(Closed) Reception: Buffet or Family Style

posted 9 years ago in Reception
  • poll: Are you having a buffet or family style reception?
    Buffet style reception? : (15 votes)
    28 %
    Family style reception? : (24 votes)
    45 %
    Seated dinner? : (13 votes)
    25 %
    Other : (1 votes)
    2 %
  • Post # 3
    1246 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2009

    I think both might sometimes be more expensive than a seated dinner because caterers have to make a little more food, given that some people might take bigger portions than others. Family style could be cool because people can stay at their own table instead of waiting in a buffet line. We did stations because we wanted people to be able to wander around and our seating assignments were pretty loose.

    Post # 4
    2856 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2009

    I am not sure on the cost difference between the two but I know one positive for family style versus a buffet is that there are no lines to stand in. One positive to the buffet is that there may be more options. For family style you can only fit a certain number of dishes on the table.

    Anyway, the hall that we chose at first only did family style but now they are giving more options. I have to say that I still like the family style dinner.

    Either way, Miss backpack, I think they are both great options.

    Post # 5
    133 posts
    Blushing bee

    In a perfect world, I would do family style, but it’s much cheaper for us to do plated style with our guests choosing their entrees in advance.

    Post # 6
    944 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: June 2009

    I think it depends on what kind of space you have for the reception and how many people. If you have a smaller guest attendance, then I think a buffet would be fine. If I remember right, I think plated meals are usually a little more expensive, plus you have to worry about people getting the wrong dish and then you have to have assigned seating, etc. I think family style is great, but if you are working with a round table there usually isn’t much room after you have the center pieces, glasses and dinnerware on the table–probably would work better for long tables (which I love!).

    Can you give us more info on how many people you are planning to expect? What are you serving? Space in the venue and table shape/size? My tables are only 48" across–so, that’s a 4′ table–and those are too small for family style 🙁

    Post # 8
    247 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: April 2009

    When planning my wedding I was surprised to find that a buffet dinner was more expensive than the plated dinner.  The venue I chose was to be a seated dinner, but the chef decided that it would be too much on one plate.  So for no extra cost he made ours a family style.  We had fried chicken, BBQ ribs, cornmeal crusted catfish, roasted potatoes, macaroni and chees with stewed tomatoes, and corn of the cob.  I had very simple mason jar centerpieces on each table.

    Post # 9
    51 posts
    Worker bee

    MissBackpack- I’m in the exact same position as you! However, the pros & cons that I thought about

    Family Style:
    – people don’t have to move around as much (also a con)
    – there is a set amount of food available to each table; but if you have a table full of hungry men (or women), there may not be enough food for that particular table- versus another table of non-eaters who might leave a lot of leftovers
    – no room for centerpeices (can be pro or con)
    – Your caterer might charge you to have servers bring out the food (my caterer did) and provide additional "service" to the tables
    – there might be an additional fee for setting up each place setting

    Buffet Style:
    – people will be moving around and not remain stationary
    – generally, it seems cheaper
    – possibility of getting more selection of food for the money
    – avoid having to pay for servers since it’s self-serve
    – Each person can apportion how much/little they want to eat (good & bad), which leaves open the possibility of people not getting full (but same with the family style)

    Those are the pros/cons that I’ve been seeing as I’m planning our reception.  I think in the end, it’s more cost effective to go with the buffet. Mainly b/c i get more food for the money.  Hope that helps.  Good luck!

    Post # 10
    2725 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2009

    We are probably going to do buffet style but I’m considering family style. I’m just not sure about getting enough serving dishes because neither the venue or caterer provide them.

    Post # 11
    541 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2009

    I voted for seated dinner. I hate it when I’m at the last table to be excused to visit the buffet. Sometimes, buffets can even cost more than a seated dinner. Ours cost the same regardless of the serve option.

    Post # 12
    666 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: March 2010

    We are having a family style reception because it is in keeping with the intimate feel we want for the wedding.  We are having 70 people.  We think having to pass the different dishes will be a great ice breaker.  In our case, it was cheaper than a plated dinner for each person.  Check with your caterer on costs for each.

    Post # 13
    4480 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: March 2010 - Calamigos Ranch

    We are definitely doing seated/plated, but if we weren’t, I would go for family style. I don’t like carrying a plate of food around a room; I am just not that coordinated. 🙂 Of course, if you do it this way, be extra careful about your seating assignments!

    Post # 13
    8 posts
    • Wedding: August 2016


    We are going for a family style buffet. My center pieces will be a simple painted mason jar with a few flowers. Saying that, it leaves room for the dishes on the table. I am hoping to have a mixture of round and rectangle tables. Our venue indicated that the cost of buffet or family style buffet is the same cost and is cheaper than plated. They said the only difference is, with the buffet, you will have more food, less service which makes the cost cheaper.

    Happy decision making everyone!



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