Choosing the Right Dinner Service for Your Wedding

Amidst the planning process, you will come across choices in your planning journey where you may not know all your options in navigating what’s the best option for your big day! One of those choices you may have, is deciding what dinner service is right for you and your guests.
Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Family Style Example | Perfectly Posh Events | Andria Lindquist Photography
There are many things to think about when choosing the type of dinner service you want at your wedding. Timing, cost, ambiance, and culinary style are all factors that determine what is the right fit for you. When you picture your wedding day, is it a black tie affair or laid back? Do you see your guests up and mingling or receiving a luxury dinner service? Here are the different options of catering styles and reasons to choose each one: Buffet, Action Stations, Plated, Family Style and Food Trucks. 
Each style has it’s pros and cons so to give you a little more guidance, we’ve given you the run down of the different dinner service options for you to choose!

Buffet

Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Buffet Style Examples | Perfectly Posh Events | Kathryn Moran Photography | Ravishing Radish

How it works:
Guests are dismissed per table to the buffet line. They get to choose what they want on their plates and how much of each entree or side they want. Some guests enjoy just to have a salad whereas others like to indulge in a beef and fish option. When the caterer receives the final guest count, they make sure they prepare enough to allow for overage in case there are guests who want seconds or larger portions.
 
Style:
Typically for the more laid-back wedding. Having guests get up from their seats encourages them to mingle amongst each other.
 
Cost:
Labor cost will be pretty minimal as there are only a handful of servers replenishing the buffet and clearing tables. The cost per person depends on the caterer you choose but typically it is a little higher than plated since portions are not controlled.
Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Buffet Style Examples | Perfectly Posh Events | Barbie Hull Photography
 
Timing:
Depending on the size of your guest list will determine how long the buffet line. Weddings with 80-200 guests, having a double sided buffet is highly recommended. This will get hungry guests through the line much faster than a single sided buffet. Weddings with 200+ guests should have multiple buffets so guests aren’t waiting long for their table to be dismissed. On average, dinner service tends to last about one hour.
Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Buffet Style Examples | Perfectly Posh Events | Kathryn Moran Photography | Ravishing Radish
Tips:
On your invitations, have your guests RSVP with what entree they would choose {beef, chicken, fish, vegetarian} so that your caterer can have a better idea as to what entree will be the most popular.

 

Action Stations

Photo Credit {All Photos} | Barbie Hull Photography

How it works:
Multiple tables scattered around with chefs and attendants cooking right in front of guests. All guests are welcome to go to each station at their own leisure. There can potentially be different cuisines available for guests such as an Italian, Greek, Mexican, Carving, etc. stations and guests can pick and choose what they want.
Style:
For the foodie couple. If catering is on the top of your priority list when hiring vendors, this is the right fit! Guests are entertained by watching the chefs prepare the food in front of their eyes and also enjoy their dinner straight off the skillet. Action Stations have worked successfully for all types of weddings from relaxed to formal affairs.
Cost:
Significantly higher than most styles. Each station typically requires one chef and one attendant {their assistant}. There are also more servers to help restock the stations and clear tables. The cost per person is higher as portions are not controlled.
Timing:
Since all the dishes are cooked when requested, stations can stay open for up to 4 hours. Guests can try multiple meals throughout the night. The wait time for guests is much shorter than other dinner styles as they have more options to choose from.
Tips:
Have the stations open immediately after cocktail hour as guests are filing into the reception area. This way guests can feel that WOW factor while they walk around the space and can start eating immediately.

Plated

vanessa-aaron-wedding-blog373814

Photo Credit | Amanda Lloyd Photography

How it works:
Each guest RSVP’d with which entree they prefer. There are typically multiple courses during dinner service as well as wine service at the tables {instead of guests walking up to the bar}. Portions are regulated so it may be too much food for one guest but not enough for another.
Style:
Fine-dining, luxurious and traditional weddings. Plated service is the most formal of all the dinner styles.
Cost:
Labor will be on the higher end of the spectrum as there is much more attention the servers give each guest. The food cost will be lower than having a buffet since you will have an exact number of each entree your guests are having. The caterer won’t need to cover the cost of any overages.
Timing:
Guests are being served multiple courses one table at a time {starting with the bride and groom}. This makes for a longer dinner service – usually 1.5-2 hours.
vanessa-aaron-wedding-blog373817
Tips:
Have toasts or your first dance to keep guests entertained in between courses. This will buy you time for open dancing! On RSVP cards that will have more than one guest, have them use their initials instead of check marks so you know which person requested which entree.

Family Style

Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Family Style Examples | Perfectly Posh Events | Andria Lindquist Photography

Photo Credit | Andria Lindquist Photography

How it works:
A hybrid of buffet and plated. The catering team will place large platters of your chosen menu onto each table and guests pass around the dishes to each other. Guests can pick and choose what they want and can also regulate their portions.
Style:
Typically more relaxed but a little more formal than buffet. Family style keeps guests in their seats but creates a more laid back vibe by having to pass the entrees around the table.
Cost:
Labor would be in the mid-range {more than buffet, less than plated}. Food cost is very similar to buffet style.
Timing:
The majority of guests are served at the same time making dinner service go fairly quick. Typically family style last about 45 minutes – 1 hour.
Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Family Style Example | Perfectly Posh Events | Andria Lindquist Photography
Tips:
Ask your guests on the RSVP cards which entree they prefer. Sometimes it ends up that entire tables will only eat fish and not touch the chicken so having a more accurate meal count is ideal!

Food Trucks

Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Food Truck Example- Hot Dog Truck | Perfectly Posh Events | Barbie Hull Photography

Photo Credit | Barbie Hull Photography

How it works:
Bringing in your favorite local food trucks is a fun way for guests to mingle and try new things! There are typically more menu items to choose from than the typical dinner service.
Style:
Fun, relaxed, unique weddings for the foodie couple. If you are wanting a cocktail-style wedding where guests aren’t sitting at assigned tables but are rather walking around and mingling then this is the style of service for you!
Photo Credit | Barbie Hull Photography
Cost:
Depending on the caterer, you can either be charged per person or based on consumption. Food cost is significantly lower per person since they charge what their typical menu is if you were to walk up to them any other day. There will be an event fee for reserving the truck that night but is pretty reasonable compared to other dinner styles. Labor cost is very low if at all listed. There is usually only one or two people manning the truck.
Timing:
Food trucks are usually around for up to 3 or 4 hours as guests will come and go as they please. While some guests may be on the dance floor, others will be at the truck enjoying their dinner! The lines are typically short since the trucks are around for a good portion of the evening.
Tips:
Having a food truck as a late night snack is a great way to keep your guests surprised and entertained throughout the evening. Combining buffets and food trucks is the way to go!
Choosing the Right Dinner Service | Food Truck Example | Perfectly Posh Events | Barbie Hull Photography

We apologize for the extensive run-down, but we wanted you to know the different dinner service options out there for you to choose that’s the right fit for your wedding. So enjoy the planning process! And comment below and let us know if you found this helpful, or if you have any questions about any of the dinner service options!

DeLille Cellars wedding in Woodinville | Reception toast photo | Perfectly Posh Events | Lucid Captures Photography
Until next time!
Danae

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