When you think of a traditional wedding food service, what is the first thing that comes into mind? Hors d'oeuvres served by waiters in bite-sizes to serve as appetizers and starters. But what could be a more creative and interesting alternative? You can set up food stations where your wedding guests can serve themselves. If you prefer the alternative option, then we would recommend you the latest trend in wedding cuisine - the grazing table.
Grazing tables are very similar to a buffet - but designed to be more visually appealing and easier for guests to pick and nibble at food. It is typically set up using a table, but it can also be done on a large platter, wooden board, counter, or any large flat surface. Food isn't contained in plates or bowls, rather, they are arranged aesthetically in piles that spill and overlap into each other, so it doesn’t just taste good, it also looks good. The key element of grazing tables is organized disorder.
These elaborately curated food station/s feature a wide assortment of bite-sized snacks- and can somewhat appear as larger charcuterie boards, fully filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, and nuts - they can be set up for any bid event you'd like. And it has found itself to be growing in popularity in wedding receptions everywhere by providing colorful and flavorful foods that wedding guests feast and mingle over (5,6). If you are convinced that a grazing table would be perfect for your wedding, we encourage you to think outside the box when coming up with ideas for your own wedding grazing table.
The foods you choose to put, how you present it, and the overall design of the table should speak about you as a couple. If you and your partner are sweet lovers, then you can fill your grazing table to the brim with your favorite treats, cakes, cupcakes, candies, and cookies. If you are a Japanese cuisine fanatic, then you can create a station decorated with hand rolled sushi and sashimi. If your wedding venue is by the beach or close to the sea, you may also fill your grazing table with seafood complete with oysters, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and many more. There are so many possibilities in designing your grazing table!
Whatever cuisine you choose to fill your grazing table, be sure that what you choose is a cuisine that reflects you personally - although there is nothing wrong with sticking to the popular trends and favorites, you can never really go wrong with whatever you choose!
Choose a theme
There really is no limit to the number of options you have - your imagination is the limit! But having a theme will make it easier to create a grazing table. Choosing a theme will also keep the elements - from food to decor to crockeries - of your grazing table coherent and elegant to look at. It will also have food that complements each other. If you want to rock that vineyard wedding theme then you can use an old wine barrel instead of a plain table to offer a rustic element into the mix. You will love this concept, bringing together the elements of the winemaking process and use them as props and crockery.
So if you are creating a specific theme, a rustic theme perhaps, a winter wedding theme, or a Mediterranean grazing table, choose foods, crockeries, serving platters, decorations and props that fit the theme. And there are so many options to choose from. You can also opt-out for the classic charcuterie board that you can also personalize to show your love as a couple. After all, people love cheese, bread, meats, and vintage wine. Anything else that you will add is icing on the cake … Oh cake! Why not make it a dessert-themed grazing table if you really love sweets! Fill it up with cake slices, cookies, cupcakes, candies, and many more.
A single flat surface may not suffice for all the food you want to put into your grazing table. So why not create tiers and group your food accordingly. You can also put a serving platter for the food but it would take away the essence of a grazing table. Instead, create layers of bread, cheese, fruits, greens, and wine to elevate your grazing table. This will add a little bit of dimension to your grazing table (4).
Not only will signs offer more aesthetics to your grazing table, it will also help your guests (and even yourself) to know what food you are picking and eating. Especially if you are putting a variety of specialty meats, cheeses, and other foods. Toppers and miniature chalkboard signs are a cute and simple way to make sure that guests aren’t second guessing what they are getting.
It’s more than meats and cheese
Who said that the whole grazing table has to be filled with meats, cheeses, and grapes? You can incorporate other foods too! Seafood is also a great option for a grazing table for your wedding. Other options can be fresh wraps, rolls, fruits, vegetables, sweets, and many more.
Fill it up with food … duh!
You should use fresh and seasonal local produce of where your wedding is going to be held to ensure that your grazing table has a balance of ingredients, colors, textures, aroma, and taste. You can fill it up with seasonal fruit, artisan cheese wheels, baskets of assorted bread rolls, platters of prosciutto and salamis, char-grilled veggies, crackers, olives and pickles, sweet treats, dips and spreads, and more (2). For something sweet, you can break some chocolate bars to scatter around the table - this will be a huge hit among your guests(4)!
Set up with a gorgeous view in mind
Don’t just set up your grazing table anywhere you see a space. Plan your grazing table with a gorgeous view and frame in mind. You will never regret the idea of setting up an absolutely stunning display overlooking an amazing background(1,3).
Breaking the beta with mini grazes
We all know that grazing tables are set up with a large table where food is filled in - this is the traditional way of preparing a grazing table. So why not completely turn this concept around? You will love the idea of putting mini grazing platters on each individual reception table for your guests to share. This will allow your guests to nibble at appetizers and socialize with each other.
Utilize an unexpected setting
Just because it has a table in its name, doesn’t mean that a grazing table requires the use of one. Get creative with the space that you will use. You can use the ledge of a Victorian window for example. Be bold and surprise your guests!
Add lots of fruits
A lot of specialty meats, cheeses, and wines pair perfectly with fresh fruits - these fruits add more layers of texture and flavor when eaten together. You can add in slices and pieces of strawberries, oranges, grapes (the most popular choice), and figs not only to bring out complementing and beautiful flavor but to also add gorgeous splashes of color.
Who said that grazing tables need to be filled with savory food? Why not set up multiple grazing tables? If you are thinking just that, then why not go all out with a dessert themed grazing table. You can fill it with your favorite sweet treats such as donuts, cupcakes, sour tapes, gummy bears, chocolate bars, chocolate dips, and marshmallows. You can also put small bags or boxes for guests to take and fill with sweets that they can take home (1).
Be bold with decors
It is important that you do not shy away from being bold, adventurous, and creative with your table. Add in elements of décor, such as hanging greenery, to draw attention to your grazing table. Theme the rest of the table with matching vases full of foliage. One of the most important elements in decorating and keeping your grazing table entertaining is using fresh flowers. Any flower will do, but be consistent with the flowers used in the wedding.
You can also use locally grown flowers to ensure freshness when ordered. Pick a couple of colors, do not go all out and create a rainbow bright decor - be decisive with your color scheme. We know that it can be difficult to choose with the spectrum of stunning colors. Not only should you choose flowers that will complement the color of your food, it should also smell lovely! Spread out the flowers around the staples already laid on the table and get creative with it.