Food Stations: The New Buffet

Relish a buffet-style concept for your wedding without the sloppy cafeteria feel? Wish that your food has the same fine presentation in gourmet restaurants but afraid that it will break your budget?

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Photo by ONE°15 Marina Club

The newest trend in food catering allows your guests to feast their eyes and satiate their appetite without you spending more than you intended to. Imagine your wedding banquet with chic presentation of plated dishes, all while retaining the variety of flavours a buffet offers – that’s what you can get with a food station.

Traditional Buffet-Style vs. Food Stations

The main difference of food stations from traditional buffet is that instead of having one long table containing all your food items, you’ll instead have several smaller tables strategically set up in various points in your banquet area. This arrangement eliminates having a long queue as it allows guests to easily move from one section to another.

Here are more reasons why you should consider it for your wedding:

1. Stylish and Sophisticated Food Presentation

Food stations will definitely wow your guests, especially when the food and drinks are creatively arranged and presented.

In a traditional buffet, you’ll have a single long line where the guests choose their food and drinks, picking them from grotesquely large serving plates. It’s different in a food station set-up: here, food items are grouped based on their similarity, and then set apart from the rest. For instance, sampler dishes from Asian cuisine are served in one station, the salad bar is a station on its own, fresh seafood are in another station, and so on. Each dish is usually served in moderate servings, which is a subtle way of making guests take just a sample of each instead of piling up on whatever they think they like.

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Photo by Marina Bay Sands

You can incorporate your wedding theme into your food stations. For example, if you are a travel-savvy couple and your wedding theme revolves around that, your food stations can be about the places you’ve been to: one station will have an all-Italian cuisine, another will serve Korean items, and another serving favourite hawker items in elevated forms. You can also group items based on their colour if you want to emphasize your wedding motif. For example, if you have a red and green motif, one station can have the crabs and roasted ducks, while another station will have the green salads and vegetable soup.

2. Provides a Variety of Options

Opting for food stations gives you the opportunity to provide diverse food and beverage selections for your guests without worrying about breaking the bank. This means you’ll have less problem meeting your guests’ appetite and special dietary requirements (for those who have them) as your caterer can prepare more dishes in smaller quantities.

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Photo by Riverview Hotel Singapore

Given the variety of options, you can make sure that your vegetarian friend from college can have a satisfying meal, your lactose-intolerant nephew will enjoy his sweets, and your maid of honour can avoid the chicken that she’s allergic to. Simply put, you can easily satisfy each of your guest’s palate if there are various small serving they can grab for themselves.

Aside from that, you can also add a favourite dish using a special family recipe. You can just request your caterer to prepare it in the way you want, and let your guests the first ones to sample them. This is a win-win situation as you’ll be able to provide a variety of interesting options, while at the same time your caterer gets to introduce a “new” dish to a large number of people. If the dish is a hit, your caterer will get recommendations through word of mouth, and you might be able to get a discount.

3. Provides More Room for Movement and Fluidity

By breaking the single buffet table into different stations, you create more room for movement, not to mention eliminate the need for guests to fall in a long queue for their food. It creates a market-feel too, eliciting curiosity and excitement about finding what is stored in each table. The fluidity in arrangement results in a more festive vibe, as well as generate a perception that more food is being served than what is actually there.

4. It Can be More Affordable

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Photo by OC Weddings

The foods and drinks that will be served at the reception, enhanced by the fancy table arrangement, can make the set up look grand and expensive. But believe it or not, it can also be more cost-effective than a traditional buffet set up. With food stations, you can opt not to have a one-is-to-one ratio of each dish for every guest. You wouldn’t need a lot of waiters and waitresses too, as you would in a plated set-up, as food stations require self-service.

To avoid overspending due to having a variety of dishes at your food stations, you can cut back on other aspects of your wedding catering. For instance, you can forgo having cake for dessert and simply provide a dessert station where guests can pick a mini-dessert of their choice. You can also stack small paper boxes next to the dessert display so each guest can take a pick for their takeaway gift. Both of these tactics can help you cut back cost on items like your wedding cake and favours.

5. Encourage Socialisation

Setting up food stations in your wedding reception makes your guests move from one station to another. This is an opportunity for them to socialise and mingle with each other. Guests who are stranger to each other will find common ground and have something to talk about if they frequently bump on each other on the same food stations.

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Photo by Pan Pacific Singapore

As more modern brides are experimenting with the details of their wedding, one of the trending changes is on how to serve food at the wedding banquet. Among all these trends, none seems more appealing – visually and cost-wise – as having food stations.

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