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JLeslie's avatar

When you are at a large party like a wedding, say ten people per table, do you worry about everyone being served before you start eating?

Asked by JLeslie (64898points) June 12th, 2011

Just wondering. I am pretty sure the etiquette is you are not supposed to wait. Although most catering paces and hotels would typically do their best to serve everyone at a table at once.

Sometimes a cold appetizer or salad is already at the tables as you are seated and bread is on the table. Would you just go ahead and sit down and eat, without worrying about the rest of the table, not knowing when people will get to the table, or if the table will even be full?

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27 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I usually wait a bit.

zenvelo's avatar

One should wait until everyone at the table has been served.

If at a buffet with assigned seating where they call table by table, on should wait until all one’s companions have returned and been seated. (At buffets it seems like one person always gets lost coming back to the table.)

Bellatrix's avatar

I would wait and watch what everyone else is doing. If they all chow down, well fair enough. Otherwise, I would wait.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo I have never been to a buffet event where they called people up by table. My question was in regards to a sit down served dinner situation. Not that I mind your answer, I found it interesting,

zenvelo's avatar

@JLeslie As I said, for a sit down served dinner, one should wait until everyone is served.

The only exception is if there is a problem with one person’s meal and the server has to go get a replacement. That can take a long time.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo I read too fast. It is my mistake. When you say should, you mean you think that is the etiquette, or that is what you do? I am pretty sure etiquette for tables over 6 is not to wait. It is considered unreasonable to ask for the first served to allow their food to get cold. Typically as long as 4 are served it is ok to start (usually at least four can be served by one waiter) or sometimes people wait for permission from the others at the table, but again most people would not want someone to wait while their food gets cold. It kind of depends on the situation of course and how things are rolling.

Cruiser's avatar

I don’t worry…I dance while I wait.

wundayatta's avatar

If it looks like the wait staff is being efficient, then I’d wait. But only for the main course. If they aren’t being efficient or even attempting to give people food at the same time, don’t wait.

You can’t wait for salad and bread and what-not. You have no idea when people will arrive.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Be polite and wait.

_zen_'s avatar

Just my partner and/or friends.

JLeslie's avatar

@zen that is usually how it works out for me too.

_zen_'s avatar

10 or more people at a wedding reception table – with a couple of waiters milling around… I can’t be bothered to even notice them all – especially not those on the other side of the centerpiece who I may not even physically be able to see.

I would like to say everyone – but I don’t think it actually happens. It’s impractical, not impolite.

Jeruba's avatar

I wait. Unless those still not served ask others to go ahead, I wait.

By the same token, if my meal is lagging and others are waiting, I invariably say, “Please go ahead.” Actually I will also say it if they aren’t waiting.

cookieman's avatar

I wait for everyone at the table to be served, not to arrive. As @wundayatta points out, how can you know when or if someone will arrive?

Hibernate's avatar

I usually wait for all to be served but if waiters are moving slow I just stand and help them .
[ gosh I cannot look at food and not eat so I have to do something to be somewhat busy ^^ ]

[ I start eating first and finish last. ]

Stinley's avatar

I think @Jeruba has it about giving permission to those who have their meals to start and also similarly I think that if meals are being served slowly you can ask if you can start. Most people will be perfectly happy and say ‘go ahead’.

JilltheTooth's avatar

In the 70s the official etiquette rule in such situations was “When three are served, all may eat.” according to Emily Post. (My mother was absolute on such things) I don’t know what it is now. At a private table, as in someone’s home, with many guests (more than 6?) it’s up to the host/ess to urge the guests to go ahead, otherwise all should wait for her to take the first bite. As children we would shout “The bite has been taken!” which would really piss her off… :-)

cookieman's avatar

@JilltheTooth: I believe now it’s, “When three are served, one is drunk, and the bride’s niece is hitting on your husband…all may eat”.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@cprevite : Ah, how beautifuuly civilisation evolves!

LuckyGuy's avatar

I was taught by my parents and have taught my kids to wait, unless urged by the host/hostess to “Eat before it gets cold.” This is not a barnyard and we are not starving refugees. What is the point of wolfing down your food and then watching the others eat theirs? If you are siting at a table and do not know the people on the other side, you introduce yourself. It is not hard to be polite.

redfeather's avatar

I went to a wedding on Saturday and I was wondering the same thing. My parents said they wait for the bride and groom to start eating, but they had already eaten, so we just waited for the people at our table.

JLeslie's avatar

@redfeather Usually I would think the bride and groom are served first so anyone who does look for those being honored to start, there is no concern for that. Was it a very small wedding? It would be very difficult to worry about who is eating at other tables.

redfeather's avatar

@JLeslie there were about 150–200 people there. But, like I said, they had already eaten, so we waited for the others at our table then started eating.

JLeslie's avatar

@redfeather Was it a buffet?

OpryLeigh's avatar

I usually wait until someone says “don’t wait for us, tuck in” and then I do as they say and tuck in!

redfeather's avatar

@JLeslie nope. They served us. (served damn good filets, too)

JLeslie's avatar

@redfeather Oh, then you just eat whenever you are served in my opinion.

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