(Closed) Formal wedding with a buffet, is it doable?

posted 4 years ago in Logistics
Post # 2
7356 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

I’d get a list of the many different dietary restrictions and hand it off to the caterer. Let the caterer suggest a menu that would be appealing and streamlined. You will know fairly quickly if a plated meal would be an option based on what the caterer says. There may be a smaller number of dishes that can meet more than one standard, for example the vegan meal may also be nut-free and gluten-free. 

Personally I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a buffet but I do find a plated meal to be more elegant and more in keeping with a very formal affair. So let the caterer give you their suggestions. Then you can see if the choices sound nice and the number of selections is manageable.

Post # 3
160 posts
Blushing bee

Are you only allowed one plated option? Otherwise i would think something like this would work for everyone.

Steak, red skin potoes and vegtable (nut free, gluten free, celliac, lactose free)

Chicken option, red skin potoatoes and vegtable (nut free, gluten free, celliac, lactose free)

Then vegan option (pesco-vegetarian, lactose intolerance, vegan, could also be gluten free depending on what i made)


Post # 4
272 posts
Helper bee

I got married on the 15th and had a buffet. It was great and still formal. Lots of options and no one went hungry (unlike what can happen with plated meals) our venue had a nice mirrored buffet section and everyobe was called up table by table. I also had 2 coeliac guests 

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by  Miss.E.91.
Post # 5
3281 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010


Plated meals are far more formal.

While I have been to weddings with buffets and enjoyed the food, I found that buffets made the weddings seem far less sophisticated. Our vow renewal will be a plated meal because even though my vow renewal will be intimate, I still want the reception to have a formal vibe to it. 

I second the suggestion about handing a list of allergies to a caterer. 

Post # 6
2268 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

I agree with what has been said above.

There’s nothing wrong with a buffet, and sometimes buffets are even better than plated meals. That being said, I tend to find plated meals to be more formal and elegant than buffets (although the quality of food should also be good here!)

Your caterer should be able to accommodate dietary restrictions fairly easily.

If you have a plated meal, will you offer tableside ordering? If so, I would just put a note on the menu that all dietary restrictions can be accommodated. This is what we are doing (and we are also putting a note about it on our website, that way we can give our caterer a heads up about as many people as possible. I would recommend this, too! We too have quite a few dietary restrictions just in the WP!)

If you are not offering tableside ordering but still want to have a plated meal, I would just include a line on the RSVP card where guests can indicate any dietary restrictions alongside their meal choice.

Post # 7
8008 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

Plated meals are the most formal, but I’ve been to very nice, formal weddings with buffets. People like to eat regardless of how it’s presented, so I don’t see the big deal. There will be other things that convey formality. It’s nice of you to consider everyone’s specific dietary restrictions.

Post # 8
2436 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

I feel like buffets are becoming more common and accepted and can be very elegant. I mean, you probably could come up with a plated meal that suited everyone as long as you had a few options. Simple food doesn’t have to be bland or boring. But I wouldn’t be concerned with a buffet looking too informal.

Post # 9
4040 posts
Honey bee

Consultette:  I’ve read on the bee that a number of people with food allergies, immunity problems, other medical issues, etc., need to have a plated meal made-up for them, because of cross-contamination with the buffets. I.e. if someone uses the serving spoon from a meat dish with gravy (using flour), to serve the vegetables, you’d have problems for those with celiac and vegetarians.

Do you have the option for serving plated meals for those with special dietary requests and the buffet for everyone else?


Post # 10
25 posts
  • Wedding: September 2016

My caterer is allowing us to have 2 choices and then a third “dietary restrictions” choice for our plated meal. We will include those options in our invitation and a place to list any restrictions and the chef will create a third entree that fits all of the dietary restrictions we send him.

I’ve been to buffet style weddings and have never thought anything of it. Go with whatever you think is best! I’m sure it will be amazing either way!!

Post # 12
3267 posts
Sugar bee

There is no amount of dressing up a buffet that will make lining up, carrying a place full of food, cross contamination, and people taking all the “good” toppings, formal.

A buffet can be nice, it can be delicious but it will never be a  formal option. 



Post # 13
3267 posts
Sugar bee

Also as someone with allergies buffets always make me nervous. There is such a high risk of cross contamination. Even more so if anyone has to scoop anything or put sauce i on anything themselves.

Post # 14
1191 posts
Bumble bee

You can definitely do a formal reception with a buffet style meal. My stepsister got married a couple weeks ago, had a formal dress with a formal reception and also had a buffet style dinner. Around here anyway, a lot of people do the buffet option because usually it’s much more affordable and the food quality is about the same. I say go for it! Goodluck 

Post # 15
20 posts
  • Wedding: September 2015

Definitely go back to your caterer — a good one should be able to do a plated meal and accommodate any allergies. We’re doing tableside ordering for our mains, and flagging up any dietary requirements in advance. Admittedly it’s a bit less complicated for us, since we only have pesco-vegetarians, vegetarians, vegans and a couple of people with shellfish allergies… so three meal choices should cover everyone!

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