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Nov 5, 2009 09:50 AM

Clambake for wedding? Bad idea?

Hello everyone,

Apologies as I think this may have been covered in a previous post, but thought that this would be a good community to ask for advice. I'm planning my wedding for next September and am trying to find recommendations of companies/caterers in the Boston area who would be able to put on a classy clambake for the event. I'm not having luck in finding too many independent reviews online (good or bad) so was hoping that someone might be able to offer a suggestion from weddings they attended or organized (or even companies to avoid!). I don't know if a clambake would be suitable for a sit down meal and if they can prepare the lobsters and shellfish so that it doesn't get too messy? I'd like to avoid a buffet at the wedding, but perhaps that's a better idea for a clambake. As you can tell, I don't have much experience with organizing clambakes!

I'm thinking of holding the outdoor wedding in a tent for around 100-140 people and have contacted Woodman's and Family Crest so far (some of these places offer the tent, tables and linens in a wedding package as well without having to go through multiple vendors which seems easier. I wonder if it is a good idea to rent the tables, chairs and tent from the caterer or if that's just me being a bit lazy), but any help would be much appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. My first thought is, will everyone you're inviting like clambake food? I can't imagine the cost of lobsters for the size of your guest list. The more people / vendors involved, the more work for you, and the more chances for problems. Messy is a clambake, that's why you have them at the beach, not when you're dressed up. If you want an idea, you could have a dessert and champagne reception, and then on another day have your clambake in a more informal setting, wearing informal clothes.

    1. I attended a smaller wedding with a clambake reception catered by Woodman's at the chowder house in Manchester-by-the-Sea. They did a GREAT job (and I am not a fan of going to the Woodman's mother ship for lobsters or fried stuff).

      It was outstanding in every aspect (except the totally minor issue of mushy corn on the cob, but it wasn't in season yet), however, it was a buffet format and it did require a lot of bibs and napkins - everyone there loved it.

      1. Obviously you know your group, but shellfish is one of the most common food allergens and those of us who have shellfish allergies are fairly paranoid about cross-contamination because it can have such severe effects (as indeed is true of many food allergies).

        1. while I agree a clambake sounds great, not so sure a wedding is the best time. Clambakes are messy by nature, and some people may not like that if it is a dressy wedding. Also, as another poster said, the allergy factor may be a problem. With that many guests (and guests of guests), are you sure everyone you invite is ok with shellfish?
          That said, if you want a clambake, and you know your family & friends are not allergic, go for it. The best weddings are the fun ones, not necessarily the most elegant or "proper". And best wishes for a great wedding!

          1. I've been to a clambake catered by Woodmans... its a fun choice, but a clambake has a certain ambiance - outdoors, casual, perhaps picnic tables. I think "formal clambake" is an oxymoron. Steamer clams and lobster are messy, and even messier when one starts to dip them in clarified butter. If someone is wearing a tux or a nice dress, I'd have rain ponchos handy for them to wear (okay, a bit much, but not far off.. butter stains). If they serve "soft-shells" you are going to have water everywhere from inside the shells. Plus, some people really don't like the killing of lobsters - I know, they are insane - but its their viewpoint... can be up there with veal (mmmm.... veal) in terms of non-PC foods. Plus, are you going to have kids there? Kids often don't deal well with shellfish, or they deal too well with it and they start throwing lobster claws at each other.

            If you HAD to, you can probably have the caterer dress the lobsters themselves - pull the claws, detach the tail, dump the body. I've been to functions that just served chilled tails, which are pretty easy to eat. You could also just do fried seafood platters - fried shrimp, scallops, clam chowder are all easier to eat, very New Englandy, and I suspect easier to serve.

            1 Reply
            1. re: grant.cook

              I'm with the posters who think a clambake is more suitable for an informal affair. Seems way too risky for a wedding, for all the reasons mentioned. A compromise would be to offer a raw bar as part of the appetizers course---something we had at my wedding and that I've seen at other weddings held near a coastline boasting good seafood. It was a big hit, and because it was part of a larger meal, we didn't have to worry about the people who didn't eat raw shellfish.