Post # 1
My venue is insisting I choose a menu before I can book my date. The two options that we are considering are plated food vs buffet style. It is for an evening dinner reception.
Overall, the dishes will be the same: Hors d’oeuvres during cocktail period, a salad, a choice of entré, an accompaniment, and desert. For the plated option, the salad could be swapped out for a soup, but we wouldn’t do that anyway. There are slightly better beef options for the plated, but the buffet ones are plenty good still.
If we go with plated, they require that we do a seating chart – at very least, we have to provide a list of how many of each entré are at each table. I was hoping to avoid making a seating chart, but I’m starting to wonder if it might be a good idea since it will allow me to make certain allowances and keep potential problems separated…
But I do like the idea of buffet, since it allows people to choose their own portion sizes and skip out on the things they don’t want. There is also a slight price reduction(less than 1%). On the negative side, we are not allowed to take any leftovers, so any food left over will go to waste, the thought of which makes me nauseous. Also, I worry the ratios might not work – what if everyone wants chicken, and no one salmon, but we have equal amounts?
Lastly, I am a bit concerned about appearances. FI’s family is much fancier than mine (I joke that whenever I’m around Future Mother-In-Law I feel like I should break out a banjo) and I feel like plated dinners are much more classy.
Post # 2
I went with plated because I agree, I feel.plated is more fancy and I’ve gone really elegant with everything. On the downside, yes I need a seating chart, table numbers, name plates and I have to know exactly what guest is getting what dish.
But I don’t mind. What is your gut telling you? Both can be very nice I think, but plated was definitely more in line with my vision.
Post # 3
I highly recommend making a seating chart regardless, because from everything I’ve heard guests prefer them (the isn’t that awkward where should I sit moment).
How many guests are you thinking you’ll have? If it’s a 200 person wedding, I’d stay away from having a buffet because the lines would be out of control.
Post # 4
valkyriejae : dinner style aside, you should definitely have a seating chart. You don’t have to assign seats but assigning tables is, in my opinion, a must. Otherwise you run the risk of people not being able to sit with their partners because an odd number of people decided to sit at certain tables. You can search this topic on here and see that it is not a good idea to have free range seating.
So after all that, I’d still choose plated. I just find them nicer and you don’t have to wait in line and try to juggle your plate and anything else you might have in your hand. I also agree that it’s so wasteful that they throw away any food leftover in the buffet. I know they have to legally, but it sucks to know all the food got wasted.
Post # 5
- Wedding: December 2017 - Lake Louise Canada
Usually the one benefit of a buffet is the cost, if that isnt the case at this venue I would take advantage of all the extra service you get with plated. It will feel formal and classy.
Post # 6
Mls1988 : I’m leaning toward plated, but I’m worried it might make things a bit stiff, and cause potential drama if there’s a mixup (“yes, I put salmon on my RSVP, but I meant beef” or “we thought you said you need 16 plates of chicken, not 26!” or “I’m 19, but I didn’t know there was a kid’s meal, can I just have a burger?”)
bretagne422 : Yeah, I’m thinking I’ll at least break it down by table. That way I can make sure my teetotalling relatives are at a table with no wine, and my FI’s step-grampa who likes to ask people who they voted for can’t start fights…
There will be about 100 people.
Post # 7
- Wedding: September 2017 - Poppy Ridge Golf Course
At the least assign tables. Guests will appreciate the small effort. I prefer plated but its not really about fancy preference. I don’t like standing in line, don’t know where others hands have been and have seen people cough right over the food which grosses me out. Unless its a very intimate wedding I will always prefer plated. In your situation I really dislike the waste factor. They could let your guests keep the food or take it to a local homeless shelter. Doesn’t make sense that its going straight in the garbage.
Post # 8
IzzyBear : Thanks – that’s a good point about juggling plates! I think plated will greatly reduce the odds of people spilling stuff on themselves (or my dress, lol)
That said, while free seating seems to be unpopular here, I don’t agree that it’s never a good idea. Both of the last two weddings I went to didn’t have seating plans, and it worked quite nicely. However, they were also adults-only, so while a few people didn’t spend the whole dinner beside their partner and were fine with it, I can see it definitely causing issues if seats don’t work out for parents to sit with their kids…
Post # 9
A seating chart is a must!
I also prefer plated. I am a vegetarian and I am lactose-intolerant. I am also allergic to edamame beans, quinoa, and olives. So a buffet is basically a write-off for me. We also have had several experiences at buffet-dinners where our table was next to last, and they had run out of several items, which you would expect to be the opposite of a buffet! So I prefer a plated meal where I know I can eat everything on my plate 🙂
Post # 10
- Wedding: April 2017 - Valleybrook Country Club
valkyriejae : The only reason I considered buffet was due to the cost savings, but ultimately decided plated. MY RSVP has a selection of my three entrees so I can provide a count to the venue. They will have extra of each in case guests should change their mind, but will only cook what is necessary that night when the wait staff walks around to ask each guest for their choice. My venue is open to the general public during the week, so the food will not be wasted if it is uncooked in the kitchen.
Post # 11
valkyriejae : Even breaking it up by table would help a lot, I think. Like you said, it might keep squabbles to a minimum!
I think 100 people would work fine for a buffet. If money isn’t an issue and you want it to look elegant, however, then a plated dinner might be the best bet. The only exception would be is if you think people would get use out of larger portions and/or getting seconds. I’m personally having a buffet because everyone in my family eats like a horse.
Post # 12
heavenlyflower : I don’t know for sure what happens to the leftover food, all I know is that the contract says that neither we nor our guests can remove it from the premises. I’m assuming they don’t let us keep it and won’t donate it due to a misunderstanding of legal issues (fun fact: you can’t be sued here for a food donation given in good faith, even if someone becomes sick after eating it.) The venue is a conservation area, so I hope they will at least compost leftover organics, but that still seems more wasterful than letting people actually eat it…
Post # 13
courtneysokal : That’s a really good point – this venue so far has been really good about dietary stuff, but a couple of FI’s cousins have serious issues so crosscontamination would be a real problem…
bretagne422 : There are a few people who I know would want more food, but the portions look quite good and we’re also doing a poutine station after dinner, and a pie-cake, so hopefully that will fill them up! 🙂
Post # 14
Except for buffet restaurants, I don’t remember where you could serve yourself; they always had a serving staff to ladle-out portions. 2nds would only be available with what is left, after everyone gets 1sts, if you get up to the buffet on time. No one has ever supplied an unlimited amount of food, at the private function buffets I’ve attended.
Post # 15
- Wedding: April 2016 - Ed Oliver Golf Club, Wilmington, DE
It was actually more expensive at my venue to do a buffet dinner, which I think isn’t that common. We had decided to do plated anyway because I was nervous about buffet lines and people having to wait for their food. We chose the salads and the two sides and everyone had their choice between a steak, a chicken, or a seafood dish.. we also had options for dietary restrictions. People seemed really happy with the food. One wedding I went to, I assumed was going to be buffet, because there was no meal choice for my RSVP, ended up being plated. Everyone was served the same meal and it was steak and lobster, which I know the majority of people would love, but I don’t eat red meat or seafood. I was bummed there!