Wedding Wednesdays Q&A: How Much Wedding Food Is Too Much Food?

Wedding Wednesdays Q&A by Jamie Chang Destination Wedding Planner of Mango Muse Events

Q: I’m a foodie and so is my fiancé.  So, the thing we care about most for our wedding is the food.  We want to make sure it’s awesome and that no one leaves hungry.  Because we’ve been to weddings where the food is awful and we have to stop at McDonald’s on the way home.  That is not going to happen at our wedding!  So, we’re planning on having tons of food options the entire evening.  But, my mother is questioning our plans.  She says it’s too much food.  So, I’m wondering, how much food is too much food?  And is there such a thing as too much wedding food?

Oh, this is a great question!  And something I’ve been working on with a client of mine as well, so it’s great timing.

If you’re a foodie, which you are (as am I), there is probably so no such thing as too much food to you.  There is such a thing as too much quantity of something, but not too many options.  You love the options, the different flavors, textures and the fun aspect of food at every corner.  Am I right?!

But, that’s not really the question you’re asking.

You’re not asking if having lots of options is too much, because the answer there for you would be no.  The question you’re really asking is at what point is it too much food because it will go to waste?  At what point does the value of having lots of options no longer there?  Or in other words, at what point are you throwing away money?

This is the key point to think about when you have lots of anything.  There is always a chance that it won’t get eaten, drunk, used, listened to, taken, etc…  And if it’s not, then having the option doesn’t matter because no one is using it.

So, how much is too much?

Squash served on a wedding buffet at a San Francisco wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photographers)

First of all, while you two are foodies, you need to understand that not everyone else is.  Thus, having tons of food options is not going to matter to everyone (like your mom for example).  But, it matters to you and the experience you want to create.  So, I still think you need to have fun food options, it’s just a matter of how much.  You want enough that it creates the food experience you want, but not so much that you’re throwing money away.

So, the way you need to think about it is as if you were a guest.  By the way, this same exercise also works if you’re worried you don’t have enough wedding food.

I want you to imagine you’re in your guest’s shoes, walk through the day you have planned and see how it feels.  Keep in mind not everyone will eat everything.  But, if a guest were to eat something at every timeframe that you have food, how would that feel?  Are they completely stuffed and can’t move?  Is it just ridiculous?  Or does it feel ok?  Or perhaps it’s not enough?

None of your wedding guests will want to be constantly eating for 6 hours straight.  But, they will want a meal of some sort and they will want something sweet.  Which is why you’ll see most wedding meals at the very least consist of an entree and dessert.

But, there is no hard and fast rule on wedding food.  How much is too much (or how much is too little) depends on the situation.  So, without details, here are 6 rules of thumb to keep in mind as you’re thinking about the wedding food you have planned.

 6 Wedding Food Rules of Thumb

#1 – Your main meal will dictate your other food decisions.  If you’re having a 5-course meal, then your guests don’t need too much more after that because they’ll be stuffed.  If you’re having a particularly ethnic meal that not everyone will love, having different options before and after would be appreciated.  Keep your main meal in mind as you’re thinking about your other wedding food plans.

Panchetta wrapped sea bass entree for an elegant San Francisco Wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Sabine Scherer Photography)

#2 – The pace of the food matters.  If there is a 2-hour window between dinner and snacks, then you’re guests will likely be ready to eat.  But, if there is a 30-minute window between dinner and snacks, they’re likely not going to be hungry again.  Make sure you pace how the food comes out and give people time to rest up and do something else before eating again.  Or if you’re going to have food available constantly then make sure it’s out for an extended period of time so people can come to it when they’re ready.

Sliders served as a late night snack for a Carmel destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Sabine Scherer Photography)

#3 – No matter what, appetizers are always a hit.  Wedding guests always start hungry.  Never fail.  So appetizers are always a good idea if you want to make sure people are well fed.  It not only gives them something to do but tides their stomachs over until the main meal.

Hamachi cones as a appetizer for a Hawaii destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Christie Pham Photography)

#4 – Your quantity will decrease over time.  As your wedding day progresses, people will eat less and less.  So, the amount of late night bites or snacks you have shouldn’t account for everyone.  There will be guests who will leave before it comes out.  And there will be guests who never take one at all.  Don’t have one for everyone otherwise it’ll go to waste.

Aqua and peach colored cupcakes for a wedding dessert table for a Hawaii destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: What a Day! Photography)

#5 – There is such a thing as too many options.  Variety is great especially when you’re catering to different tastes.  But, there is such a thing as too many options.  Don’t have a dessert buffet with 20 different things.  Don’t offer 10 different appetizers. It’s better to have a curated number of items so you can better estimate quantities and not end up either being wasteful with too much or not having enough of something.

Charcuterie station as a wedding appetizer for a San Francisco destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photographers)

#6 – Know your guests.  Lastly, everyone has different tastes, so mix it up and provide different options all while keeping your guests in mind.  Don’t serve escargot and pigeon if they aren’t adventurous.  If you have a lot of vegetarians, don’t go nuts on the meat.  You don’t have to play it safe but, play to the crowd.  Offer different flavors, textures, and proteins.  It will not only keep it interesting but if you’re having lots of food it will break it up too.

Roasted veggies on a wedding buffet for a San Francisco destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Jerry Yoon Photographers)

These 6 wedding food rules will help you figure out your meal plan and what may be too much (or too little) for your particular wedding.  So, that you can be just like the 3 bears and figure out what is juuuust right.

And if you’re still unsure, run it by someone else.  Ask someone who eats like you and someone who doesn’t for a comparison.  See what they think.  If you want to keep it a surprise for them at the wedding, don’t give them all the details just the broad strokes and see if they think it’s too much food.  Or ask your caterer and see what they suggest.

In the end though, go with your gut.  Not your tummy per se but what you think is right.  Worried about the budget?  Err on the side of less food.  If money isn’t so much of an issue in this instance then go for it.  No one will complain about there not being enough food (which is what you wanted anyway).

Then sit back and enjoy the food festivities!

Wedding guests toasting the bride and groom during dinner at a Calistoga destination wedding by Destination wedding planner, Mango Muse Events

(Photo credit: Kate Webber)

Got a nagging wedding planning worry?  Ask us in a comment below and we’ll answer your question in an upcoming blog post.

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