Post # 1
I need advice please! My wedding is just 3.5 months away, and I’ve just been thrown yet another curve ball. Background: My fiancé is from Australia. We are incredibly lucky that for our wedding 50-60 Australians will be flying to NYC to join in our celebration. It is truly a blessing. This, of course, includes my fiancé’s parents, who have offered to pay for their guests for the wedding, as well as the rehearsal dinner which will be for all of their Australian guests.
We are now in the midst of planning the menu. We are getting married at a beautiful catering hall which is known for their food – the quality and quantity. I recently sent the menu to my fiancé’s family for them to advise me of their selections – and explained that I would try to accommodate them, my family and our choices. They gave their selections back, no problem. However, they also informed my fiancé that they (including his grandmothers) are uncomfortable with the amount of food being served at the wedding, particularly the cocktail hour. Yes, there’s too much food! Now I understand that this comes from a cultural difference: Australian weddings don’t feature obscene cocktail hours like American weddings. And we all know that Americans go overboard on food – but to me serving a large amount of food at a wedding is normal, routine and expected. I don’t want to ignore their feelings, but I don’t know how I could change them without serving significantly less food – which I really just don’t want to do. And, apparently the idea of donating the leftover food afterwards (which I’d obviously love to do) is only a “second best” option. It seems as though they really want less food and are uncomfortable with being so “extravagant” in front of their guests.
How would you handle this situation? I should add in, that my fiancé is not in disagreement with them that there’s an overkill of food – although he probably would never have made the request to serve less food if it wasn’t for them
Post # 3
I’m a little confused as to the situation. Are they complaining that there are too many different types of food, like too many entrees, sides, types of appetizers, etc.? Or are they saying that the portions are too large?
I agree that, for me, culturally, when you have a big party for a celebration, you certainly don’t want people to go away hungry; it’s party of being a good host(ess). We also tend to overindulge a little when we’re celebrating (see: all the people who get drunk at weddings).
What part of the country are you getting married in? That also could play a part. I’m getting married in the South. There WILL be a lot of food. If there wasn’t, people would think it was weird.
Post # 4
We’re getting married in NJ and there too A LOT of food is expected by our local guests. The problem is, that is not the case for the 50 or so Australian guests who are making a huge effort to be there. Instead, it appears as though they will perceive so much food as unnecessarily extravagent and gluttonous. It’s certainly a clash of cultures — but one that doesn’t on its face appear that way since it’s just food (as opposed to traditions etc). I don’t want my guests to be disappointed, but I also don’t want my future family to feel uncomfortable, or even embarrassed.
Post # 5
We’re getting married in NJ and there too A LOT of food is expected by our local guests. The problem is, that is not the case for the 50 or so Australian guests who are making a huge effort to be there. Instead, it appears as though they will perceive so much food as unnecessarily extravagent and gluttonous. It’s certainly a clash of cultures — but one that doesn’t on its face appear that way since it’s just food (as opposed to traditions etc). I don’t want my guests to be disappointed, but I also don’t want my future family to feel uncomfortable, or even embarrassed. Oh and they are complaining about the sheer amount of food — i.e. the amount of food available (choices and quantity) during the cocktail hour.
Post # 6
i think there’s not much that you can do besides getting your FI to explain that this is the way that weddings tend to be in the states.
unless there actually is too much food? what are you serving?
maybe incorporate some australian dishes so that you can embrace, rather than clash with, your FI’s culture?
Post # 7
I know it’s important to be culturally sensitive, but keep in mind that you are having the shin-dig in America, not Austraila, so for your Australian guests it will be a bit of a "when in Rome…" situation. If you were to have the reception in Australia you wouldn’t insist on having a huge extravagant menu just because you’re American, right? You would more than likely follow most Australian customs, incorporating the few American traditions most important to you.
My fiancè’s Italian. We’re having our civil ceremony in America, and the reception will have a traditional American wedding menu, probably similar to what you’re having. An American wedding meal is substantially smaller than a traditional Italian wedding feast, but I don’t expect his family or guests to be offended. I expect them to think, "wow, good food, but nobody eats like us Italians!".
We’re having the the marriage affirmed in a mass in Italy about a month later, and will have the full-on 10+ course Italian wedding lunch after. We’re looking at up to FIVE hours of eating! My mom’s already a little intimidated, and I’m sure she thinks this is on the extravagant side, but she knows this is how it’s done here, and she completely accepts that. My family will put up a good fight and try to tackle all that food!
I’d gently explain to your FI’s family (or have him explain, I think that would even be better) that this is standard for an American wedding, and it’s what you’d like. I also really like the option to donate the extra food afterwards- being in NYC/NJ, I’m sure there are a lot of organizations that would be so happy with the donation.
Post # 8
I’m not sure if your planning to serve the hor’s d’oeuvres passed or on a buffet, but if they are passed then it will not appear to be as much food because each guest will only see the few trays that are offered to them. If it is on a buffet then it will all be visible at once and would appear to be more food. Maybe you could do passed to conceal the volume of food?
Post # 9
I agree with snmcdowell about passed food during the cocktail hour. Similarly a plated meal rather than a buffet might look less ostentatious to them. As long as they aren’t seeing all the food at once it’s not so bad. It’s possible that just the description sounds indulgent. I know when I read about appetizers with shaved this and glazed that on a you know what, it can sound a little overwhelming, but when you get it it’s just a tasty little fish on a cracker or something. In an effort to accomodate maybe you could trim on station, or one dessert choice for example. No one will miss it as long as what is there is scrumptious and you could save some money in the meantime.
Post # 10
A close friend of mine grew up in Australia, and from what she says Australians are much less comfortable with "showing off" than North Americans are. I agree with carrieitly<span class=”postby”> that you should ask your fiance explain that this is just how things are done in the U.S. and that serving a lot of food is seen as generous rather than boastful. (You can show them some of the over-the-top spreads in the wedding magazines as proof!)
Post # 11
You may be able to guess by my name that I’m Australian 😉
We’re not a different species here, I think the difference is that the whole super-duper wedding thing hasn’t caught on here yet (as much, anyway).
Generally most people don’t go all out crazy on their wedding menus, I think an entree, main and dessert (usually the cake) is the norm, with passed hors d’ouevres beforehand if there’s a big gap between the ceremony and dinnertime.
Worst case, the Aussie contingent thinks "eh, crazy Americans". Most of us are accustomed to thinking it anyway ;P
Post # 12
hmmmm….i would simply explain to his immediate family, you 2 together that is, that Its a cultural thing. That in your culture it is better to err on the side of ‘too much’ rather than what may be perceived as ‘too little’.
they will think its odd….but you probably think that them thinking that its too much food is odd, no?
Post # 13
It’s interesting to me that they told your FI, not you. And I would say that, given they haven’t said anything to you, you can sort of ignore it. It seems to me that if they just said it to your FI, its sort of a comment. And he can just say, "Yeah, that’s they way things are here! Americans eat a lot at weddings!" I mean, they didn’t come to you and ask you to serve less food, right? So go on ahead, do what you planned, and realize that people from another culture are going to compare it to what they are used to, and that’s fine. I wouldn’t actually worry about it. You know, everybody is actually talking about every decision you are making behind your back (Did you hear that she wants a blue cake? Did you hear that she’s wearing cowboy boots/flip flops/Chucks with her dress? Did you hear the GMs are wearing brown suits? Isn’t that odd?) Just ignore them and do what you want! Who cares what they think?!