City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Thoughts on wedding food

Suzanne Papadimitriou, Jennifer Hatcher Photographer

Suzanne Papadimitriou, Jennifer Hatcher Photographer

As my nuptials rapidly approach this weekend, most of my free time has been occupied by wedding stuff. While I’m looking forward to the event, I’m secretly much more excited about the week at the beach that will immediately follow.

Since I’ve had weddings on the brain, I thought it would be a good time to talk about wedding food.

I’ve heard, more than once, that “no one remembers the food at a wedding.” Usually, this advice comes from friends that are giving me pointers on planning the wedding, and what areas I should focus on. The thought being, “no one cares about the food, worry about something else.”

But I can’t agree with that. Maybe it is because of my pre-occupation with food and I’m in the minority, but I ALWAYS remember the food at a wedding. It is usually the thing that I remember most, and by which I’m judging the reception. Yes, friends of mine whose weddings I’ve attended that are reading this right now: I was totally judging your wedding food.

Awesome wedding food is such an integral part of the evening, in my mind. All of the details the brides get bogged down in – what the program looks like, what kinds of flowers are on the table, the color scheme for the decorations – that is all of the stuff that I either don’t pay attention to or don’t remember. But if you serve me lukewarm cafeteria quality chicken tenders? That memory will probably overshadow your drunken uncle grabbing the mic during “YMCA”.

To me the priorities should be, in this order:

1. Food

2. Booze

3. Music.

Everything else is just details.

After sampling multiple caterers, I saw a lot of nifty serving station and dining options that can be pulled out at a wedding. And we wanted to do something that people would remember, that they would look back and say, “Oh, I’ve never seen that at a wedding before.” I love a good shrimp and grits martini bar and all, but I’ve had those at 50% of the weddings that I’ve been to.

So, am I the only one that disagrees with the idea that no one remembers the food?

And what about you guys? What is the coolest wedding food spread/gimmick that you have seen? It is obviously too late for me to use your ideas, but I’d love to hear it anyways.

P.S. Just in case you are sick of hearing about weddings, prepare yourselves. Because if my grooms cake works out like I want it to, you’re going to be hearing about that next week!

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

Jon Watson, Popular Eats

Jon Watson, Popular Eats

33 comments Add your comment


May 18th, 2011
1:19 pm

I’ve always heard if there’s anything that anyone remember, it IS the food. It certainly was a priority for mine.

An Atlantan Eats

May 18th, 2011
1:22 pm

We are getting married next month and have planned our wedding around the food and drink! We limited our guests to make sure we can go all out on great food.

M. Johnson

May 18th, 2011
1:23 pm

My favorite wedding receptions featured:
- a cold seafood bar where everything I could think of was on ice.
- cupcakes in four yummy flavors
- a dessert bar where southern favorites had been prepared by friends of the couple.

Congrats to you!


May 18th, 2011
1:27 pm

My wife and I are foodies, and we wanted to make sure people remembered the food at our wedding. And (eight plus years later), they do.

We did not do anything completely out of the ordinary, but we asked the caterer to prepare some dishes that we normally prepared rather than the standard wedding fare. We also decided early on that we would not have the quintessential massive chunk of beef that never tastes as good as it looks while being carved. Best decision we ever made.


May 18th, 2011
1:30 pm

Food was very important to us. I know a lot of people do things like have all kinds of different food stations, but It was more important to us to have a more focused menu that reflected the kind of food that my wife & I like to eat. We were able to work with our caterer, who knew my wife through work events to create such a menu. She comes from a Cuban background, while I grew up in the south. We had a fusion sort of menu combining these elements. Black Beans, saffron rice, mojo marinated pork tenderloin, bacon mac & cheese, etc. It was fantastic.

As for the drink, I am a homebrewer, and we were able to bring in one of my buddies home draft systems and server 6 different types of beer on tap at the reception. The food & the beer really made the reception what it was.


May 18th, 2011
1:34 pm

I totally agree with your top 3. Though, I don’t really order them. I just believe that if you have any 2 out of 3 well covered, it’s OK to slip on the other 1.


May 18th, 2011
1:41 pm

We got married at a restaurant, so we were pretty tied to the food that they offered there – but we did make some special requests – like collard greens (we knew they made particularly good ones), which were a talked about item and fun for many non-southerners to try for the first time.

We also brought in 5 flavors of Sublime Doughnuts (and cupcakes) instead of a cake.

I agree that I do remember most wedding food – but I don’t care as much if its not super creative, its really just more important that whatever it is, it tastes great (which, sadly, most of it doesn’t).


May 18th, 2011
1:42 pm

I agree. I was more concerned with food (and booze equally) than other friends who recently married.


May 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

Jon, congrats on your upcoming wedding! I completely agree that food is the most memorable part of a wedding, however, believe anyone who tells you that the day fly’s by so fast that the details get blurred. I was married this past September and the only thing I had my hand in planning was the three things you mentioned above, Food, Booze, and Music. We had a great simple menu that all of our guests enjoyed, although I hardly remember it (but I think if it was bad I would remember it more). We went with a live band and a simple bar service featuring my hometown favorite, Sweetwater 420 (which got consumed quite quickly). The best part or the gimmick though was my grooms cake, which wasn’t really a cake at all but a mountain (and I mean MOUNTAIN) of fresh, hot Krispy Kreme’s. Since our reception was in downtown Roswell I figured it would be fun to showcase my most guilty food pleasure and take advantage of the “Hot Doughnuts” sign that was sure to be on. Recently, I went back through my wedding photos and came across the cake time ones and even though our actual wedding cake was wonderfully designed and tasted fantastic, I found more photos of guests with doughnuts than cake. Oh and just in case you were wondering, Sweetwater 420 and Krispy Kreme’s actually do pair quite well.

Gene Lee

May 18th, 2011
2:21 pm

I barely ate at my wedding. HOWEVER, I did chow down in New York the whole week building up to it :D

Typical Redneck

May 18th, 2011
2:21 pm

A friend had a great idea to substitute for the groom’s cake. A selection of delicious pies. Pecan, apple, boston creme, ets… I thought it was a great idea.

Elliot Garcia

May 18th, 2011
2:23 pm

you have the order ranked all wrong….

1. Photographer
2. Videographer
3. Open bar
4. Food

what do you want to remember 10 years from now? 20 years from now? surely it is not the spanikopita!!!

Joe Mama

May 18th, 2011
2:34 pm

I got married down near the Gulf Coast. Best part of the reception was the guy shucking fresh Gulf Oysters for the guests


May 18th, 2011
2:36 pm

I very much remember the weddings and receptions with great food. One was at Eclipse di Luna and the other was outdoors off the GA coast (low country boil).
Who wants to go to a reception with boring, bad food? Not this girl!


May 18th, 2011
2:51 pm

Videographer???? Hahahaha.. Who has ever gone back and watched wedding video? Here’s the real order:

1. Open Bar w/good liquor
2. Photographer

It’s true that people don’t remember wedding food but they definitely remember cash bars or even worse…..dry weddings. If the food is great that is certainly a bonus but nobody expects great food at a wedding. Unless it’s a food writers wedding.


May 18th, 2011
3:12 pm

Marrying not only each other at the event, but our heritage with the reception, my wife and I did a Southern/Indian spread. One good-sport caterer took to our challenge of serving an additional selection of Indian classics with some of their more traditional new-South items. People’s plates combined everything from fried green tomatoes to shrimp vindaloo, and from a variety of tastes perspective, it rocked. People still regularly bring it up. A slew of beers and cocktails accompanied with a Beatles/Stones band providing the tunes.

Jon – I’m with you on priorities!


May 18th, 2011
3:13 pm

A lot of our guests, and us, had just graduated from an international MBA program, so we had a lot of well-traveled people. We decided to do it buffet style, and represent our favorite foods — sushi, cheeses, charcuterie, Argentinean steak, made-to-order crepe station, Spanish tapas, and other things. The chef was very accommodating and enjoyed working with a foodie as opposed to doing the same old thing. That way, there was something for everyone but nothing was generic. No blah carved meats station.

Since 99% were traveling to Charleston, we had a southern-themed rehearsal dinner for everyone, so we went with locally-influenced foods that night (BBQ, pimento cheese, Brunswick stew, oysters).


May 18th, 2011
3:27 pm

LOL, all my photographer did was TAKE pictures of the food at my wedding! Looking back now that’s all the memories I have. Luckily the food wasn’t too bad.


May 18th, 2011
3:28 pm

People still talk about our Southern BBQ buffet catered by the Rib Ranch. Who has BBQ at a wedding? They LOVED it!


May 18th, 2011
3:59 pm

Roasted a whole hog for our wedding and had southern fare..My MIL & SIL did most of the side dishes..We also had an open bar..Kids were able to swim in the pool..

@johnnymack..You’re sooo right on that..We set up video camera’s around the pool and never watched them after the wedding..


May 18th, 2011
4:42 pm

“While I’m looking forward to the event, I’m secretly much more excited about the week at the beach that will immediately follow.”

~ There’s a saying that the wedding is for the bride and the honeymoon is for the groom!


May 18th, 2011
7:23 pm

Think BOOZE….good BOOZE…f the food.


May 18th, 2011
11:35 pm

Great food was very important for my wedding reception last year. As a former caterer, I wanted the food to be memorable. Everyone was raving how great the food was that night. We did save money at the reception by having a consumption bar as opposed to an open bar. I also baked and decorated my own wedding cakes. Noone including me would have been happy if I had served anything but my own cakes. People definitely remember the food, the drink, and the fun that they had at our reception.


May 19th, 2011
5:43 am

i only go for the food lol (jk…kinda) really i think most people remember the food.


May 19th, 2011
7:43 am

A girl who used to work as my Personal Assistant had her wedding reception at Sotto Sotto. They rented the whole place out, and it was fabulous. They had champagne and oysters at first and then everyone sat down for a four course meal. Being a restaurant owner you would think I would always remember the food at each wedding, I however almost never do. This one stood out; fantastic food and service! I would highly recomend Sotto Sotto to anyone looking to make an impression.

Carla Roqs

May 19th, 2011
8:33 am

congrats jon on your upcoming nuptials and the honeymoon afterwards. like you, i think the food is very important. it is unfortunate but i do judge people’s weddings by their food, but it really is just a matter of where the couple’s priorities lie. some people would rather have over the top attire than excellent food. i recently went to a wedding where a ton of money was spent on the venue, food and booze. it was lovely and quaint and very special. the attire? not so much–nice, but the food? to die for. there were doctors, lawyers and politicians- including the min whip- i bet they were more impressed with the overall wedding itself and the food than anything else. and of course the freely flowing alcohol.


May 19th, 2011
8:35 am

The only thing I care about in a wedding is the food, alcohol, and music. Those are the things I remember from every wedding I’ve been to. I would need a great photographer though, just because I am in to photography and would want the moments captured to look awesome.


May 19th, 2011
9:37 am

We had our reception at a restaurant with great food and wine; it didn’t cost any more than “banquet chicken” and was so much more delicious and memorable. We offered four wines and eight beers, and people were taking home the beverage menus so they could buy them again. Why spend a ton of money on food you wouldn’t go out for on a regular Saturday?


May 19th, 2011
5:24 pm

I totally agree! Wedding food is so important. Before my wedding, everyone told me that I wouldn’t have time to eat, but that simply wasn’t an option. I ALWAYS make time to eat, and I especially wasn’t going to miss out on the wedding menu I so laboriously chose! Congrats, and bon appetit!


May 19th, 2011
9:59 pm

Cheesecake wedding cake from Classic Cheesecakes & Cakes – 4 tiers, 4 flavors, each one so, so yummy. The crew there also did an amazing replica cake of my husband’s college/young adult International Scout II, complete with primer black icing & exact details like the license plate & stickers. He was totally surprised and the combo chocolate & Bailey’s marbled poundcakes was delicious.


May 20th, 2011
10:48 am

I was married 3 weeks ago and I had more comments about the food than anything else. I think the thing to remember is that OK typical food won’t be remembered but bad or awesome food will!!! We were married in Puerto Rico and totally embraced everything Puerto Rican, food and music wise…I think the best part was having our friends taste things that they would have never ordered off a menu and decide that they love it!!! That really makes it memorable.

Congrats on the big day…one piece of advice, it is NEVER too late to delegate. Take a few minutes tonight and make a list of the things that you still need to have done and even if you have a planner enlist your friends help on all of the remaining details. Even if you ask them last minute it is better than you trying to do all by yourself. Have Fun!!!!

Local Girl

May 20th, 2011
11:28 am

I think if the food is just okay, people won’t remember it, but if it is really good or really bad, they will. The food at our wedding was fine…we had a local caterer who did a great job, but people talk more about our personal ceremony and the drinking and dancing that went on afterwards. I’m happy about this, as those were the aspects that were most important to us, and that we put our time and effort into. We did not care much about the food, but we spent a lot of time planning the service and picking dance music (and it showed!).

However, when I think of wedding food, a couple of my friends weddings pop to mind immediately…one in Charleston, that had an amazing spread of fresh seafood, and one on a resort island in NC, where I had one of the best steaks of my life and appetizers we are still talking about three years later. I have no doubt that both of those weddings were quite expensive though.

More than anything, I look for a couple’s personalities to shine through at a wedding. Though I love food, a good party can make up for almost anything!

Suzanne Papadimitriou

May 23rd, 2011
11:28 am

As the bride in the photo I do have to clarify that we did not serve McDonalds to our guests at our reception. :) Parsley’s Catering did a pheonomenal job ( I remmber every bite and it was fantastic.

My sister in law Linda happened to walk in with a big bag of McDonald’s fries right before the wedding. I didnt have time to eat much that morning and as you can see by my smile those were the tastiest fries I have ever had.