(Closed) Family Style Dinner – How to

posted 6 years ago in Food
Post # 2
254 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2016

We ran into a similar issue with rectangular tables–our caterer suggested doing 2 buffet lines and then having our salads on the tables served family style instead (we’re doing an herb salad with edible flowers so it will be a prettier display than having it with the buffet). Kind of a compromise but from what our caterer told us, unless you have round tables family style is not an option 🙁 

Post # 3
8601 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2015

We did family style. The caterer squished together two thin rectangular tables, which amounted to 6″ wider than the standard banquet table. I loved it. Everyone got to each whatever they wanted, how ever much they wanted, no waiting in lines. It has an intimate social feel. Their salads were plated, then cleared, and we had three entrees and two sides, bread basket wine service, and low but sizable center pieces on each table. 8-9 people per table (they were squished together to be long, sometimes people were seated on the ends). There was a garland on the head table. Hope this helps!

Post # 4
49 posts

Not a wedding, but I have done a large event served family style at 30 x 72 tables. There is really no room for a centerpiece. We put 3 of those tables end-to-end and a 4′ tree (with a 6″ x 6″ base) in the middle of the middle table.

Here’s my suggestion – all those serving dishes take a lot of room. If you provide a footed plate to elevate the prettiest one, you make a little more room for the others. (You can make those cheap with a glass candlestick and glass plate (from Dollar Tree) glued together.) How about spreading your flowers around by tucking one per guest in a fancily-folded napkin? Perhaps inserting each in a floral tube?


  • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by tbb123.
  • This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by tbb123.
Post # 5
30399 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

You can do it with a 30″ table as long as you keep centerpieces small and located in front of a dinner plate. Perhaps even consider miniature arrangements scattered down the length of the table.

Dinner plates are usually 11″ in diameter so two place settings across the table from one another will take up 22-23″. Add another couple of inches for wine and water glasses.

If you keep your serving dishes narrow, you can place them between the place settings where there is more room, as long as you don’t try to cram too many people at one table.

If you look at this diagram, you will see there really isn’t much room when you try to seat  8 people at one banquet table.


If you can leave the ends clear, serving plates can be placed there.

Post # 6
3897 posts
Honey bee

View original reply
geneva2:  Have your caterer lay out the plates they will be using to serve so you can get an idea of how much room you have. We did 10 person round tables (I forgot the size) and while it was a lot of stuff on the table, we were still able to do nice sized flowers as well as a few candles. You may need to cut back on the amount of food. We also did the salad starter as a plated dish so that was cleared before dinner. 

Post # 8
473 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

We thought family style sounded so cool but heard about so many issues – it takes longer, it costs more, etc. (Not sure if those are all true but that’s what we were told). Add to that that I couldn’t really have a cool centerpiece (even on a lot of round tables I think it would be hard) and we decided to skip it in the end. 

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