The idea behind grazing tables is to provide guests with numerous small plates (and utensils) of food throughout the night. This ensures that they do not overeat at any one point, and allows them to pace themselves through dinner accordingly. It also gives guests plenty of choices, which can be exciting for them to help themselves (thereby avoiding service delays at buffet-style tables). For more information, visit the website.
Grazing tables are becoming more and more popular, with many couples now choosing to implement the idea. The following contains some useful information on grazing tables, which can be used by wedding venues that wish to start offering this option to their clients.
The following is a useful guide on how much space to provide per person, depending on the size of your wedding and the number of guests:
For 100 guests, you will need approximately 50 square feet. This allows for four grazing tables measuring 3 x 2 feet along with four stations serving ten people each. For 125 guests, you should have around 62 square feet. This will allow for five grazing tables measuring 2 x 3 feet, with five serving stations allowing for 15 people each. If you have 150 guests, you should envisage around 75 square feet of space.
You can plan for 6 four-foot-long grazing tables and six serving areas which allow for 20 people to be served at a time. To give you an idea, the average wedding reception has approximately 100 guests, so allowing for 50 square feet is a good guide.
The following equipment will be required to successfully implement your grazing table plan:
- · 6 x four-foot-long tables (ideally these should have a metallic or wooden finish, but be sure to check with your caterer before buying)
- · 12 x low-sided metal trays (should measure approximately 9.5 x 6 inches)
- · 60 x disposable wooden or plastic cutlery items (knives, forks and spoons). Each item should be around 7 inches long
- · 60 x disposable plates (these can be ceramic, but must be low-sided)
- · 12 x serving spoons or tongs
- · 3 x catering size bottles of condiment sachets (e.g. salt, pepper, oil & vinegar) plus 12 non-catering sachets for guests to help themselves
- · 24 x hand-towels (to wipe hands-on after eating)
- · 12 x face washers (these should be like the towel above, but smaller. These are important in avoiding cross-contamination of foods by using one towel per table)
- · 12 x small containers of tissues (for guests to use when eating sticky foods such as honey or syrup)
For the set-up, you will need 6 x 6-foot square areas, which can be used by caterers. Each area must have access to power sockets/outlets for catering equipment to be used. You should also provide a 6 x 6-foot area for storage of catering equipment during the event, along with access to a sink and hot water.
Food & Drink
As previously mentioned, guests will be able to help themselves to whatever they like from the grazing tables (unless you hire waiters/waitresses to serve them). The following is a list of options to consider when stocking these tables:
- · loaves of bread including rolls, slices and baguettes with butter or margarine
- · Salads including coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni & cheese salad, greens (e.g. spinach)
- · Soups including tomato, cream of mushroom, chicken noodle
- · Pizza slices
- · Sandwiches including ham & cheese, tuna mayonnaise and egg mayonnaise. You can also consider adding some rolls or baguettes into these areas too.
- · Hot savoury snacks including sausage rolls, pasties and pies
- · Toffee apples and honeycomb (for older guests)
- · Fruit (e.g. grapes and strawberries)
Food & Wine Pairing: You can also consider stocking a few wines by the glass to encourage guest interaction with each other when discussing what to drink. It is advisable to consider stocking wines that are light and refreshing, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Sparkling wines can also be considered if the budget allows for it (e.g. Prosecco and Cava).
The following are tips to help make your event run as smoothly as possible:
- · Place the food in areas where guests can reach them without any problems. Avoid placing foods that require cooking (e.g. BBQ chicken) near cold salads, but opt for a separate area if catering for large-sized events
- · Ensure hot foods are kept at a temperature higher than 60 degrees to avoid food poisoning. It is important to have a catering thermometer on hand in case the food needs re-heating during the event.
- · Place another 6 x 4-foot square area next to where you would like guests to sit and eat, which can be used as a waiting area for catering staff.
- · If guests are attending the event with each other, take into consideration their dietary needs and preferences.
- · Do not place food and drink out any sooner than 45 minutes before the event begins to ensure freshness and quality of the foods.
- · If providing water for guests, ensure that glasses are available. Consider placing small plants or flowers in wine bottles to give a rustic feel to your table décor.