Is it ever OK to not serve food at a wedding hosted around dinnertime? One "Real Housewives of Dallas" star learned the hard way that hungry guests and opinionated fans feel very strongly about mealtimes.
LeeAnne Locken, 52, married Rich Emberlin in an extravagant wedding that aired on Bravo in November (the couple tied the knot in April 2019). While the ceremony took place in the early afternoon (around 2 p.m.), the reception didn't start until 7 p.m. — meaning guests had several hours to change their outfit, take a long nap ... and build up a hearty appetite.
But when Locken's guests and co-stars arrived at the reception venue, they quickly realized something was missing from the over-the-top festivities: food.
Bravo's cameras showed a few trays of cheese and charcuterie, as well as fruit. There was also a custom-made tower of Sprinkles cupcakes.
But there was no sit-down dinner or even a buffet.
When the episode aired, viewers looked on as Locken's fellow housewives buzzed about the measly spread which was in stark contrast to the lavish setting and entertainment — Locken's reception even had acrobatic dancers. The bride herself wore an emerald-and-diamond tiara and, according to Bravo, a $25,000 gown. (Locken said that her wedding cost $4.5 million, but borrowed jewels accounted for $3 million of that total.)
Locken's co-stars weren't the only people who were puzzled by the lack of food at the extravagant event.
After the episode, aptly titled "My Big Fat Dallas Wedding," many viewers took to social media to slam Locken's wedding etiquette ... or lack thereof.
But the tasty scandal didn't just die down after the season ended.
During the Season 4 reunion show that aired on Wednesday, host Andy Cohen reignited the foodie flames by asking Locken about the whole catering situation as many fans of the show had written in to discuss the issue.
"I had a caterer. There was a paid caterer there," Locken said, defending herself.
But her costars weren't impressed.
"Really, what was food? What was there for food?" jewelry designer Kary Brittingham said.
Each of the Dallas "Housewives" who attended the wedding reaffirmed that they only saw cupcakes, salami and "a little bit of cheese."
"I was starving at the end of the night — and I actually ate beforehand," Stephanie Hollman said.
"We were all hungry," Brittingham added.
Some viewers inquired if Locken and Emberlin had taken such a long break between the ceremony and reception so they could avoid feeding their guests.
"If you really wanna know the truth, production has to eat and break," Locken said, insinuating that the Bravo crew's schedule was really behind the long stretch. Cohen, who is also the executive producer of the show, quickly clapped back: "That's not true ... I mean we've done many weddings on 'The Housewives' that have shot straight through."
To hammer the point home, Cohen again reiterated that Locken's reception was scheduled at a time when many, many folks sit down to dinner (7 p.m.) and, had he been invited, he would have definitely expected a real meal.
"Well, we'd send out for Sonic for you," Locken shot back.
"OK, well, I'd be pissed," Cohen replied candidly.
So, when it comes to wedding meal etiquette, is it ever OK not to serve a substantial meal to one's guests?
According to the popular wedding website The Knot, it is OK to skip dinner at a wedding, but only under certain circumstances — none of which Locken appeared to follow.
"Not only do you want to satisfy your guests, but you simply can't serve alcohol — especially with an open bar — and not serve an adequate amount of food," experts at The Knot wrote.
For a real get-out-of-serving-dinner-free card, the wedding would have to be held during breakfast, brunch or lunch time. Another option for couples looking to cut food costs is to host a cocktail hour reception, which must be in the early evening (before dinnertime) or late at night (usually post 9 p.m.). If it is a true cocktail hour, that should be clearly stated on both the invitation and the wedding website so guests know what to expect and can plan their meals accordingly.
Even under those circumstances, The Knot says appetizers should include heartier nibbles like shrimp cocktail, steak skewers or even mini tacos.
Unfortunately for Locken, cupcakes and charcuterie don't seem to make the cut when it comes to proper wedding fare.