When it comes to catering, selecting the menu is just half the equation. The other half is the reception meal style. Yes, traditional buffets and plated dinners are still quite popular, but there are a variety of meal styles to choose from. Keep reading to see which of these 6 wedding reception meal styles is the perfect fit for your big day!
OPTION 1: Plated/Served Meal. The elevated elegance of a plated meal gives a distinguished air to your event. Having servers present courses to each seat cuts the time guests have to wait for their meal, though the number of courses may extend the amount of time it takes to consume dinner. During this time however, other aspects of the wedding reception can take place like the first dances or toasts. This option may save some food expenses due to exact guest counts, but the number of servers will need to increase. On average, caterers require 1 server for every 10-12 guests.
OPTION 2: Buffet. A popular choice, a buffet allows guests to select their meal choices and allows for you to offer a larger variety of food options. A buffet can be self served, though we highly recommend having servers. Servers help manage portion control and keep chaffers full. Guests may have to wait in line for a short while for their meal. Have the emcee release tables to ensure the line stays at a reasonable length.
OPTION 3: Stations. These mini buffets are a great option to encourage movement of your guests. Set your stations around the room (not together) with different options at each setup. This allows for an interesting variety of food options and decreases the length of the lines. Again, you will need servers at the stations and quite possibly more plates than other options. Stations can be slightly more casual, but definitely encourage guest interaction and flexibly.
OPTION 4: Family Style. An alternative to a plated meal, a family style meal has guests self serve from large platters at each table. This is a more intimate option that still gives you a variety of food options and a conservative amount of servers. However, we discourage protein to be served family style as it may get cold while sitting out and there is no portion control among the guests.
OPTION 5: Heavy Apps. Some couples are opting for a more casual cocktail style reception. Servers pass a variety of small bites among guests. There is no seated meal as guests mingle and graze as they celebrate your nuptials. This option again requires more servers.
OPTION 6: Food Trucks. Probably the most casual dining option, food trucks are a fun way to treat guests to a meal. Depending on your guest size, you may have more than one food truck option. Guests do typically have to wait in line, but we encourage you to have the truck serve a small set menu to quicken to process.
BONSU RECEPTION TIPS:
TIP 1: If your emcee is releasing tables for a buffet consider turning it into a trivia game. Give questions about you and your new spouse to the emcee to ask the guests. Whichever table answers the question correctly first gets released to the buffet next.
TIP 2: Consider a charcuterie and cheese board option. Spread over a large table setting, this is a great way to allow guests to treat themselves to a smorgasbord of deliciousness.
TIP 3: Consider your layout options in your venue. Some options such as plated meals and passed apps allow for more floor space.
TIP 4: If you like the idea of a food truck but the logistics don’t work for the main meal, consider having a food truck come for the last hour or so of you reception to give guests a late night snack.
No matter the option, be sure to ask for a bussing service from your caterer and allot for extra staffing. All the options above will require cleanup!
Photography Credit: Beatbox Portraits