cucumber and raw fish make for a healthy bite!
photo: Seastar Restaurant | Flickr

wedding series: healthy food choices for a wedding reception

It’s the middle of June and we are in full swing with the wedding season! It feels like every Sunday night is filled with Facebook photos of the weekend’s nuptials, and suddenly a lot of female friends of mine have new profile names. There should be a filtering option or something available on Facebook that allows you to easily remember who’s who!

wedding foods, appetizers to serve at a wedding

can someone PLEASE serve this at their wedding?! ceviche tacos, how unique!
photo: Colin Cowie Weddings

Anyway, we’ve talked about workouts for your dress type, how to detox leading up to the wedding, a fitness-related bachelorette party, and more. But what to do when the main event has actually arrived?!

A wedding is filled with dining options, and most couples place importance on serving amazing food for their guests. “Amazing food” typically ends up being decadent, calorie-laden items. If you’ve worked your ass off to fit into that smaller-sized dress or suit and don’t want to break the bank and sabotage all your hard work, there are some healthier decisions you can make while enjoying the celebration. I’m going to break it down into the meal courses so you can make choices with ease!

Cocktail Hour

The best hour of the party, in my opinion! There are tons of passed hors d’oeuvres and little bites, and they most often are the boldest, most delicious options of the night. After a long day spent getting ready and then sitting through the beautiful (but often long) ceremony, your stomach is growling and mama needs a cocktail!

wedding reception food, what are good food choices at weddings, healthy wedding food, wedding food

cucumber and raw fish make for a healthy bite!
photo: Seastar Restaurant | Flickr

  • Cocktail hour DON’TS: setting up shop at the cheese platter; anything with the word “fritter”; sliders or any miniature burgers; french fries
  • Cocktail hour DO’S: raw bar, shrimp cocktail, ceviche, crudite, sushi


Here is where you have the standard options: the main course is usually beef vs. fish with a sprinkling of a vegetarian offer. I understand that it’s a party and you should eat what you want, but think of these things while you order:

wedding food, healthy foods for a wedding reception

beware of the heavy sauce!
photo: Southern Foods at Home | Flickr

  • The menu may indicate that something is served with a cream sauce. To keep yourself in check, try to avoid anything that sounds heavy, such as “peppercorn cream sauce”.
  • Say no to the bread basket! If you must, hold yourself to one roll and some butter. But keep it at one.
  • Fill up on the salad course. Salads these days are usually pretty unique, with poached pears, champagne vinaigrettes, and gourmet cheeses. If it has greens, fill ‘er up! Having a salad before your main course often satiates you and helps you to avoid overeating later.


Here we go–wedding cake. I personally don’t find cake to be very tasty, as it’s usually dry and overly sweet. Some, however, live for it. Here’s some guidance for the sweet part of the evening:

wedding cake, foods for a wedding reception, healthy foods for wedding reception

if there was a cake that looked like this, i’d eat it STAT!
photo: The Cake Bar

  • You don’t have to eat the cake that’s in front of you. Most venues place a slice at every seat, but there’s no one forcing you to eat something you’re not thrilled about. And trust me, there’s always someone who wants more than one slice and would be happy to take it off your hands!
  • Focus on fresh fruits, fondue if available, or the often-provided candy bar (within reason). These are lighter than the cakes and pastries!

These are just some guidelines for surviving the wedding celebration. I obviously do like to enjoy myself at such occasions, but I won’t be devouring every greasy food in sight. It’s always so great to wake up from a wedding with a happy belly!

Calorie counts aside, what’s your favorite thing to eat at a wedding?

photo credit: The Cake Bar Southern Foods at Home | Flickr Seastar Restaurant | Flickr Colin Cowie Weddings