Let’s talk food! One of our favorite topics, of course. More specifically, I want to focus on dining style choices because they can really have an impact on the timing and activities of the day. Below are some popular dining options, their pros and cons, and the amount of guests they are best suited for.
- less expensive than more formal dining styles
- picky eaters can rejoice because they will have the choice of what they eat and how much they eat
- quicker option than more formal choices (*as long as you don’t have too many guests)
- offers more choices for guests with dietary restrictions
- saves (some) money on catering-staff charges because guests are serving themselves
- large guest counts may make buffets disorganized
- buffets give guests control over the wedding reception timeline, which could throw off the schedule
- one buffet table serves around 100 guests, so more tables may have to be added depending on how many guests you have
- if you aren’t careful a buffet can become less budget friendly, as it may require a surprising amount of rental equipment
Price Range: affordable
Atmosphere: lively and energetic
Best Suited for: 60-100 guests
- highlights the idea that two families are joining together
- more affordable than plated dining style
- less chaotic than a buffet because guests aren’t constantly leaving the table to get more food, which also makes for an efficient and somewhat quick dinner
- this style lends itself perfectly to the trend of gorgeous large banquet tables
- perfect for smaller, more casual weddings, as it can allow the guests to leave feeling very bonded with one another
- you may need to increase your budget for rental items to account for additional platters and serving pieces
- you may have increased food costs because your caterer will need to make extra food to ensure nothing runs out
- if the caterer is not set up to properly organize a family style reception things can be disorganized. Ensure that this is something the venue, staff, and caterer are capable of doing.
Price Range: mid-range
Best Suited for: 80-100
- most formal dining choice and often the most elegant
- the more formal the event, the more likely it is that guests will expect sit down service during the meal
- allows guests the ability to sit and relax instead of worrying about how to get their own food
- the larger the guest count, the more convenient plated dining will be because you won’t have to worry about crowds of guests trying to get their food
- when all guests are seated it is easier to organize toasts and cake cutting, as opposed to people being responsible for getting their own food and holding up the schedule
- staffing portion of the catering bill will be higher due to the need for a larger waitstaff
- if you have a guest list with vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters, and people who are gluten free, the plated style dinner can be very difficult to accommodate them
- plated can take away from certain ambiances and make the reception feel more formal than you originally planned for it to be. If rustic and casual is the feel that you are going for, plated might not be the right option to fulfill that.
Price Range: a bit pricey
Atmosphere: elegant and formal
Best Suited for: 100+
This may just be the planner in me, but try to keep the timeline/schedule and guest count in mind when choosing a dining style. Parties that are significantly large, weddings that have a lot of activities planned, and weddings that are dependent on staying on time should be conscious of the amount of time certain dinners take.
Remember, you don’t have to be chained to one option for the entire wedding day! Feel free to combine styles. The salad could be family style, the main course could be plated, and dessert could be buffet! This is your day, have fun with it and do what you want!