Post # 1
The age-old buffet vs. plated dinner debate continues. There are pro’s and con’s to each one, but for those who have chosen buffet already (like me) my question is this–
How do you do a buffet “well?”
What are your other pointers? I want to hear them all, every last detail!
Post # 3
@toasty: Manage the line! There’s nothing worse than waiting in line for 20 minutes in heels to get to the buffet! There are a lot of easy ways to solve this problem (multiple buffet lines, running a line on both sides of the buffet table, having guests go to the buffet table by table)
Post # 4
We’re doing abuffte since it is cheaper but just standard here as well (hardly do you ever see plated meals at weddings here anymore).
Although it is buffet, it will be wait staffed…so people won’t be servig themselves. Also since there are limited choices, the lines will move quicker.
Post # 5
Personal anecdote: we had flank steak grilled on site as dinner was served on our buffet, and the salmon was grilled as a large side of salmon and served/portioned by a staff member at the buffet. No sitting in heat tables and getting dry in oily sauces!
Salads pre-tossed with dressing will always end up soggy, and double ick if there’s croutons involved.
Post # 6
Have the salads and bread served at the table so that guests have something to munch on while waiting for their turn at the buffet. This also helps guests avoid the problem of managing 2 plates in one hand.
Also, beware of making the table closest to the buffet eat last. I’ve been very grumpy because you have no choice but watch everyone else eat first. But this could also be allieviated by the suggestion above.
Post # 7
We did a BBQ buffet, which was a HIT. This is what we did:
1- we had it set up to where there were stations of the same thing, but the line could be split up so no one was waiting in line for a long amount of time
2- we kept ” the flow” in one direction. So you could easily make it back to your seat without going against the flow of traffic getting back to your seat!
3- We had a fairly smaller guest list ( we had 112 show up I believe), so that helped us get people fed quickly
4- we had attendants at every station to refill, serve and also waiters walking around to pick up plates/napkins/ get refills
People RAVED about the food. Seriously– it was probably one of the best parts of the wedding.
Post # 8
I like when the food is labeled. Weird, I know, but I just like to know exactly what I’m eating. 🙂
Ditto on the attendants – as long as you’ve got people watching the buffet, you won’t have issues with things running low.
Post # 9
You need multiple lines. If there is only one food table, the line must be on both sides. More tables are better though. I hate lining up to eat. And labels are great – I have food intolerances so it’s helpful.
Post # 10
Great input so far, ladies!
Does anyone have great experiences with buffets? Bad experiences?
Post # 11
@toasty: I consider all the cocktail hours I’ve been to buffet style, but all the weddings I’ve been to have had a palted dinner after cocktail hour. The thing that makes it so successful is that there are a lot of stations all over the room (so people don’t pile up just in one area) and sometimes they even have it where the stations are doubled – one on each side of the room, so that cuts the line for those stations in half. They have wait staff to serve people at the stations, plus those going around with butlered hors d’oerves (I imagine this is extra, but keeps people waiting on line – in line?? – happy), and picking up empty plates and the like. Also, the plates aren’t huge, so you’re not carrying a very heavy plate. The plates are small enough so you can fit a few things on it without it being too heavy, but not so small that you can only get like 2 bites. Throughout the entire cocktail hour, you just keep getting up and getting more of what you liked or different things that you haven’t yet tried. I think that works well. And, I agree w/ a PP, labels are great. I hate asking the people at each stations, “What’s this? Does it have meat in it?” or whatever. I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat pork, and I just like to know what I’m eating. It would speed up lines if people know they don’t like something and can just get off the line and go to the next table of stations.
Post # 12
These are wonderful tips, thanks ladies.
Post # 13
We had a brunch buffet. We had 2 omlette chefs, a carving station chef and a TON of other food choices. The only line that we had the whole day was the first 15 minutes of the omlette station. Every guest I have spoken to has told me that it was the best food they have ever had at a wedding.
We also had drink service at the table (coffee, iced tea, juices and water), so guests only had to get up to go to the bar for alcohol.
Post # 14
beef and chicken breast are very hard to do well. It’s almost ALWAYS dry.
Post # 15
@toasty: Put the plates at the start of the buffet and the flatware and napkins at the end of the buffet. It always bothers me when the flatware and napkins are at the start of the buffet. When they’re there people have to balance their flatware, napkins and plates all at one time whilst trying to put food on their plates.
Post # 16
I agree: MUST have something on the table to snack on if you’re calling up table by table – it’s a horrible 30 minutes to first wait and wait to be called up, and then promptly get in a line. Also the 2-sided line is very helpful, or 2 or more identical setups can help.
My “hot tip” would be this: You should also consider how your bar works. My friend had a buffet with a 2-sided line and bar service was completely handed by servers pouring wine and things flowed beautifully. My brother on the other hand had like 4 different stations in 4 different corners of a large space AND the 2 bars were separate still! In order to get a complete meal I had to stand in 2 separate food lines across the room from each other which took forever, and then I had to stand in line for a drink! Most of his guests spent the whole night in one line or another, and no one even really got to sit down and eat together at the same time. Also this wore me out in my heels before I ever made it to the dance floor.
I think if you make drinks and snacks (bread, salad, candy?) accessible then people are much more relaxed about whatever the food situation is.