One of the biggest decisions you will make while planning your wedding will be choosing the menu and service style for your big day. While having a traditional sit-down formal dinner never goes out of fashion, many bridal couples are now opting for food stations.
Food stations are not the buffets of past eras. A buffet-style wedding usually features long tables where guests proceed down the line in order and choose from a variety of dishes. Buffets are typically only open for a specific amount of time during the reception.
Alternatively, food stations are open for a longer amount of time, and guests can visit each station throughout the reception, cocktail hour or dessert depending on the type of station. Sometimes stations will be grouped together and sometimes they will be scattered around the room. This creates less congestion (raise your hand if you hate waiting for your table to be called up to the buffet!) and allows each guest to guide his or her own tasting experience.
Food stations are also a great way to offer a wide array of different foods to impress your guests. Food stations can tie in with an overall wedding theme, can be casual or elegant and can be offered just during the cocktail hour or as a substitution for a seated and served meal. Remember, your wedding should be a reflection of your personal style—so let your imagination go wild. Read on for some popular food station ideas:
Breakfast for Dinner
Brunch receptions are also a hot trend for couples. Think beyond the design-your-own-omelet station (although always a great choice) to mini pancakes with blueberry jam and maple syrup; sausage, bacon and potato frittatas served in mini Mason jars; chicken and waffles served with a variety of hot sauces, maple gravy or bourbon vanilla sauce; and buttermilk biscuits topped with porketta, poached eggs and Cajun hollandaise sauce. If your dance party goes late into the night, this station is also a great option for early morning snacks to-go.
Short Plate Stations
Imagine a chef at each station plating upscale small plates to order. Small plates can still pack a big punch of flavor and creativity. Ideas include shaved brussels sprout and pancetta salad, blood orange marinated jumbo shrimp skewer, and filet of beef with bacon and horseradish potato salad and fig balsamic glaze.
Let your guests travel around the world and get a taste of pizza and pasta at an Italian station, bahn mi sandwiches at a Vietnamese station, sushi and tempura at a Japanese station and tacos, nachos and fajitas at a Mexican station. Perhaps feature a station representing the locale where you plan to honeymoon with your other half or spotlight the place where you got engaged or met. Tell that story through your food station.
Get a taste of the sea with a raw bar over cracked ice artfully displayed on elegant serving trays. Marine life can come alive with spectacular adornments like decorative fish netting, starfish, seashells and various elegant nautical embellishments. Serve jumbo shrimp, Chesapeake Bay clams on the half shell and Long Island oysters on the half shell with classic cocktail sauce, fresh cut lemon wedges and oyster crackers.
Caramelized Donut Action Station with Gelato
Watch as a chef makes a homemade glaze from butter, brown sugar and rum and then dips the doughnuts into the glaze and caramelizes the donuts in front of the guests. Once they are warm and crispy, the donuts are placed on top of a scoop of homemade gelato in a stemless martini glass. Some cool flavors include chocolate stout made with a local beer, Irish cream, zabaglione made with Marsala wine and toffee crunch.
Interactive Shaved Ice Station
Let the chef present a demonstration tableside in front of your guests by shaving large ice blocks, scooping the ice into paper cones and then adding the guests’ choice of fresh, all natural homemade flavors like lemon zest, strawberry-basil, blueberry-mint and pina colada.
Liquid Nitrogen Station
Why not include a show with your dessert? Liquid nitrogen is the hottest trend in molecular gastronomy. It creates a dramatic fog, and the hand-crafted ice cream has an incredibly smooth texture that only liquid nitrogen has to offer. Wow your guests with this station that they are sure to talk about for years to come.
“Chipwich” & Push Pop Station
Flashback to your childhood with a “chipwich” and push pop station. Popular choices include homemade vanilla ice cream push pops with a mixed berry filling. Flavors for your “chipwich” station are only limited by your imagination. Favorites include peanut butter cookies stuffed with chocolate ice cream, sugar cookies stuffed with French toast ice cream, chocolate chip cookies stuffed with caramel ice cream and macadamia and white chocolate cookies stuffed with strawberry ice cream.Ready to start planning your party? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today!Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.—Ronna Dewey