At special events, unique trends are becoming more the norm than the exception. Party timings, portion sizes, and menu options are drifting away from the conventional.

When Sarah Siddiqui started planning her wedding, she knew she wanted something different. Like many brides-to-be, she wanted her wedding to be remembered as creative and unique. In addition to her vision for the décor and of course, her dress, she also paid special attention to the menu.

Siddiqui wasn’t any different from other brides in this. It is estimated that 56 percent of all brides have menu as their top priority (Brides Magazine). Siddiqui’s parents wanted the traditional biryani and qorma that is expected at most South Asian weddings. However, being born and raised in Houston, Texas, Siddiqui wanted to add a western flair to her big day. They settled for a unique combination. The large buffet incorporated all the traditional items but was also flanked by novelty food stations on either end. On one side, a live cheese-and-cracker bar and a sushi station served appetizers with a modern twist while on the other side, a donut wall and nitrogen ice cream station left her guests with some sweet memories.

“For weddings and larger parties, most of my clients still have a traditional South Asian menu but with a twist,” said Henna Raza of Professional Party Planners in Chicago. “I have been an event planner for fifteen years and the current trend to incorporate live stations looks like it’s here to stay.” Raza said that live stations are not necessarily just for Western-inspired foods. Bun kabab bars and live pani puri are super popular too. Clients, and brides in particular, just want guests to remember something different.

Mehvish Jaffer Ahmed, from For the Love of Splendor in New Jersey, is also seeing more creative twists requested by her clientele. “With quesadilla or stir fry stations, guests of all ages and ethnicities can enjoy dinner,” she said. “Even the traditional wedding cake is no longer the only dessert,” Ahmed added. “In my six years in the wedding planning industry, I have seen fondue fountains, bubble tea, cotton candy, and the always popular dessert table. Not only are the small color-coordinated treats beautiful to look at, guests can easily take a couple home to enjoy later.”


Beyond Weddings

You don’t need to wait for a wedding to try out a unique food trend. Nowadays smaller dinner parties and baby showers are also planned around a theme. A cute popcorn bar for a baby shower or a live french crepe station for a Parisian Sweet 16 tie in with the occasion and give guests something to talk about even after the party is over.

Even the youngest celebrants are getting themed parties nowadays, for example, a cookie and milk station at a 3-year old birthday isn’t unheard of nor are make-your-own mini pizza parties.

For the health conscious, grazing platters are a popular choice. Colorful veggies flanked by some dips and cheese allow guests to pick and choose what they like to eat as opposed to being served a meat and potato dinner without any options.

In addition to being unique, current food trends also focus more on smaller portions. With people being on diets or wanting to try out multiple items, bite-sized food results in less waste and more variety. Bakeries are offering special mini dessert menus with strawberry shortcake shooters and mousse shots in tiny cups that rate high on the cute factor.


Timing Isn’t Everything

Parties are no longer just reserved for dinner time either. Breakfast at Tiffany bridal showers and brunch Hifz parties are ways to include more guests with busy schedules as well as perhaps get better off-peak pricing deals with venues.

Young and hip party goers enjoy the after-party trend too with mini versions of fast food and sweet indulgences into the wee hours of the morning. Tabloids reported that even Prince William and Princess Kate had a milkshake and pizza bash after the Queen and the senior guests left the wedding reception.

Hosts usually always include vegetarian options to accommodate religious requirements. However, of late, vegan and gluten-free dishes are gaining momentum, especially with the younger crowd and their inclination toward the plant-based and anti-cruelty movements.

If you have your heart set on a unique food trend, do check with the venue if they allow outside food and also consider the weather and theme at your wedding. You may love an ice cream truck, but guests may not want to wait at coat check to grab a scoop and then come back inside. A hot chocolate bar may make more sense for a winter wedding.

If you have your heart set on a unique food trend, do check with the venue if they allow outside food and also consider the weather and theme at your wedding. You may love an ice cream truck, but guests may not want to wait at coat check to grab a scoop and then come back inside. A hot chocolate bar may make more sense for a winter wedding.


The Bottom Line

Of course, unique food and fancy live stations come with a price tag. The cost of constantly replenishing high-end food, plus having one or more people stand there to create delicacies on the spot, can add up. If you can afford event planners, it is definitely worth being hassle-free, relaxed, and able to mingle with your guests, instead of worrying about every detail of the event.

But if your wallet doesn’t allow hiring a professional event planner, does that mean you cannot include a unique food trend in your party? Absolutely not. You can come up with your own ideas and then have some friends take turns and serve at the live station. You can also make it more of a DIY (Do It Yourself) option, where you lay everything out before the party and have guests concoct their own masterpieces.

Setting up such stations isn’t too hard. Plan ahead and scour Pinterest boards so you have a vision. Then you can borrow platters and stands from friends and make some mini desserts and appetizers yourself or delegate to enthusiastic friends who ask how they can help. Place your delicacies in pretty dishes at differing heights with a unifying theme and you have yourself a pretty dessert table or other station. And so what if it doesn’t look like the blog you were inspired by? No one knows what it was “supposed” to look like.


Eat, Drink, and Be Halal

Within the Muslim community, halal also plays a major role in party menu planning. “Most families will not even consider a venue that will not allow outside catering if they will not serve zabiha meat,” Ahmed said. “As a guest of a Muslim wedding, it is almost a given that the meat will be zabiha. Even if some guests do not eat zabiha-only meat outside of a wedding, there are still many who will not eat the meat otherwise.”

Raza agrees. “Halal is still very important and being offered in a lot more mainstream venues now. Even if the hosts don’t eat only zabiha, most people won’t serve guests non-zabiha.”


Do it for the ‘Gram

Social media is a big factor in the popularity of these unique food trends. Back in the day, only the people invited to a party got to enjoy the food. However, now with Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, you can easily ooh and aah (or roll your eyes) at a party menu while snuggled in bed in your pajamas. This has certainly put more pressure on the hosts to impress, but it has also led to a surge in creativity and variety.

So regardless of your occasion or budget, there are sure to be some unique food trends that you can incorporate into your next party that will wow your guests and leave you with fond memories of being a host that isn’t afraid to flaunt his or her style.


Novelty Onsite Ideas for your Next Party:


  • Spud bar (french fries with various sauces and dry seasonings, mashed potatoes, wedges, baked potatoes, etc.)
  • Taco truck
  • Chaat station
  • Live shawerma
  • Pasta bar
  • Waffle or pancake bar
  • Fresh guacamole, salsa, tabbouleh, or fattoush



  • Live knafeh
  • Live jalebi
  • DIY falooda
  • Hot chocolate bar
  • Shaved ice
  • Cold stone or Thai rolled ice cream
  • Dipping Dots
  • Taffy apple stations
  • Cake jar bar
  • Cupcake trucks

Kiran Ansari is a professional juggler, as in she wears several different hats on a daily basis. Find out more at