Should You Serve Your Reception Meal Buffet-Style?

Once you choose your wedding reception venue, the next big decision you'll need to make is how you want the meal to be served. Many couples these days are choosing to have the meal served buffet-style rather than restaurant-style at the table. But while buffet-style service works well for many weddings, it is not for everyone. Consider these pros and cons as you decide whether or not to serve your reception meal as a buffet.

Pro: You can provide your guests with more choices.

If you go with traditionally plated meals, the venue will usually allow you to offer your guests two or three different options. Any more than this, and there will generally be an extra charge. This can make it hard to accommodate guests' various dietary restrictions, needs, and tastes. With a buffet, you can serve many more options and leave it to guests to serve themselves food they feel comfortable eating. 

Pro: The buffet promotes mingling among guests.

Sometimes at weddings, guests end up "stuck" at their own tables. They don't get up and mingle with others in the room unless a certain activity motivates them to do so. A buffet gets people up and out of their seats -- to serve themselves food -- which promotes mingling and interaction. This can make for a more social event all-around.

Con: Buffets are seen as more casual.

If you're going for a more casual vibe, this may be a pro. However, if you are aiming for a more formal, traditional wedding, serving the meal buffet-style may seem like a mismatch. Even with the most exquisite dishes and beautiful dinnerware, buffets are still seen as less classy than sit-down, restaurant-style meals. If you're aiming for upscale luxury at your wedding, a buffet may not be for you.

Con: Guests will have to wait in lines.

An experienced catering company will keep buffet lines manageable by calling one table up at a time and by offering several buffet lines. However, guests will still have to stand in line. If you have a lot of older guests or guests with mobility issues, this may be a challenge. You can request that the servers fill plates for certain guests who may struggle to serve themselves, but you can also avoid this hassle entirely by choosing a sit-down dinner.

To learn more about the pros and cons of various service options, speak with your wedding catering service or wedding planner