19 Grazing Tables Perfect for Your Cocktail Hour
When you think of traditional cocktail hour food service, what typically comes to mind? Passed canapés, served by waiters who bring these light bites around to your guests, is what most couples choose. Another alternative? Setting up dedicated food stations, which your attendees can visit on their own. If you're leaning towards the latter option, we'd encourage you to bookmark the latest trend in wedding cuisine: grazing tables. These curated stations feature a rich assortment of bite-size snacks—and though they most often appear as larger-than-life charcuterie boards, filled to the brim with meats, cheeses, fruits, and nuts (à la this one courtesy of Chalk Hill Estate and Winery), they can ultimately comprise of just about any big-day fare you'd like.
In fact, we'd encourage you to think outside of the box when ideating your own grazing table, since the food you choose for your wedding can really speak to your personalities. Have a next-level sweet tooth? Fill your grazing table with all of your favorite treats, candies, bars, cookies, and mini cakes. Are you and your future spouse sushi fanatics? Craft your station with plenty of hand rolls and sashimi (which will be a hit with your guests, guaranteed). On the other hand, if you're getting hitched at a coastal venue in the middle of the summer—in peak seafood season!—consider a grazing table on ice, complete with oysters, shrimp cocktail, and more.
However you choose to interpret this emerging cocktail hour trend, be sure to choose a culinary theme that speaks to you—although, there's nothing wrong with sticking to everyone's favorite meats and cheeses, which are surefire crowd-pleasers at just about any event.
Fruits and Figs
This little-bit-of-everything station from The Hardware Store is proof that your grazing table can fit right into your event's décor landscape. The rich purple figs and grapes—the star players of this tasty setup—spoke to this wedding's romantic lavender-and-plum color palette.
The Ultimate Breakfast Buffet
Celebrating your nuptials with a brunch-themed menu? Bookmark this unique breakfast bar by KaraKara Lavish Grazing: It was presented in the center of this guest table, allowing attendees to nosh on waffles, croissants, and acai bowls (served in coconuts!) and mingle, without having to get up to fill their plates.
Get creative with your grazing table's design by incorporating unexpected props for a dynamic effect. Wooden crates, cutting boards, and ceramic plates created mini vignettes across this sprawling charcuterie spread by Jungle Oven; trailing bowls of fresh sage and a magnolia leaf-centric floral arrangement added texture.
Down the Center
While most couples' grazing stations function as isolated food bars—they're most often set up during the cocktail hour, since they offer the perfect stand-and-eat cuisine—this creative option acted as this low-to-the-ground table's centerpiece. In lieu of traditional floral arrangements, a stretch of savory favorites, from rolled meats and cheese rounds (served on cake stands!) to fresh bread and dried tomatoes, ran the length of this picnic-style table thanks to an elongated wooden plank.
If you gravitate towards the fruit components—as opposed to the meat and cheese offerings—of traditional grazing tables, don't be afraid to curate one that better reflects your preferences come the big day. Take this iteration, by The Poor Girls Pantry, for example. Look closely and you'll realize that it's decidedly fruit-centric—note how the sweeter options, like grapefruit slices, raspberries, kiwis, strawberries, cherries, and blueberries, overpower the rest of the savory selections.
All the Cheese Types
This small (but mighty!) Hungry Bear grazing station is a reminder to incorporate multiple types of cheese—soft (think brie) and hard (like parmesan) options, included—throughout your own spread to ensure that there's something for everyone.
Here's the thing we love about this food trend: You can arrange just about any food type close together and voilà, you have a grazing table. Case in point? This personal pizza bar, courtesy of Olive Wood Pizza, featuring pies covered in all kinds of toppings.
In a Nook
Who says you need an actual table to work this food display into your event? Highlight a unique component of your wedding venue's architecture—take a crumbling nook in an Old-World castle, for example—with a built-in grazing table (this one, assembled by Emily Charlotte, just fit onto a narrow ledge).
We're all for a sprawling charcuterie assortment that features meats, cheeses, nuts, fruits (both fresh and dried!), and more together, but there is an advantage to separating each food type—guests will better be able to identify their favorites and pair up their go-to combos, as opposed to being overwhelmed by a seemingly endless array of choices.
In the Middle
Looking for a surefire way to draw attention to your grazing table? Place it in the center of your cocktail hour space—and make like Sapphire and Lace Designs (the team used foods from Trader Joe's to curate this tasty spread!) by placing a pretty vintage rug under the table for another accent.
Fill out your grazing table's negative space with floral arrangements that speak to your cuisine's natural colors. Thanks to its pink and peach hues (which referenced the meats and cheeses below!), the small arrangement placed towards the back of this station by Colette's Catering didn't overpower the food selection at this Beijos Events celebration.
Use a bold, bright food—that contrasts the rest of your charcuterie's warm-colored cuisine—to tie your setup to the other options on the menu and event design. This trick especially comes in handy when you're working your grazing station right onto your tabletops. Note how Nicole McDuffie used a cup of green olives to reference the eucalyptus-heavy centerpieces and nearby salad. The result? A cohesive food-meets-décor moment that guests will appreciate.
A Grazing Table with a View
While this snack station is pretty all on its own (it's a collection of guests' all-time favorite bites, after all!), strategically positioning your table to accent a spectacular view, like The Innocent Owl did here, doubles its appeal (and makes your attendees twice as likely to stop and nosh there).
Rustic Meets Bohemian
Two distinct styles—rustic and bohemian—came together on this grazing table, which featured a mix of wooden crates and protea flowers. Recreate this The Caterer Sydney station's aesthetic if you're planning a moody, boho-chic event in the countryside.
This Almost Makes Perfect spread showcases the basics of a next-level grazing table, charcuterie-style: crostini, breadsticks, salami, pickled veggies, and olives.
Here's another option for fruit lovers: This Grupo Dani Garcia setup featured plenty of sweet options, from peaches to plums. The fruit-centric table was one of many; other stations were topped with hummus, nuts, fish meat, dips, paella, and bread (many of which were a nod to the couple's Spain locale!).
Throwing a casual rehearsal dinner or welcome party ahead of your celebration? Eat low to the ground, on blankets and poofs. If you choose this route, however, remember that asking guests to get up from the ground to grab their food can be a pain point—so make like The Wild Thyme Company and construct your grazing table in front of them, instead.
If you look closely, you'll notice that L.A. Roots Catering Co.'s favorites-filled table features one unexpected garnish: edible flowers.
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