Very formal sit-down wedding dinners used to be expected. Everyone sat in their assigned seats and waited until their meal had been served. Although some brides and grooms asked guests ahead of time if they had any allergies or food intolerances, not every guest was accommodated. Then came buffets. This method of serving food gave guests more options, particularly a way to avoid food they really disliked.  And now, when couples are doing their wedding planning, interactive food stations are becoming increasingly more common on those wedding planning checklists.

What is an interactive food station?

Really, food stations are just buffets broken up into smaller sections and placed throughout the dining area. Sometimes there is a caterer at a station to assist with selections; sometimes guests can help themselves.

Interactive food stations do not appeal to everyone but if they're something you would love to see at your wedding, keep in mind the following suggestions:

  • If you need a caterer at each station, you should check the cost of staff before you get the bill. An oyster bar for instance, may require a staff to shuck oysters for several hours.
  • Some guests with mobility issues may find food stations difficult to access. Be sure to make arrangements for them.
  • There may be other guests, such as grandparents, etc. who find the idea of self-serve unpalatable. Make accommodations for them as well.
  • The idea of choosing food for the stations may be overwhelming for bridal couples.
What are the advantage of interactive food stations?
  • Stations provide a less formal atmosphere.
  • There are fewer or no long line-ups at the buffet.
  • They provide more opportunities for guests to mingle.
  • Guests can get exactly what they want.
  • There is often more variety.
  • The presentation is unique.
  • Food stations don't have to be used for the entire meal; maybe just dessert.
  • If your whole meal will be offered at food stations, you can probably forego the seating charts.

What can be served at an interactive food station?

The sky's the limit. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • oyster bar
  • alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage bar
  • ethnic entrees such as tacos, pasta, curries, nachos, kebabs
  • crepe station
  • s'mores firepit
  • salad bar
  • ribs and chicken barbecue
  • baked potato station
  • ice cream bar

Although the Institute of Wedding and Event Design (IWED) is not offering in-person classes right now, America's #1 event design courses are still available online.  Check us out at for program details and available financing.  Our signature event design program is available on our Digital Campus.  You can learn how to design beautiful events from the comfort of your own home with professionally produced step-by-step videos. Upload your IWED Student Kit and your progress will be reviewed by our dedicated online instructor!

What interactive stations do you like to see at a wedding? Post a comment. We would love to hear from you.

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