Should you serve a buffet or plated meal at your reception? - Wedding Album

Should you serve a buffet or plated meal at your reception?

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One of the most difficult parts of planning your wedding food is deciding whether you want a buffet or plated meal. We’ve laid out the pros and cons so you can easily decide what’s best for you.


The facts

A plated meal is the more traditional meal option, where your guests are each served three courses, plus canapés before the reception. Caterers will usually give guests an option of two to three main meals (with a vegetarian option as one of them).

The pros

All of your guests get their food at the same time. Since you know what everyone is eating, caterers will only buy for that amount of people, which makes it a more cost-effective option. You can also plan the entertainment – dancing, speeches and any surprises –
in-between each course.

The cons

It needs more waitstaff, which can get expensive (if your wedding package includes servers, however, this won’t be a concern). And more than likely, you and your partner will choose options based on what you love to eat, which may not appeal to everyone.


The facts

Self-serve stations are set up. You can also hire servers to stand behind each warmer and dish up for the guests, which tends to be more hygienic and controlled. It is the non-traditional, more casual catering option.

The pros

Fewer servers will be needed and you can cut catering costs. You will also be able to serve more food options – which is a good idea, considering all the allergies, diets and intolerances guests may have. It encourages guests to mingle and chat, creating a relaxing atmosphere before party time.

The cons

Whether tables take turns heading up to the buffet or a long line forms, your guests will have to queue and wait for their food. If the buffet is not included in your catering package, you will have to rent the tables, linen, serving platters and warmers, which can be costly. People will always dish up more if they serve themselves, and caterers know this – the extra food purchased will beef up your catering bill. Guests milling around carrying plates laden with food may not bring the sense of elegance to the occasion that most couples would like.

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