Shut up and eat! The woes of planning a wedding menu

I’m shopping for caterers now. Feeding 300+ people is going to be expensive, but that’s not the worst part.

The worst parts are as follows:

  1. The “special” needs: As a host of this event, I see it as my duty to make sure the vegetarians and people who keep kosher will have something to eat and that the food won’t kill anyone with food allergies. That’s not what I’m complaining about. What I am complaining about are a few close relatives who are what I like to call “gluten free by choice.” Gluten will not kill them. But it will make them feel less trendy. There is also someone on the “paleo” diet in my immediate family. I figured having gluten-free cupcakes and lots of meat and veggies in the buffet would be enough, but I am being told it is not: Pasta salad is an abomination, and the meats may be prepared in an environment contaminated by gluten “toxins.” Too bad. Shut up and eat.
  2. The picky eaters: I have tons of relatives on my side who subsist on the diet of a fussy three-year-old. For one food to touch another food is considered unclean. Sauce of any kind is considered vile. The only acceptable vegetable is corn, but it must not be creamed — or defiled by proximity to another vegetable. I’m not sure how these people made it to adulthood without dying of malnutrition, but they’ve survived and will be at my wedding. Because I don’t want to subject the rest of my guests to prison food, I’ll have to add a special entree to the buffet for the picky eaters (for an extra $5 a head). I’m thinking of ordering in McDonald’s happy meals for them and telling them to shut up and eat.
  3. The fucking foodies: My fiance and I live in a city that has one of the best food scenes in the country, and most of our friendships are centered around trying new restaurants. My fiance also has a reputation as an excellent cook. So we’re getting a lot of, “Oh I can’t wait for your wedding! The food is going to be AMAZING, I bet! I’ve been to so many weddings with overcooked chicken, and I’m so glad you guys wouldn’t do that!” Uh, if you’re looking for a 5-star dining experience, a wedding is the WRONG PLACE. Especially this one. We have 300 people to feed here, and we are on a budget. By dinnertime at the reception, I will be approximately T-minus four hours away from the end of all this wedding garbage, and all the food will be seasoned with my sweet tears of relief. So shut up and eat — and then bitch on Yelp, for all I care.
  4. The fancy drinkers: We’re doing open bar. Our caterer doesn’t give us many beer options, and we can’t afford top shelf. My fiance’s family wants a very specific type of vodka to be served, and I’m sure the foodies won’t be thrilled at drinking Budweiser. But cheers, motherfuckers! Shut up and drink.

Food (plus bar) is the biggest outlay of most weddings. And it seems to be a big deal to guests.  With a wedding of our size, I know I can’t replicate the uniqueness and quality of the menu of a 30-person wedding — and I’m not going to bankrupt myself financially and emotionally trying to do so. There will be plenty of food at our wedding, and we hope most people enjoy it. And if they don’t, I hope they just shut up and eat.

Tell me: Did you like the food at your own wedding? And be honest: Did you ever have wedding food so bad that it tarnished the experience of seeing two people pledge their lives to one another?

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