Top Five Worst Wedding Hors D'Oeuvres

Ah, June. 'Tis the season for weddings, which means feckless DJs, lugubrious toasts, and gratis (but questionable) food and drink. Although these days most brides and grooms have gone creative with their cocktail hour comestibles (bleu cheese-stuffed figs wrapped in bacon! miniature lamb burgers! caprese skewers!), some couples still seem to set themselves up for an Appetizer Fail. If you're getting married this summer, do your beloved and your guests a favor by not serving these top five worst wedding hors d'oeuvres.

5. "Ranch" Dip and "Crudités": Sticking limp celery sticks and shriveled carrots into a single communal pot of over-salted white goo not only poses a real health hazard (cause you know Uncle Bob is double-dipper) but also prevents guests from mingling. Skip the rabbit food and go for individual mini hummus wraps with eggplant and peppers.

4. Soup: A hundred people standing together slurping liquid from bowls is a refugee camp, not a wedding reception. Plus, between holding a spoon, a bowl, and maybe a napkin, there's no hand left for your drink. Gazpacho, clam chowder, and lobster bisque are indeed lovely first courses; save them, however, for seated dinners.

3. Raw Oysters: Because when they're good, they're good, but when they're bad, they're food poisoning. If you must have shellfish, save yourself the expense and the anxiety by serving shrimp, which are less likely to transmit food-borne illnesses. If raw prawns with cocktail sauce is too retro and/or boring, try shrimp cooked tempura style with honey-miso glaze.

2. Mini Puff Pastries Stuffed With...Something: The flaky exterior of these mysterious little nuggets often belies a gray-green, amorphously awful filling. Guests should not be left guessing as to what's inside these seemingly innocent but oh-so-bland hors d'oeuvres. Bite-size quiches (try feta & tomato or bacon & caramelized onion) offer similarly buttery delicious crusts without the confusion.

1. Giant Mounds of Cubed Cheese: They're like huge, scary dairy volcanoes. Rifling through mountains of American, Cheddar and (if you're lucky) Monterey Jack and then attempting to consume these scarily uniform cheese blocks with splintery toothpicks is not a good time. Although cheese is a universal favorite, let your guests cut slices themselves and offer slightly less pedestrian varieties like camembert, stilton and smoked gouda.

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