Truth: I don't even remember exactly what we served for dinner at our wedding reception. I recall everybody raving about the food, but I don't recall eating that night. Looking back, it's all a happy blur.
Not many wedding guests specifically remember what they ate at anybody's wedding, a few months later. And that's okay. As long as the food is good, there's plenty of it, and everybody is satisfied, then you've served a very successful wedding dinner. Despite that fact, many brides and grooms truly agonize over the menu decisions for their wedding reception.
Ironically, the more time brides and grooms spend worrying about their wedding menu, the more errors they tend to make. Here are three of the most common menu mistakes brides and grooms make.
1. Offering too many options
Most of the time, the bride and groom will need to provide headcounts and dinners orders to the caterer or wedding venue ahead of time. When you select your menu, the price per person will be more expensive if you're offering more options, because the caterer has to prepare a larger variety of meals, necessitating more time and manpower. If the budget is unlimited, that's not a problem. But for most couples, it's more than enough to offer three options — one should be beef or pork, another should be a chicken or seafood dish, and something vegetarian (vegan if necessary) — in order to satisfy all of your guests.
See More: Creative Wedding Menu Displays
2. Trying to satisfy every possible dietary restriction
Nowadays, people are allergic to food with gluten, dairy, nuts, certain fruits, and a variety of other things. There is no way brides and grooms can plan their wedding menus to cater to each individual guest's dietary needs and preferences. In fact, trying to do that will make you a little crazy, and likely blow your budget. Reality check: People with allergies and dietary issues know what they can, and cannot, eat. It's your wedding. Choose the food that most appeals to you, and offer that to your guests on your big day.
Just be sure to offer a vegetarian option because that's a common preference.
3. Assuming they'll save money with a buffet or food stations
If you're getting married at a hotel, a buffet may be less expensive than serving seated/plated meals because the hotel will re-purpose the extra food the next day. But if you've hired a caterer to come to your venue, chances are that offering a buffet, or the more trendy food stations, will cost you a lot more money than serving one dinner per person to your guests, pre-ordered. This is because the caterers have to bring a LOT more food for a buffet because it's almost impossible to guess what your guests will eat, and they have to have enough of everything for everyone.
And no, you don't get to keep the leftovers. They bring more than they're obligated to serve to make sure they don't run out, and what they don't use leaves with them.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.