There are a lot of options when it comes to catering for your wedding. The dinner menu is the main event when it comes to food at your wedding. But aside from actually picking the food and beverage items on your menu, you also need to choose which style of service you’d like. There are 4 main styles of dinner service: Buffet, Stations, Family and Plated.
All of the dishes are set up on long buffet tables. Buffets often consist of a salad, bread, a scratch side, a veggie side and 2 main entrees. Your guests get up from their tables and go through the buffet line. Some caterers serve the buffet and others allow guests to serve themselves.
- Typically the most cost effective option. You need fewer servers per guest
- Your guests get to enjoy everything on your menu, no choosing. And can have as much or as little of each items as they want.
- A more casual guest experience with servers not bringing food directly to the table
- Buffets take up space in a tight venue. We typically do 1 buffet per 125 guests. So with larger guests counts 2 buffets are required.
Stations are similar to buffets where guests get up from their tables to get their food. But with stations, there are usually 2-3 separate stations around the room. They can have very different types of cuisine on each station. For example, one is a farmer’s market salad station, one is a pasta station, and one is a carving station or a street taco station. Guests often have a choice of toppings or other add-ins. Sometimes these stations are live action stations with chefs preparing food for guests at the station right before their eyes.
- Allows for a lot of creativity in the menu, design of the stations
- It allows you to serve foods that don’t otherwise go together. Say you love asian food, but don’t want a whole asian theme menu, you can do a wok station
- Guests can really personalize their meal and works well with various dietary restrictions
- You need to allow more time overall for the dinner portion of the event. With lots of options it takes longer for guests to go through the line and get their food
- Guests have to wait in line for each station they want to visit.
- You need to rent extra plates and flatware in case guests want fresh plates for a new station
Family Style is where platters of each menu item are served to each table by the catering staff. Guests serve themselves from the platters and pass it to the guests next to them.
- Elevated level of service with food being brought to guests
- Guests don’t have to choose an entree, they get some of everything
- Guests can serve themselves as much or as little of each item as they’d like
- Requires a higher ratio of servers to guests than buffet or stations
- You need to rent platters and serving utensils for each menu item at each table, which can add up quickly.
- You need space on the tables for all of these platters. This will impact your floral design and/or the size of the table you will need.
Plated meals are typically served in at least 2 courses. A starter course which often includes salad or soup and bread, and a main course with an entree and sides. Guests are asked to select which entree they would like with their RSVP; this is called Plated Preselected. If you don’t want to make guests choose, you can serve the same duo plate with 2 entrees (say tenderloin and salmon) to all guests.
- The most elevated level of service. Guests don’t have to get up or serve themselves at all.
- Typically the highest cost option because it requires the highest ratio of servers to guests
- Takes longer than buffet because of the 2 courses
- You need to rent a charger or 2nd set of dinner plates if you want a polished place setting design that includes a plate. This is because the plates your guests will eat off get delivered to the kitchen for plating there