Post # 1
I’m soon to meet with caterer (family biz on his side). I am trying to avoid buffet and can’t afford the service of formal course’d dinner.
Last June, I was a guest at a wedding here in L.A. that served food family style. While I was a bit worried that I’d spill on myself, I enjoyed the fact that it forced guests to mingle with each other.
Additionally, I have a huge collection of plates and serving dishes from the 1930’s and would like to incorporate these pieces into the dinner.
Are you serving family style and if so, what kind of items are you serving? What shape table are you using?
Post # 3
We’re doing family style for everything but the main entrée. We have having round tables. Not sure yet what we’re serving as we are in the process of working out a menu right now.
I always prefer family style meals. You can have what you want without having to wait in a buffet line like you’re at a cafeteria.
Post # 4
This might be a dumb question, but what is “family style”? I’ve only ever seen buffet or sit-down with service. Thanks! Sorry I can’t help you!
Post # 5
- Wedding: June 2010 - Tannery Pond at the Darrow School
@MademoiselleL: Family Style is where the servers bring out platters of food for each table and then guests can serve themselves…Sort of a compromise between a plated dinner and buffet!
We served food family style and it worked out beautifully! Our tables were round with 9-10 guests seated at each and the food was on oval and round, white serving dishes. I think everyone appreciated being able to serve as much or as little of everything offered, plus get to try everything
We offered red snapper, filet and mushroom ravioli, plus of roasted baby potatoes and spring vegetables. The salads were also served family style in large bowls, one of each kind (caesar and greens with goat cheese/craisins/walnuts) so they could try either salad as well.
So in short, I was very pleased with our decision to serve family style but my wedding was in a tent in a rural area, so it fit in with the vibe of the night! If you’re having a formal wedding, it might not work quite as well…
Post # 6
We thought about doing family style for my wedding, but our caterer didn’t have enough platters and big bowls to do it. I think we’re going to be doing a buffet instead, unless we can come up with a good way to get enough platters that we like, because I would prefer family style over buffets.
Post # 7
I Love family style.
Right now we’re going with a buffet, but I am going to see the price difference on family style. I presumed that it would be less expensive than a plated dinner, but while I was venue shopping I found that it’s not always the case!
Post # 8
We are doing family style. Personally I have always like family style cause I can eat the things I like and as a vegetarian I can eat extra side dishes and not have to ask for a special meal.
We are having chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, pasta, rolls, etc.
Post # 9
We’re serving family style – and although I have never been at a wedding where it was used, I have discussed it with a few people who have and loved it.
Although we don’t hvae the specifics drilled down, we’re serving two kinds of salad, a pasta, two proteins, two grilled veggies and then bread with it. I’m pretty excited about it!
Post # 10
Along the scale of formality, buffet is the least formal, placing pre-filled plates in front of your guests is a little more formal, and placing filled platters on the table for diners to serve one another is the next most formal. The only thing more formal than that is “service a la Russe” where empty plates are placed before the diners, and servants serve from platters onto the plates using tongs and servers. That takes very skilled, strong — and expensive — serving staff, and you need at least one servant for every six diners but I wouldn’t try it with fewer than one servant to every three diners. You hardly ever see service a la Russe at any formal meals outside the officer’s mess, the consular service or government house, or a private club.
Which means that by going with what you call “Family style”, you are actually being a little more formal: and by using your heritage china (supplemented by rented china if necessary) you are being a little more traditional than the typical all-commercial catered service. You still need servants to bring in the platters and tureens, to remove the dirty plates and, if you are having more than one course, to place clean plates for the next course. But you can manage with one servant per table of eight or ten — or even one per two tables if the meal is paced liesurely enough.
I host a lot of formal meals, and this standard English service is my favourite. Properly done, all the ladies undertake to serve the gentlemen on either side of them and then themselves, and the gentlement undertake to pour wine for the ladies on either side. It helps to have a delegate hostess at each table who knows these niceties and can say things like “Miss Phipps, would you be so kind as to offer Mr Jones some of that duck a l’orange.” If you really want to be high-falutin’ that delegate hostess would also carve (or her dinner partner would) at the table — but, I think that’s pushing faith in your friends’ abilities a bit far. I carve at the table when there’s just one table, but when there are several tables I let the caterer do it with her electric knife in the kitchen.
Post # 11
@trailmix: Thanks! I think it sounds great although I’ve never seen it.
Post # 12
I’ve been to wedding that served sit down dinner and I always leave hungry even thought it was not a cheap wedding. I believe the couple paid a lot per person. I am planning on buffet so my guest can eat as much as they want. Both can be good depend on the choice of food. I’ve been to a wedding buffet style at a nice hotel and the food was great. I guess it all depends on what you pick.