Food and Cakes

Food stations

edited April 2015 in Food and Cakes
My fiance and I have a full reign of our menu of food stations. My fiance does sales for a catering company and we can do anything imaginable. We're looking for different ideas that we have never seen before. We're going to have a meat and cheese (charcuterie spread) station for cocktail hour and the only station that we have completely set for dinner is a clambake/seafood boil where we will have crab legs, mussels, crawfish or lobster and along with that, there will be potatoes and corn on the cob in there also. We have a couple of really cool ideas other than those, but I wanted to hear what everyone else had to say about it. 

The only thing that you may need to know is that our wedding is August 22nd of this year (yeah, I know we're starting to really talk about our menu a little late)

Thanks in advance!

EDIT: We have about 135 people coming. We're also looking for fun ideas for stations. We're thinking of incorporating sushi and a raw bar into the seafood station. We want something we've never seen before. We've seen mashed potato bars, taco bars, salad stations and BYO pasta stations, but with no restrictions and budget not being an issue, what is something that you've never seen at a wedding or the most fun thing imaginable.

Re: Food stations

  • Well, my suggestions might also depend on other things - indoor or outdoor?  Time of day?  Level of formality?  # of people attending?  Potential food restrictions in your crowd?

    Generally, I think of a clambake or boil as a full meal in itself, but not to rain on your parade - not something I want at a wedding.  At least not a wedding more formal than backyard BBQ.  I generally think of seafood boils as mallets and seafood crackers/picks at each of the seats, butcher paper in lieu of table cloths, extra plates or bowls to hold the shells, and people wearing bibs.  It's messy and kind of an unsightly scene to view in the aftermath of it all and I would make sure to have more than the average amount of waitstaff on hand to clean that all up more frequently as people work through it so it isn't littering the table.  Not to mention getting corn stuck in ones teeth and trying to eat corn on the cob in a way that doesn't remind you of the state fair.  I can't imagine wanting this food experience while dressed up attending a wedding.  Vacation renting a beach house, a bachelor/bachelorette party, or even an informal rehearsal dinner - but not so much a wedding.

  • Well, it's an indoor reception with somewhere around 135 people. We do have quite a plethora of food restrictions also. Many of my mom's side of the family are Seventh Adventists and will not eat me. We have a couple of food allergies, with the main one being my FMIL. She's allergic to garlic. So we have to be mindful of that. 

    Also, with the boil, all the crab legs (the super messy part anyways) will all be pre-cracked so mallets won't be necessary.
  • I would do some kind of substantial non-seafood option.  A lot of people aren't into seafood.  Perhaps some roast beef or something like that?
    Married 9.12.15
  • edited June 2015
    I'm out.
  • When you say "no meat" do these people consider seafood "meat"? Some do, some don't.

    With the restrictions you've listed, some crowd pleasers might be a BYO mac and cheese station or a pasta station; a BYO salad station - so spinach, spring mix, romaine with various toppings and dressing choices; a pizza station with various types of pizza; a gyro station; a southern station with BBQ, grits, and greens; a carving station with turkey or roast beef and paired sauces; a soup station with various types of soups....

  • Well, it still doesn't sound horribly formal and with 135 people, you could probably have stations that have catering attendants to make things to order  You could do a soup and grilled cheese station for the vegetarians (assuming they eat dairy).  Offer up several types of bread, several types of cheese, and mugs of vegetarian soups (tomato, corn chowder, lentil) and have an attendant with several panini presses making the sandwiches to order.

    Seeing your ETA now, I would do either the sushi or the seafood boil, but not both.  That's a lot of seafood and it sounds like you have a fair number of vegetarians on board.  Plus, seafood tends to be most polarizing of the proteins - there are people who eat animals but don't like seafood, people who like fish but not RAW fish, people who like fish but not other seafood, people who like shrimp and lobster and other seafood but not fish (raw or otherwise).  It's rare to find people who just flat out love all sea creatures raw or cooked. 

    You need something more substantial for both the vegetarians and the non-fish/seafood eaters.  It's nice that you have greater access to options and want to have something new and exciting, but the comfort of your guests has to come before that and they aren't going to be that impressed with things they've "never seen before" if it means they have limited options in what they have available to eat.  Sometimes, the things you've seen before are because people like them, they are crowd-pleasers that can be consistently pulled off for a large crowd - and there's nothing wrong with giving the crowd (your loved ones) things that they would enjoy. 

    So, with that said, I would add some carving stations, a grilled vegetable station to go with the meat and cheese display (have grilled onions, red peppers, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. and serve with hummus and a few other dips), and a salad station (have several pre-made salads - caesar, spinach strawberry, maybe even a grain-based like quinoa). 

    If you are able to have attendants at each station so lines don't get backed up, you could do a stir-fry station (easy to please veg*ns and meat eaters alike) - just make sure you have a separate set-up specifically for the veg folks.  Would they be receptive to Indian cuisine?  It's very veg-friendly and also gluten-free friendly if you have any folks concerned about that.  And even unadventurous folks have been converted to the wonders of tandoori chicken and naan.
  • edited June 2015
    I'm out.
  • I agree with everyone who says you need some items of mass-appeal - something substantial that many people, vegetarians included, would like. It's fine to want a few unique, different items, but at the end of the day, you're hosting dinner for these people so you should be taking THEIR tastes into account, not solely your own.

    With that said, I've seen sushi and raw bar at 50-75% of weddings I've attended (NJ, land of the over the top cocktail hour), so I don't think it's as unique as you're thinking. 

    It wasn't a wedding, but I did attend a cocktail reception about a month ago, and one station was a spread of southern food - fried turkey, mac and cheese, green beans, fried green tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese. They also had a station for mason jars with a biscuit at the bottom, topped with either mashed potatoes, brisket and gravy, or shrimp and grits. It was extremely popular and extremely delicious. 

  • I'm vegan, and something I have never seen before at a wedding is lavish food that I (and vegetarians) can eat. And I go to a lot of weddings.

    Go for a full bore vegan entrees station. No pasta, no steamed veggies, no hummus. Lots of protein in the form of seitan, tofu, tempeh, etc. There is an amazing recipe online for vegan turkey that is really involved, but absolutely fantastic. You could do more than one and separate it by cuisine. Ethiopian and Indian are easy to find a plethora of vegan options. I bet your guests would be pretty excited.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I had sushi on my raw bar 6 years ago.   Not really unique in my opinion.

    With your family being vegetarian it sound like you need more vegetarian options.   What kind of foods do they like to eat?

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I know that the sushi/raw bar isnt that unique, but it doesn't doesn't happen much in Michigan, especially at weddings.

    I'm not really sure what they eat other than the fact that they wont eat any meat (including fish), but they will eat animal products (eggs, milk, cheese). I haven't really been to a family function where we ate a sit down meal in a long time.

  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I 100% do not want to be shelling cooked seafood in my wedding clothes. No way. No how. I don't need my nice clothes smelling like seafood water for the rest of their lives. Nope.
  • edited June 2015
    I'm out.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    well I would ask.    A PP mentioned Indian.  Which isn't a bad idea.   The problem is if your guests do not eat Indian or fish or meat, well they will be pretty hungry and you just wasted a lot of money.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I agree with all the PPs, but I wanted to throw something out there.  The best food idea I've seen here, that made me insanely jealous, was having food stations that had cocktail pairings- one cocktail per station.  Something to consider since you guys seem to have endless options.
  • you said most of your family does not eat meat what about his family? do they eat meat? i personaly dont like or eat seafood so the only thing i could eat out of your seafood boil would be the potatoes and even then i might not care for them because they have been cooking with the seafood and then all your food tastes like that. 

    what about a mac and cheese bar offer up a like a really good basic mac and cheese and then offer toppings such as pulled pork, chicken, steak, bacon and veggies,  

    offer pulled pork/ pulled chicken sliders and for the vegeterians you can do setian (sp) its a veterinarian protein or mini portabella  sliders 

    what about an ice cream station to go with desert my cousin had one at her wedding they had this old fashion ice cream cart come out the guy was dressed in a top hat suite and all and he served up ice cream in goblets or you could serve yours in martini glasses and offer a toppings bar 
  • esstee33esstee33 Pittsburgh member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited July 2015
    I know you're looking for never-before-seen sorts of ideas, but there's a reason mashed potato / taco / pasta stations are done so often: they're crowd-pleasing and can be easily customized for people with dietary limitations. I'd be very, very wary of creating a menu with so many seafood options (and that's coming from a major lover of all sea creatures), especially if you already know a great number of your guests don't eat meat -- some vegetarians do eat fish, but most I know don't. 
  • I went to a wedding that had a skewer station... There were some more universal ones like chicken satay, buffalo chicken, tomato basil mozzarella, andouille sausage and peppers, and also had a zucchini falafel one, and one with tortellini and roasted vegetables for vegan options.    

    Or instead of sushi, perhaps stir fry/Asian? Quesadillas?

    I would still have some traditional stations like pasta, salad or mac & cheese.  
    Wedding Countdown Ticker

  • Crepes are delicious and not too common.  They can be built to suit everyone from a vegetarian to a meat eater!
  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I went to a swanky film party once that had a dumpling station. It was fucking amazing.

  • A couple of weddings we have gone to have had  a slider bar (mini hamburgers, garden burgers (for you vegetarians) and/or BBQ pork, chicken and waffle station, and a quesadilla bar. Not sure how formal your wedding is going to be.  How about a biscuit station?

  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Wait, you're in Michigan?  We want a Streets of Detroit food station theme (my best friend works for a caterer, it must be the insider touch haha).

    Do something very Michigan-ish depending on where you're at:  Greektown station, Pasties, Coneys, grilled cheese bite with a Grand Rapids beer shooter.  

    My other ideas were a gazpacho shooter, mini BLT's with your initials or date stamped in, anything on a tiny, edible spoon.
  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I know you said it's been done, but I LOVE mashed potato bars! So many options!

    Grilled cheese station would be awesome. So many different ways to make a grilled cheese, both meat and vegetarian friendly.

    How about a stir-fry station?

    For the vegetarians- a grain bowl station. I went to a vegan restaurant where you chose your grain/rice (quinoa, millet, various bean options, various rices) and then had an array of toppings to choose from (various types of sauteed vegetables and sauces, tofu). Yummy!

    Can't believe I'm saying this, but a poutine station. 

    The idea of pairing each station with a cocktail sounds awesome! 

    Baked potato bar.

    You can never go wrong with a pasta bar. I know it's been done, but what impresses me most is the quality and uniqueness of the meal, vs. the meal item itself. If you have a pasta combo I've never had before and it takes good, that'll blow me away. Eating pasta is never wrong ;)

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