Striking a careful balance between the formality of a sit-down meal and the freedom of choice that comes with a buffet is the food station. An assortment of stations throughout your reception venue, all carefully managed by your caterer’s staff, gives your guests options, minimizes the rush toward a single space and is more visually appealing than a buffet.

There are a number of foods that can be served station-style, ranging from traditional wedding fare to more creative dessert and late-night options.

Hors d’Oeuvres

Start with a classic display of cheeses, including baked brie, slices of hard cheeses, nuts, fruits and preserves. Serve them with an assortment of crackers and breads. You can add other items to pair with the bread, such as hummus. Your vegan and dairy-free guests will thank you.

For a more casual starter, serve a station composed entirely of dips. Chicken wing, stuffed banana pepper, spinach and artichoke, queso, guacamole – the options are limitless!

Turning the first course into a food station makes it stand out from other wedding menus. Instead of serving plated salads, let guests make their own with a salad bar. Pair salads with a few soups or chowders, which would be especially welcome at a winter wedding.

Entrée

Many couples begin their food station setup with a carving station. This is a wedding classic that a lot of guests look forward to! You don’t need to focus on just the traditional beef, turkey or ham if you don’t want to. Pork loin, sausages and salmon are also options.

A BBQ food station, mac and cheese bar or mashed potato spread are perfect for outdoor or laidback weddings. You only need a few base options when there are dozens of toppings to choose from!

Pasta bars will be at home at almost any wedding. Dress up what could be seen as boring noodles and sauce with fresh pasta in multiple shapes and flavorful sauces. If your budget allows, staff this food station with a chef and sauté fresh vegetables into each dish.

If there will be a lot of kids at your wedding, consider making a food station just for them. It won’t be just the kids who want this mac and cheese, cheeseburger sliders, chicken nuggets and fries.

There are also more unique entrée food station options. Consider a sushi and noodle bar or an assortment of kabobs. Food stations will be at home at your your brunch wedding too. Guests will love topping fluffy waffles with a variety of preserves, syrups and fresh fruit.

Dessert

Small desserts were made for station-style service. In addition to your cake, try an ice cream sundae bar, assortment of milk and cookies, gourmet s’mores or fondueA donut wall makes a great backdrop for your dessert station.

For something a little bit more out of the box, try a snow cone station!

Late Night Snacks

All that dancing is sure to make your guests hungry. Continue your food station theme into the night with a few late-night snacks. Sliders (cheeseburgers, chicken fingers and beef on weck), pizza, poutine, tacos and popcorn are all great options.

For a food station that doubles as a late-night snack and a yummy favor, try a trail mix bar.

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