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Food and Cakes

Station Buffet

We've decided upon a station buffet for our reception. To over simplify the situation my family owns a catering company which will be catering our rented reception at my parents house; the guest list is currently at 225. The catering company traditionally serves weddings- but has never put on a station buffet. We're not sure how many stations to have- 4? 5? The plan is also to have a plated salad served to each guest and a card detailing what is going on at each seat (as well as a more subtle announcement by the dj).

So my questions are; How many stations for 225 guests? How long would you plan for a station buffet to last? Have you attended a station buffet- what was good/bad about it?

Thanks!

Re: Station Buffet

  • Sleeper, your pretzel station sounds amazing!!!  I love soft pretzels, but haven't thought of dipping them in chocolate ... ooo, and chocolate/peanut butter ... <attempting not to drool on keyboard>

    OP, I'm going off of what I've been told regarding hors d'ouvres for a reception, but I would think with plated salad, that 5-7 stations would work, depending on how substantial each item is (veggie tray vs. a carving station).  Ditto what PP said about regional difference and expectations within your community.
  • edited July 2012
    One of the distinguishing features of a station style reception is that the stations are open the entire time (or almost the entire time if the dancing goes well into the night).  We had a station reception and guests could begin eating the moment they arrived until the moment they left (our reception was only 3 hours).  If we had a longer reception I'd probably close the stations after 4 hours.  

    For 225 guests I'd offer at least 8 different stations to avoid lines forming. 

    FWIW, we had 75 guests and three "clusters" of three(ish) stations each. 

    Cluster 1: 
    We had beef tenderloing carving station, chicken and sausage gumbo station, "antipasti" station with cheese platter, fruit, veggies, spinach and artichoke dip.

    Cluster 2:
    Green salad w/ pear, blue cheese, balsamic dressing station, seared scallop action station,pasta station (either tortellini or penne with either three-cheese sauce or an andouille alfredo sauce). 

    Cluster 3: 
    Turkey breast carving station, mediterranean station (with hummus, orzo pasta cooked to order with various toppings, baba ganuj, falafel), 
  • I agree with making sure you don't have too many people in line at once. When we were planning our reception for about 100 guests, it was in a banquet room that had a max capacity of 100 people. Our caterer told us that having stations takes up a lot of room (you have to have room around the tables, PLUS room around each station for lines and access to the food). You may not have the same issues in your parent's backyard.

    I think the key is to limit the number of people at each station initially. For example, if the stations are set up and people allowed to just go to the stations without having tables called, with 5 stations and 225 people you'd have roughly 45 people go to each station at once if they all equally want what is on each station. That's a lot of people in line. If you have someone assigned to have the guests approach the stations initially by "calling tables", then you eliminate that initial rush. If the food stations are self-served and no one is carving beef or other meats, then the stations can be set up so people can pass on each side of them like a buffet.

    Having stations may also increase the number of plates you have to have, because people may not be likely to keep the one plate and approach each station, they will expect a new plate at each station as they go along. So you will need to have additional plates at each station, or people to wash the plates they are taking away from each table. If you've ever been to a Mother's Day or Easter buffet at a restaurant or hotel, people get up several times to get more food, and each time there is a server taking away the dirty plates from in front of them. So unless you are using nicer disposable plates, this will require a lot of additional people to clear tables during the evening, and then washing them. To avoid this you could have the DJ announce that people need to use the same plate.

    I have heard of weddings where each station has an ethnic type of food, ie a "Mexican food" station, an "Italian food" station, or types of food, like a starch station with potatoes and toppings, a meat station with chefs carving different meats.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_station-buffet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:10c4ef66-3b29-48ab-bfd8-691e2bed4e97Post:877849a6-1561-4610-8a12-f6d89b187ed7">Re: Station Buffet</a>:
    [QUOTE]I agree with making sure you don't have too many people in line at once. When we were planning our reception for about 100 guests, it was in a banquet room that had a max capacity of 100 people. Our caterer told us that having stations takes up a lot of room (you have to have room around the tables, PLUS room around each station for lines and access to the food). <strong>You may not have the same issues in your parent's backyard. I think the key is to limit the number of people at each station initially. For example, if the stations are set up and people allowed to just go to the stations without having tables called, with 5 stations and 225 people you'd have roughly 45 people go to each station at once if they all equally want what is on each station. That's a lot of people in line</strong>. <strong>If you have someone assigned to have the guests approach the stations initially by "calling tables", then you eliminate that initial rush</strong>. If the food stations are self-served and no one is carving beef or other meats, then the stations can be set up so people can pass on each side of them like a buffet. Having stations may also increase the number of plates you have to have, because people may not be likely to keep the one plate and approach each station, they will expect a new plate at each station as they go along. So you will need to have additional plates at each station, or people to wash the plates they are taking away from each table. If you've ever been to a Mother's Day or Easter buffet at a restaurant or hotel, people get up several times to get more food, and each time there is a server taking away the dirty plates from in front of them. So unless you are using nicer disposable plates, this will require a lot of additional people to clear tables during the evening, and then washing them. To avoid this you could have the DJ announce that people need to use the same plate. I have heard of weddings where each station has an ethnic type of food, ie a "Mexican food" station, an "Italian food" station, or types of food, like a starch station with potatoes and toppings, a meat station with chefs carving different meats.
    Posted by Sue-n-Kevin[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>See, I disagree with this.  Stations don't work like a buffet with one big line.  You can't "call tables" and release certain tables to begin getting food from stations at a time because people will be milling around trying to get to each station and it would be chaos with lines forming everywhere.  It's much more preferable to have someone from the venue tell guests <em>as they arrive</em> that they are free to grab a plate and begin trying food.   Think of a station style reception as bigger, grander, more glorious, and longer cocktail hour.  If people start trickling in and getting food from one station or another (and the stations continue to be open for several hours) guests can get up and go for seconds, thirds, etc. and lines will be less likely to form.</div><div>
    </div><div>This is how we did it at our reception and there were no lines at all. 

    </div>
  • We had 80 guests and 4 stations. They did call tables (we had 10 total), but called 5 at a time. Since people usually go straight to the station nearest their table, people were very spread out. There weren't really lines. After about 5-10min, they called up everyone else. It went pretty fast.
  • Thanks ladies! We've got a lot to think about and talk to the chef about. We have tons of space to work with, so I'm not concerned there, I just don't want anyone to be held up in line for too long!
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