Post # 1
Hi I wanted to get everyone’s opinon and experience regarding seated plated dinners vs. stations. I am torn. I want guests to have a lot of entree choices, but I don’t like the idea of everyone waiting around for food. We are also doing cake centerpieces so how to serve them is an issue too. Any ideas?
Any good caterer experiences in Chicago?
Post # 3
Try family style where different platter of food are served to the tables.
Post # 4
I think 75 is managable enough to do a seated. I am doing it for my 50 guests. We are only serving one entree choice. The usual downside to seated is that is often more expensive than stations. There are many positives though. For example, not having your guests wait in line like cattle for their meal and it can save time if you think the reception is going to be too long. Basically, if you can afford it, do it.
Post # 5
Not from Chicago, but with 75 people, you probably have flexibility to go either way. Can you talk with your caterer to see how they’ve dealt with the issue and what they recommend? Depending on the number of stations and how people are directed to them, there may be less of a wait than for a plated dinner. I’ve also read about having the first course served at the tables, then having the main course available at stations – this way, everyone has something to eat and since people eat at different speeds, it may help pace the flow to the stations.
We have a slightly smaller wedding (60), and are doing a buffet preceeded by passed hors d’oeuvre. We’re excited to get people up, moving and mixing a bit more while providing more food choices. It also saves us the trouble of figuring out ahead of time who wants what. 🙂
There was a post a while ago about cake centerpieces – one bride designated a person at each table to serve the cake. It was a fun way to be a bit more interactive and brought the table together. You may also want to check with your caterer to see if they will go around and slice/serve the cakes table side.
Post # 6
I am partial to having plated dinners or non-buffet style ones for dinner. I’m OK with having them for lunch, though!
Post # 7
Actually, for us, stations cost more than plated. That’s because it’s not just different "buffets". They actually stir-fry and cook some food fresh for you, and there is a much larger food choices.
We went with stations. We have 5 stations and 140 people. I’ll let you know how it went when I get back from my honeymoon June 1st.
Post # 8
Thanks for all the great comments! Definitely let me know how the stations go. I considered family style, but every caterer has been against it so far because it costs a lot and the food gets cold. Anyone have experience with it?
Post # 9
Actually, i’ll go against the grain and say that every plated dinner I’ve had at a wedding has been subpar. The chicken/beef is always overcooked, the vegetables limp and boring and the rice/potatoes are always dry probably because of sitting on a heating plate. It’s just one of the pitfalls of having to serve a large crowd. I’m sure not all plated dinners in the history of weddings have been this way but it certainly has been that way at the numerous ones I’ve attended.
Actually, the best meals I have ever had at weddings were buffets – the food was fresh, not dry, and I could pick and choose what I wanted. I really didn’t care that I had to stand in line because I was just happy that I got to eat good meal! Plus people get up and talk to other people which is kind of nice. And if you have several buffet stations set up around the room, it’s no different than if you had food stations and probably a lot cheaper.
I have only been to one family style wedding and I must say it was kind of a pain to get to have people reach across stuff and pass the food etc etc and I totally agree with it getting cold.
Just my totally biased 2 cents! 🙂
Post # 10
We had a plated dinner for about 120. The venue should be experienced enough to be able to do it, and get the food to taste good – if not, they are in the wrong business, in my opinion. That’s literally their job! I think buffet and stations make a dinner less formal. Not to offend anyone. I just hate going to a wedding and having to stand in line to get my dinner! Family style is okay – food definitely gets cold….and there is always the chance of someone taking double portions (my husband would totally do that too), and there not being enough for everyone.
Post # 11
I was a director of catering and we did family style all of the time. Never had a problem with food getting cold. Food getting cold is usually not an issue with caterers that are on top of their game. It’s their job to keep food hot.
Here’s the breakdown with different types of service. Plated, lower food cost because you know the exact portions, but labor is higher. Buffet, higher food cost because you usually can’t control portions but labor is lower. Family style is sort of in the middle. Food cost is more than plated because you serve an extra 2-3 servings per table, but labor is slightly more than buffet.
It really depends on your menu and how formal you want to be. If you are going with an expensive protein do plated. If you want the feeling of abundance with less expensive protein do buffet. Type of food matters too. Moist protein like chicken marsala does well on a buffet because it keeps getting better.
Post # 12
Ok…last thought Things in sauces keep their heat and don’t dry out no matter how you serve it.
Post # 13
I’m a fan of stations! I agree with ruby80… plated dinners tend to be… boring (?). Unless you’re looking to spend a lot per head, you might end up with dry chicken and undercooked green beans. Also, with plated (esp if you have a large guest list), by the time everyone gets their food, the first people who got food now have cold food. And if you stations instead of a buffett, the lines are shorter, as there are more places to wait in line. It also is a good way to get people to mingle!
Post # 14
we are going with family style- it was the perfect compromise between plated (too $$) and buffet (I am not a fan- plus no space) the nice thing about family style is we will have enough waitstaff so people don’t have to go get their own drinks etc, but not so much that it is expensive. Plus I feel like the wedding reception should be representative of you since it is just a party you are throwing for your guests, and family style is so us!
Post # 15
I know it was a year ago but…
@Niki "wait in line like cattle for their meal"… thats horrible. I resent that statement. Every wedding I’ve been to that had platted dinners were an abomination. The food was ice cold, half the guests wouldn’t eat what was selected for them, small portions & the list goes on. Also its a myth that buffet style dinners are cheaper- all the venues we’ve looked at had buffet dinners starting atleast $20 more than a plated dinner. The only reason plated service may cost more is because of the cost of staff wages. Plated dinners require more servers.
Family style is a nice option because your guests can go for seconds & serve themselves without having to carry their food back to their table. I like this option if a lot of your guests are elderly.
We’re doing buffet because we want our guests to be fat & happy when they leave. I want them to have hot food & eat as much as they want. I swear, the only things people ever talk about after the wedding are what the bride looked like, that one tacky/crazy/funny event that happens at every wedding & the FOOD!!
Post # 16
I’m with Ruby and April, I prefer stations. It allows your guests more flexibility over what (and how much) they eat. With 75 people the wait should not be bad.