When I reached out to our friends over at Bon Appétit with the simple question of, "What food/drinks/ingredients etc. do you guys want to see more of at weddings—and what you want to see kicked to the curb forever?" I got a lot of responses that began with, "I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THIS." Same, fellow foodies, same.
We all know that the food at a wedding can make or break the celebration. Here at Brides, we spend a lot of time thinking about what goes into a great wedding menu—we're constantly shouting across desks about some crazy inventive app we had last weekend, spend a considerable amount of time having bartenders come to our office for signature cocktail tastings, and fall into many Instagram/Pinterest holes looking at photos of the most beautiful plates from the wedding world 'round (hard life, I know). However, we may spend even more time talking about food we'd like to have officially banned from the wedding circuit for good—and it seems our Bon App counterparts feel the same.
So, when asked the fateful question above, said Bon Appétit editors reached some similar conclusions: family style is where it's at, signature cocktails are too much work (though I must disagree—I love a good craft libation), and, as senior editor Meryl Rothstein so eloquently put it, forget about tradition and just have fun.
Read on to see what eight Bon Appétit editors are dying to see on their plates during the 2018 wedding season, and what they hope all you brides- and grooms-to-be ditch from here on out.
Gimme more: Actually healthy options that aren't a lame salad. Crudite with tasty dips, fresh vegetables that haven't been cooked to death, grains, etc.!
Kick to the curb: No flavorless mashed potatoes in martini glasses, and spinach and goat cheese salads with a too-sweet vinaigrette can definitely go away.
Gimme more: Barbecue. It's the perfect food, and perfect food for a crowd. I think people (outside of Texas) consider it too casual for a wedding, and then I'm stuck with that stringy steak again. Please, people, consider barbecue! Trays of brisket, cornbread, hammy greens, and biscuits, beer in tubs of ice. Serve it buffet style (from two directions to be productive) and you won't have to deal with awkward waiters, lukewarm food, or unsatisfied picky eaters.
Kick to the curb: Complicated custom cocktail that holds up the bar line. Keep it under 3 ingredients and let's keep this line flowing. Also disintegrating awful paper straws. I'm not saying I want plastic straws that ruin the environment, but no straws at all! We're adults here, we can drink from glasses.
Gimme more: Family-style dinner service, please! It's just so much more friendly and convivial to have all of the food on the table rather than some mediocre multi-course plated nightmare. It allows guests the flexibility to circulate and socialize during the meal without fear of missing the food or having their plate taken away, and promotes passing and sharing among guests who don't know each other.
Kick to the curb: Enough with the corny "signature cocktails" business already. This is a wedding, not some annoying speakeasy, and I could care less about the muddled basil and tequila number some wannabe mixologist decided "really represents the spirit of" the bride or groom. Hire a competent bartender who can make classic cocktails for those who know what they like to drink—and steer the deer-in-the-headlights orderers in the right direction—and call it a day.
Gimme more: I would love to see more family style meals, because food just seems to taste better that way.
Kick to the curb: I hope to never again see a bowl of gummy risotto offered as a sad vegetarian meal.
Gimme more: Thoughtfully chosen drinks. A keg of really special saison beer or a really delicious pét-nat wine (with a little card explaining what they are! Open bar means you have the freedom to try something risk-free, right?). And definitely no signature cocktails. Please.
Kick to the curb: The morning after brunch!!! My best friends had their wedding in Philadelphia this summer, where Federal Donuts are huge. As we were all leaving the reception, they had little bags of donuts for all of us to take for the next morning. It was kind of perfect and also I took 4 bags of mini donuts with no shame.
Gimme more: I'm all about the interesting passed appetizers. My dream wedding will have multiple courses of passed appetizers that aren't just shrimp cocktail and mini sliders. Weddings where the food is personalized but unpretentious are the best: chicken and biscuits for my Southern friends, or the dumplings that taste like the Chinese takeout one couple ate every week of their relationship. It doesn't have to be fussy—it just has to taste good and not be generic. Drink-wise, why not do a draft cocktail? No wedding bartender wants to shake martinis to order, and vodka-tonics are boring. Something with high-quality ingredients that is meant to be big-batched would be a nice change of pace.
Kick to the curb: Let's ban overcooked steak as the option for all menus, please. Better yet, let's never have steak at weddings again. It's very difficult to be consistent when cooking at that scale. Honestly, little bites or buffet-style are my personal preference for weddings because you aren't forced to sit and eat something you don't like, and you can dance and drink all night if you'd rather not eat lukewarm mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, and overcooked chicken or steak.
Gimme more: Raw bars during cocktail hour!
Kick to the curb: Donut walls. I love donuts. I'm cool with walls (uh, except a certain one). But I don't need them together.
Gimme more: Family style offerings. People should be able to dive into big platters of food that they pass around to each other, so it feels a bit more like a dinner party. There's nothing festive about "the chicken or the fish."
Kick to the curb: I'd love to never see fondant again on cakes. I'd much prefer a cream cheese frosting—in other words, something delicious, as opposed to tasteless fondant. Plus, bakers can do such nice, rustic presentations with regular frosting these days, there's no need to sacrifice flavor just to have a hyper-traditional (and in my opinion, too formal) looking cake.
I'd love to see people worry less about what they feel like they're "supposed" to do and instead have a bit more fun. I have a friend who's wedding planning right now, and he's considering having Russ & Daughters cater the wedding—basically doing a bagel and lox spread at his nighttime wedding. That feels so much more fun and memorable to me than the "chicken or the fish" you find at most weddings. And frankly, because it's hard to cook chicken and fish well for 200 people, it's going to be tastier.