When it comes time to make the selections for your wedding dinner, the first major choice you have to make is how your guests will get their food. Typically, wedding caterers offer you the option of having a served dinner or a buffet dinner.
With a served dinner, guests select a meal ahead of time, usually when they send in their RSVP card, and they are then given a plate with a pre-assembled meal at dinner. Buffet dinners, on the other hand, allow guests to choose from several different meat, vegetable, and starch options in a buffet line. When choosing between these two options, it helps to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The advantages of a buffet dinner include the following:
- Guests can select what they want on the day of the wedding, rather than having to stick with a choice made weeks or even months before the event.
- Buffet dinners can be significantly less expensive than served dinners because they require fewer staff members.
The advantages of a served dinner include the following:
- Guests get their food almost simultaneously, so dinner moves more quickly and people are not left waiting to eat.
- Guests can remain comfortably in their seats rather than having to stand in a line waiting to get their food.
- Served dinners lend a more elegant, upscale feel to the event.
If you are not sure which one to choose, think about how many guests you have and talk to your caterer about pricing options and how long he or she thinks it will take for all of the guests to get served with each dinner style. If you are planning to have toasts during dinner, you may wish to select the served style to make things go faster, but if your wedding is on the smaller side, buffet may end up being just as fast.
If you do find that doing buffet would save a lot of money, and you need to cut from the budget, this is a great way to do it, especially if you are thinking of doing something rash and ill-advised like having a cash bar at your wedding.
Some caterers also offer a family-style service option, where serving dishes heaped with food are delivered to each table and guests can fill their own plates from those dishes. Ask your caterer whether this is an option.