Experts reveal 7 things you should never serve at a wedding

ShutterstockWedding menus can be hard to get right.
  • Insider spoke to chefs and wedding planners about some dishes they think people should avoid serving at a wedding.
  • You might want to avoid serving any garlic-heavy dish, as some may not want to deal with bad breath.
  • If you have a large guest list, you may want to avoid white fish or any other particularly lean seafood items.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories .

Food usually plays a pretty major role at a wedding, so deciding what to serve and what to skip can be tricky.

To get some professional input, Insider spoke to chefs and wedding planners about dishes they’d most like to ban from wedding menus for good.

Here are seven popular eats that you may want to cross off of your list.


Salads with “delicate greens” like mesclun or baby lettuces don’t last long once dressing comes into play.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty ImagesDelicate salads can wilt.

If you’re serving salad at your reception, you’ll probably have pre-dressed greens offered up to your guests.

However, as wedding dinner services tend to take a while, focus on hearty greens that hold up over time and won’t wilt once the dressing is applied.

“If you want a salad at your wedding, steer clear of ‘spring greens’ or ‘baby lettuces.’ [Stay away from] delicate greens that won’t hold dressing for 10 or 15 minutes without getting soggy,” Chef Steve Fortunato, the CEO and founder of Los Angeles-based caterers Hospitality Collaborative, told Insider. “Choose a more robust leaf instead, like bibb lettuces or romaine hearts.”


“Family-style” dishes sound like a fun choice, until you wind up with overcrowded tables.

ShutterstockCommunal spreads are very popular in today’s dining scene, and the trend definitely extends to wedding receptions.

Although the “sharing is caring” vibe of family-style seems like an appropriate fit for an occasion like a wedding, the crowding and chaos that ensues is rarely worth the trouble.

“We’ve seen hundreds of weddings that demanded family-style, spent thousands on their floral arrangements, and then watched guests move the centerpieces on the floor so they could navigate all the platters of food easier,” Fortunato said.

“If you want to have that communal ‘family-style’ experience, a small tweak [like] plating the main courses individually and having a few family-style side dishes makes all the difference in the world,” he added.


Garlic is tasty but it might cause some friction between couples on the dance floor.

Richard Drew/APGarlic can be the culprit of bad breath.

Although garlic adds bold and vibrant flavour to dishes, it’s no secret that it can have a pungent effect on your breath.

For that reason, Los Angeles-based private chef Ed Brik recommends avoiding the ingredient when planning your wedding menu.

“[I once] catered a wedding, and the father of the bride kept saying that he loved garlic and definitely wanted to include garlic in the chicken for the main course,” he told Insider. “I suggested that garlic should not be added to the chicken because garlic can cause bad breath, and it can leave a bad aftertaste. That’s the last thing people want at a wedding.”


Messy foods like burgers, pasta, and ribs can cause wardrobe-related wedding disasters.

iStockIt’s an unfortunate truth that many of the tastiest dishes out there also count among the messiest.

If you’re a fan of BBQ, loaded burgers, triple-decker sandwiches, or saucy pastas, you’re perhaps familiar with the struggle of keeping your outfit stain-free as you dig in.

Because of this, wedding planner Whitney Cox of Vegas Weddings in Las Vegas said you might not want to have messy bites on your reception menu.

“The worst reception foods are ones that are messy or difficult to eat politely, such as burgers, ribs, or spaghetti. Basically, any foods you would avoid on a first date, you should avoid for your wedding,” Cox told Insider.

“Keep in mind that you and your guests will be in your nicest formal wear, and foods that could cause spills, clothing stains, or messy hands can be uncomfortable to eat. Unless you are going for a casual, backyard wedding feel, choose foods that aren’t likely to be messy,” she added.


When catering for a large group, pizza’s a challenging item to include on your menu.

ShutterstockPizza doesn’t always fit the ambiance.

The large volume of food required for a wedding reception and the practical challenges of keeping pizza pies hot and fresh make it pizza a tricky pick for a reception dish.

“Keeping the pies warm, staying on top of hungry guest requests, and taking note of dietary restrictions make it difficult and unnecessarily inconvenient for a wedding day,” said Vito Gnazzo, executive chef of Il Gattopardo in New York City.


Sometimes classic wedding entree choices, like chicken cordon bleu, should go ahead and retire.

ShutterstockChicken cordon bleu is a heavy entree.

Chicken cordon bleu, also known as a breaded chicken breast stuffed with ham and cheese, has a popular reputation as a crowd-pleasing dish for catered meals, at least, among those guests who consume meat.

However, it’s also a heavy entree, and it’s easy for guests to walk away from the dinner table feeling weighed down and sluggish after dining on chicken cordon bleu.

Chef Hugo Bolanos of Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel Air, who handles wedding menus for the restaurant, would prefer to see chicken cordon bleu disappear for good.

“For me, a big wedding no-no is picking chicken cordon bleu as the main course. It’s a culinary murder. A pounded chicken wrapped around a piece of ham stuffed with cheese? I see this dish and I get scared,” Bolanos told Insider.


If you have a sizable guest list, consider avoiding white fish or any other particularly lean seafood items.

PixabayCooking fish is awful for a large wedding.

Once your wedding guest list starts to rise above 100 or so people, it’s important to focus on dishes that can be easily replicated and can withstand long services.

For these reasons, white fish and “lean” fishes don’t work well for a larger-format wedding reception.

“Any lean/white fish is awful for a large format wedding. There is almost no room for error when you cook a lean/white fish, so I typically avoid them when cooking large-format meals. Small weddings, like 50 people and under, are a different demographic,” said Brooke Stockwell, executive chef of K’Syrah Catering & Events in Santa Ynez Valley, California.

“Also, anything super-detailed or intricate is always a recipe for disaster … when designing a catering menu, you have to think about everything that can go wrong so that you are prepared to make the best dish possible,” she told Insider.

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