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Strolling Menus for Wedding Receptions

Strolling Menus for Wedding Receptions

Wedding receptions that move are all the rage. Rather than sitting guests down for sit-down meals, newlyweds now sate friends and family with an array of tiny tastes. Here, caterers provide a sample of sit-down menu alternatives that bring reception guests to their feet.BOLDLY GOING

Mingling-friendly menus are so popular, they make up 70 percent of Atlanta-based Bold American Catering wedding receptions, according to social sales manager Amanda Gall. Newlyweds' move to these menus is simple. “‘Distinctive’ is a word I hear in almost every initial conversation I have with couples, usually quickly followed with ‘but comfortable,’” she notes.

Sophisticated brides aren't above quirky station setups either. Bold American offers slushy stations, often set up beside elaborate dessert displays, where alcohol and mixers are combined in a wok set in dry ice to form a slush. One favorite, Gall notes, is a combination of blueberry vodka, lemonade and sugared frozen blueberries.


“In the South, we always lean heavily towards hors d'oeuvre menus or food stations,” says chef Charlie Giordano of Duvall Catering & Event Design in Charleston, S.C. So much so that Giordano reports that only 20 percent of brides opt for $50-a-head (on average) sit-down dinners. Heavy hors d'oeuvre are less expensive, often running $35 a head for food only, according to Giordano, due to less labor and less rental equipment for seating.


The California crowd is starting to embrace strolling wedding receptions as much as the South. While these menus aren't yet the standard, the move to movement-friendly menus is underway. Michele Fox Gott, president of catering consultants Center of Attention in Burbank, Calif., sees preferences skewing 60 percent toward formal sit-down dinners, 30 percent toward stations and 10 percent toward classic buffets. Here, sit-down dinners run roughly $90 to $110 for food alone. On the other hand, “Hors d'oeuvre can be more expensive than a sit-down dinner because each individual hors d'oeuvre is given handmade attention, quite different from making a batch of mashed potatoes,” Fox Gott says.


This menu — developed by An Catering of Beverly Hills, Calif. — started with a flight “to tease the tummy,” Center of Attention's Michele Fox Gott says. With the bride and groom's arrival at 7 p.m. came heavier options, as well as an Ice Station with Bloody Mary oyster shooters and Fire Station with spicy ingredients to make your own wraps. The couple cut the cake at 9:30, and by 11, Fox Gott determined it was time to offset the effects of the alcohol. The menu's cost, which Fox Gott deemed “not that bad,” was $80 per person.

First Flight

Spring Rolls Yam and Goat Cheese Truffles drizzled with a Fig-balsamic Reduction Crispy Shrimp Mousse Rolls with Kiwi-strawberry Sauce

Second Flight

Seared Tuna Ahi Tuna Rolls wrapped in Cucumber (in photo) Colonial Dungeness Crab Puffs Braised Short Ribs on Wasabi Rice Cakes

Third Flight

Lemon Grass Lobster Bisque An Family's Secret Kitchen Garlic Noodles Lobster Corn Dogs


A 300-guest wedding at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C., ran a slightly higher bill than usual at $40 a head because the menu included so many options. In addition to more elaborate items, Duvall's had a chilled ceviche bar and a garden display of cheese, bread, fruits, marinated and grilled vegetables, and crudites with dips.

Passed Hors D'oeuvre

Roasted Mushrooms stuffed with Toasted Walnuts and Gruyere Cheese House-smoked Salmon and Salmon Caviar on Dill Crostini Mini Buttermilk Biscuits with Country Ham and Orange-jalapeno Chutney

Chef Bar

Mini Osso Buco with Wild-mushroom Risotto Cuban Sandwiches with Fried Plantains Paella

Shrimp and Crab Cake Station

South Carolina Shrimp sauteed two ways, with Tomato-bacon-tasso Sauce or Lobster-parmesan Cream Sauce, and served with Whole-grain Creamy Yellow Grits Lump Crab Cakes served with South Carolina Peach Mustard and Cajun Caper Remoulade


For a wedding with 277 guests, Bold American Catering created multiple stations where “each station was thought of as an individual mini meal, composed of protein, starch and veggies,” Amanda Gall says. Due to the high-end style of this menu, and the fact that “no one went hungry,” she notes, this menu ran higher than the average $45-a-head station menu, food alone, at $60 a head. The chef-manned stations included 7-inch plates, two separate heavy hors d'oeuvre stations and a carving station.

Passed Hors D'oeuvre

Lamb Chops with Mint Julep Glaze Camembert with Strawberries Barbecue Pork on a Sweet Potato Biscuit

Heavy Hors D'oeuvre Dinner

Grilled Pork Loin wrapped in Applewood-smoked Bacon with a Cider Demi-glace Sweet Potato Mash with Bourbon Candied Pecans Fresh-baked Cheddar Biscuits with Honey Butter

Saute Station

Sauteed Shrimp with White Stone-ground Grits and Garlic Gravy Beet and Goat Cheese Salad Braised Collard Greens with Onion and Jalapenos


Bold American Catering

Center of Attention

Duvall Catering & Event Design

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