Buffet vs. Plated Catering: What Each Says About Your Wedding or Event

Posted by Chef Dan on July 23, 2014 at 8:00 AM

The decision about the meal format of your wedding or special event is a big one. Which you choose will affect the ambience and overall feel of your event. Your choice is between providing your wedding guests a buffet or a sit-down dinner, and the one you choose shouldn’t be based solely on your preferences. There are a number of additional things that you should consider, such as the setting of the actual event and who is going to be attending.  All of the following questions should be considered before you make a decision.

  1. buffet_vs_plate_catering.pngWhat does your venue accommodate?
  2. What will your guests prefer?
  3. What food options are available in each format? 
  4. What is the price difference between the two?
  5. How does each format affect the ambience of your event?

Carefully consider all each option to determine the best one for your particular needs, this will ensure that you select the very best meal for your wedding or special event

General Rules

Put simply, the more formal the event, the more appropriate it will be to provide a sit-down meal. If you expect your guests to wear ties, jackets and an evening gown, then they will expect seated  table service. Another major factor is the size of the event. As your guest list grows, the practicality of having a buffet will be reduced. This is due to the fact that a double-sided buffet will serve a total of 100 guests in approximately 30 minutes. This means for each 100 guests you will need to add another buffet – this can become impossible for larger events leading to a huge maze and messof people and buffets.

Plated Meals

The fact is people would rather be served than have to get their own food, which makes a plated dinner more appealing, from the guests’ perspective. A table service also allows time for better conversation between your guests. At the same time, it also eliminates navigating the winding path to the buffet, and the wait times for dismissal, and while in line waiting for food. When it comes down to it, a plated meal will provide a more elegant, formal and traditional experience.


A buffet-style meal brings some informality and relaxation to your event. Your guests may feel more apt to let-loose and socialize freely, without the need for formalities. With a buffet, you will save costs on service and food – plus it allows your guests to pick and choose which portions of the meal they’d like to enjoy. Though a buffet may seem more casual and less ceremonious, there are events, guests and venues that better accommodate this type of meal service.

The meal for your wedding or special event is generally a portion of the evening guests look forward too. Buffet vs plated catering is one of many decisions you’ll have to make while planning your big day. You’ll have to prioritize budgets, guest expectations, personal preferences and more – then make a decision you’ll be happy with.

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