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Why Does Wedding Food Suck?

Originally posted on

We’ve all been there. Waiting, we have a few drinks, some cashews or mints. Then we wait and wait and wait. Finally, the wedding party shows up. Dinner was scheduled for six, but the bride and groom, giddy after months of over planning and bickering about details, want another toast. It’s 7:30, we’re ravaged by hunger, finally dinner arrives.  

Iceburg lettuce showing its age, dressed in an orangey “French” dressing, the entrée–rubbery chicken with rice and a gloppy, pasty sauce.  

Once again, we’ve suffered through wedding food.  

In her new book, “One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding,” Rebecca Mead exposes the truth: 

Mead made her way from Walt Disney World’s Wedding Pavilion (where brides regularly spend $2,500 extra to rent the Cinderella Coach) to the ersatz wedding town of Hebron, Mich., and a crowded bridal dress factory in Xiamen, China. She also attended trade shows, hung out with newly minted bridal consultants and trailed a celebrity wedding planner, a “multifaith” minister and a wedding dress magnate — all to illustrate the ways in which the industry preys upon both a bride’s hopes and her insecurities by aggressively marketing products that promise to make her day “perfect.”  The result is a concise but searing skewering of the marriage marketplace and the “Bridezilla” culture that has sprung up around it, written in the spirit of the great muck-raking journalists.

Salon, May 21, 2007 

Mead discovered what we all know, America is maniacal about weddings.  

Sentimentality, over-the–top consumerism, gullible parents, spoiled children, with all the excess surrounding weddings, why does the food suck? Wouldn’t you think for $27,875 (average cost last year for a wedding) you could get some decent grub? 

Proof’s in the pudding, or should we say the wedding cake? I asked real-life people about real-life wedding food experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly. 

I asked the Vulgarians. 

These women meet on a semi-regular (monthly) basis for lunch. They’re traveled, with educated palates, sophisticated tastes and they’ve been to many, many weddings.  

So the question, “what was the best and worst weddings food you’d ever had?” 

First glazed looks of profound boredom as they searched their memories for wedding food. Faces began to light up.

Ellen remembered fried apple fritters as the only thing served at one wedding. Sammy said it was bad kosher food at a cousin’s wedding: black-eyed pea fritters and a chicken breast so dry it took three glasses of water to get it down. 

Gail remembered a wedding she attended at a toney Hilton in Denver.  A new chef created his version of nouvelle cuisine, lots of weird colors, big plates/little portions, odd looking mushrooms. The wedding crowd was gourmand, but they couldn’t figure out what the food was.  It was inedible and expensive. 

In Soulless Food Why Is What’s Served at Weddings So Wretched? writes: 

Given that more planning goes into the average small wedding than went into the invasion of Baghdad, the mystery remains: Why is such an essential element of hospitality kissed off so uniformly?

Slate Magazine, June 12, 2007 

Schrambling offers three reasons: quantity trumps quality, pleasing everyone and offering too many choices, choosing receptions based on location, “often the trendiest venue is saddled with the lamest caterer.” 

Schrambling sees another reason wedding food is lame: 

“my cynical side sees more insidious reasons for food that is inevitably for worse rather than for better. Wedding couples are different from the average party planners, thinking primarily of themselves, and choosing menus for meals they will not eat. They’re far too distracted as stars of the show, and know no one will say anything except how wonderful everything is. Why should they care that the sole amandine goes untouched?”

Slate Magazine, June 12, 2007 

The Vulgarians agreed that the best wedding food was served at Marcia’s son’s wedding. 

I asked her son, Joe Dayan, new executive director of the Indianapolis City Market, why the food was so good.

 “My brother is a caterer, I have years of experience and planned everything” he said. “We had lots of hors d’oeuvres; we passed plates of fruit, cheese and vegetables before the entrée was served.” Dayan said. “We wanted everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves..” 

Local food professionals agree that the quality of food is the responsibility of the caterer, but they have tips for couples planning a wedding. 

Select a good caterer. The quality of the food depends upon the expertise and commitment of the caterer. If you’ve been to a party or function and were impressed by the food, use that caterer. 

If location trumps caterer, be realistic. If your heart is set on having your reception in an historic landmark or museum, recognize limitations. Does the location have on-site cooking facilities? If your caterer has to transport the food, sit-down dinners are hard to pull off; better to go with a buffet. 

Stay on task, stay on schedule. Months of stress, coupled with exhaustion make even level-headed brides disoriented. If you’ve told your caterer dinner at six and you’re wandering around toasting guests at 7:00, the food suffers. Asparagus waits for no one. 

Pick what you like, trust your own tastes. Don’t be afraid to be original. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Consider lighter, more contemporary food. It’s easier to prepare and guests appreciate it. 

Here’s the best tip, though.  

Select Just Cause Catering as your caterer. “Eat Well. Do Good.” is their motto. Just Cause Catering provides fresh, creative food crafted by experienced catering professionals.

You can expect a high-quality product for a reasonable price and all profits go to support Second Helpings, a food-rescue, job-training not for profit organization.

Weddings, after all are the celebration of marriage, a sacrament of the special bond between two separate souls. What better way to show your love and commitment to your guests than to hire a caterer whose purpose is to give back to our community? 

Information About Just Cause Catering 

Contact Marcella McMasters

Executive Catering Manager

The Eugene & Marilyn Glick Center

1121 Southeastern Avenue, Indianapolis In 46202

317-632-2664 x29 

Marcella will arrange a tasting session for you. 

========================================================================= Susan Susan Gillie is a professional cook and free-lance food writer. She is a graduate of Second Helpings Culinary Training. Feel free to leave comments on this blog, or you can reach her at

Written by Susan Gillie

July 1, 2007 at 2:25 am

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