Catering Trends

From food walls to s’mores stations, brides and grooms are choosing new and innovative ways to celebrate their big day.

By Rachael Devaney | Gallery photos, in the order in which they appear, by Sabrina Scolari, Samantha Lonczak, Faith Dugan Photography and Sabrina Scolari (last two photos)

While traditional sit-down dinners continue to dominate the wedding scene, today’s modern nuptials also include a variety of trends that can enhance family and wedding traditions. Here, top caterers and wedding planners from the area share some of the most popular food trends that are sure to continue into 2017.

INTERACTIVE FOOD STATIONS:
A CHANCE TO BE CREATIVE

For Alec Maccini, senior event producer at The Catered Affair, a premier event planning firm located in Massachusetts, food walls have become something of a staple during cocktail receptions. The literal wall, which can be found adorned with snacks of festively decorated bags of popcorn or light and fluffy gourmet pretzels, are a way to customize receptions in a “unique and fun” way, explains Maccini. And while couples should never forgo an appetizer hour, Maccini says food walls have become a way to incorporate special snacks into the evening.

PHOTO BY MICHAEL BLACHARD PHOTOGRAPHY | S’mores station by The Catered Affair

While food walls are a definite statement piece, Samantha Lonczak of Blackstone Caterers, a full-service catering establishment located in Rhode Island, feels interactive food stations have become a wedding favorite across the board. One of the most popular trends, she says, is a mashed potato bar where guests can choose from a selection of mashes, which can be piled high into stemless martini glasses and adorned with toppings like bacon, blue cheese and mushrooms, or gourmet selections like truffled lobster butter.

“If it’s make-your-own, they want it,” Lonczak says. “From strawberry shortcakes to Thai noodle bowls, the station options seem endless.”

Maccini says food stations have also crossed over from cocktail receptions into brunch and late-night snack territory as well. Regardless of the theme, couples are looking for ways to keep guests entertained throughout the evening and early morning hours with options like s’mores stations featuring graham crackers paired with an assortment of chocolates and marshmallow toppings, as well as a roaring late-night bonfire. Some couples opt for chicken and waffle and omelette stations—which Maccini says can keep guests going after a long night of dancing.

“Breakfast and smoke stations are a lot of fun and can be custom fit to any kind of wedding,” Maccini notes. “People love to feel warm and taken care of and these kind of options really do the trick.”

TAPAS-STYLE:
TINY BITES, TINY MEALS

While Nicole Mattiello, marketing and development coordinator for Pranzi Catering and Events, has created a range of stations including a gourmet macaroni and cheese station and a Moroccan-themed quinoa station at several summer weddings, she also found couples looking for tapas-style dinners. Despite the fact that the small-portioned savory dishes are less traditional than beef, chicken and fish dinners, Mattiello says the variety of options offers guests a “modern flair” that can set a wedding apart from the rest.

Grass-fed local beef sliders by Blackstone Caterers

PHOTO BY OGGI PHOTO | Grass-fed local beef sliders by Blackstone Caterers

“This dinner option is typically served with drinks at a bar, but tapas is really trending right now at large-scale events like weddings,” Mattiello explains. “We make it special by offering multiple courses including dishes like Chilean sea bass, duck confit or different types of beef like a petite filet or tomahawk steak.”

For many, tapas-style may seem like too much work, but Mattiello assures that a full-service catering business can handle the different levels of service; her commercial kitchen and bakery can tackle tapas dinners with ease.

“Yes, it takes a lot to provide multi-tiered service and a series of courses but talk to your catering company and find out what they can handle,” she says. “Most full-service caterers have flexibility and an open mind and can take your vision to the next level.”

SPIRIT STATIONS:
HELP YOURSELF!

Far beyond beer and wine options, drinks have also become a focal point at wedding receptions. Much like food trends, drinks are coming out from behind traditional bar settings, says Lonczak, and are being used to further personalize celebrations to create “lasting memories.”

“Think about hot apple cider paired with miniature doughnuts or a spiked-espresso bar that can really pair well with pretty much anything sweet,” Lonczak says. “Offering a complimentary drink like a miniature margarita at a build-your-own taco bar can also make the whole endeavor more of an experience.”

Maccini, who has seen spirit stations at several weddings, feels that unique cocktail options can raise the bar at even the most over-the-top event. With a myriad of indoor and outdoor options, drinks are the type of accent that will never go out of style.

“Mixology bars are really hot right now and craft cocktails and beers that incorporate artisanal ingredients are popping up everywhere,” Maccini says. “From boozy snow cones, which can be enhanced with vodka, to boozy fruit shakes, guests are being treated to much more than traditional wine and beer options.”

Del’s vodka lemonade by Blackstone Caterers

PHOTO BY SAMANTHA LONCZAK | Del’s vodka lemonade by Blackstone Caterers

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