How to Keep Food Safe at Your Outdoor Wedding

A table of cake and desert at a wedding reception under a balloon arch.

Outdoor weddings are romantic, but there’s nothing romantic about food poisoning. With an outdoor wedding comes a higher risk of food becoming spoiled and food-borne illnesses. It’s important to do your due diligence and research when it comes to food safety guidelines. So if you’re planning an outdoor wedding, it helps to know exactly what to be aware of, which is why we created this handy list for you. That way you and your guests will only leave your big day with amazing pictures and memories, and nothing else.

Choose a Caterer to Handle Your Food

A tray of food at a wedding reception.

If worrying about varying food temperatures for your meal is anxiety-inducing, you might want to consider hiring a professional. A professional caterer will more than likely know what needs to happen in order for foods to stay fresh and healthy all day/night long.

Ask Your Caterer the Right Questions

While your caterer will more than likely be nothing short of professional, it helps to vet and ask the right questions just so you know they’re equipped to handle food in the safest way possible. The best questions to ask would include asking when and where the food is being prepared, if the staff who are handling the food are certified in health and safety, and how the food is being transported to the event. You will also want to ask how the food is being kept before it’s served (for example, chicken is being kept in the refrigerator or cooler and not out on a table), and if there will be any allergens present in the food prepping.

Have Plenty of Refrigerators and Coolers Handy

Whether you’re using a professional or self-catering, refrigerators and coolers are your wedding fare’s best friends when it comes to keeping your food as safe as possible. If you don’t have any heating trays for hot foods, when in doubt, keep any unused food in a cooler or fridge rather than leaving it out. You’ll also want to chill food after preparing it as well as before transporting it anywhere and/or serving it to guests.

Use a Food Thermometer

A table of food at a wedding reception.

Another essential tool to use is a food thermometer. This is another great question, by the way, to ask your caterer: “Do you use a food thermometer?” The answer must always be yes. If you’re reheating food or cooking it, you definitely want to make sure you’re doing it according to health and safety standards. It’s also a great way to tell if your food is being stored properly. Use Google to figure out which temperatures are best for the specific foods on your menu.

Clean up as Soon as Possible

While you certainly don’t want to rush your guests through their dinner and dessert—let’s face it, we all like to pick at our cake and/or late night snacks as we take to the dance floor—it’s wise to clean up plates with leftover food as soon as possible. Depending on what the food is, a good rule of thumb is replacing a plate within one hour, two max, if it’s been left sitting out and sooner if there’s any raw/cooked fish or meat on it.

Ensure There Are Serving Utensils

Whether you’re self-catering and/or having a buffet service or hiring out, it’s imperative to have separate serving utensils for each dish to avoid spreading germs among guests. If you’ve hired a serving staff, ensure that they are using separate serving utensils if they’re plating the food themselves. Also, it’s important not to use the same utensils for raw food that were previously used on cooked foods, and vice versa.

There’s no reason why your beautiful outdoor space can’t also be a safe space for your guests when it comes to dining on your wedding menu. By remaining diligent and following the tips above, you and your guests can enjoy the yummy food without any tummy troubles.

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