Sit-Down Dinner vs. Buffet
Weigh your options before deciding on a formal sit-down meal or a festive buffet at your reception
By Jen Whitten
Whether you desire a Tuscan feast or simple hors d'oeuvres, you'll likely spend a healthy chunk of your wedding budget on food for your guests. Caterers have options to fit every theme, taste and budget so have an idea of what you want before you schedule a meeting. Otherwise, it's too easy to let your taste buds overrule your budget.
- What You Need to Know
- Understand the catering options your venue provides or will allow. Every venue has a different layout and some will be better suited to a buffet dinner and others, a sit-down dinner.
Review your budget. Food is a major aspect of the reception and should have its own entry on the wedding budget. Keep this number in the back of your mind through all the tastings and caterer meetings to avoid any surprises.
Estimate your final headcount. Caterers typically quote on a per-person basis. Even if you are setting your menu well in advance of the RSVP date, try to come up with a reasonable estimate of who will attend. This number will be critical to your decision making.
Consider the length of your reception. Sit-down meals take longer than buffets because everyone must be served and remain seated during the meal. Buffets, on the other hand, allow people to eat what they want, when they want. This means that anyone not eating is free to dance or mingle while others enjoy the food.
Decide on the level of formality of your wedding. Formal weddings often feature three-course meals served by venue staff. Less formal affairs often have buffets to keep the fun moving.
Make a list of the food you want served. If your list is full of expensive seafood, a buffet is the fastest way to burn through your budget. It is easier to control costs when each guest is served a limited portion.
Think about the dietary needs of your friends and family. Do they require vegetarian dishes? Is anyone allergic to shellfish? The easiest way to provide a selection pleasing to everyone is by offering a variety on the buffet line.
Consider the time of day of your wedding reception. Buffets are more appropriate for afternoon or early evening weddings because guests do not expect a full meal. Hors d'oeuvres and dessert buffets work well in the afternoon or early evening.
About the Author
Jen Whitten is a freelance writer and worked in the event and wedding planning fields.
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The final head count given to the caterer. The bride and groom will pay for this number of meals, whether all the guests show up or not.View the Full Weddings Glossary