang it on my mom’s fridge….
    We are having chili(vegan white bean, and regular meat +fixings), salad, baked potatoes (with fixings on the side), fruit and cheese. But PEOPLE will want chicken…. what…. people will want just plain grilled chiken, for 4 dollars a person extra? WHO, GIVE ME NAMES!

    • Daisy6564

      That sounds super yummy, count me in!

  • Elle

    Oh, so true! And, even with all.of.the.options (or at least most of them) there will be people who choose none of them. The week before our wedding my [dear, sweet, thoughtful, yet people pleasing] MIL sent a frantic email, and I quote: “will you have lemon iced tea on the menu? Mr. X is coming all the way from Florida and that is the only thing he drinks.” Well, shucks, we didn’t and weren’t willing to pay the extra $3.50/person to add it for one person. But we did have three carefully selected beers; white, red, and sparkling wine; soda options, lavender lemonade, cucumber water, and locally roasted coffee. I suppose in retrospect it is a little silly that iced tea wasn’t included, but guess what? Mr. X didn’t die of thirst at our wedding and had a grand time!

  • The Family Jules

    “I WANT NAMES.”

    Cracking up over here.

    I would probably be the one to say that “people want options!” just because I would be terrified that no one would like the food AND EVERYONE WOULD REMEMBER MY WEDDING AS THE BAD FOOD WEDDING. But then I think about the weddings I’ve been to….don’t remember what the food was like. Sure, people like options, friends and family however could care less.

    I think this idea perpetuates when there are shows on T.V like Four Weddings where brides judge other people’s weddings. Ugh.

    • Kira

      RIGHT? I am so confused by Four Weddings. There is no honeymoon I could win that would make me deliberately expose my wedding to hostile scrutiny by three strangers in person and an entire film crew. What is going on?

      • SarahT

        THIS!! A wedding is not a competition! Why on earth would you want to have people voting on it? If they were offering a dream house it still wouldn’t be worth it!

        By the way, one of my favorite receptions of all time was my nephew’s, where the bride’s family served us homemade spaghetti and meatballs. It was super simple and I think budget-friendly, but what I remember was the love I felt when they were serving it up themselves onto our plates-it felt like they were having us all over for dinner. It would not have “impressed” a random guest but it was lovely and perfect for the actual people they knew.

      • KateM

        Ugg, I so agree. I think it is the worst show of the bunch. Not only is it making weddings literally a competition, it doesn’t reflect the experience of every other guest at the wedding. A normal guest knows and loves the couple, and thinks the book center pieces are so “them” and instead these other brides criticize the couple for not spending more on flowers.
        It also brought up every insecurity I had as a bride, about is my wedding “enough”.Well it was enough for me, I was married at the end and had a great day. I count it a success.

        • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com erin

          I actually find it very refreshing! Because every time they start complaining about shit, I think, “MAN! Am I glad these people aren’t coming to my wedding! Onward with the pie for dessert!”

    • http://myminimalistwedding.wordpress.com Alyssa

      Also it’s like, if they don’t have the options it’s not like they’ll even know what the options would have been… I use this technique with little kids and difficult friends. “We are going here and doing this and this time, see you there!” And you know what? Since I started doing that things always go more smoothly than if I give them the choice of 3 different things and try to figure out which one is best. It opens up a whole can of worms that is better left closed…

  • Kate

    This post is making me huuungry.

  • http://writemeg.com Megan

    Such an excellent post! You’re absolutely right: the “people” at our wedding are, presumably, those who love and care for us most. They’re not a faceless horde of mean girls waiting to judge us for not having enough “options” to impress them on our once-in-a-lifetime day. It’s easy to forget that, but absolutely true.

    My fiance and I went back and forth regarding dinner options — we knew we wanted a sit-down meal, but the costs for various options at our venue were enough to send me rocking in the fetal position. We eventually settled on the (surprisingly less expensive) choice of each guest being served two meats: chicken and steak. If they don’t like the chicken, they have the steak. If they don’t like the steak, they have the chicken. And if they’ve become vegetarian in the last few months? Pasta. Done and done.

    (Also, I’ve happily been able to remove all the “entree choice selection” verbiage from our RSVP cards. They love us, and dinner will be grand. That’s all.)

  • Laura C

    This is a great technique that I will be trying soon. Not on food. Because on food, I am the people who wants options. At my typical party where food is served, the menu is determined by me writing down everything I have recently thought of, and then looking at the list and saying “well, there’s not really enough [vegetables/chocolate/appetizers]” and adding some more stuff. The bacon-wrapped dates and the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and the spinach dip and the broccoli salad and the roast chick peas and flan and rum cake and chocolate cake and cookies…

    Not that I can do this for my wedding with the expensive darn in-house caterer. The rehearsal dinner may become a target, though. But for the food at my wedding, I realized that it was really important to me to have it feel eclectic. DO NOT WANT a lump of meat. I mean, it’s fine if you serve me that at your wedding, your call, etc, but in some fundamental way it would feel like a violation of who I am to do that myself. And I actually sort of already had a version of the “people want” argument with my mother over the plan to have our food be an Indian station and a mashed potato bar, where her view was some people don’t like Indian and some people won’t feel like mashed potatoes are really a meal, and my view was that I didn’t care, until she suggested a taco bar and I was like “hmm…that is more summer-appropriate than mashed potatoes yet leaves me with my sense of self intact…”

    Where I may be using the “which people” tactic is on decorative stuff. Because I don’t care about that stuff. I don’t care if the bridesmaids dresses aren’t the same exact color, don’t need my flowers to be anything but placeholders, the lighting that comes with the venue seems fine to me, etc.

    • Coco

      This is me…we have a crazy number of food options given the original proposed menu, partly because I want all the options, partly because on ‘my side’ we have vegetarians (some of whom are older Indian family friends), vegans, gluten-frees, and ‘his side’ has some unadventurous eaters.

      However flowers on the tables — we’ll have them, not sure what they’ll look like yet. I’ve decided aisle decorations probably aren’t happening, because pre-wedding planning I never freaking noticed aisle decorations. Place cards may get some candy-added, may not.

      • Rebecca

        My notion of what a “crazy number of food options” was changed dramatically when I talked with my Indian host family about their weddings. Can’t remember the total number of options, but I think it was something like 100 vegetarian dishes, 100 non-vegetarian, 100 salads…the total was maybe 500?

        I found a picture of a bouquet I liked and asked our florist to make centerpieces that went with it (and that people could see over). That picture was also my answer to what our “colors” were. Our vendors did pretty well at the “something that goes with this picture” look- and I didn’t have to decide what it meant!

    • Daisy6564

      Same, food is the #1 importance to me. My sticking point? Invitations. I would like to do something colorful and graphic design-y. My father of all people thinks that “people will expect ivory with calligraphy since it is a wedding and not a birthday party.” Whatev, not gonna fight that fight ‘cuz I just don’t care about invitations that much.

      • k

        I once received a wedding invite that had Stalin, Lenin, and Trotsky in red and gold on the front and inside it said, “Come on! Join the Party!”

        You could always use that story to convince your dad that whatever you want to do, there’s someone out there being even less traditional.

        • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

          Bwah! That invitation idea had me laughing out loud in my office. Fortunately, no one else is in at the moment.

        • Cleo

          I wish I knew that person. That. Is. Amazing.

          I might have to steal it for my birthday party.

          • k

            She was a good friend from college and yes, she’s amazing. It’s the only wedding invitation I’ve ever saved except my own.

        • Cleo

          I wish I knew that person. That. Is. Amazing.

          I might have to steal it for the next random party I throw.

        • Sam

          Seriously most awesome invite EVER.

      • Laura C

        I hadn’t realized until recently that invitations were so political! I guess you should just be glad you’re not one of these people: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/booming/lesbian-daughter-and-mother-spar-over-wedding-invitations.html?ref=booming

    • Caroline

      Oh yeah, we’re fussing about food because we care. We’ve had a blast brewing mead, love to discuss what types of beer we should brew, and are so incredibly over the top excited for our Alexandrian ( as in the Great) themed food (once we find a caterer in our budget to make food. Yikes!) Our loved ones don’t care but it’s the most enjoyable part of wedding planning for us.
      But if ” guests” or “people” want expensive decor? They won’t remember it, because our loved ones are here to see us wed. I’m hoping to find someone to give a few suggestions and then pass decor off to.

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

      My mom didn’t think PEOPLE would like an Indian buffet for our rehearsal dinner. PEOPLE might not have anything to eat. Which turned out to be that she didn’t think SHE would like Indian food and SHE might not have anything to eat. We stuck with it and while I don’t think she especially liked it, she didn’t starve and everyone else seemed to love it.

      • Laura C

        That was my mom with the mashed potatoes: she doesn’t like them. Although when she heard the mashed potato bar would include mashed sweet potatoes, she became more favorable to them.

  • Lisa

    Get out my head with this post!

    Thank you for this. We had out wedding tasting this weekend, and I was having a minor freak-out 1. because I didn’t express the correct enthusiasm the coordinator wanted over linens and napkins (um, they are napkins) and because I didn’t a “vision” for a “tables cape”. I was all, “what are you even taking about?” It’s NAPKINS. I shouldn’t feel like a bad bride because I don’t have binders full of napkin thoughts.

    It was similar with the food…we were brought with indecision if our salad with cranberries was too exotic for our guest and if they would prefer the standard salad. Again, who are these anti-cranberry “people”? We are offering pork, steak and vegetarian, but then there was lots of discussion about do *people* expect chicken. Again, who? When did chicken become a wedding necessity?

    • Daisy6564

      Many people don’t eat red meat for health reasons or pork for religious reasons. Chicken is a good, safe (cheap!) option that most people have come to expect at any large-scale party. That said, you know your crowd. Hopefully the vegetarian will cover those who can’t/don’t eat beef or pork.

      • Lisa

        The offered chicken is stuffed with prosciutto.

        • Daisy6564

          Super boo to that.

    • KTH

      Yeah, I think (like Daisy6564) chicken is less of a necessity and more of a low-cost alternative that a lot of people turn to.

      And is it “tables cape” or “tablescape”? I’ve heard the term “tablescape” a lot for how tables are set up and I 100% did not care at my wedding, so I let my mom and aunt go nuts with it.

      Plus, with stuff on salads, those who don’t like can pick it off.

    • Rebecca

      Mentioned above- I gave my venue a picture of the flowers I liked and told them to make the table go with it. The only other request I made was ivory or grey as a neutral, not white, since my dress was ivory and I didn’t want to clash with the table. Things turned out great. And I say this as someone who has a growing collection of table linens at home that I make deliberate decisions about.

      We did duck, steak, and vegetarian, and everyone was happy. Not every occasion requires chicken.

  • Daisy6564

    I fear that this makes me an awful person but… I always remember the food! The unfortunate fact is that at most weddings I’ve been to I didn’t really get to see the bride or groom all that much. Aside from witnessing their vows and maybe a few minutes at the reception, the actual experience at most weddings I’ve been too has been more about the food/music/booze/other guests than the couple themselves.

    Having gone to at least 15 wedding over the past 4 years I always appreciate quality food and plenty of it, it tends to make or break the experience for me. Whether or not guest have fun has a lot to do with “Was there enough delicious food? Did I have fun dancing? Did I get to catch up with old friends?” Weddings are fun but after I have been to so many it does get to be tiresome/disappointing to plan all of my travel time/money around weddings and then show up and have nothing to eat (vegetarian/vegan) or a crowd that’s not into dancing.

    What I don’t notice is the decorations, flowers, cake, bride’s dress (aside from the fact they have all looked beautiful!) basically, all of the things that the WIC says signal “wedding” as opposed to just “party.”

    What I will say is that as ME and not “people,” I always appreciate when one of my bride friends remembers that I am vegetarian and has an option for me.

    • anon for this

      I am really sorry to say that I agree. BUT that is not to say I need ALL the options, just a few thoughtful options.
      Disclaimer: I am a former picky eater, I am much better now, but I do not eat seafood, nor did my date at the particular wedding that I am recalling. At said wedding there was one very nice plated option, clam chowder as a starter, and a lovely crabcake and reasonable (though kind of small) piece of beef for the main course. When we inquired about a non-seafood alternative to the chowder the servers gave us a funny look then produced a very small plate of some greens. I also recall there not being a vegetarian option for the main course for my vegetarian friend at our table.
      Why do I remember this? Well, mostly because I was getting ready with the bride, at the ceremony and then reception for 11 hours, and I was actually hungry for quite a few of those.
      The menus and options that Rachel and everyone above has described sound lovely and thoughtful, but I wanted to point out that SOMETIMES there are actual friends and family who would like another option. Just one other option, not ALL the options.

      • http://snippetsof.blogspot.com SarahE

        I think what you explained is reasonable, and falls more into the “being a good host, and making sure your guests are taken care of” rather than “go overboard with tons of menu options so everyone can have their absolute favorite appetizer.”

        While you can’t please every picky eater, choosing general options from several food groups seems reasonable.

      • Rachel

        I guess I assumed that vegetarian options are such a standard, I don’t even think of that as an option anymore! That’s just a given. (Or so I thought?!) I think having the expectation of a vegetarian meal is completely normal, not a “people want options” kind of a thing. I’m more against the “two appetizers aren’t enough, we need five” kind of mentality. I wish my mom would get the “just one other option, not ALL the options” point you make, because that’s totally spot on. No one should be expecting ALL the options!

        • anon for this

          Me too. And I am always happy to eat vegetarian, but I never assumed that because I don’t eat seafood there would be very little food for me so I didn’t plan accordingly. Oh well.

          In my household we use the ‘some of the ____’ quite often, for example: ‘Tonight when we go to this party and I am designated driver and you will be drinking, maybe you could drink some of the beer, not ALL of the beer.’ It’s funny to say, but it exactly the right phrase for us. I WANT you to have fun, but not to the point that my sober self has to ‘deal’ with you!
          Also good for self-moderate…I can eat some of the ice cream, not all of the ice cream.

        • KE

          Tell her it’s a wedding reception, not the buffet line on a cruise ship! :)

    • Samantha

      I think for me the quality of the food is more important than the options or type of food. I do remember at my sis-in-law’s wedding the food kicked ass – it was so delicious – but I don’t remember what we ate. I also remember the food at my cousin’s wedding being super generic and not really hot or very good. So I think if you pick delicious food and can only offer a few options or a less fancy meal that is much more important than going over the top with blah food.

      • Laura C

        Definitely quality over variety on my priority list.

        What I’d say is, I’m a food-obsessed person with dietary restrictions and I remember the food at just about every wedding I’ve been to. Excellent food can factor in a wedding’s place on my list of favorite weddings. But bad food isn’t likely to push it down my list. So, two of my favorite weddings I’ve been to, the amazing food is one of the things I remember fondly about them. But one of my favorite weddings, there wasn’t a lot of food and it wasn’t great, but everything else was so fun and filled with joy and affection that of course a mediocre piece of chicken was not an issue. And I’ve been to a wedding with amazing food that I was meh on overall.

        In conclusion: Yeah, I’m going to remember your food. But the only way it can affect my memories of your wedding is positively. If it was bad, I’m going to eat the candy bar I had stashed in my purse (backup plan given dietary restrictions) and hit the dance floor happily.

        • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

          “In conclusion: Yeah, I’m going to remember your food. But the only way it can affect my memories of your wedding is positively. If it was bad, I’m going to eat the candy bar I had stashed in my purse (backup plan given dietary restrictions) and hit the dance floor happily.”

          Agreed. While I don’t expect to eat at weddings and always have a backup, I just love food and will remember it, particularly if it is good. But, the food isn’t going to negatively affect my perception. I’m glad I was invited, I’m grateful I was able to make it work to attend and share the moment. Food is a moot point. Seriously, I’m happy if I am able to eat any of the wedding food. And cake is well, CAKE. ;)

          • Daisy6564

            This is sad to me and as another veg, I don’t agree. If I am invited to a dinner party I go expecting to be able to… eat dinner. I would not expect someone to invite me to their house for dinner and then not serve me anything I could eat. Weddings are on a larger scale but the same idea.

            It makes me feel sad/unwelcome when EVERY appetizer out the door is wrapped in meat. I realize my dietary restrictions are not anyone else’s problem but even the availability of some raw veggies would be nice some times.

      • Daisy6564

        I absolutely agree about the quality. Multiple options for me personally to choose from are not all that important except…. to me good quality food involves lots of seasonal produce, interesting grains/legumes prepared in well spiced and creative ways. To my grandma good quality food is a really nice cut of beef, side of potatoes and butter drenched veggies, no seasoning at all but salt and pepper. In order for both of us to be happy there would need to be options.

        • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

          I get what you’re saying Daisy. I suppose my viewpoint comes from the fact that my family was never that accommodating to me growing up (I went veg at 13) so all the family weddings I’ve been to I’ve never been able to eat anything. My family seems to forget that I don’t eat meat or it doesn’t cross their mind to think about having an option besides a side salad. So. . . yeah, having a few experiences in my very early twenties of showing up to a wedding where I literally couldn’t eat anything has taught me not to expect anything and to always eat beforehand. (Case in point: the 11am wedding that served bacon in everything, even the veggies. As I had flown in the late the night before, I barely made it up in time to get to the wedding so didn’t have a chance to grab breakfast.) However, I will say that my friends are much more thoughtful in this regard and the weddings I’ve been invited to that haven’t been family ones, I’ve eaten very well.

  • http://www.devabydefinition.com deva

    My mom keeps reminding me that it is one day and one meal. That’s one meal out of thousands, and one day out of thousands. When I start to worry about our friends and family wanting more options I just remind myself of this. It helps.

  • KE

    Oh man, if I based my guest list on who’s seen me naked and/or crying (let’s be real, sometimes both simultaneously), that would be way more people than I have money for. Like, my entire middle school, everybody who lived in my sorority house, the cashier at Ben & Jerry’s….

  • Moe

    There were nachos at my wedding. I know this because we paid for them as part of the package deal we ordered from the taco man who grilled on site at the reception.

    Who ate all the nachos? They were all gone by the time I remembered to ask for some. No one knows who ate them. I never saw them. But damn did my family have a good time dancing and spending time together!

    So glad I followed my gut and had good old Mexican comfort food because anything fanicer and more expensive would have meant less guests would be invited and not being true to myself.

    Guests want to see you get married and live happily ever after. Good post Rachel!

    • KTH

      Nachos???? Brilliant.

  • http://myminimalistwedding.wordpress.com Alyssa

    Oh wow I was totally talking about this with my sweetheart last night. His family has frequent parties where everyone comes and drinks and eats some food and socializes. And they are FUN. His mom loves everything to be as stress free as possible so she usually just has pizza, salad, and some appetizers she picked up from a local restaurant and/or costco and no one cares. They aren’t there for the food they are there to spend time with family and friends.

    These family gatherings are usually loosely based around some event: grandma’s birthday, cousin’s retirement, etc. We were discussing taking a page out of the tried and true Wallace family party book and just have a large gathering loosely based around us getting married. No programs, no menus, no signature cocktail, just a few cases of wine, margarita mix. And that Mexican place down the street caters AND brings their own decorations. Who doesn’t like Mexican?

    • Moe

      Everyone loves Mexican food! (says the Mexican girl)

      We loved the pastor tacos (spicy pork) but offered the grilled chicken too because a few of our non-Mexican guests can’t eat spicy food.

    • Sarah

      We had Mexican food – buffet style – and it was a SMASHING success! At least, according to my taste buds and the people who raved about it afterward. If there were complaints, they didn’t come to me! It was easy, it fit with our wedding: we had lots of local people and Mexican food is big here, and lots of people traveling in, and so it also fit the destination theme. I think one of the nicest things about buffet style Mexican is it gives people LOTS of options within the “construct.” Like cheese on your taco? Great, pile it on. No? Fine, leave it off. Not feeling like an actual taco? Just have them use the shredded lettuce to make a salad. I never worried about what we WEREN’T having (seafood, Italian food, etc.), because there were lots of options with what we WERE having — Mexican!

      That being said, most of the comments I got about our wedding were based on what a good time/fun party/special day it was, not on the food specifically. It was more about the fact that the wedding felt like us, and was a fun celebration of our marriage.

      • http://myminimalistwedding.wordpress.com Alyssa

        That was literally my exact plan! I’m from San Diego so everyone is into Mexican here and the Mexican food is CHEAP and DELICIOUS.

  • KTH

    I would argue that people REMEMBER the food, but are not attending BECAUSE OF the food. You’re totally right that your friends and family are there to see you get married, and not to have a specific type of food. Food in general, yes. But not specific food.

    I feel like the only thing you need to take into consideration are dietary issues — we had some vegans and diabetics. Otherwise, if a guest doesn’t care for mushrooms, they can push them off. And if someone really wanted steak, well then they can go buy themselves a steak dinner with their own money.

    Also, I keep saying, 2 years into my marriage, that I wish I could have 7 or so weddings. Because Brunch Wedding? Sounds awesome.

    • KE

      As a semi-reformed picky eater, I’m co-signing on everything you say. I had to fight the caterer to get a strictly vegan entree option at our wedding, and it was a fight worth having because I knew there’d be two vegan relatives there. Likewise, I called my Jewish college roommate to confirm that her husband doesn’t keep kosher.

      But beyond that, my food preferences are my responsibility, not my hosts’. I eat ahead of time, I put snacks in my purse, I skip the salad because I hate dressing, I fill up on rolls. I saw another comment that said, “Who doesn’t like Mexican?” Me! But if I’m your friend, I’m going to enjoy your wedding nonetheless because I’m there for you, not for the party.

      (And to that commenter: Rock on with your Mexican food, lady. I don’t mean to disparage the idea– 99% of people would love that and find it very memorable. Your one picky eater guest can eat a lot of tortilla chips and have fun regardless.)

    • Rachel

      Completely agree about remembering vs. being there because of the food! I remember the food from the last wedding I attended (it was…not great) but I don’t really CARE about it. Even when it was bad, I was just like, “Meh, you’re going to have that sometimes.” But if you read any articles about weddings on the web, I feel like every commenter is just so ANGRY about the AWFUL food and the MONEY they spent to travel and on a gift and I’m just like, “…is this real? Seriously??”

  • Marie

    Thank you APW. I totally needed this today. My fiancé and I are checking out venues for our dessert reception this weekend and we are overwhelmed trying to figure out what to serve (aside from cake!!). I need to remember no one is coming for the food. They just want to celebrate with us and really won’t care what we have.

    • http://www.dmarried.com Blair

      Oh my gosh dessert! How fun!

      Marie, what do you and your lovey like to eat for dessert? If it were your last meal, what would you point to?

      Anything stick out in your mind? Christmas cookies that you had growing up? A baked good that your lovey’s parents made for you? A sweet treat you both shared together on your first date?

      Start with you. The rest will fall into place.

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    I love the “I WANT NAMES.”

    My fiance is not super excited about planning, but is not opposed to being involved. However, my experience around wedding planning involves a lot of APW, as well as my having read “Offbeat Bride” and “Weddings for Grown-ups” a few years back. His experience around wedding planning is mostly limited to bit of exposure to other people’s weddings.

    So, there have been a number of things that he thought had to happen because that’s just what you do. He wasn’t looking forward to any of them, but he resisted the idea of getting rid of them because “people” would have a problem with it. And that was basically my question: who, specifically, will have a problem? If we know who will object to the lack of thing X, then we can decide whether it is important to do it *for* them or how to handle their objections. But a general, vague “people” isn’t going to work.

    It have been a process of careful nudging.

    • Rachel

      What you just described was basically our first two months of planning. See also: the great pie vs. cake meltdown of early 2013.

      • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

        Hee! Well for that our plan is to have both. A few normal 2-layer cakes and a few more pies. Because when it comes to dessert, that is when I embrace the power of “and”.

        • MarieKD

          “Because when it comes to dessert, that is when I embrace the power of “and”.”

          Yep, my husband very early in the planning process asked if it was ok to have cake AND ice cream at our wedding because he really loves the combination. We heard no complaints!

        • Rachel

          Ha, I made the mistake of presenting it as an alternative to cake. Not wise. Not wise at all.

          • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

            And someone wasn’t on board with the idea of pie instead of traditional cake? I see.

            (One argument in favor of cake, which is why I am including it: it seems that you can get more servings out of a 9-inch cake than you can out of a 9-inch pie, so I am thinking it will make the dessert go farther, for those who want sweet.)

      • Moe

        my cake baker cancelled on me 24 hours before the wedding, we opted for pie (that the cake-baking relative paid for) and it was fantastic. Every table had a different pie.

        Then, my friend offered the services of her high school senior daughter who baked us a two-tier wedding cake (her class project) so that there would be something to take pictures with. It was the damn tastiest cake I ever had, and she got an A on her project.

        Can’t decide on cake or pie? Have both. The people want opt… oh, never mind. :)

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    Also, when it comes to food and alcohol options, our venue is smack in the middle of an area with really good bars and restaurants. Have something really great for lunch, and then head across the street when the wedding is done for an after party with drinks. Bam. Problem solved.

  • Sam A

    Loved this! And totally agree. The important ‘people’ aren’t there for the food!
    What we found (serving build your own burgers) was – one food ‘theme’ – burgers – with many options – topping, bun, patty (chicken, beef, veggie) and a buffet of salads, worked a treat. Breakfast food may allow a similar cheat? One/ two food types, many sides/ condiment options… You know, for those ‘people’…
    :)

    • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

      Someone once pointed this out: regardless of what you serve for dinner, it’s just one meal. Definitely be a good host to your guests with food restrictions, but no one is going to starve to death because they didn’t get steak (or whatever) for your wedding dinner.

  • http://www.dmarried.com Blair

    Sitck-in-the-mud here. ::hangs head in shame:: While I do not, and will not ever, judge my friends or their love for one another or their choices in life.

    I totally judge food at weddings.

    And here’s why: Firstly, lovey and I judge food everywhere. We are bona-fide food snobs, through and through. But I think people might say “well Blair and Lovey want options. But they’re food snobs so they always want options.” ’nuff said, forget about our snooty butts and move on. We are capable of picking a carrot out of the ground and critiquing it’s ripeness and the dirt that was somehow not removed thoroughly enough and to our liking.

    Secondallly: Because of the WIC. We want food at a wedding that is authentic to the people getting married. I am so freakin sick of chicken, fish, steak, and a “considerate” option for vegetarian.
    There are so many different food preferences out there. Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, people that don’t like pickles. Augh! Can drive you crazytown. So the merits of this post are absolutely true. But I also happen to think that the WIC has pulled the rug out from under us on what’s “appropriate to serve” at a wedding. Serve what’s true to you, or easy to prepare, or cost the least but was the best to you.

    So, for me and lovey. Yes, we will judge the food at your wedding. Because we judge food, not you. And, yes, I want the absolutely AWFUL tofu patty with tarragon and too much salt. Because it is you. It is what you loved or what turned you on. but I would MUCH rather hate every bite (and remember it!) knowing it is actual food that somebody loves, and not pushed on you by some hurried caterer that’s over charging for a $3 piece of shitty dry chicken.

    • Cleo

      sorry, I hit report accidentally! I meant to exactly!

      Interesting food > boring food. At least there’s excitement with the interesting food.

      My sister on the other hand…she loves the traditional chicken, vegetables, potato deal and is excited for bland wedding food.

    • Other Katelyn

      I totally judge food and so do my friends– and food/drink was one of our top priorities in planning. So we had the world’s greatest dessert and cheese buffet at our wedding, and we got lots of compliments, and people are still talking about the food. And that’s exactly how I wanted it.

    • Daisy6564

      Amen to the interesting food over bland, banquet food!

    • Rachel

      I totally get what you’re saying. I mean, I LOVE food. I hope I didn’t give the impression from this post that I didn’t! I’m not a food snob (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but I’m a cook and a baker and an eater and I love it all. But for some reason, I just don’t judge wedding food because I kinda go into it expecting it to be “meh.” So like, if a couple are foodies and have amazing food, I’m going to rave about it forever. But if they don’t, I’m just like, “Eh, they don’t care about food.” So I guess that falls under “judging the food, not the couple.”

      Also “serve what’s true to you, easy to prepare, or cost the least” is damn true.

  • ZOO

    The “give me real names” thing is great. We’ve been using certain people as benchmarks for decision-making. So if X (who has a lot of food allergies) can eat three menu items, no need to worry about anyone else having issues. If Y and Z (who are firefighters) have enough notice to adjust their schedules and ask for time off, so does everyone else. And I once flat-out declared that if we can’t invite R (who represents “friends who are as close to us as R”), I’m not getting married. It’s a useful way to categorize people.

  • Vita Trefusis

    Wow, thanks so much for writing this! I’ve gone through the same destabilising train of thought on almost everything BUT the food! Thankfully my mom, who is often the source of said destabilising trains of thoughts, kept me sane on the food front. “As long as there is enough food for everyone, people will be happy.” I don’t want to start second guessing our main course which is going to be locally raised venison and ale casserole. Had the tasting last week and it was delightful. The veg option was also superb. It’s venison, or veg. If you don’t like it, eat more cake (we will have 4 different kinds, cause we’re crazy like that).

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

      That sounds amazing. Both the venison and ale casserole and four kinds of cake. Also, your mom is totally correct about enough. The one wedding I remember with bad feelings about the food was one where we were served about a half a cup of pasta and cup of salad at around 8pm. It wasn’t bad food, but we were all still hungry and couldn’t sneak out for food without being noticed and missing the dancing.

  • Jen

    I am going through a similar issue with my wedding. I personally like choices, so we are opting for a buffet. To which, I have gotten several, “buffets are tacky, people don’t like waiting, or buffets are cheap” comments. I am honestly trying NOT to care. But my father is driving me NUTS with the appetizer choices, and he is paying for the reception, so I am trying to be accommodating. But I really want to scream “I am the bride, I don’t care if everyone likes these 4 options, but I don’t eat them!!!” I feel like I have been forced to give up my choices to give others what they want.

    • http://thevanillabride@blogspot.com Sonarisa

      Wait… buffets are tacky now? We are planning on a buffet. Because then people get to choose what they want. And stuff. And it’s simple.

      And now I’m freaking out about buffets… I’m sending good thoughts your way Jen. We’ve got to stand up for our buffets together. :)

      • http://www.jehara.blogspot.com soleil

        Every wedding I’ve ever been to in the last ten years was buffet-style. I’ve never been aware of it being tacky as it’s pretty much the norm where I live, it would seem. Is this a regional thing I wonder?

      • Laura C

        Do not freak out about buffets! I see brides on Four Weddings saying they are not elegant enough, but everyone I talk to likes buffets. It is nice to have choices! It is nice to look at the options and say “I’m not in the mood for overcooked salmon, so I’m just going to have the potatoes.” Or whatever.

      • http://www.chanouxstories.com Laura

        One of my fiance’s big things is that he wants a buffet. I keep getting emails from my mom with links to Martha Stewart articles on the benefits of plated dinners, but buffets rock! We went to a wedding last year with a fantastic buffet, and I loved it, and I loved having the option of trying all the different things. So don’t freak out! It’s going to be delicious and amazing!

      • Rachel

        I went to my first non-buffet wedding a couple years ago and I actually prefer buffet now. I didn’t like not being able to choose how much of each dish I ate. So just because buffet is typically less expensive, I don’t think it’s tacky…I think it’s more accommodating in some ways!

    • Sarah

      Buffets are not tacky or cheap, they are a way to allow people to eat what they want and not feel bad if they don’t finish what’s been served to them, or that they already ate a lot that day, or that they are hungrier than they expected to be, or they thought they would want chicken three months from now but now that it’s here they actually don’t. They are also a way of not being wasteful, which is entirely different from being cheap.

      It’s hard when someone else is paying for it, but you have to consider it a gift. And if it’s a gift, then it’s yours to do with what you want, no?

  • Tea

    Okay, y’all, I have to say, this is a place that I’m struggling.

    So, about 90% of guests are going to have to travel to our wedding. The vast majority of our friends and family are not living a champagne and caviar type of lifestyle and I understand, that for many people, coming to our wedding may take the place of a vacation that year. I don’t exactly feel like “The people need options!” or “There must be all of the steaks!” (actually, as a vegetarian, I would prefer that there weren’t all of the steaks) or “This must feel really expensive with flowers gilded in gold on each table.”

    I do feel pretty strongly that I want people to love their food and love their alcohol and have a super comfortable fun-filled weekend where they feel taken care of. I want them to stay somewhere that makes them smile and I do not want them to stress about transportation and I generally want them to be very very happy. Replacing friends and family for guests only strengthens this feeling in me. I know that they will be coming to my crazy rural location because they love me and my partner and not because they expect a rafting trip or really great cheese, but this doesn’t stop me from wanting to provide it. (Actually, it makes me want to provide it more).

    Anyone else feeling like this? Anyone with any ideas on how not to let this drive you crazy?

    PS Rachel. Waffles and mimosas? Ummm… why would anyone even want any other options? You’re making me hungry/jealous over here.

    • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

      I think there is a difference between “I want to provide a good experience for my family and friends” and “people want options”. The former implies being thoughtful and choosing things that will be pleasing to the loved ones whom you will be hosting. The latter implies “more things, because who knows what they will want. have all the things!”

      At least, that is my take on it.

      So, think about this wonderful group of people. With them in mind, you don’t need ALL THE THINGS. If your choices are thoughtful, it will work out. And you can always ask people if they have specific needs that would be good to keep in mind, and then be thoughtful about how you deal with those.

      I don’t think that will eliminate all of the crazy from the process, but it might help to reduce it.

      • Kira

        Yeah! Also, just the fact that they’re your guests, and you can trust your own instincts about what will make them happy, rather than having to go with the wedding-industry default because “people want options.” To thine own guests be true!

      • Rachel

        Word.

        About 90% of our guests are traveling too and I totally want to plan a weekend filled with fun activities and lots of food and All the Experiences. Because I love my people! And I will never get them in one place again! And there’s so much cool shit in Austin!

        I think it’s fine to organize/plan (or really want to plan) a couple other things for people to do…but if each one of THOSE events becomes a new “people want options” thing (as in “well some people don’t like rafting so should we organize an indoor activity too?” or “wouldn’t it be cool if we added X, Y, and Z at the brunch menu even though that will cost another $1000?”) it could spiral. So maybe let yourself plan a couple of those activities you really want but don’t get caught up in the details and “people want options” with the non-wedding parts of the weekend?

  • Kristenina

    Ok, so. I can tell you, from personal experience, that if you go with food that ROCKS, people will remember, and comment to you years down the road that your wedding dinner was the best ever. I know this, because I had a brunch for dinner wedding. Breakfast is our favorite kind of food, and we hemmed and hawed for months about what to serve, and one day I just said, “I wish we could just have chicken and waffles and bloody marys.” And then we realized we could and found an awesome caterer who was STOKED to do our wedding. Seriously, people are still raving about the chicken and waffles. We served that, and a gluten-free, vegetarian polenta eggs benedict with pesto sauce. And mimosas and bloody marys. It was epic. Do it. You won’t regret it. We had tons of naysayers (primarily people who were contributing $) and they were all utterly silenced after having sampled the food.

    • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

      Oh god, yum!

  • Hannah

    DEFINITELY one of my favorite APW articles of all time. Which would mean more if you knew how much I frickin love this blog.
    I sent this to everyone I know that’s planning. :)

  • Laura

    Weeellllll, I’m another one of those people who like options, and I want my guests to have options, so we’re doing buffet/stations so people can try everything if they want to. Turns out this is also a more affordable option than a plated dinner. Plus? Mingling!

    Buuuuut, there are *people* who are worried that *people* will expect a super-classy sit-down meal with a chunk of steak or whatever. Mehhhh I disagree, as long as the food is super good and fun. But also I’m pretty sure there is no point in arguing about this type of issue, because *people* really love to have opinions, period. So, still working on keeping my cool (generally), but my current tactic is just to reiterate how excited I am (slash we are) about the choices we’ve made for the reception. Because nobody can argue with that! Boom!

  • H

    Random note: I learned to love sushi at a wedding. I didn’t hate sushi before, but I was a little squeamish from it, and then, it was like the only thing served at this wedding, and the bride’s mom had made it, so I ate it. And heck, if I haven’t loved sushi since then, because this stuff was GOOD. So… if you pick something you love, maybe other people will learn to love it even if they didn’t before. So there, I was a “people”, and I still loved it at the event. Naysayer actually proven wrong.

    • http://writemeg.com Megan

      Ah, me too! I’d never tried sushi before attending a wedding where only heavy appetizers were served. I was nervous at first, but so agree: delicious. And I’ve been addicted ever since! Weddings can be a good time to try something new.

  • april

    I always remember wedding food – if it was good or if it was bad. I adore food and wine and menu planning, and have a crazy memory for all types of cuisine. It’s probably why I now work in the F&B industry.

    It’s not a requirement to serve a lavish dinner with filet mignon. But I do feel it is important to feed your wedding guests well – whatever that means to YOU. You might choose brunch (awesome – mimosa bar, anyone?). It might be a themed buffet (hello, backyard BBQ and finger-lickin’ ribs!). Or pizza. Or…just a really awesome dessert buffet (because who doesn’t love baked goods and cake?!) No matter what you choose, your guests will find something to eat. And if they don’t, that’s on them – not you!

    And now I’m remembering a wedding I attended about 8 years ago that hosted afternoon tea which included the most darling tiny sandwiches in every variety, scones, cakes, fruit tarts, and sparkling wine. I was in heaven! ;)

    • Rebecca

      I talked my sister into an afternoon tea reception (it fit their cost, desire to not serve alcohol, and steampunk theme!) and I’m now convinced afternoon teas are the best thing ever. Tiny sandwiches! And you can be super fancy if you want without spending sit down dinner money.

      Haven’t been to a brunch reception yet, though, so I’m reserving final ruling on best reception time/food theme for now.

      • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

        My sister did this (an afternoon champagne tea), in our backyard, under a tent, and it was LOVELY. Chocolate covered strawberries, a single champagne toast, coffee and tea, and some other bitings that I can’t seem to remember at all (it was 10 years ago), and cake. It was fun and beautiful!

  • http://www.twitter.com Mel

    My mom SO does this too. There’s never enough food – but it annoys me because it usually means she puts pressure on herself to cook up a variety of different foods (when 3 good options would have been fine).

    When my stepsister had her engagement party, she baked 7 different kinds of cookies, with each cookie being a batch or two (50 cookies?) because “she was supposed to bring dessert.” False. Other people brought dessert and we are still eating the leftovers in the freezer. Again, it’s considerate but I hate watching her get stressed but I think she likes it.

    I think people just like talking about and judging food. But I’m with Blair, they’re judging the food, not you.

    • Rachel

      Yes, it bothers me because of the pressure it causes my mom too! Like, there’s no need to run out last-minute for all these appetizers when we already had enough…and then we have leftovers for days as well!

  • Stina

    I was at a wedding this past weekend where the only thing I really remember is being starving and irritated because my dinner consisted of a mediocre salad and a plate of mashed potatoes (Short version of what happened there: there was no vegetarian option on the response card, and the number of vegetarian dishes were pre-determined by the bride and groom -assumedly for friends or family they knew were vegetarian.) So basically the food (or lack thereof) really did ruin the wedding for me. That said, the wedding was for one of my boyfriend’s childhood friends whom I had never met prior to that night. I imagine had it been a close friend’s wedding, my response would have been different.

    Oh and I decided several years ago, a waffle bar and breakfast/ brunch buffet will be the dinner at my eventual wedding. I mean really, who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner!

  • http://marymarrymike.wordpress.com Mary

    I love this–especially the I WANT NAMES. I think I might be the one a little bit guilty of the “people” mentality–great reminder to check myself.

  • Louise

    EVERYone planning a wedding (or dinner party) should read this! Over and over again!

  • Kat

    Love it. We have tried to reign in the “all the options” idea for parties we throw. At a wedding I like to have some options (2 or 3 for a main?) to allow for allergies/strong dislikes etc, although I don’t mind if I have to pass on an starter if I don’t like the one option.

    Random side note – I attended a wedding pregnant last weekend (early pregnancy and people didn’t know about it) and was a bit concerned I wouldn’t be able to eat the food (possible pregnancy never even crossed my mind when we planned our menu) so was very thankful there was at least one suitable option for me. Not that I want to add to the options stress, but having a pregnancy friendly one was very nice!

  • Grumpy,apparently

    Your friends and family do want options, though? They want a decent meal. I went to a wedding recently, where the food was vegetarian and terrible. The couple wanted vegetarian for ethical reasons. Which is their very, very noble prerogative. I just think its a lot easier to make steak and chicken palatable and filling enough so that people don’t get sloppy drunk because they didn’t have enough to eat. I want my friends and family to not be hungry or grumpy or overly drunk, because the food was too outside the lines. I guess its different when you’re having an intimate wedding, but when you are talking about hundreds of friends and family members, I think its considerate to sublimate your own wishes to what will make the most number of people happy. You have the rest of your life to eat waffles. You don’t want to feel responsible for Uncle Walter’s drunken antics or elderly Aunt Maisy feeling faint. because they didn’t have enough food in their stomachs.

  • Jen

    Great Post! I love it because I’ve heard many of the same things from my mother. The most ridiculous incident was when she insisted we needed to provide transportation between the ceremony and the reception (which are separated by a whole TWO miles in a major city with public transportation, abundant cabs, etc.). While I thought transportation would be nice but not strictly necessary, she worried about what she would tell “people.”

    When pushed about these mysterious “people”, she asked me “what will I tell my brother who is flying in from out of town? How will he know where to go?” It turns out that the “people” she is worried won’t be able to get from A to point B is my uncle, the AIR FORCE PILOT.

    I think he can figure it out.

  • Liz

    For me, this post isn’t so much about food, per se (even though it kind of is). This is about IMAGE. We are having a cocktail reception, with passed appetizers. My mother’s comment was, “You don’t want people to think you’re cheap.” Which, I think, is what this post boils down to: the people who are being reflected by this wedding have preconceived notions of what a wedding is “supposed” to look like, be it what food you should have, what decorations, what color dress, how many attendants, etc. And let’s face it, this wedding is a moment for your parents, too. Family and friends of theirs will probably be invited, and they’re afraid of being judged for not living up to the WIC standard by these other people. This is when the “I want names” conversation will be really helpful. Or, if you’re like me and somewhat blunt (with a history of being, shall we say, firm on my own opinions) you can tell your mother “I don’t care”. Because I don’t – this wedding ISN’T a competition. It’s a reflection of who we are as a couple, and really, I think people LIKE a little bit of individuality. When those subjects come up, as has been mentioned, it’s really more about fear of judgement, on the part of the person who said it.

  • Allie

    In a lot of ways, I so wish this post had come out before my wedding. But in just a few more ways, I’m even more glad it came out a week afterwards. It reminds me that there’s no point in now freaking out over my friends who travelled from far and wide to come to OUR wedding, not just to some party thrown by people they don’t know. It made the reward of seeing everyone have such a good time that much sweeter after so much fear. Of course, it didn’t make the weeks leading up to the wedding less stressful (in fact, more so), but the payoff was almost better.

    Thanks APW, fo providing such practical content.

  • Elysiarenee

    I am delurking and also late to the party.

    As some others have said I remember the food from every wedding I’ve ever been to. I am also vegan so most of the time it was a cold, grilled vegetable stack. I am always abundantly grateful and surprised when I get to eat good food at a wedding.

    My partner is omnivourous and I am vegan and we have compromised on a vegetarian wedding. Since I am vegan for ethical reasons the idea of hosting a party where I buy and serve food to which I have passionate, moral objections is something I couldn’t come to terms with. Nonetheless I have been doing a lot of “but people want..” in my own head because less face it the majority of my friends and family are not vegan and some of them certainly think that a meal without meat in it is no meal at all. It has helped so much to name names!

    Everyone has wildly different food preferences even if there’s some crossover in a magical ‘really yummy food’ area. I figure the best you can do is choose what you and your partner think is in that magical crossover area and serve that. I don’t think providing people with more choices makes it more likely people will get to eat food they love.

    I have had some really bad and really good food at weddings and I remember it all. It has never once spoiled my enjoyment of my friend’s wedding or impacted upon how I think of them.

  • Sarah

    Oh, the excess FOOD! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the “people” who will apparently starve if you don’t give them OPTIONS. We say this to my Mom who tries to plan our family reuinion every year. She always runs out at the last minute to buy x amount of food we don’t need. We have to remind her: Mom, no Lastname has ever gone hungry.

    It’s possible that a few of my guests might not like some of the meal. I can’t predict names at this point. But between the cocktail hour appetizers, the meal, the cake, and the midnight buffet, plus copious calories worth of beer and wine, followed by breakfast the next day, none of them will go hungry.

    Some people feel their guests’ wedding experience should match the value of the gift the couple is receiving, as in, if people buy a nice gift, they expect an amazing dining and entertainment experience, you know, the “show”. To me, if you’re thinking that way you should take a good look at your guest list and start naming names.

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