It's that time of year again. Brides and grooms are in full bloom — and so are the buffets, Viennese tables, and wedding cake slices worth half a day's worth of SmartPoints. But weddings are also ripe with opportunities for socializing, dancing the night away, and having a fabulous time.
When it comes to the cocktail hour, WW member Lauri Carbone, of North Wales, PA, has it down to a science. She should know — as a wedding photographer, she's surrounded by reception food temptations every weekend.
"I always keep a healthy snack in my camera bag like carrots so I can munch during down time and try to fill up as much as possible before the crab cakes and mashed potatoes come out," says Carbone. "I also try to keep my hands busy with my camera around the food, so instead of grabbing for some cheese, I take a photo of it. And then I look at it later longingly — but proud that I didn't succumb to the deliciousness."
Another strategy, according to WW member Janice Litvin of Walnut Creek, CA, is one you could try before the happy couple even says "I do."
"I don't go to an event hungry," says Litvin. "I always eat a snack like a big piece of fruit before I go and make sure to eat a lighter lunch so I can indulge more at the wedding."
Size up the skewers
For Lifetime member Ellen Pulda from Needham, MA, her survival toolkit is all about scoping out the situation. "Don't go for the first stuffed mushroom you see," advises Pulda. "Watch the hors d'ouevres parade pass by, then make your decision. Stick to the sushi and skewered chicken, and avoid the wrapped items like egg rolls, pigs in a blanket."
When it's time for the sit-down meal, Pulda relies on her husband to help her through the meal. She suggests, "Sit next to a dinner companion who's happy to take half your meal. My husband typically gets my starches and half my entrée. Pass up the bread basket. At functions — unless it's a fancy French restaurant — it's usually not worth it."
Tear up the dance floor
"Seltzer is your friend," says Rita Smircich, a Lifetime member, wedding planner, and author of To Do Before "I Do" . "Although this might sound drab, it's amazing what you can do with seltzer! Even if a bit of liquor is added, it won't make for many calories. A splash of cranberry or pineapple juice can be added for a refreshing drink."
Judith Lederman, editor of Westchester Weddings Magazine and author of Joining the Thin Club: Tips for Toning Your Mind AFTER You've Trimmed Your Body, reminds us that weddings are not about the food. "Remember, you can get food anywhere, anytime, but the opportunity to mix and mingle and see people you haven't seen in ages — that's rare!"
She adds, "Dancing burns calories — stay on the dance floor and get aerobic. I danced at my son's wedding last night and didn't even stop to eat the wedding food. I had a protein shake tucked away in the bridal room and drank it between dances."
Pass up the dessert bar
Some guests prefer the do-it-yourself treat. Ranae Whitmore lost weight over the past two years by making healthy food choices, implementing moderate exercise, and changing her thought processes. The Des Moines, IA native explains, "Rather than being tempted by the lovely wedding cake, I bring my own 100-calorie pack of Hostess cupcakes or a frozen WW dessert and ask the servers if they will kindly plate it for me on the same fancy plates the wedding cake is being served on. It makes me feel special to be 'good to me' and at the same time feel like everyone else being served on fine china!"
Treat yourself well
As you're enjoying the celebration, it's important to remember it's just one night, one meal and one piece of rich cake. Author Smircich adds, "When people are going to a wedding, they know that there is going to be good food and plenty of it. If they want to eat buttercream wedding cake, then they may need to save up during the week. Then at the wedding, eat the salad without dressing, avoid the heavy cream sauce, don't eat the bread on the table, and don't ask for a second piece of cake."
Above all, Litvin notes, "If you want to eat something, eat it. If you say no to yourself for too long, you are more likely to break down. So try that piece of cake or piece of candy — just remember to write it down. As my WW Coach always says, 'Just get right up the next morning, wipe off the crumbs, and begin your day anew.'"