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I would love your advice for my wedding!!!

My boyfriend and I just got engaged (I guess that makes him my fiance!!!) and we are planning our wedding!!! I am looking for creative ideas to give the caterer we decide on- so far we have these ideas:
Cocktails and Hor'derves: Different stations- Sushi, Conch salad, Conch fritters, oyster bar, skwers(pork, chicken and beef), crepe station(?)- any suggestions?
Soup (maybe lobster bisque)
Mixed green salad (light and simple)
Penne with Vodka Sauce (primi)
Choice b.w Prime Rib, Mahi Mahi or Cornish Hen
Big family style plates of string beans, potatos, (another couple of sides)
Of course the wedding cake
a desert bar and ice crean bar
What do you all think??? Any suggestions????

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  1. Mashed potatoe bar would be a great hit at your wedding and a crepe station. I had both at my daughters wedding shower and people still talk about them. The potatoe bar had both mashed and sweet potatoes with tons of add-ins like- sour cream, chives, brown sugar, maple syrup, grated cheeses, coconut, carmelized onions, lobster/crab meats, veggies, the list can go on and on.
    The crepe station had tons of fruits, especially berries of all types, whipped creams, syrups and liquors. The chef prepared them to order for each guest.
    The cake we had was an italian Napolian- the entire sheet cake size- frosted... that too was a giant hit.
    I have found from running many functions- most people do not like seafood- and if they do- they are very limited in the types of seafood they like. Conch, oysters and mahi mahi may be wonderful entrees and appetizers but I bet they are not the big hit your thinking they will be. The old standbys such as chicken/beef with imaginative sauces or preparations may be a better way to go for your day with the little extras like a mashed potatoe bar or crepe station.

    1. Wow!!! THat's a ton of food! If you are going to have that many apps perhaps you might want to consider a smaller dinner. We just went to a wedding with wonderful apps and I must say nobody really finished their dinner even though it was excellent! As to oysters - I love them but won't touch them unless they're freshly opened in front of my eyes so I wouldn't eat them on a station. I know quite a few people feel that way. How about having some of the apps passed? JMHO, Linda

      1. Thanks for the advice! As for seafood- we are from the Bahamas (and our wedding is in Nassau) so seafodd is very big- Conch salad made to order is one of the best things you can have at a party! :) The oysters however- I think maybe we will pass on that- I looooove the idea of a crepe bar- and yes we are including the old standbys for sure- skewred meat with diff. sauces maybe spring rolls etc. THanks guys!!! As to keeping the dinner smaller i dont think i can convince my father of this- He comes from a long line of huge multi course family style meals and wouldnt have it any other way! :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: gastronomy

          Yep, gotta deal with Daddy, but you better start pricing your ideas before you go much further. That's a lot of food, especially so many courses at the sit-down.
          Maybe you could do the crepes bar for dessert with fruit and ice cream among the choices for garnishes and keep the apps lighter. Love doing the local Bahamian food as part of your celebration, but make sure to have things that are familiar to older relatives who aren't familiar with things like conch. It's always nice to include family heritage as part of wedding celebrations as long as you keep climate in mind. Heavy bisques and pasta might not sit comfortably on a hot and humid evening.
          You're off to a good start with some creative ideas. Your next step should be refining them with some expert caterers.

        2. I wonder if you've considered a station buffet rather than stations followed by a dinner. We've been to a few events lately where beautiful, tiny, light hors d'oeuvres are passed during the cocktail hour and then the meal is made up entirely of stations. You can still make a seating plan, if you like, and your event planner/emcee can coordinate things so that you can call guests back to their seats for speeches or special dances and of course the stations are taken down after about two hours and it's time for more dancing and dessert/coffee stations.

          Some station buffet receptions we've attended have been less structured and the bride and groom have gone without a seating plan, allowing guests to perch at scattered high top and low top tables. A good emcee can still get folks seated for the big toasts and dances, but it's best to group them all together.

          Your possibilities for stations is endless. A raw bar is a wonderful station, though it can get pricey - and you can (and should) have a server open oysters/clams to order at the station. Ethnic foods seem to be a great choice at station buffets. We've seen Korean barbeque stations, ceviche stations, stir fry stations, taquito stations, satay stations, sushi stations. The mashed potato bar is a real crowd pleaser and a good caterer can give you a broad range of sophisticated options. My all-time favorite station served fresh sea urchin with sashimi and caviar. They were served right in the spiny shells and the presentation was amazing!

          If this appeals to you, I think that your guests will also enjoy the format. It allows people to graze, encourages them to socialize and bring a very festive air to the party.

          1. I agree that's a lot of food. I also agree on the passed hors d'oeuvres idea. I think a soup like lobster bisque, followed by penne with vodka sauce, followed by prime rib -- I'm uncomfortably full just thinking about it. If you're going to do hors d'oeuvres, maybe consider dropping either the soup or the pasta. Or at the very least, lighten one or both of those courses up.

            I don't know when you're getting married, but another thing to consider is whether that kind of heavy food will be weather appropriate. Lobster bisque and vodka sauce aren't really things I'm craving when it's hot outside.

            Another thought -- if you're getting married in the Bahamas, why not more of an emphasis on fresh fish and/or native cuisine?

            1. I would suggest the penne as the vegetarian option for the main course (unless you don't have any guests who are vegetarians) instead of a primi.

              Maybe a lighter soup like butternut squash.

              I like the idea Kater had. Small 1-2 bite hors d'oeuvres are great. For the main food either buffer or server style, depending on how formal you want it to be. Pick either the conch fritters or the conch salad or even a conch chowder.

              For sit down dinners I would think a soup, a salad, main, and dessert is plenty enough.

              1. How about a local fruit bar? Things that are in season that aren't easy to get fresh here.


                A friend of mine from Jamaica really misses soursop and raves about it.

                1. Okay i have looked over all of your wonderful suggestions.... The wedding is in Novemeber so it can be quite cool (60's) but still lovely.... I know the food is a lot.... I am working on cutting down- maybe skipping the penne- lobster bisque is a must around these parts... :) I was hesatant about doing buffet style b/c it never seems the food is that great when buffet and people have to stand in long lines to get there food. Now i hear about this stations idea... What a wonderful idea!!!!!! I think that sounds great- any other input on going in this direction????

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: gastronomy

                    The flow of a station buffet is totally different than a standard dinner buffet - no big annoying queque that makes your guests feel like they're at a soup kitchen or old fashioned college cafeteria!! I think it makes for a particularly festive atmosphere and I think that it's the way most of us most enjoy eating - essentially a series of small plates that you choose yourself. But if you go this route you'll want to be very sure that your caterer shares your vision. Most should know what a station buffet is, but depending on the experience, quality, and ethics of your caterer some will try to just break a standard buffet onto smaller tables.

                    You want a series of staffed interactive stations, and you absolutely can/should stipulate the number of cooks/servers per station. A pasta station is an oldie but a goodie - and it's a pretty reasonable way to offset some more expensive stations your may choose. You'll probably want two dedicated staff sauteeing your guests choice of ingredients and sauce base before finishing with boiled pasta. You can do a crepe bar and definitely a station featuring conch! And a carving station (or even a grilling station if feasible) sounds like a must so that your father will know that his guests will be having a lavish and substantial meal. This is not an hors d'oeuvres reception! It is lots and lots of food served in a very stylish way.

                  2. You mention your wedding is in Nassau and you are from the Bahamas. Will most of your guests be from the Bahamas also or are many flying in from elsewhere? If the latter, I'd suggest you include in the dinner portion some dishes that are local specialties to give your out-of-town guests a little memorable island flavor.

                    1. we have a good mix of locals and out of towners coming to the party. We are going to feature a bahamian style food station (at least i would like to) among others- my father loved the idea- he is thinking of flying in some montreal smoked meat and creating a jewish deli kind of stsation! My problem is now he is getting carried away with station ideas (remeber the sit-down meal)- but i dont have any ideas on how to guidleine it- if we have 190 guests how many stations do we need? Also we are having our wedding at a beautiful old bahamian tree house that has been restored into an exculsice club/restaurant. They have their own chef team (the restaurant is very good) but how do i find out if they can really cater to my needs-
                      Thank you so much for all your time and help- I love my fellow chowhounders!!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gastronomy

                        A restored tree house! That is going to be so beautiful!

                        I'll write with some more details tomorrow because I'm about to run out - but one thing to remember is that people tend to eat A LOT at a station buffet! The social atmosphere and the 'buzz' that some of the stations will create in addition to the general appeal of 'starters' will lead people to have more plates than you would think. I'm going to go over some old menus and give you my estimation but you will probably want at least 10 stations. Remember that some of them can be designed to moderate the cost, like pasta stations and or Mediterranean grilled vegetables.

                        more tomorrow - again, congratulations!

                        1. re: gastronomy

                          First - congratulations on your engagement ! Regarding how to determine the quality and skill of the caterer, if you are concerned about food prep, I suggest sampling a few of their offerings that are what you seek to include in your menu. Most good caterers will offer this, as do wedding cake artisans.

                          The number of stations will be based on the number of food "themes" you select. Your caterer can advise with regard to food volume on a per person consumption basis (e.g. 3-6 oz protein, number servings of sides, apps, and beverages - good caterers know the volume based on their experience in their market, and because they are managing to their food costs).

                          A simple way to structure your thoughts on estimates and stations is to create your desired categories. From what you have indicated so far:

                          APPETIZERS - a couple of stations - one for seafood orientation, another with cheese, fruits

                          SOUP - this is a bit challenging for guests to walk around with beverage glass, plate and a soup. suggest small 'sip cup' size servings so everyone can have a taste and return for more if they like.

                          CARVING - a meat station (standing rib roast - baron of beef would probably be too large if you ahve a number of stations) with condiments and one or two complimenting sides

                          SEAFOOD/COOKED - fresh fish preparation with condiments and one or two complimenting sides

                          RAW BAR - and condiments (as suggested by other CH'r)

                          SALAD - fruit, vegetable

                          KOSHER - it sounds like a station with appropriate foods may be required - good to have this easily distinguished for guests.

                          Best wishes.

                        2. When choosing your stations or courses I think it's always a lovely idea to use your ethnicity and family traditions as your focus. The idea of a wedding is that it is a celebration of two people legally and spiritually making a commitment to honor each other and their community. Don't get so involved in the whats that you forget the whys. For example, if the groom is from Italian roots and the bride is from Korean roots the best feast would have foods that honor each tradition. How that would happen is a conversation for the caterer and you.

                          1. Thanks lucyis- trust me we have not forgot any of the why's. We are very in love and have a beautifull ceramony planned on the beach. However, bahamians love to party (as do our familys) and so we want to put on a big bash. Food is really important to us so we want it to be yummy. He is middle eastern so we are going to have a station featuring all the cultural foods. :) Thanks so much!

                            1. You should talk to a caterer before spending too much time-or any time-on your ideas. They will know what amount of food is right for your size group, what foods do really well at whatever type venue you choose, what foods will be available during your wedding time, what foods just can't handle sitting in a buffet, and most importantly, what foods THEY can cook well within your budget. It doesn't do you any good to figure out if you want Penne with vodka sauce and Cornish hens if your caterer hasn't served these before, can't serve these within your price range, or does other dishes better. You don't need to ask on Chowhound how many stations you'll need-you will ask the caterers. They are pros and they figure this stuff out for you. It also does no good to decide you want 10 stations, then find out you can't afford that.

                              So, start asking for catering recommendations, set your budget, and when you contact them they should invite you to a tasting. Here you will learn what they specialize in, what menu they recommend, and you'll get to try the different dishes. Then you can choose which caterer you think will do the best job. If you've got your heart set on a particular venue that doesn't allow outside catering (only the in-house caterers/chefs), you have less flexibility. Sometimes they only have particular menus they serve and you have very few choices to make (maybe just a few within each category)-it all depends, and you should ask them before getting carried away with ideas that they won't be able to do (they may say absolutely not to outside food, such as a Jewish deli food flown in from Canada).

                              Be sure and have your budget set before you talk to the caterer-they won't be able to help you until you do. With your proposed menu, in my city, you'd be looking at over $100 per person, easy.

                              Also, I notice you have a variety of ethnic foods on your dream menu (sushi, Italian, middle eastern)-if you really are set on serving a dinner with that many different styles of food, I'd find caterers that specialize in each (just like you wouldn't go to a restaurant that served sushi, Italian and Middle Eastern). It's very unlikely the same caterer will be able to do all these things well, and you don't want mediocre versions of everything.

                              Oh, and the wedding cake/desserts are usually done separately by a baker who specializes in them.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: christy319

                                Good advice. Plus, the chef probably has specialties that you haven't considered. And, in a limited place you might not be able to find good quality ingredients that you want--can you get good jewish deli food in the Bahamas or is it worth the cost of bringing it in fresh? My friend's son got married in the Caribbean and though this was years ago, she had to personally bring in a lot of the food she wanted. It makes much more sense to use what's available locally. If you provide mediocre middle eastern food, you might leave your guests who aren't familiar with it with the idea that it's not good food.

                              2. Christy319- Very good advice thank you..... We are in love with a venue that only has in-house catering- I ran the stations idea by them and they implyed that it would not be a promlem- my next step was to write down the different stations we wanted so i could make a meeting with them and make sure their team actually could cater to those ideas. Thats where chowhound came in- I was just trying to get advice/ideas on cool different stations-eg- i never would have thought of Korean Bbq until Kater mentioned it and now i love the idea! So thank you all very much for your wonderful input... This is really exciting for my Fiance and I as we cant wait to get married and spend our lives together... :)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: gastronomy

                                  Glad to hear you already talked to them-I'd still encourage you to be a bit cautious about what you ask them to do unless they cook it for you first and prove that they can do it well (have they ever done Korean bbq before? Can they do it really well?). They should make you samples of every single thing you have on the menu before you actually finalize the menu (this is standard for caterers). You might also ask them what they think they do best-they'll know what has been a hit in the past, and what has been a flop.

                                  1. re: christy319

                                    Communication with your caterer is really important and it is great to play to their strengths. But it's important to remember that they are operating a business. Taking a passive approach with your venue is quite convenient for them, but even the most ethical will steer you toward the approach they can execute with the most comfort and profit and the same goes for dishes. You'll want to go over the menu in detail, but do realize that these professionals are capable of executing a wide variety of dishes. The tasting, as you suggest, is absolutely critical because that is where you can be certain that your visions align! You'll want to schedule a tasting (p.s. more and more venues expect you to pay and I think it makes perfect sense to pay for a good tasting - you'll 'pay for it' whether it's a billable item or not but if you pay directly you're entitled to specify the details) that includes more stations that you actually intend to select so that you can weed out any weak points and request that the detailed service plan (staff and scheduling for each station and bar) is presented at that point.

                                2. My husband and I are both chefs and we had a station reception outside near the intercoastal waterway of my parents yard. The servers passed horsd'voures and there were 3 different stations. One was sushi where the chef rolled to order and also had typical rolls set out. The other was a grill where pork tenderloin was cooked and served with roasted sweet and new potato salad. The other was pasta that was sauted to order. We had a cupcake tower for dessert. There were two bars set up on opposite sides of the lawn. We had seating for about half of the guest which worked really well because people wandered around and sat when ready. We wanted a casual feel and a very social occassion. It was fantastic.

                                  1. Oh, how exciting! And what a smart girl you are - I didn't think to ask the Chowhounds when we got married 1-1/2 years ago. We had a prime rib station which was a big hit. We're in a maritime sitation so we had seafood for appetizers: raw oysters, crab cakes. I don't remember everything, but we thought about what our favorite foods were: John loves asparagus. I love crab. And beer drinkers will drink champagne at a wedding. How many people; what time of year; what's your climate? Is it formal, semi-formal, casual? All these things will help you decide what to serve. We didn't do it, but our caterer told us (and i later read about it in other sources) that it is popular to serve mini-hamburgers and mini-hotdogs. This would be a cute appetizer idea. We had lots of kids so we had some kid-friendly fare.
                                    We had a buffet style so everybody got to pick exactly what they wanted. I was lucky; a friend of mine who used to be a caterer took it upon herself to make us a goodie-bag for us to take on our get-away. Boy it was sure good later that night and for breakfast. Well, I am so happy for you . . I know exactly how you are feeling. Your fiance. And then your husband! it is lovely! Plan a fabulous honeymoon - it will get you off on the right foot. Something luxurious, no heavy hiking for heaven's sake. Hawaii, Mexico, Venice, some place easy and fabulous. You will have worked really hard right up to til the wedding. Trust me I know. Blessings to you both!

                                    1. Thank you so much for all the wonderful words! The wedding was suppose to be in November but i think (i will know tomorrow) that we may have it in June- as in 3 months! :) We are meeting with the in-house catering team on Thursday to see if they can work with our ideas- what we have so far.... Meat/poultry station (prime rib, lamb, capon, turkey), Sushi station, Italian Station (Pizza squares, pasta, sausages, shrimps) Bahamain Station (fresh conch salad, fritters, conch chowder, peas and rice, snappers, crawfish) and a crepe staion with different savory fillings. :)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: gastronomy

                                        Congratulations... I know this may seem completely off the direction you're heading in, but my boyfriend's favorite wedding he attended involved a candy station- if you have guests (or your family) has a sweet tooth, it's a fun idea if you can mix nostalgic candies (you can order them online) with popular current candies, or exotic candies from around the world. It also seems to encourage a lot of grazing and hanging around that table...

                                        1. re: gastronomy

                                          So exciting!!

                                          Please try to give us occasional updates!

                                        2. Congratulations on your engagement and on skipping many months of planning and cutting to the chase! It sounds like you have narrowed your stations down nicely. While I think that many different kinds of ethnic foods is a fun idea, it is good to remember that you want the foods to compliment each other or else you run into problems that echo the hodgepodge potluck syndrome - too many miss matched flavors and ingredients don't all sit so well in the stomach!

                                          When my husband and I got married we wanted all of our favorite foods Italian, Southern and soul food, Jewish family favorites, and fresh Asian. What we did was spread the foods out over the weekend, leaving guests with four memorable meals that were cohesive and satisfying unto themselves and avoided the mish mash feel. We had Thai/Asian fusion for a smaller family dinner on Friday night after synagogue; Southern & soul food (along with square dancing!) for our rehearsal dinner; for the wedding we had a tapas bar with homemade peach sangria for the cocktail hour, and fresh, light Italian food for dinner; we ended the weekend with a great Jewish brunch in the backyard.

                                          I think our food was fantastic but what really made the wedding great was we invited the people we loved the most and labored over the seating chart. We wanted it to feel like each table was its own fantastic dinner party. We succeeded- people still tell us it is the best wedding they have ever been to and our friends and family ask us when we are having our wedding reunion.

                                          1. best wedding i've been to featured an exotic fruit bar incorporating desserts. figs with honey, dates, two-bite pastries, etc. A nice touch (first time I ever saw) was an inconspicuous manned tea/coffee station in the back. That way, folks who didn't want to wait until cake to have their black coffee could drink it whenever. I kept going back for tea to help me settle my stomach. Persians know how to throw a party. : )