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Food and Cakes

Advice needed/seating at a "stations" reception

My fiance and I are very set on having "stations" at our reception, instead of a standard plated meal or a buffet style meal. We like the fact that our guests will be able to mingle and not be seated for hours eating-our goal is to have a laid back, fun reception, and want to encourage our guests to feel free to move around and talk to everyone. However, I have never been to a wedding with Stations, and would like feedback from others who have experience one or are planning one.

Our consultant from our venue says that seating for all of our guests, especially assigned seating, is not necessary because everyone will be eating at different times and moving around. I am very hesitant about this, and really believe that even if people are not tied down to their seats the whole time, it is good for everyone to have a place to go. If some of the younger guests put their purses or jackets down and then never return to their seats, fine, but I know that some of my guests who are older, even my parents age, and are used to "traditional" weddings would be unhappy if they got up from there seat and returned to find it occupied by another.

I really appreciate any help on this issue, and any advice about food stations is greatly appreciated. I don't want to commit to this if I have idealized it in my head but it doesn't actually run as smooth as I imagine!

Re: Advice needed/seating at a "stations" reception

  • edited December 2011
    The last wedding I went to that was a series of tapas stations was a total disaster logistically. It's not fun wandering around a room looking for somewhere to put your drink while you hold a plate... let alone if you have to cut the food on the plate with a knife & fork. It was ridiculous.

    Okay, I think you need to ask a couple more questions about the logistics of the whole event, because I agree, the constant movement doesn't really work with the older crowd. If your goal is conversation and flow, I think you need to look at seating. Set up several different eating areas (tables & chairs + couches for lounge areas, maybe some cocktail tables and stools). In doing so, you're creating traditional seating zones and non-traditional, so you'll get the people who want to move around to move around, and the people who want to remain in their seat at their seat.

    Another huge consideration to take into account when it comes to seating is your speeches. If you're having them, people need to be able to sit through them. There's nothing worse than being at a wedding listening to a speech. People need somewhere to rest when they're not dancing too - so a few lounge areas would really work in that respect.
  • edited December 2011
    You should provide a seat and table for every guest.
  • twilight.rosetwilight.rose member
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    It is necessary to provide adequate seating for all your guests, regardless of what type of meal you are hosting. It is as necessary at a cake and punch only reception as it is for a five course meal.

    Assigned seating is not required, but you defintely need to have a chair for all in attendance.
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  • spenet1spenet1 member
    500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I've been to one wedding with stations, and there was enough seating for probably 2/3 of the guests, with the assumption that 1/3 will be moving around at any given point. There were traditional round tables as well as some tall pub tables.

    The worst part about it was that there wasn't a "home" to go to for the toasts, first dance, etc, and you're just kinda standing in peoples' way.

    I know you're set on stations (and I love them as well, btw), but I think they work best for shorter receptions. If you're planning a 4-6 hour typical event, I wouldn't suggest it.
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  • mysticlmysticl member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    edited December 2011
    You need seats.  I may get up five times to go get food but I'm going to need to sit to eat it.  Whenever I hear the idea of not have a seat I think of standing in heals with my purse over my shoulder trying to juggle a plate and a drink.  Being uncomfortable = having a crappy time at the wedding and maybe leaving early. 
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  • edited December 2011
    Thank you so much everyone...I agree with everything everyone said and was concerned about the same things, which is why I was so concerned when our catering contact told us we would not need seating for everyone. I really believe that I am still going to have traditional seating assignments with enough TABLE seating for everyone. While I may choose to add high top tables around the reception area, I believe everyone shuld have a "home" base. I think the worst part of the day is the cocktail hour where everyone is standing mingling and eating off of tiny plates trying to juggle a plate and drink and purse and stand in heels for an hour. Glad to hear I am not in the minority with this and that others who have experienced such weddings agree, thank you!
  • TheCranberryTheCranberry member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I've gone to a stations wedding that had seating for everyone.  I think it's important to have seating for everyone for the reasons stated above.  I don't remember there being a ton of mingling at this wedding, but people obviously got up and down to get more food. 
  • edited December 2011
    My venue actually recommends having enough traditional seating for all of the guests.  There are additional lounge areas, other tables, and high tops scattered about, which encourages mingling while still giving people a place to set wineglasses and plates, but in case every single person wants to sit down, every one has a seat (which is useful during toasts).
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  • edited December 2011
    The worst weddings I have ever been to (overwhelming response from guests, not just my opinion) have had:

    1. Seating that wasn't assigned w/ table numbers.  There were young drunk guys at tables with Great Aunt Susie, and every combo in between.  It sucked.

    2. Station dining. The food was DELICIOUS.  The lines were awful.  Everyone left hungry.

    3. Not enough seating for everyone.  My friends and I (all in heels) were sharing chairs and rotating.  It was terrible.
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  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_advice-neededseating-stations-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:3de5035d-f338-4f33-9d91-6f68eb5f0851Post:f7ca403a-bdc4-47e0-ba84-499df2a4d80f">Re: Advice needed/seating at a "stations" reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]. I really believe that I am still going to have traditional seating assignments with enough TABLE seating for everyone. While I may choose to add high top tables around the reception area, I believe everyone shuld have a "home" base.Posted by kevynraeWed228619[/QUOTE]

    I think this is the ideal setup.  Every woman wants a place to park her coat or purse, and older guests will like always knowing they have a place to sit and rest, and groups have a comfortable place to talk all night.
  • mmskaricmmskaric member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Shoot! I'm doing station dining and you ladies are making me think of some things I never concerned. Thanks-I think. :P

    One thing I am planning on is to make sure that no food needs a knife. I think it would be impossible to do dinner without a fork, but you definitely can't cut w/o a table.


  • edited December 2011
    I completely agree, and I think stations are a great idea, as long as there's enough for everyone to have some of everything. Even if you don't assign specific seats, table assignments would be ideal so you don't have "Great Aunt Susie" sitting with a bunch of teenagers from your FI's side that she doesn't know. I've been at receptions that didn't have assigned tables, and it was awkward having to sit with people I didn't know and would never see again because there was nowhere else to go. Even if people get up 5 times to fill their plates, they still shouldn't have to find someplace to park themselves each time to eat it.
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