Long Lines and Large Wallets | Wedding Reception Dining Options

What do your guests say the most important part of the reception is? With a few exceptions, most of them would say that everything hinges on the dining experience. The two foundational dining options are sit down service and buffet. However, there are also many other choices that will wow your guests, and potentially fit your style and budget. Let’s start with the basics:

1. Sit Down Service– The traditional option for weddings. Your food is prepared and plated in the kitchen, then presented to the guest individually by the wait staff.

Advantage: Both elegant and comfortable with no long line, with 150+ people waiting to serve themselves dinner. This keeps everyone very happy being able to choose the meal they wish to eat. For guests with difficulty walking or standing, sit down service will keep them most comfortable. Drinks can also be served by the wait staff.

Disadvantage: What you gain in comfort and convenience, you may sacrifice in guest interaction. Which may be a small price to pay. Often guests feel as if they must stay seated at the table they were assigned rather than having the freedom in their own minds to go and chat with other friends and family. In addition to the restrictive formal feeling guests would not be able to eat their fill as they would with a buffet.

2. Buffet Service– The most common choice for reception dining. A big buffet table with a variety of options for all of your guests. Depending on the types of food this type of food service can be very affordable.

Advantage: Aside from potential affordability this service option comes with a relaxing casual feel that allows your guests to move about and freely mingle. I don’t think I have to mention that your guests can eat as much as their hearts’ desire.

Disadvantage: I don’t think I have to mention that your guests can eat as much as their hearts’ desire. The cost may be greatly affected depending on the type of  food being served, and the number of guests that are on the offensive line for the New England Patriots. Obviously, the long line of guests will only be longer the more guests you have, and if Auntie Myrtle who just turned 95 is attending she is not going to like that very much.

TimelessFiori_FW12_BONT_Helmutwalker_03Helmutwalker Photography

Let me branch off and expound on some different variations of reception dining services both similar to and different from the above foundational styles.

Russian Service– This sit down service presents the peak of formal dining. Sure to be a huge hit with your guests. Platters of delicious food are created and garnished in the kitchen, and then served to the guests from platters. The best part is the guest gets to see what is on the platter and choose what food they would like served to them from each platter.

I am not Russian, but they sure bring their dining service to the next level. Not only do they serve you your meal, but you get to choose what you want to eat from various platters. You get the same luxury of choice as in a buffet, but an amazing formal service from the wait staff.

French Service– Partially prepared in the kitchen, the food is brought out to the guest and finished tableside and served directly on the guest’s plate.

This service ranks pretty high on the list of the most fun ways to be served a meal. The experience of watching your meal be prepared for you right at the table is very cool. If you have ever been to a hibachi grill you know exactly how much fun this dining experience can be.

Butler Service– Similar to Russian service, this dining option involves a waiter presenting a beautiful tray of food to the guests. The only difference is the guest serves himself from the tray.

I love this style because not only are you enjoying a formal service, but also feeling much more relaxed being reminded you are eating dinner with people you love. It feels very much like a meal at the family dinner table, except you have a waiter.

Family Style– The best of both worlds. Both sit down service and buffet collide. It literally is a sit down buffet. The waiters bring out the platters/bowls of food and place them on the table for the guests to serve themselves.

One of my favorite styles of service. Not only is it a buffet but the food is brought to the table for the guests. Like butler service it is a relaxed intimate family dinner. It sets a nice laid back mood, which really allows your guest to enjoy the reception.

Stations– Similar to a buffet in that you get a variety of choice in food. The stations are located in different spots in the reception hall, and each station has a different type of food. A chef runs each station and there are many different food options to choose from such as; salad, pasta, meat carving, sushi, desserts, etc.

My favorite out of all the dining services, and likely the most expensive option. Just think, the food is all you can eat, the experience watching chefs prepare your food in front of you at each station, and a huge bonus of eliminating the long line created by having only one buffet table.

Thanks everyone for reading, and catch Taryn back on Tuesday with her blog post!

Tell me what your favorite dining service option is:


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