Like others have said, there are lots of variables, such as the size of your wedding or what kind of buffet you have. I think, again as others have said, the most important thing is that you have good food! Plenty of plated meals are boring and tasteless with tiny portions.
Pros of plated meals in my mind:
– Much more formal feel. There is something elegant about being brought your food, beautifully presented, and not having to "work" for it by picking it out, carrying around, etc.
– No wait in line. This means its more efficient – you can get dinner going faster and you know when the last course is done, without people getting seconds. Also, guests really appreciate not having to stand in line.
– More time spent at your table socializing with your tablemates.
– It’s less messy / germy.
– They can be more affordable than buffets, though definitely not always, especially if you serve steak / lobster / etc.
Cons of plated meals:
– A lot of plated meals are small and boring. Even the best intended caterers and brides can end up serving unremarkable, rubbery chicken.
– Picky eaters don’t get to choose.
– Big eaters don’t get to have more if they’d like.
– This is a BIG one for me – while guests get more time to socialize with their tablemates, that’s assuming they LIKE their tablemates. It could be very awkward and boring for some guests to sit through a five course meal and try to make polite conversation. A buffet gives guests a reason to get up, move around and visit with other guests.
Pros of buffets:
– If you do "food stations" it can actually be really fun and interesting for guests. Think chef-manned stations where guests can customize pasta or panini sandwiches or omelettes. Also, stations like salad bars, etc. offer customization without a chef.
– It provides your guests with lots of more options. They can eat as much or as little of whatever they want.
– It encourages mingling. Guests try out different stations, moving around your reception, instead of staying glued to their seats.
Cons of buffets:
– They can feel too informal or unremarkable. Shuffling through a buffet line can feel like being in a cafeteria – definitely not elegant. You also miss out on having attractive presentation on plates.
– If you go with stations instead, it can be expensive.
– LINES. Even the best intentioned caterers and brides can end up with long lines.
– Depending on what kind of food, it can be messy.
Hope this list helps!