Post # 1
Hi all! I am in the process of picking caterers and dinner menu options. I keep going back and forth on buffet vs. plated. I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences with either.
The three caterers I have narrowed it down to all say they can get my 180 guests through a buffet line in 20-30 minutes (2 lines, know my reception space, etc).
I’ve been to plenty of weddings were the buffetts have been lovely and extravagant, but I can’t get beyond my own trappings that buffets look cheap!
Post # 3
Hi! I really think it’s up to you because both are great! I’ve been to quite a few weddings where the buffet was amazing and the lines were not bad at all. I will say though that the weddings with a buffet have been more casual. We are having a plated reception, but we are only having about 110 people at our wedding.
Post # 4
I get where you’re coming from. I personally don’t feel strongly about either option. I agree that plated is a bit fancier but I think most guests will forgive that and prefer buffet because they have more choice in what they can eat – plus they can have fish AND chicken AND beef if they just can’t choose!
I think I would tend toward buffet for that reason, BUT I might choose plated if you could offer your guests a choice of entrees ahead of time. If not, I’d probably go buffet. As you said yourself, the food can be perfectly delicious.
Guests probably won’t remember much about the food anyway, except if it’s really bad then they’ll remember that. So just go for tasty and beyond that, I don’t think it matters all that much.
Post # 5
I had the same dilemma, and my wonderful caterer suggested a compromise. We’re having a family-style sit down dinner. It’s the perfect combo of sit-down and buffet…there will be 2 entree choices, a vegetable, starch, etc. all on big platters on the table.
Not only does it have the best of both options, but I really think it makes for a more lively atmosphere, especially when you don’t have all your guests waiting in a buffet line and eating at different times.
We’re going to have passed hors d’oeuvres and a sit-down salad first. Hope that helps!
Post # 6
You could also do food stations. This allows people to grab a bite without standing in one continuous long line. We opted for food stations, as plated dinners for weddings aren’t the norm in my area. 🙂
Post # 7
I’ve never loved buffets because it does take a while, they usually call people by table, etc… I thought it would be a lot cheaper, but it wasn’t going to end up saving us much money. I personally love family style, but couldn’t find a place I liked that offered that option, so we’re debating between stations and a plated meal. I think stations are a perfect in between option.
Post # 8
Thanks everyone for the feedback! Unfortunalty the way our reception site is set up and their restrictions (its a historic mansion) stations are not an option!
Post # 9
I feel you pain!! After going back and forth for some time, we decided to have a *drumroll* seated buffet. The guests’ seats will be assigned. Everyone will be seated to a plated salad. Then, as the guests finish their salads, they’ll serve themselves from a choice of three food stations.
So, there are options out there. Don’t let your vendors force you to be all plated or all buffet. Food stations are an option. Seated buffets are an option. Family style (though not popular in the South) is an option. Heck, I went to one wedding where passed hors d’oeuvres were given to guests as they waited in the buffet line! As long as the food is good, the means of serving it is up to you.
Post # 10
- Wedding: July 2007 - St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Church, Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel
We did a plated dinner because we both didn’t want a buffet. My uncle had a buffet for his wedding and they only had about 90-100 people with two lines. However, it took a LONG time to get through the line and by the time we sat down at our table with our food, the other people at the table were mostly done. Thus, we felt rushed as the night went on because we didn’t have as much time to eat. It also made us feel awkward to eat our dinner with 8 people staring at us.
Post # 11
Hi JenniferB –
The costs will probably work out to be the same. Buffets put out more food but seated meals require more wait staff.
How formal you want your meal to be? You mentioned dinner so I’m betting it’s after 5pm, right?
Also, a seated meal can be served Russian, French or pre-plated. If your heart is set on filet mignon for an entree choice, it’s very hard to get 180 medium-rare filets out to the guests. It’s not impossible. I remember one large (250 ppl) wedding where the service was either Russian or French and they had the steaks done perfectly to order. Very tough but this venue is top shelf.
Is presentation important to you? Buffets can look quite lovely but nothing beats a perfectly adorned plated entree. My venue will not do buffets as they pride themselves in their presentation – even with the wedding cake!
That said, most venues have perfected the guest movement of a buffet meal. Ask for double-sided buffets (with your two buffet lines that would be four lines of guests getting food at once).
Hope that helps!
Post # 12
I think a buffet only looks cheap if you let it. We are having one and will be "dressing up" the area with some greenery and candles. I think it can be done classy – it’s ultimately up to what you want though. Good Luck!
Post # 13
I believe it all depends on the “mood” you’re aiming for your wedding. For a very formal wedding, a sitting dinner is more common, I think buffets are making a come-back for more casual and relaxed weddings. This doesn’t mean it’s cheaper or cheap looking.
Post # 14
We went with buffet, and it was not any less expensive. though our wedding is quite formal, we wanted it to be more of a "party" than a "dinner". I have also noticed that SOME of the sit down dinners I have eaten were not very good because 150 meals have to plated at the same time. I am also loving that menu cards, table numbers, and escort cards are not in my vocabulary!
That being said, I am a little worried about the long lines mentioned above!
Post # 15
- Wedding: April 2008 - The Fountainhead
I’ve been to a fancy wedding of over 250 guests and it was a sit-down buffet. Every guest was assigned a seat, and we were called up by table number. There were about 10 different stations but I still had to wait in line for about 15 minutes after my table was called. I thought the food was delicious and worth the wait, but I did hear some of the older guests complaining, especially after some of the stations ran out of food.
So from this experience, I think a buffet can be great but only if you have a smaller guestlist and/or have more serving stations, and you have people who can usher and coordinate the lines. Also make sure the food doesn’t run out!
Post # 16
My ideal situation would be to have food stations, particularly presentation stations that make it fun. Not only do you get to have watching a carving station, or somebody on a wok, or making sushi, but you get a great selection and avoid long lines.
The stations also give a more elegant atmosphere, rather than some of the typical buffets out there.