Part of throwing a great wedding reception is serving a great meal. Whether you choose to hire caterers, bring in fare from a local restaurant, or provide the food yourself, your guests will thank you for filling them up before they dance the night away. But there are a few foods that, even if they’re your personal favorite, aren’t a great fit for a wedding reception. If you want to have a happy and healthy reception, here are some wedding reception foods to avoid.

Raw Food

So you and your partner have a passion for good sushi. Your first date was at a sushi restaurant; you go out for sushi every Valentine’s Day; you can’t imagine your wedding reception without sushi. But for the sake of your guests’ digestion, please save the sushi for your honeymoon. Sushi’s just too hard to keep fresh over the multiple hours of your reception. Even if it starts out fine, as the party progresses and guests come back for snacks, you’re asking for trouble. The same goes for oysters, steak tar tare, or anything else that isn’t completely cooked. These are all the most important reception foods to avoid.

Vegetarian Wedding FoodCarbohydrate Bombs

We’ve been at far too many wedding receptions where the main dish is some form of pasta. Sure, it’s delicious and filling, but after loading up on carbs, your guests aren’t likely to be hitting the dance floor. Stick to lighter fare with some snacks later on, unless you plan on including a post-dinner nap in the festivities.

Messy Foods

Here’s another reason to forgo the spaghetti marinara: you’ve got a bride in a white dress and guys in bright white shirts. Those red-dripped noodles will whip around as the guests eat, spreading fine droplets of tomato sauce everywhere. The same goes for foods that fall apart while you’re eating them, like tacos and burritos.

Exotic Foods

Unless you know for sure that all of your guests dig a good curry, resist the urge to go too exotic for the main meal. If Grandpa won’t eat anything he can’t pronounce, throw him a bone. If you can’t do without the escargot or at least provide a few “safe” alternatives for the less adventurous eaters on your guest list. Weird items are flat our reception foods to avoid.

All Meat, All the Time

Odds are you’re going to have a few vegetarians and vegans on your guest list. Show you care about all of your guests by providing a vegetarian option that’s not just salad and mashed potatoes. Sure, that college buddy who eats nothing but raw organic quinoa should probably bring his own meal, but you can make some reasonable accommodations for dietary restrictions. If nothing else, it could spark some good ideas for appetizers at your reception.

Serving Nothing: Worse Than Serving Reception Foods to Avoid

Even if your reception isn’t at meal time, you do want your guests to stick around and enjoy the party, right? If a full meal isn’t in the cards, at least have plenty of snacks to keep the party fueled. Otherwise you’ll find people packing up to go just so they can hit McDonald’s on the way home.

A wedding reception is a party, and like any good party, your guests will have a better time if they can chow down on great food. No one ever said, “it was a great party until the sushi gave us all botulism,” or “it was a great party, but I could never get that marinara stain off my shirt.” As long as you avoid foods that are dangerous, objectionable, or messy, you’re sure to have a great reception.