Food and Cakes

Stations? Good or Bad?

My fiance and I are really interested in having Stations for our wedding. We like the idea of not having a full plated meal where guests are seated for long stretches of time, we really want to encourage a fun, easy going, casual (but elegant!) atmosphere for our reception. However, neither of us have been to a wedding with a stations meal, and were wondering if they are worth having, or if we should, actually, go with a traditional plated meal. I will be sure that there is enough seating for everyone, not just a percentage of our guests as our caterer had suggested (I spoke to some people who confirmed my idea that everyone would want a place to sit, even if they didnt spend much time there), but was just wondering if there are any other "snags" we should be aware of, or if the idea of stations has been glamourized lately and they are not really as successful as they sound.

Thank you in advance for your input, I am curious to see how everyone feels about this!

Re: Stations? Good or Bad?

  • edited December 2011
    Call me crazy, but I actually like sitting and enjoying a meal with friends and family.

    I think there are two big problems with stations: the line-ups for food tend to be long (if you have chefs doing made to order stuff for each guest), and the pay off isn't very big (a small burger with the toppings of my choice, yay!) and it terms of conversation, I've found it actually starts and stops it because people are constantly getting up and down for more food. I don't know, I was totally on the bandwagon before the last wedding I went to which was all stations.  It was a total nightmare. It took sooo long to get the food that they started speeches and dancing and people still hadn't been fed properly. It all felt so aimless and purposeless. I get that brides want to get people to talk to each other, but many people don't feel comfortable going up and talking to strangers. At least when you're sitting at a table with them, it's easier, but wandering around the room repeating the same conversation over and over again (e.g. how do you know the bride and groom?), well, it wasn't fun.

    That's just my opinion.
  • edited December 2011
    I think for some things it's okay. We went to a wedding where the cocktail hour had stations and it really worked out well. They had a station with cheeses, crackers and breads in the center, plates of antipasto on one table, and tons of other choices in other sections of the room. The negative was that the room wasn't large enough to accomodate everyone so the people in line were bumping into the people sitting, and no one knew where each station was or what it had unless you asked someone. But, with those few things rectified I think it would be an amazing idea!!
    If you're doing your wedding meal that way, I would suggest having two identical stations- one on each side of the room-- so that the lines are shorter and no one is waiting too long to eat. Like Kaesha said, you don't want your guests to have a bad taste in their mouth because they didn't get enough food or in an effortless enough way!
  • mysticlmysticl
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
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    edited December 2011
    I went to an event that was stations.  One issue was there was too much traffic around some of the stations.  Another was they had 2 stations set up right next to each other so that as people finished with the station they were litterally walking into the people finishing at the other station.  Plates of food ended up on fancy clothes.  I like the over all concept, the event staff just didn't set this one up well.
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  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Stations? Good or Bad?:
    I think for some things it's okay. We went to a wedding where the cocktail hour had stations and it really worked out well. They had a station with cheeses, crackers and breads in the center, plates of antipasto on one table, and tons of other choices in other sections of the room. The negative was that the room wasn't large enough to accomodate everyone so the people in line were bumping into the people sitting, and no one knew where each station was or what it had unless you asked someone. But, with those few things rectified I think it would be an amazing idea!! If you're doing your wedding meal that way, I would suggest having two identical stations- one on each side of the room-- so that the lines are shorter and no one is waiting too long to eat. Like Kaesha said, you don't want your guests to have a bad taste in their mouth because they didn't get enough food or in an effortless enough way!
    Posted by StephandMark123
    Great point - I think it would work for the cocktail hour more so then the actual dinner.
  • SuMmErKuTiESuMmErKuTiE
    2500 Comments Fourth Anniversary 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    member
    edited December 2011
    We had stations and loved it and so did our guests. We've been to too many weddings where we're left hungry because the plated dinner wasn't enough or we didn't like the sides it came with. With stations there's so much variety and the freedom to go back up and get more. We saw several guests going back up for seconds or thirds and we got a lot of compliments for doing stations opposed to a plated dinner. We had a carving station with prime rib, turkey, and ham, a tuscan station, a pasta station, and a summer grille station.

    I don't remember there being any traffic issues around the stations, the staff laid it out with enough space where people weren't waiting around too long or bumping into each other. If you're interested in stations, talk to your venue about how the logistics of it would work because you're concerned of it getting too crowded.
  • TheCranberryTheCranberry
    1000 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    I've been to a stations wedding that was very nice.  Elegant and with enough food and space for there not to be long lines or people bumping into each other.

    If you want your seated dinner to have more activity, you can dictate that with the schedule.  I just went to a wedding where there was dancing between the courses so I didn't feel like I was sitting down for very long at the table.  It was fun.
  • edited December 2011
    Great for cocktail hour or a wedding that is under 150 people.

    The lines get too long, and dinner ends up eating up more time than you want it to because you have to account for people in transition, in line, visiting different points in a room, THEN eating.  I don't think it's worth it.
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  • Sue-n-KevinSue-n-Kevin
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
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    edited December 2011
    We auditioned a few caterers last week. One of the caterers was very familiar with our venue. She said the amount of room you need for the stations is double or triple the amount of room you need for a buffet because of how it has to be layed out, allowing "gathering room" around each station. It doesn't work with our venue.

    She also said the price can be more because of the uncertainty of what each guest might want at any event. If you choose smallish items, they really need to have more food of each type in case of people choosing one item more than another. They don't like to run out of foods.

    Good luck with your decision.
  • edited December 2011
    Stations are always fun.  People can move around if they like.  The options will encourage conversation which is what you want and the stations are a WOW.  I coould be bias because of the relentless sit-down formal functions I must attend.  Go for it!
  • AbbeyS2011AbbeyS2011
    1000 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    You made a really good point Sue about the "gathering roon" at each station.  I am having a buffet-style dinner, so that will eliminate that.  I can see the pros and cons to having stationed dinners posted here.

    You should discuss with your venue and caterer and make sure the stations set up will work for your amount of guests and the area of your reception room.  I would go with what they suggest - they do this every week and weekend, so they know their stuff!
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