Nicely laid out tables at the Brandview Ballroom by LA Banquet in Glendale, California
There are millions of details to stress over when it comes to the wedding, but one of the hardest decisions that you can make concerning your big day is how to present your wedding meal. The difference of tone between a formal sit-down dinner and a buffet are stark, and choosing one or the other can change the entire course of the day. If you’re trying to figure out what to do at your wedding, then here is a quick guide to what to consider when planning your wedding meal.
There is no denying that sit-down meals are much more formal affairs than buffets, and weddings are supposed to be formal occasions. It is not very often that you get to enjoy being served a formal meal of multiple courses, so you might want to enjoy being waited on. If you have gone to great lengths to have a big white wedding with all the trappings, it may seem a little strange to have the guests running up and down a buffet table serving themselves.
However the less formal styling of a buffet suits some weddings. Not every wedding is a white-tie strict occasion, and some people have much more laid-back ceremonies at which a formal sit-down meal may seem a little over-the-top and stuffy. On this topic, the tone of your wedding should be the deciding factor.
Both – Sit-down meals and Buffets – require good planning. Above: Glenoaks Ballroom
Sit-down meals are more difficult to plan than buffets because they have many intricate parts that must fit together. The timing of courses, the number of servers and the dreaded seating plan must all be planned down to the tiniest detail – a headache for any bride and groom.
However buffets are not easy to plan either. The sheer amount of food required presents a bit of a logistical problem when it comes to preparation and keeping it all warm, but at least that is a problem that can be solved by a caterer and not by you directly.
One vast difference between sit-down meals and buffets is their flexibility. Buffet meals are far friendlier to any last minute additions or the inevitable person who turns up without an RSVP. An extra person or two isn’t going to starve everybody to death or cause a fuss. If the same thing happens at a sit-down meal, it can be much more difficult to rustle up extra food and an extra seat.
Some say that buffets are friendlier for people whose wedding parties contain a wide variety of dietary requirements, but I actually find the opposite to be true. It is much easier to create one individual nut-free meal in a sit down meal than try to find an entire nut-free platter for a buffet.
You will likely spend much more on the food for a buffet because you generally buy a little more than you would if you bought each meal individually. However the layout of buffets tends to require less manpower in the form of servers and caterers, saving your vital money on personnel. When trying to decide if a buffet or sit-down meal will be cheaper, the best person to ask is your caterer. However, as a general rule of thumb, sit-down meals are cheaper at smaller weddings whilst buffets are cheaper for larger crowds.
At the end of the day, your wedding is about marrying the person you love. Obsessing about buffet versus sit-down meals might seem important right now but remember to put everything in perspective. Have a quick conversation with your partner and caterer, and then simply make the choice and stick to it. Stress eliminated!