When you sit down with your caterer, one of the first questions you will be asked is which style of service are you looking for at your wedding. The four most popular options are: buffet, stations, family-style, or plated. Which makes the most sense for your wedding is a matter of both personal preference and practicality, be it the size of your venue, your guest count, or your budget.
BUFFET Buffets are the gold standard in wedding catering because it allows you to offer your guests more choices and requires the least number of service staff of any of the styles of service. However, you need space for buffets - we recommend a minimum of 1 buffet line per 100 guests – and we consider a double-sided buffet as 2 lines. If you have a very large guest count, and are concerned about the potential line length, we recommend doing a served or pre-set salad course. It does require a little more staff than buffeting the entire meal, but in my opinion it is worth it. Another way to avoid a long line is to have your DJ or MC and your Caterer communicate regarding the releasing of tables before dinner service. Your DJ or MC can convey to your guests that they will be releasing tables, so your guests go to the buffet in manageable numbers rather than all at once.
STATIONS A stations menu will allow you to offer your guest the most variety at your wedding. You are literally offering you guests a variety of different food setup at different stations. If your favorite food is Italian, one station could be a pasta station or have Caesar salad and lasagna cupcakes. Your groom loves tacos or barbecue, you can do a station that has Mexican Street Tacos or a Southern-Station with Sliced Brisket Sliders and Smoked Chicken and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese. While the pros of stations are the options, the cons tend to be cost and space. Stations tend to be pricier than a buffet, since you are preparing ALL the stations for ALL of your guests. It also requires more space for your guests to be able to move around, and for your caterer to the setup multiple station. We recommend a minimum of three stations plus cocktail hour, be that a fourth station or some passed appetizers.
FAMILY-STYLE Family-style is exactly what it sounds like. Your guests will be seated at their tables and their food will be brought to the table on large platters for the guests to serve themselves. The pros include guests being able to pick and choose what they would like, similar to a buffet. The cons however are mostly cost. Family-style requires large numbers of servers and kitchen staff for plating those pretty platters, and in addition to staff you may have additional rentals for all the serving pieces.
PLATED Plated is the most formal of the styles of service. Guests will find their seats, and rather than serving themselves, their food is brought to them. And while for some weddings plated is the best option because of space constraints, it does limit the food choices offered to your guests. You will also have added expense for plate covers and other equipment to ensure that those plates of food reach your guests still warm. Somewhere in the wonders of the world wide web it has been suggested that because the caterer knows exactly how much of each type of food will be served, the cost is less than a buffet. While the menu cost might be slightly less than the same food on a buffet, plated meals tend to feature more expensive ingredients, and every bit of menu savings is absorbed by the additional staff this style of service requires.
If you are ready to start the process, we would love to setup a time to talk to you and put a customized catering proposal together.