What’s in a meal service?

You said YES! You’ve set your wedding date. You’ve booked your venue. You even know what caterer you want to work with. But what kind of experience do you want to have for your wedding guests? Weddings today have a variety of service options when it comes to how the food is served.

Family Style, Plated, or Buffet?

The wedding meal can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Family style, plated, and buffet all have their advantages as well as disadvantages. It can get a bit stressful considering the various options. We’ve taken the time to outline the pros and cons of each of the popular serving styles so that you can decide what is most important to you. Take a quick look at our guidance on how to pick the meal service that will be best for your wedding day.

Family Style Meal Service

  • Pros – Family style service allows for an intimate meal that is a blend of the buffet and plated styles. Everyone at the table gets to serve themselves, but from dishes at the actual table. If family dinners were part of your upbringing, this can be a way to incorporate a piece of your past while celebrating this next step into your future. A family style service can create that at-home feeling that can help put guests at ease.
  • Cons – This style of service requires the most serving ware, food, and dishes, which will be reflected in the cost per person (and is higher than buffet or plated). Service time and quality is a concern with this style of service because individual dishes need to be prepped and served to each table. This can be more challenging as your caterer works to ensure each part of the meal is kept at proper temperature by the time your guests begin to indulge.
  • Tips for Troubleshooting – Make sure your timeline includes a designated time for your guests to all be seated for dinner. A great way to do this is by having a grand march and some sort of welcome which indicates to your guests that it is time to eat. It can also be helpful to provide appetizers or snacks prior to dinner to make sure guests aren’t starving before the meal.

Plated Meal Service

  • Pros – Having a plated style meal allows for a more slow-paced, formal feeling of service. With servers bringing plates to your guests, everyone will be seated and can converse while looking forward to a delicious meal. Plated meal services also work very well when there are several dietary restrictions (or strong preferences) that need to be considered across the guest list.
  • Cons – This type of service requires more organization during the planning process to ensure smooth service from the catering team. If offering more than one entrée, you will need to track meal options and counts from guest RSVPs. You will also need to create a seating chart to communicate with your caterers and provide indicators for the meal that your guest selected. Keep in mind too that there is more work that goes into creating a quality plated meal, and the cost will be reflected in the fees for the catering experience.
  • Tips for Troubleshooting – Use a program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to track guest counts. If you are strapped for time, ask someone you trust (such as the mother of the bride or groom) to oversee tracking counts from RSVPs as they come in. This could be a great way to involve someone eager to help and take a task off your plate! And, create escort cards that are easy to read (for your guests) and easy to distinguish (for your caterers). Two of the biggest obstacles to providing flawless meal service include when guests don’t understand the significance of their meal indicators and when the catering team cannot quickly identify a guest’s meal.

Buffet Meal Service

  • Pros – Having a buffet style meal allows for guests to determine how much food they take. There is also typically a chance for them to go through the buffet line more than once. Depending on the type of serving ware, you can use your buffet to create a casual or classy experience. A buffet style meal can also require less effort to organize the catering portion of your wedding relative to a plated style meal. You will need to think about the order of tables to be released for the buffet line, but guests will not need individual escort cards. If you want to have assigned seats, you can create a single seating poster for guests to find their seats (using Excel, Google Sheets, or Social Tables could come in handy here). Note as well that buffets do allow the meal service to move along faster than with other methods.
  • Cons – More food is brought to ensure guests at the buffet will get enough food for their first, second, or third trip. When planning a buffet style meal, the catering team will ensure the best balance of food by making sure no one leaves hungry, but that there is as little food waste as possible. However, some food waste is usually inevitable.
  • Tips for Troubleshooting – If you are worried about some of your guests being able to access the buffet line, you can ask a trusted friend or family member to take care of these guests. Your catering team will also be happy to help you serve those guests provided you inform them in advance. Another option is to have select meals plated such as for the head table, other important guests, or guests who may struggle with accessing the buffet.

A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality is the premiere wedding caterer in Minnesota

A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality, our mission is to listen to our clients and treat them like family to provide a meaningful, trusting, and lasting relationship.

We have the right brand for any catering need and bring experience in all types and sizes of events. Whether it be buffet style, a formal sit-down dinner, or a series of stimulating and tantalizing food stations, you and your guests will be amazed by the core values, colorful food arrangement and display, and professionalism of A’BriTin Catering & Hospitality from beginning to end. Our ultimate goal is to complement your important day with a meal and service that will be remembered for a lifetime.

Our brands:

This Little Piggy-Distinctive Catering-Apples 2 Apples Catering-Hitch and Sip bar
  • Apples 2 Apples Catering offers an ethical farm to table catering concept using healthy ingredients fresh from local farms across Minnesota and Wisconsin. Follow Apples 2 Apples on Instagram and Facebook.
  • This Little Piggy Catering is a premiere outdoor catering solution that has been creating lasting memories since 1979. Our specialty is creating fantastic pig roasts, including delicious and colorful Hawaiian Luaus and traditional German-style pigs with all the fixings. Follow This Little Piggy on Instagram and Facebook!
  • At Distinctive Catering & Events, we align impeccable service with incredible food for all of your important events. Throughout the planning process, our Food & Beverage Coordinators are here to guide you with their kindness and trusted experience. Our chefs have the capability of customizing your appetizers, food stations, meals, desserts, and late-night snacks, making them truly distinctive to your occasion. Follow Distinctive Catering on Instagram and Facebook.
  • Hitch & Sip is a fully licensed and insured liquor catering business. Our services are completely mobile, and we provide all the equipment needed to create your bar experience. Follow the Hitch & Sip on Instagram and Facebook.

To learn more about our various brands and our unique and professional approach to weddings and other special events in Minnesota, please contact us at 612-339-0222 or via email at info@abritincatering.com. You can also request a quote. We can’t wait to hear from you and help you create an event to remember.

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