Why a Sit Down Dinner Is a Waste of Money

I've been to enough weddings to know one thing: I don't want to sit down and eat a three-course meal for five hours. I just don't.
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I've been to enough weddings to know one thing: I don't want to sit down and eat a three-course meal for five hours. I just don't.

Call me crazy, but I can't help but think it's an egregious error to spend a fortune on food that you can't guarantee every guest will like. Case in point: A few weeks ago, at a very lovely wedding, I had to choose between salmon and veal. I hate them both. My other option? A plate of steamed vegetables. No thanks -- I'm off the Kate Moss diet these days. (Actually, I've never really been on it, but you get my drift.)

Anyway, I digress. After hoarding loads of sliders, sushi rolls and chicken satay sticks, I was stuffed to the gills with four courses to go. Four courses?! Are you kidding me?!?

The Bridal Association of America cites that the average catering bill in America tops out at about $12,790 -- including food, drinks and cake cutting. The price of just hors d'ourves? Around $30-$70 per guest. Maybe that's not including an open bar, but I do know one thing for sure: Your wedding guests are not interested in stuffing their faces at a ridiculous expense to you (and likely, your folks).

Every time I've attended a wedding, I've been ridiculously full (see sliders above) and then have been expected to work the dance floor 'til after midnight. When I'm done eating, do you know what I usually wanna do? Sit down and relax. For a while. (Or at least the recommended half hour before going swimming.) What I don't want is to sit down intermittently for a salad, palate cleanser, main course and cake before I head out and grab midnight munchies being offered en route to my car (or hotel room).

Bottom line: Don't waste your money. Give guests what they want instead -- a yummy plethora of both light and hearty snacks served progressively throughout the night. Not only will this save you a bundle on catering, but it'll also please your guests and open up your budget for an open bar, an extra honeymoon treat (overnight snorkeling catamaran, anyone?) or even that designer gown you've been lusting after since before you were engaged.

The progressive cocktail party is genius in concept: Start with simple, refreshing bites like a ramekin filled with a microgreens salad or a fresh bite of ceviche. Later in the night -- while the guests are boozing and dancing -- pass around more hearty dishes, like a heaping spoonful of lobster mac 'n cheese or mini pulled pork sandwiches. Your guests will remain on their feet, dance to the incredible band (or DJ) you shelled out for and enjoy the food -- without a dollar going to waste.

Although salmon or veal can pique the tastebuds of many finicky eaters, I had to pass. And you should pass, too. The progressive snacks, that is.

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