(Closed) Formality Level & Plastic Cutlery…

posted 11 years ago in Beehive
Post # 3
337 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

Personally I would not do plastic cutlery or paper plates for anything except a backyard BBQ or a picnic.  They can be awkward to use, they are not so great for the environment and no matter how fancy everything else is, they will REALLY bring down the level of formality.  If you’re trying to cut down on costs, in my opinion it would be a good idea to do so in another area of the budget.  This is not something that will go unnoticed.

As for place cards – I say do them, but not necessarily for formality reasons.  It’s just usually a bit chaotic to have guests seat themselves – there’s always a couple of tables of people who end up sitting together because there were no other seats left.  People will be seated quicker and probably enjoy themselves more if you create a seating chart and place cards so they have an assigned seat with people they will like socializing with.  However, you don’t have to spend a lot on place cards if that’s your concern.  They can be an easy and cheap DIY project and still look really lovely.

Post # 4
1246 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

I agree that plastic cutlery and paper plates probably aren’t a good idea. They can be very tough to eat with and, as smart said, will be a very salient cost-cutting measure to guests. How many guests are you having? Does anyone have any suggestions for where to get/rent reasonably priced dinnerware?

Post # 6
7 posts
  • Wedding: December 2007

I personally would not settle for plastic cutlery. Then again, I am anal retentive. 

Post # 7
291 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2007

I have to disagree…I don’t think there’s anything wrong w/ plastic (though I do have some environmental qualms, I will admit). I am incredibly anal, and I still felt perfectly fine with plastic cutlery.  We chose black plates and black cutlery. On the other hand, we also were using wooden chopsticks (the rounded, more elegant kind, not the crappy splintery stuff) and miniature "Chinese takeout boxes" and "saimin soup spoons" (um, Chinese soup spoons?) as serving dishes, so there was already an element of "disposable-ness."

For us it also worked b/c we did a "heavy hors d’oeuvres"/cocktail-style service — food stations and passed trays.  I don’t think people expect china from a passed tray as much as they do for a formal dinner.  We did, however, have real glassware, not plastic.  It may be a little stranger for your set up, since you say you are doing buffet. If you are serving meats that need to be cut, that may also present difficulties.

But, to be honest, I don’t think that many people will care, as long as you’re not using super flimsy paper plates with cheesy designs that spill on them. If the food is good, they’ll care more about that and not notice what they’re eating off of. These days, there are some very nice heavy plastic pieces. There are even ones that imitate glass plates.  Whatever you choose, just don’t mix and match cutlery and plates (go all disposable or all "real.")

As far as open seating, we did that as well.  Again, we did cocktail-style service, so it was not so shocking.  It saved us a lot of stress about figuring out who had to be kept away from whom, and who would want to sit by so-and-so.  We did save tables for the parents and their selected guests (10-top tables). We didn’t force the bridal party (plus spouses) to sit together; they sat where they wanted to. 

Honestly, if everyone has a good time, enjoys the company, the food, the music and loves you, no one will care what they ate of off or if they chose their own seat.  You know your crowd best; if it’ll offend them, then yes, maybe you are better off with "real." 

Post # 8
245 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2008

ideally an indoor wedding would have metal cutlery… but as long as its "silver" noone will notice it’s cheap, and you can use it forever at family picnics, or donate it to a soup kitchen. ikea is a good place to start.  there are also a lot of fun alternatives to white plastic…. i really like the birch one.

$0.75 /guest


$2 /guest


eco friendly disposables:





Post # 9
116 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

At the risk of sounding like a snob — I have been to a lot of weddings, but without missing a beat I can tell you the two semi-formal weddings (ie, bride in long formal dress, groom in tux, guests dressed in cocktail dresses and suits) where plastic cutlery was given to guests.  I try really hard not to judge, because you just never know people’s financial situations or reasonings behind their choices, but my initial reaction on both occasions was that it just made me feel overdressed and a little disappointed. I’m sorry if that sounds ridiculous or totally superficial — but it was my honest reaction.

Now, if both of these weddings had been casual, or outdoors, or bbq-themed, the cutlery most likely would have gone unnoticed by me and other guests; I think it’s how it all blends together, and to me, it sounds like your attire and the reception site will set a more formal tone.  I think plastic cutlery would be an informal contradiction to everything else you are aiming for.   

I agree with princesskittyHI that in the grand scheme of things no one will care or change their opinion of you if you use plastic cutlery and paper plates, but I also don’t think it will go unnoticed.   Just my honest opinion   Good luck!  

Post # 10
291 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2007

Ha ha, MissBlushing, that’s so right:  there’s a HUUUGE difference between what people *notice* and what they really *care* about!

I think I got a little off-topic and defensive about the "plastic does NOT have to be tacky" line of thought. I do agree w/ everyone that for bettina’s situation, plastic might not be appropriate b/c of the buffet line and the indoor location. I’m still a big advocate of alternatives to silverware and china for outdoor and/or cocktail-style receptions!

Post # 11
6 posts

Costco sells some very nice faux silverware – we use them at my church for our Women’s luncheons. They also sell a sturdy plastic plate in 2 or more sizes (i believe it is a set) that has a simple silver band on the plate. I used them for my daughter’s shower.










Post # 12
59 posts
Worker bee

i agree… aim for no plastic if you are financially able (and environmentally saavy!)

for a recent wedding i was assigned the task of buying hor d’oerve serving trays, plates, etc. at the last minute. i went to party city and was initially attracted to the cheapest flatware possible, but then someone pointed out that you could find the same plasticware at a picnic – not something formal where your guests are dressing up in their best and also shelling out a good deal on your wedding gift. 

maybe you could ask friends and family to use their nice silverware from home?

someone mentioned wooden chopsticks and takeout boxes. if you do asian cuisine, that sounds like a great idea.

Post # 13
47 posts
  • Wedding: November 2018

im using plastic simply because i cannot afford to rent the real thing. 

of course i would rather have metal, but it wasn’t something i wanted to spend so much extra on (and sacrifice other things, like my paper lanterns) when there was a (much) cheaper alternative. also i dont mind too much because we’re having a bbq. 

you do what you can, you’re dishing out a ton of money for this wedding.  don’t worry if a few guests might think it’s uncool, you can’t please everybody, so its silly to spend extra money trying.  if you’re ok with them then you get them, and odds are nobody will care anyhow.  

Post # 15
16 posts
  • Wedding: August 2008

I’m probably going to go the plastic cutlery route as well. But in my defense, the utensils are "high end" plastic, and they look like real silver. Granted, they are not as sturdy as the real thing, but they are a step up from basic plastic. Also, while I don’t want to classify my wedding as "casual", it will feature a buffet dinner, and it will take place outside in a garden setting of a historic mansion. Sure, I would rather have the real thing, but our finances are already maxed out. I never really thought that this might be considered incredibly tacky…but maybe that’s because I hope my guests don’t get hung up on their utensils (crossing my fingers!).

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