Wedding Food 101: Plated vs. Buffet

Choosing what style food service you want at your wedding reception is no easy task, there are a lot of different factors that play a part in this decision.  Plated and buffet style events are both very popular for weddings, it all depends on your preference and the style of your big day.  Knowing a little bit more about each type of food service will help you discover which type is right for you, this is why I have decided to provide you with a list of pros and cons for both a plated meal style event and a buffet style event. I hope this breakdown of the two will help make your decision easier and allow you to find which option best suits your needs!

Buffet Style Reception:
Buffets are great for more casual events because they promote more mingling and interaction among guests.  If you are looking to keep your costs low, buffets are a great choice. They do not require servers to serve your guests which will save you money on catering staff, and you are also able to provide a larger variety of food options.  If you choose a buffet style meal, your guests will serve themselves from food stations set up on long tables. While guests serving themselves will save you money on staffing costs it may cause a line to form and take a while for everyone to get their food.  Some guests will take a bit longer to finish their meal depending on when they get back from the food line so if you are on a tight schedule for doing dances, toasts, etc. this may not be the right option for you.   Buffets require a bit more food since people tend to eat more when serving themselves, it is also a small possibility you may run out of some items because there is no exact amount that each guest may take.

Plated Style Reception:
Plated meals are the most traditional and formal option for events, they usually consist of three to four courses that are served while your guests remain seated. Having your guests served while being seated is a lot less chaotic, there will be no lines and everyone will be served at the same time.  An advantage of doing this type of meal service is that you can spread out activities such as dances and toasts in-between courses to keep guests engaged and maintain a nice energy throughout the event.  Another nice aspect of having a plated style meal is that you do not have to worry about running out of food since each guest is being served the same set amount, one thing to keep in mind, though, is the extra cost of servers required for this style.  Also, be aware that having a plated dinner will require a bit more planning and organization on your end.  You will need to send out response cards so your guests can select their meal preference, you will also need to have escort cards and place cards so the servers know which dish each guest ordered.

Both options have positive and negative aspects to them, but your guests will have a great time either way! If you are more relaxed, want to encourage your guests to mingle and not on a strict schedule, a buffet style might be best for you.  If you are a planner and like to keep things very organized and traditional, a plated style reception is what you should go for.  At the end of the day, it really just depends on what style you like best and what your budget allows.  Happy Wedding Planning!

8 thoughts on “Wedding Food 101: Plated vs. Buffet

  1. There are definitely pros and cons to both options. My fiancé and I really wanted a plated dinner, because we thought it would feel more elegant and everyone would have almost the same time to finish their meals. However, we have decided to go with the buffet for budget reasons. Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We couldn’t afford to do a plated service but our caterer offered a buffet with staff. Almost cafeteria style where folks can choose what they like but it’s a flowing line and portion control is handled by the staff. We are hoping this will be the best route to save money and time! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a hot topic for my couples. I’m finding that I’ve had an increase of couples opting for family style not for budget reasons but so that their guest can get mingle together a bit more. They are also requesting for more intimate settings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Most of this probably depends on what a bride can afford. I think a plated event is much more glamorous and fancy but as everyone knows, this can cost a fortune. Buffets tend to also end up looking identical after attending as many weddings as we have, with your trip tip or chicken, potatoe salad, green salad, and roll.

    Like

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