If you are currently planning your first wedding, it is a very exciting and stressful time. Among all of the major decisions you have to make, you and your partner will have to decide how to feed your hungry wedding guests. There are three styles of food service that are frequently offered by wedding catering services. Once you are familiar with them, you may have a preference for one style over the others. Here are those three service styles and why you may prefer one over the others.
Buffet guarantees the most food for your wedding dollars. Your guests can pick and choose from any of the offered entrees, side dishes, breads and, if you would like, some small bars or treats. (Some brides choose not to have a big, expensive cake at the reception, and that is why caterers offer the dessert bar addition to the buffet menu.) In addition to offering a couple of different choices for each part of the meal, your guests can return for seconds, thirds or more if they are especially hungry. The only downsides to buffet style are that any food you paid for that is leftover has to go into the trash and not home with you or guests and guests have to wait in long lines to get their first plate of food.
Family style catering presents each table of guests with several self-serve platters and bowls of food. The guests at each table may serve themselves and take as much as they want. When the bowls or platters are empty, a server will ask the guests at the individual table if they would like a replenishment of the missing food items. In addition to servers providing food dishes to the tables, the servers also take orders for drinks and help guests with individual needs and special menu requests. Like buffet style, your caterer will probably charge you a flat rate, but everyone gets hot food at the same time and no one has to wait in lines. Additionally, unused food portions that remain in the kitchen may be donated to local shelters instead of tossed in the garbage because the food was not handled by guests.
Per Plate Ordered Style
This is probably the most expensive style of wedding catering because everyone in attendance has to request their meal in advance to the wedding. This means that you select two or three main courses, a few side dishes to select from and some breads or rolls. These items are printed up on your wedding attendance cards, and you ask each guest who plans to come to the reception to check off which main course they would like, which side dishes and which type of bread or roll. Your caterer then calculates and prepares the food according to the number of guests that want each main course, side dish and bread, and serves each plate individually. This style is also frequently referred to as “restaurant style” because every guest gets to order exactly what he or she wants from the limited menu provided and you pay the individual price per meal. The upshot is that the only food wasted is what people leave on their plates. The downside is that the price-per-plate can be quite expensive, depending what main courses you select.
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