Buffet vs. Plated – The Age Old Question

posted 3 years ago in Reception
  • poll: As a wedding guest, which do you prefer?
    Buffet Dinner : (74 votes)
    33 %
    Plated Dinner : (107 votes)
    47 %
    Doesn't matter to me : (41 votes)
    18 %
    Other (please comment) : (5 votes)
    2 %
  • Post # 3
    5935 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: October 2013

    I prefer plated. However, I hate waiting in lines and I’m not a picky eater…so that helps my decision

    Post # 4
    1157 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    I much prefer plated, but I can see the pros or cons of both. I’ve been to two buffet weddings and I wasn’t impressed with the food at either- at one, it was cold and very bland (although that isn’t a buffet issue per se). At the other, some tables were getting up for seconds before we even made it up the first time!

    I’m not a fan of carrying food in a dress and heels- I’m not the most graceful person Wink

    However, if you want a casual vibe, then maybe buffet would be the better choice. Plated is definitely more formal.


    Post # 5
    2657 posts
    Sugar bee

    If the buffet is managed well and tables are going up to the line one at a time, then I’ll take the buffet.  There have been so many times where I’ve checked the chicken or fish box on an RSVP with no idea what the dish actually was (whether it was spicy or creamy or what the sides were).  At least you can see the food at a buffet.  

    Have you considered family style at all?  Family style is a good option too because people can eat what they want and they don’t have to leave the table.

    Post # 6
    2565 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: October 2014

    The type of food you are interested in is well suited to a buffet.  I don’t think it is the huge deal people make it out to be.  People can wait at their tables and you have them go up one table at a time so they are not standing in line.  The wait is pretty much the same as waiting for a plated dinner to be delivered to all the tables.

    If your caterer is good they should be standing by the buffet to replenish any food that is getting low and making sure everything stays hot.

    For my venue there is only one caterer, and the coordinator told me for them a buffet is actually more efficient and goes by quicker than a plated meal.  In the area i am getting married there is a sound ordinance so all weddings have to be over by 10 pm, so if the buffet saves time for the rest of the party I am definitely doing it!

    Post # 7
    8389 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper
    • Wedding: April 2013

    @sp3cia1j:  I hate plated meals because I feel like I’m stuck at my seat, but it really depends on how many guests you have.  The key to a successful buffet line is logistics.  I don’t think that you should have more than 20-30 guests per line so that everyone can go up at relatively the same time and you don’t have a huge line.  Obviously if you’re having a 300 person wedding, setting up 10 identical buffet lines would just be too much, so a plated dinner would be better IMO.  However, I always feel that plated meals limit me as a guest; I’d much rather have an extra serving of mac n cheese and forego the coleslaw.

    Post # 8
    917 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: February 2014

    @sp3cia1j:  Personally, I prefer plated. It just makes the event seem much more formal and me, as a guest, much more special. I’ve been to some seriously swank buffets, and they were great, though, so I don’t hate buffets, either.

    From what you’ve said, have you thought about family style? That way no one has to get up and wait in line, but folks can pick and choose a wider variety of foods.

    Post # 9
    175 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: January 2014

    Have you thought about family style? I think your venue would be perfect for that.


    To avoid long lines, we’re doing stations. Multiple stations, multiple lines. People get through quicker than one long buffet table where you have to wait on old aunt sue to pick her baked potato toppings.


    Post # 10
    490 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2013 - Callanwolde Fine Arts Center

    I really prefer buffets with or without stations. We’ve been to three weddings this summer, two of which had buffets and one had a plated dinner. DH only ended up eating half of his food at the plated dinner because the chicken part of the duet was “wellington style” and he really dislikes mushrooms. I only ate a portion of the meal too because the beef was overcooked and the potatoes were covered in some weird cheese sauce thing.


    The buffets might require some waiting in line, but DH and I get to pick what we want to eat as opposed to only eating half and the kitchen throwing out the food. All of the leftovers from our buffet/stations either came home with DH and I in a to-go box or they were brought back to the hotel for the continued party.


    Post # 11
    4513 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    I prefer plated. I think its more formal and makes me feel like its really a special event. I like to just sit and enjoy my meal. However, with your planned menu I feel like a buffet might work better.

    I am just not a big fan of buffets in general. I don’t like standing in line and waiting for food – it just reminds me of a cafeteria. I also don’t like everyone breathing/touching all over everything. That being said, I’ve been to some weddings with really good buffets. However the last one I went to I ended up getting a piece of chicken that was still pink in the middle. Granted that could happen anywhere and with a plated meal too, but it happend at a buffet so it doesn’t help with my negative opinion of them 😛

    Post # 12
    4513 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    All of the leftovers from our buffet/stations either came home with DH and I in a to-go box or they were brought back to the hotel for the continued party.

     @cheebs:  I think this is great, but OP be aware that this isn’t common. A lot of venues/caterers do not allow you to keep the food that is left at the end. My FSIL’s wedding had a TON of food that was thrown out. They had wanted to take home all the buffet leftovers and they were told that they couldn’t (which is so stupid and ridiculous).

    We’re doing a plated dinner, but either way – plated or buffet – our venue doesn’t allow anyone to take leftovers with them. Not even from the dessert bar 🙁

    Post # 13
    11626 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    I prefer plated.  I’ve never been to a wedding with a buffet, but I can’t really stand the idea of being dressed then having to stand in line for my food, balance the plate to get back to my seat, and then run the risk of my food getting cold.  It’s just a personal preference thing, and other people may feel differently.

    Also, we were not allowed to take any leftovers home either, except the cake.

    Post # 14
    1648 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2000

    as a guest, I have no preference – the best food I’ve had at weddings have been buffets though

    For my wedding, we are having a buffet because we’re having a beach wedding and it’s more low key.  And more food options! We like to eat 🙂

    Post # 16
    5935 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: October 2013

    @bleusteel:  that exact reason is why I included a card that explained each choice in detail 🙂

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