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wedding meal

Wedding Buffet or Plated Menu: Which One Is Right For You?


You’re starving. You’ve had an extremely long day filled with preparation and stress. You want a good wedding meal after the day you’ve had. The wedding meal is about the only time when everyone slows down, enjoys a meal, and laughs together. Dinner plays an important role in your wedding celebration!

Buffet or Plated Meal?

How do you decide how this meal gets served? Many people are not sure about this point and often ask for words of wisdom. Truth is, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing your wedding meal. Both self-service and plated have their advantages and disadvantages. We will be comparing both options for you and giving tips on how to determine which option is best suited for you and your guests down below.

Plated Wedding Meal

A plated meal is a service type where all your guests remain in their seats. Each course of the meal is prepared on individual plates and served to each guest at their respective tables. This type of service is convenient, easier, and less of a hassle for your guests. Plated meals have a way of making your wedding reception more formal and elegant. Plated service is organized, and each meal is sequentially served to everyone at the same time. Your guests can take their time eating instead of lining up for the food. Guests get to mingle and have more time to chat with other wedding guests at their table. Normally, each meal course is served ten minutes after the previous one. Make sure that everyone is served fairly. 

How Many Guests Are Attending Your Wedding?

A meal for plated service is exactly counted per guest. It has a fixed amount of serving and has fewer dishes. Usually, a plated meal is limited to one soup and salad, one main course, and a dessert. This limits the food choices for your guests since they are only served everything that is available.

If you are hiring an off-venue caterer who has their kitchen at a different place and transports the food to a venue where the wedding is, the preparation of food is more complicated and risky for them. Each food requires on-the-spot garnishing and a specific serving measurement on each plate is needed. It also requires the catering company to bring the proper equipment to the wedding venue. For example, an oven or a heating cabinet to maintain the food quality. 

High Cost

This type of wedding reception meal service is expensive. Aside from the high demand for food preparation and presentation, a plated service requires more staff and servers to assist your guests. Typically, a plated meal has a ratio of 1-2 waiters per table plus food attendants to prepare the food. If you are going for a plated service, expect that you’ll be spending more on the staff and food presentation rather than the amount of food that will be served. This option is ideal if you are particular about having a more formal reception, an elegant type of service, or a more artistic food presentation. 

Wedding Buffet

Buffet service is a type of service where foods are arranged on tables in a specific area of the venue. This is a self-service type where guests get their food on their own. Your guests have more food choices and will be free to get anything among the options. Guests can also get food multiple times for as long as there is food available. Guests can mingle with other guests from other tables during this time as well.


Foods in a buffet-style have a complete set of meal courses. You may opt to have an appetizer bar, soup, salad, four main courses (fish, pork, chicken, and beef), vegetable dish, pasta bar, plain & special rice, and dessert bar. You can also add several food stations such as a Crepe station, Quesadilla station, Pasta station, or Mongolian grill station. As you can see, a buffet-style meal is more flexible and adaptive to any type of guest, especially to those who have dietary and health issues. 

Long Lines

That being said though, the downside of a buffet-style is the long lines it could form upon getting meals especially if your wedding guest list is more than one hundred. A line at the buffet could create noise and chaos since everyone will be wandering around the area to get different foods. Having your guests walk around and bring plates to their table can make it less organized and less formal.

Long lines can also waste the time of your guests instead of spending it eating their food. Don’t worry about the VIPs and senior citizens – these types of guests are exempt from the long lines and are served on plated type even if you are going for a buffet style. Since guests are free to get whatever they want, some guests tend to get more of what they like and less of what they don’t. This leads to lesser amounts of certain foods for other guests.

Small Staff Requirements

Since this is a self-service, less staff and less food presentation are needed. All of this contributes to a buffet-style meal being more affordable than a plated type of service. You get to pay more for the amount of food rather than the staff and food presentation charges. You can make the most out of your budget by gaining more food for the price. A buffet meal option will be ideal for you if you don’t mind a less formal wedding reception and want to get more food out of your budget.

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