One of the most important things guests remember from a wedding is the food. As a result, it is also one of the most common things couples stress about before the big day. You’re probably here reading this article because you’re now facing the same dilemma as them: how do you know which food service to pick? Is there a way to figure out which one is perfect for your wedding? To answer your question, below are some food services and the corresponding reasons why a couple such as you and your partner would want to pick them for your wedding:
One of the most common food services for weddings is actually a buffet. A buffet is basically this “eat all you can” where different dishes are lined up on long tables manned by servers. In a buffet, hiring servers ensures a faster line and a more proportionate distribution of the food among the guests. On some weddings, however, the guests are also left to serve themselves. Besides the variety of food, an advantage in choosing a buffet is then the less number of staff you need to hire because guests themselves go to the food instead of the other way around. On the other hand, a disadvantage is the larger quantities of food you may have to prepare because guests are free to avail of second helpings. Moreover, lines may become long and slow. This is also why some tend to view buffets as “tacky” or lacking elegance. Nevertheless, it’s a good option to consider if you want to save money on catering staff costs!
This is the classic sit-down dinner with the guests just waiting for the staff to serve their food. An example of the sequence of food served would be first, the salad course, followed by the entrée, then the dessert and lastly, the beverage. Without the variety offered by the buffet, a plated dinner may require you to present choices to your guests beforehand to ask them what they would like to be served on the wedding day. This is usually done by way of the invitations where the guests can send back their preferences and tell you any allergies they may have. This traditional wedding reception style offers the advantage of being simple and straightforward. It would also ensure that no food would be wasted because everyone is already accounted for and the portions of food are already estimated well by the caterer. Furthermore, everyone would be served food at the same time so the guests would be more comfortable. The disadvantage of the plated meal style, however, would be the higher bill for the wait staff and the turnaround time for each meal.
In the family style, different dishes are already placed at the center of each table in the reception along with the utensils. This food service style serves to replicate the idea of “family” and friends coming together, hence the name. So in this scenario, guests pass the food around in the table and help themselves to whatever dish they want. A pro of this wedding reception style would be the more casual and relaxed atmosphere between the guests which would also encourage more conversation between them. Basically, it provides for a more intimate ambiance which may align with your wedding theme. A disadvantage is that there is no way to control how much each guest gets so some may end up getting too full and others left too hungry. Other cons include food that might be wasted and the mess from leaving the guests to tend to themselves.
Cocktail style is basically a ‘stand up’ reception where guests aren’t seated so food is either served to them or is available in stations (or food trucks for some adventurous couples). In this style, guests also have the freedom to choose from a selection of food and they wouldn’t have to wait for the next round of meals like in the plated style. Aside from this, other advantages include guests being able to choose when they’ll eat and can spread it out through the night. As for you and your partner, one pro is being able to personalize the stations/food trucks according to what you want. Hors d’oeuvres (or light snacks and appetizers) served by the wait staff is also a common option for couples who want to add a touch of elegance to the cocktail style. This can be expensive, however, because appetizers like salmon sliders or braised lamb meatballs are labor intensive and cost more. Another evident disadvantage is guests not getting fed well because there is no guarantee that food gets to them.
In recent years, one additional option for food service that has become more popular for weddings is the use of food carts. Aside from the catering, some couples choose to hire coffee or dessert carts which bring in a touch of creativity on the array of food options for the guests. Of course, a common example for these food carts would be ice cream. But, more creative food carts for weddings include those with cotton candy, takoyaki, sandwiches, churros, nachos, among many others which really send the message that you want your guests to enjoy on your wedding night. Definitely, this is something you can consider if you have an additional budget for food and if you and your partner are foodies who would like the guests to try something you love!
To end this short list of food services you can choose from, one thing you can also consider in your decision is the overall look or feel of your wedding. Sometimes, thinking about the bigger picture helps you decide on the smaller things and keeps your vision for the wedding intact. If you still find yourself torn between options, try making a pros and cons list to see which really fits both your budget and wedding theme.