One difficult decision for engaged couples is what kind of wedding reception catering to go with. There is a lot of time spent discussing whether or not to have a seated dinner with servers versus having a buffet dinner at the reception. There are arguments for choosing one over the other, and both have obvious advantages and disadvantages.

Decisions, decisions

  • At a buffet, your guests have ample choices and can select for themselves what they would prefer. They can choose to sample as much or as little as they want.
  • With a seated dinner, guests have to choose well in advance of the event a dish they may not have a taste for when the time comes. The amount of food any particular guest requires to feel satiated is different, and one would never want their guests to go home feeling hungry.

It’s not about the money, money, money

  • Let’s be honest, it IS about the money, when it comes to weddings. A buffet can sometimes work out cheaper, since caterers can prepare dishes in bulk, but they also are making educated guesses about how much one person will eat. There could be more waste involved, and therefore more money spent.
  • At a seated dinner, the cost is high because of the additional expenses incurred. Dish rental and clean up is included. There have to be servers involved. There is little waste, however, since everything is accounted for (assuming everyone who R.S.V.P‘d shows up, which is an issue we will tackle in another column).
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The service is excellent

  • Hiring servers for the reception helps keep the flow moving – drinks being served, snacks being passed, everything seemingly effortless but all orchestrated.
  • Having a buffet perhaps means no exceptional orchestration, but also the timing can be less tricky because everyone is eating when they want.

White tie or white sneakers

Both buffets and service are great options for reception dinners. Recently there’s even been many ‘Potluck’ style receptions – it’s a buffet where every guest brings a dish to share.  You can have a casual seated dinner served by waitstaff, and you can have a formal buffet with carving stations and pasta stations and…other stations we can’t recall at the moment.  A casual backyard buffet might be just the ticket for a low-key kind of event. If you’re looking for a more formal affair, though, it’s definitely going to cost you.

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