Traditions can be broken as long as you plan accordingly.
I'm sure that many of you future brides have checklists that you have clipped out of magazines that detail exactly what month each task needs to be done. They are great tools to keep you on track, but I'm here to tell you that you can play around with those a bit...as long as you are never behind schedule. For us, one of those earlier than necessary decisions was our food.
I was ready to talk about food early because I had plans for how this would set the tone of the evening. My husband was ready to talk about food because...well, he's a dude. Our first major decision: Scrap the traditional seated dinner and go with food stations. I had to employ Lesson #2 for this decision (Stick to your guns), since I received the stink face more than once when I told our families and close friends about our plans. But we plunged forward.
In order to add the "So Sean & Amber factor," we wanted the menu to really reflect us. Because of the layout of the space and the amount of people that would be filling it, 2 big stations was the way to go. Now as to not rock the boat too much, we needed to have one station that was typical Midwestern fare - Meat and Potatoes - only kicked up a notch. Instead of rubber chicken and mashed potatoes with a mystery vegetable, we had amazing carved meats with an assortment of sauces, herb roasted potatoes, salads, and more rolls and butter than you could count. That should make all of the diehard traditionalists happy, right?
For our second station, we wanted to choose a food genre that is also universally likable. (As much as I would have LOVED to have had a raw bar, I was pretty sure that I'd be stuck eating everything myself.) So instead, we took the menu from one of our favorite little restaurants in NYC and had our caterer take a stab at it...thus the Mercadito Mexican Station was born. Items like queso fundido, pork tacos with pineapple salsa, and ceviche would never be considered low brow...but at the same time, who doesn't love Mexican food?
These stations were preceded by a full cocktail hour filled with passed hors d'oeuvres that swayed towards the heartier side to ensure that it would be impossible to go home hungry.
But the main obstacle of our station wedding was the seating. We did not do assigned seating for our wedding. This was sort of the point of why we chose our venue and this kind of eating structure. We wanted to encourage people to keep mingling and moving so that it was a "party" atmosphere...not just an extension of our ceremony. So we provided as many traditional dining height tables as possible both inside the reception and outside in the garden, but then we also added high-top cocktail tables throughout along with seating at the bar. It worked like a charm. In the end, it was these breaks from tradition that our guests loved the most.
And don't forget to plan for yourself. My amazing caterer, Blue Plate Catering, assigned a server to us for dinner and dessert. They set a two person table for us in the garden (just enough away from the action) to allow us a little private time for our first dinner as husband and wife. Had we not made that provision, we may have never eaten...or had the pleasure of this special moment in our night. --a