Is It Tacky To Take Leftovers Home from a Catered Event?

leftovers from catered event
Although I can be quite a picky eater, one thing I love about going to my family dinners or large family functions is taking home leftovers.

My parents have quite a large amount of Tupperware and fill them up with leftovers from a party. Like many cultures, including my own, having an abundance of food and eating with the family is a big deal. At each party, all the food is laid out buffet style, with several different kinds of main dishes, salads, sides and desserts. Everyone is expected to have almost two full servings of food. The remaining food almost never goes to waste. If the gathering is just the immediate family, my sister and I will each take home several plastic containers (often empty yogurt, margarine and sour cream containers) of food. If the gathering is larger, my parents will bust out the large Ziploc freezer bags, fill them with food and give them to them guests before they leave. I guess you could say they give out food loot bags or doggy bags.

Although my parents could just easily keep the food for themselves, they would rather re-distribute them to the guests. It’s way too much food to eat for just the two of them and I’m sure they’d rather not have to eat that ham for the next five days. If you ask me, it’s a win-win situation. They get rid of the excess food and I don’t have to cook or grocery shop for the next few days. I save some time and money and I get have another helping of a certain dish I enjoyed eating so much at the party.

While taking home leftovers from family events is quite common, taking home leftovers from catered events such as weddings is not. Some people may even consider it tacky. I certainly wouldn’t. Most of the weddings I have been to, have served way more food than I can eat, plus the seafood buffet, plus the dessert buffet.

I know that because a wedding a very special occasion, most of the times, especially if it is in a banquet hall, there is an abundance of food. The couple wants the guests to enjoy themselves and be well fed. There have only been a few weddings I’ve attended that have had actually great tasting food. Most of the times, the meat was dry and the pasta tasted like something out of my high school cafeteria.

Bad tasting food aside, some banquet halls and catering businesses may have some policies about preventing guests from taking food home if it is served buffet style, due to food safety concerns or liability concerns. However, I wouldn’t see a problem with guests taking home some desserts if take out containers were provided. I had recently attended a baptism reception in a restaurant where the grandparents provided takeout containers for us to take home some desserts.

I have only worked at a banquet hall serving food to guests at a wedding one time in my life. We weren’t allowed to take food home, however we were allowed to eat the leftovers after it had been served to the guests. If the food was not served buffet style and the leftovers were put in the fridge soon after, I don’t see why the employees, guests or even the bride and groom can’t bring the food home. After all, people bring home food from restaurants all the time. Sure it may create more work for the employees, having to put the food into containers, but it prevents perfectly edible food from being thrown into the garbage!

I know this is not true for all banquet halls or catering companies, but I often hear about how some of them throw out all the uneaten food after the wedding. That’s SO MUCH food going to waste! Imagine how many hungry people it could feed. I often wonder why they don’t make arrangements to either deliver the food or have someone pick up the food to take it to a local shelter. Surely, the added cost if there was any wouldn’t be too much. I’m sure the people there would appreciate the extra free food. I know I would.

Would you ever take leftover food home from a wedding or shower? Why or why not?

(In all honesty, I’d rather take home the food than the sometimes useless gift you get for attending the wedding).

24 thoughts on “Is It Tacky To Take Leftovers Home from a Catered Event?

  1. We are probably going to have a TON of leftovers at our wedding, and I’m hoping some people will take some of the food. We will definitely be taking some home, but I don’t want the rest just to go in the trash!

    • I think the only way people would take home leftovers from the wedding is if you offered them to people. Maybe guests would feel shy or embarrassed asking to take home food.

  2. As Michelle mentioned, we had a TON of leftover food from our wedding. We gave it all to my inlaws who were hosting a lot of family in town and they loved it! I don’t think there’s any reason to waste perfectly good food!

    • Yes, it really help helps if the host encourages people to take leftovers. Providing containers is also a great idea, because no one ever brings Tupperware containers to weddings or showers. 🙂

    • I know! Every time I go to a wedding and see how much food is on the dessert and seafood tables, I always think to myself that is A LOT of food. There’s no way the guests can eat all of this.

  3. Kathy says:

    When my son got married, they had a 1/2 hog roasted with all the normal side dishes. It was a very small wedding, so there was a ton of food left over. My son and DIL asked people to take home food and quite a few did, but they still had BBQ pork in their freezer for weeks. I didn’t take any food because we had a lengthy drive to return home and no space in the car for a cooler. What I really wanted to take was an extra slice of cake but there wasn’t much left of that! 🙁

    • That’s great that they asked people to take home some of the food. Considering how big some wedding cakes are, I’m surprised more couples don’t ask guests to take some of it home. Nobody wants to eat cake for weeks.

  4. Like a few other have said, I take leftovers if they are offered. I kept going on last year about how great the catered food was at our company picnic. As we got ready to leave, the moral person who put on the picnic asked if I wanted some of the leftovers. Of course I did, and we had a wonderful beef brisket dinner that night.

    • Mmmmm! That does sound wonderful.. The thing is when you go to a shower or wedding, it takes up a lot of your time and if you get home late, the last thing you want to do is make food that same day or the following day, so having leftovers from the party takes care of that.

  5. Always in for free food. Took some home from the last wedding I attended (one of the early days of an Indian wedding, so all homemade and delicious. Didn’t take any from the actual big reception day – it was catered at the venue, and also I left early)

  6. We always get the leftovers from a family event like Easter or Christmas, and often too many of them. If I didn’t eat the peas when they were fresh and hot, what makes someone think I like them as left overs.

    But probably not at a wedding or shower. However, if I paid the bill, I would expect to be able to bring home the leftovers.

  7. My family always prepares doggy bags of food for guests, too. I love taking leftovers and not having to worry about cooking for the next few days. I used to take leftovers from meetings at my last job. No one cared, as it would have went to waste. If they were offered I would totally take them.

    • When I used to work at the office, I always took home the leftover sandwiches and salads from client meetings. It was awesome! I’m surprised nobody else took them, because they were really good! 🙂

  8. I worked at a wedding catering facility and after the staff ate, we had to throw everything out. It was Such a Waste! I hated that.
    This weekend I was at a bachelorette party and we had Subway catering for lunch. When we were done, people wanted to throw out the leftover sandwiches, I was so surprised at how many people wanted to do that. I said we should keep them and low and behold, when we got back from the club at night, we ate every single sandwich and they didn’t cost us any money (duh!).

  9. lisa says:

    I work for a catering service and we are not able to let guests bring food home after the event for liability issues. It a is a frustrating rule, but it is put in place in order to prevent law suits against the company for food poisoning if a guest takes food home, does not properly store it, eats it, and gets sick.

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