(Closed) Why don't people like potluck receptions?

posted 9 years ago in Food
Post # 77
1018 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2012

@crescentloon23:  This is going to probably sound super weird.  But to me, unless I know someone, I am not eating anything they prepared.  You will probably have quite a few people who don’t know each other or their food preparation habits.  I know, it’s my little weird thing!

Post # 78
330 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I’ve been to a pot luck wedding and it was terrible:

– people had to rush and cook something after the ceremony

– food was cold

– lots of people privately expressed food safety concerns

– tons of the food was gross (not everyone is a good cook)

– there wasn’t enough. The last tables ate rice. Cold. Plain. Rice.

– everyone was worried about there being enough and took small portions and was hungry

– without caterers, everyone had to scrape off their dishes in the kitchen in their dress clothes

I would only consider it if you’re having a 20 person wedding and you have church ladies pro’s running the show.

Post # 79
3073 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2000

@crescentloon23:  I think this is perfectly fine, and I’d gladly contribute a dish if I was in town. That would be tough if I don’t live in town, though. You will have to appoint people to set out food , monitor the tables, and clean up. And–make sure there is adequate main course.

But see, I assume that I’d know you pretty well, perhaps you’d be a niece or next door neighbor. Only these kinds of close freinds/relatives should be invited to a small affair like this.
I’d rather attend this kind of wedding than the kind where I’ve got to get dressed up and plaster a smile on my face for hours at a time, and know that the plate I’m eatingg from probably cost someone $28.35 and the entire shindig is putting them in hock OR keeping them from paying off students loans OR keeping them from making a downpayment on a house.

I like sensible, midwestern weddings of yore where people did not lay out $25,000 in a show.

I will say one thing: Have your party during the day, do NOT make me sit on a Saturday night without alcoohol. Thank you! haha.


Post # 80
7439 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

No secret, I am a bit of an Etiquette Snob… so

As abbie017: said…

I don’t mind potlucks for informal occasions, but I don’t think a wedding is an informal occasion. As the host of the event, you (or your parents, FILS, or whoever) are responsible for providing food and beverage (alcoholic or not) to satisfy your guests. It’s impolite to put that burden in your guests.


View original reply
Ms Bookworm:  said…

I think family gatherings (like holiday celebrations) that are potluck style are totally different from a wedding potluck. Holidays are not celebrating any one person in particular, it is the whole family getting together to spend time with one another. Weddings, on the other hand, are celebrating two specific people, and the reception is technically the “thank you” to the guests for coming to support the couple during their wedding ceremony. When you make them provide their own food, that’s not really a thank you at all. Frankly, it’s not really your guests’ problem that you have other things you need to spend your money on. I guess I don’t really understand that attitude. “No thanks!” to feeding your guests? If you can’t afford to feed your guests, that doesn’t mean the burden to provide food should get moved from you to them… If the couple is choosing to have a wedding, they are responsible for taking care of their guests, even if that’s not a full meal but instead heavy appetizers, or cake and punch.

A Potluck for a Wedding just isn’t appropriate.  You are technically “inconveniencing” your Guests by asking them to DO SOMETHING / CONTRIBUTE to YOUR PARTY that you are supposed to be Hosting.

Plain and simple as others said… really improper (tacky).

The thing is, if you are looking to keep to a limited Budget there are other ways to do so… and easy to do, and even nicer overall.

I think the modern idea of Receptions (with a Sit-Down Meal) is HOW all this nonsense / pressures on Couples got started.

IT IS NOT NECESSARY… a Reception, purely provides an “opportunity” when the Bride & Groom can thank their Guests for coming.  It could be something as simple as Iced Tea or Lemonade served in the garden outside the Church / Venue… or a Cocktail Hour with lite eats… or just Cake and “something” Sparkling to have a Toast…

BEFORE the Bride & Groom slip off for their Honeymoon

This used to be the norm for many many Brides prior to the 1960s… a Morning or Early Afternoon Wedding… followed by a quick round of “courtesy Hellos & Thank Yous” before they drove off to make the afternoon travel connections for their Honeymoon.

It really can be a classy way to do things… and worthwhile exploring as a viable inexpensive alternative for Couples who find themselves unable to host a full-on BIG Celebratory Meal.

Hope this helps,

PS… For a girl who seems concerned about costs… you should be aware also that in the long run you might come out farther ahead financially IF you do something more classical, as Guests will be more likely to give you a Gift vs just bring a Dish for the Meal.  NOT THAT GIFTS ARE IMPORTANT… but personally I think most B&Gs would prefer $ 25 in cash, vs a pot of cold stew that only feeds 8.


Post # 81
3073 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2000

@This Time Round:  This is very sensible, too. I’d push for cake and tea reception rather than a full meal if money is the problem.

If the bride wants a longer time to wear her dress, just go out to dinner wtih paretns and whoever else wants to go, and wear your wedding finery.

Post # 82
8 posts

I think for a self-catered reception to work it has to be part of how the family and group of friends usually do things. You can’t just invite people who used to catered receptions to come to one where they provide the food.

When I was younger (I’m a MOB and I’m 50, just so you know which generation I’m coming from!) my parents had a lot of friends who went to the same church in a small town. We went to several weddings at that church and the reception was always the same. It was basically all done by the middle-aged and older ladies of the church, and they worked like a well-oiled machine. Smile

Mrs. F would make her pimiento cheese sandwiches, Mrs. S made chicken salad, Mrs P made dainty cucumber sandwiches, etc. The older ladies who weren’t up to cooking anymore brought fancy bowls of mints and mixed nuts. The bride had a cake made by a local bakery. As soon as the ceremony was over, the church ladies hustled downstairs and got things set up for the reception. Then they stayed in the kitchen the entire time…making coffee, pouring punch, and replenishing the sandwich trays.

They did this because this was How Weddings Are Done in that small church. Mrs. F gladly helped with Mrs. S’s daughter’s wedding because she knew when her 3 girls got married Mrs. S would be there pitching in to help. This was 20-30 years ago, and almost all these ladies did not have jobs outside their homes, so they had TIME to put into something like this. They’d done it often enough to have PRACTICE and know they could pull it off. And because every wedding was basically the same, nobody expected anything grander.


Post # 83
8 posts

My daughter is getting married in December, and we are doing a self-catered reception. But we are NOT doing a potluck. In fact, we specifically wanted to do things in such a way that nobody attending the wedding had to work as part of the reception…we want our friends and family to be able to celebrate.  (We’re doing this for budgetary reasons. We did consider just doing a cake and punch reception, but then the pieces started coming together to do more, so we’re going with it.)

So, what we’re doing is ordering the food from various sources and hiring people to do the set-up and serving. We have grocery stores in our area who do lovely party trays…shrimp, meatballs, sandwiches, veggies and dip, fruits, etc. My daughter’s Future Mother-In-Law and I are making a couple of other special treats (cookies and things that we can make ahead and keep nicely in the freezer) so that there will be a special family touch.

We will set up all the decorations the day before the wedding. We have arranged to have all the food delivered in time for the helpers to assemble things. They are dependable people who have done things like this before and we will pay them well for their time and provide them with detailed instructions.

This is requiring a TON of coordination and planning on my part before the wedding. I love doing things like this, and I have lots of friends who will give me good advice and help. But on the day of the wedding our family, the groom’s family, and all our friends plan to relax and enjoy the reception. That’s the plan, anyway! Laughing

Post # 84
51 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

you and your SO’s wishes for your wedding are important. i think it is also important to note how large you expect your guestlist to be. of your guestlist are most of these people fine with this type of reception? if yes then go on with your potluck reception. if not then you should reconsider this. i’m not saying you can’t have the wedding of your dreams (if that includes having a potluck) but i think if majority of the guests are unhappy with bringing food, it will not  make this the wedding of your dreams. this is because i foresee people being unhappy, giving unwelcomed comments, or not even attending your wedding. then what is really important? the potluck or having a wedding everyone can enjoy? but you and your SO know your guests. if they are all about it and it’s just a few immediate family members, then go on with your original plan.

hope it all works out!

Post # 86
9 posts
  • Wedding: November 2011

The only time I would think a potluck was nearing the “okay” for a wedding is if it was a small (I’m talking about a dozen people) affair, or for a vow renewal or if it was someone’s 2nd or 3rd and so on marriage and everyone invited was tight-knit and local.

Imagine… If you have a potluck, you’re gonna have a LEAST 5 people bring sloppy deviled eggs (blech) and there will be casserole dish lids and tinfoil strewn everywhere… mismatched spoons or even worse, not having enough utensils to serve the food for each dish. You don’t know what the people put into their dishes, so you’d likely be held responsible if something goes wrong or if someone needs medical attention because of the allergic reaction to the secret ingredient your second cousin uses in her meatloaf.

Post # 87
2 posts
  • Wedding: August 2011

Unless its close family or friends only and about 20 total, I would say no for all the reasons the posters and your family have said. I am an Event plannner and my husband and I  have been to 10 weddings in the last year, in state and out; usually we are running around, driving, or flying etc. trying not to be late and make sure we have everything, to have to think about the logistics of bringing a dish to share would make me stressed. Plus in this day and age of food allergies and safety, who will make sure the food is the safe temp so no gets sick, that there are enough nut free, gluten free, vegetarian options along with making sure there is enough food (are the church ladies setting up during your ceremony?), and setting up and restocking as necessary: extra plates, utensils for eating and serving, and cleanup? why not do this for the rehearsal dinner since those are usually smaller and consist of family and the wedding party. On  the day of your wedding, there will be lots of little things that come up without having you, your family or your wedding party and guests worrying about the potluck and the clean up (you will have more than your share o potlucks to come if you have not already).

Post # 88
7439 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

TO – AdageCat:  You and I are of the same generation (I am also over 50)… and I know well of what you speak… I think this was a pretty “universally” accepted way of doing things back in the day pretty much right across North America if one came a small town or more rural environment.


As times changed, so has this custom (I have to say I am a tad sad to see it go).

What The Church Ladies once did as volunteers, doesn’t exist any longer… there are still Church Groups that do catering, but there is now a charge for such services, because well… communities just aren’t as “tight” as they once were… and as you pointed out, that was then when many women were SAHMs and not out in the workforce enmasse.

There was some “charm” to these smaller Weddings, which sadly lost now for the most part.

BUT as you say, one cannot really recapture that charm by doing a pot-luck and transferring what was once done by the volunteers with LOVE onto the Guests that are invited.  That is just wrong… and really logistically impossible (in so many ways… all which have been covered by various other Bees in this topic)

We agree the OPs best bet is to figure out what she can afford to do within a tight budget and go from there.


Post # 89
363 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

A story about potlucks.

Our office frequently had these for various occasions. One person would only eat food certain co-workers made and especially not if you had cats because there might be cat hairs in your dish. I had a cat who never was permitted to jump on counters. I was making baked macaroni and cheese for office potluck. I locked my cat in my bedroom while I was preparing just to be safe. In the thirty minutes it took me to get the casserole into the ocean, my dear cat clawed a four inch spot of carpet down to the floor! It wasn’t her fault.

The next day at work, I went to the break room mid afternoon to find co-worker and her buddy with their noses about two inches from my casserole. I walked in just on time to hear “there’s one” and asked me if my cat was black because they found a tiny black hair on top of casserole. Maybe I should have worn goggles because it probably was an eyelash.

From that day on I brought pre-packaged chips or rolls or pickles. I worked in an office of thirty people so it was costly, my cat ripped up my carpet, and I was hurt by ignorance of co-workers.

For what’s it’s worth…..

Post # 90
759 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Why not just make it an appetizer reception and have cake and punch?

Post # 91
2623 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

I think a potluck reception can only work for an extremely small wedding, if you know the cooks, and more importantly if the family and friends are on board. Clearly they are not on board with the idea and they don’t think it’s fun. I think you should just let the potluck idea go. I also think it’s not a great impression or thing to do for your out of town guest.

The fact is you end with a mishmosh of dishes, some people who aren’t great cooks bring things that are gross. Things that are good are probably going to go fast. You don’t have any good quality control.

Since your wedding is laid back, you don’t need to have fancy kinds of food. I think the two best options are go with the cold cuts, and make two kinds of side dishes to go with it.

Another option is to instead asking your family members who are good cooks to get together and make big batches of something simple like penne pasta, salads, and perhaps two different types of sauces. Get a few pans for each table and serve it family style. That way it’s cost effective, you have quality control, and you are sure there is enough food for everyone.

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