It's not easy eating in front of strangers!
I recently attended a business “gala” event that showcased some of the best trends in event planning. Ice centerpieces with the company logo adorned each table. Strings of miniature ice cups offered a modern backdrop against the speakers. As they melted, the drip, drip, dripping sparkled against the colorful mood lighting. And then there was the food. Yum! No “beef-chicken-or-fish” here. We dined on cornish hen with whipped potatoes and roasted veggies. For the soup and salad course, the ciabatta roll and salad were served with a bit of soup in an espresso cup, grouped on a single plate for each guest.
I've seen the rise of miniature everything in event planning. A few months ago, Bride Magazine even featured mini spaghetti and meatballs in a shot glass. I knew what to do; tear the bread, eat the soup with a spoon, just as I would normally. Unfortunately, nobody else knew what to do.
Half the folks uncomfortably fiddled with their utensils, eyes darting across the table to see what everyone else doing. Others decided to do what seemed most reasonable. Some began cutting into the roll with a fork and knife like it was a steak; others dipped the bread in the creamy soup thinking it was a sauce, of sorts. I tried my best to model what each food item was: bread is for tearing and soup is to be eaten with a spoon. I even whispered to my colleague who was staring at me stumped, “It's a ciabatta roll…you know, bread…tear off a piece and eat it.” Given what everyone else was doing, she didn't know whether to believe me.
It was an uncomfortable and embarrassing scene for all of us. We were among strangers. We were at a business function. We didn't want to look like buffoons at the dinner table.
An easy fix would have been a simple dinner menu at each place setting or on each table.
Your wedding is similar to such business functions. Lots of strangers will be meeting and mingling with each other, and they want to look and feel their best around others.
If you are serving anything out of the ordinary or experimental, have a guide post for your guests. Tell them that the stuff in the tiny porcelain cup is soup. They'll know what to do. If you're serving something like complex-looking finger foods, you might say something like ‘best eaten with your fingers', or, ‘our favorite finger foods'.
Give your guests the most information possible to make them comfortable, and allow them to enjoy the experience.