A Planner’s Perspective on Choosing the Perfect Dining Style for Your Wedding

Photo by Danielle James Photography

Food is always a huge element of an event, weddings included. We have come a long way from the traditional menu that we are so used to seeing at weddings…and to be honest, we are here for it! For some, a plated menu is the perfect way to portray the air of sophistication they envision for their day, while others use their cuisine as a means of social interaction and embracing all things yummy. The bottom line is that the food you serve should reflect who you are as a couple.  In today’s blog, we are going to break down the benefits of some of the most popular dining styles to help you decide which is the best one for you!

The Plated Menu

Tradition at it’s finest;  we have come to love and expect the polished and attentive service that a plated menu offers. A plated menu is as sophisticated as it is customary. This dining style allows for your guests to be seated and served and sets the tone for a formal gathering. When you decide to delight your guests with the traditional sit down dinner, you have the most control over the look and feel of the meal, and you can work closely with your caterer to make sure they execute your vision perfectly. Another benefit of going traditional is that it is most efficient when it comes to your wedding day timeline. For the couple that embraces the “black tie affair” this is the style for you. 

Buffet Style 

Buffets always seem to get the short end of the stick, but if you love food and a whole lot of variety, this may be the dining style for you. A buffet style meal can be scaled up to meet the needs of a formal affair but can also offer a more casual style if a couple is looking for something more laid back. The most significant benefit of a buffet meal is the endless variety. No need to worry about your picky guests, there can be something for everyone with a buffet. When your buffet is abundant it can be visually appealing and photogenic. If executed well with vibrant food and a talented design team, a buffet meal can be extraordinary. If you are a couple that wants to make sure each and every guest is well-fed, this may be the style for you. 

Family Style Dinner 

A family style dinner is exactly as it sounds; everyone seated together with big platters and bowls of food that are passed around. This style of dining is elegant yet cozy and “serves up” a warm and inviting atmosphere. This is a great option if you do not want a big formal meal, but also want to keep your guests seated during dinner. It may give off a more casual, laid back feel, but with the right decor and serveware can be extremely chic. Family style dining can offer a wide variety of choices like a buffet, but is more efficient when it comes to serving the meal because waiting lines are eliminated. Quite possibly our favorite reason to love a family style meal is the sense of community and interaction. Whether a quiet conversation with the person next to you or a big boisterous conversation that the whole table gets involved in; the interaction that guests at each table can have is definitely unique and equally special. If you are a couple that grew up embracing time together at the dinner table, this may be the style for you. 

Food Stations 

Food stations are similar to buffets but have a trendy twist. Couples that want to stand out with their wedding menu tend to gravitate toward this “foodie” centered style. Food stations offer a wide variety of food and are often dedicated to certain dishes or types of food. Although similar to a buffet, it is more involved, specific and interactive.  Food stations are a great way to inject creativity and personality into your menu; perhaps you have a favorite cuisine or love something from your “go to” late night spot, food stations are a great way to showcase this to your guests.  We love the idea of telling the story of your journey in food  with these visually stunning stations. An added bonus…guests have the opportunity to interact and engage with each other, and you know we love the idea of meeting new people at a wedding! If you are a couple of foodies or love all things delicious, this may be the style for you.

Cocktail Style Reception 

When you want the  biggest take away from your wedding to be “best night ever”, a cocktail reception may be what you need. Think about this…no seating charts, no tablescapes, no fuss over the perfect linens. A cocktail reception gives your guests the opportunity to mix and mingle, dance all night long and snack on sweet and savory treats whenever they want. This dining style offers room for guests to move around your reception and chat with other guests. It is engaging and interactive and super cost efficient if you are inviting a lot of people. A cocktail reception offers an extremely casual atmosphere where guests can socialize and meet each other.  If you want your wedding reception to go down in history as the “party of the year”, this may be the style for you. 

Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, and so does dinner! Whether you are the type of couple that is the last to leave the party or the couple that’s always in their “Sunday best”, the most important factor to remember is that the dining style at your wedding should match your personality. Just as with any special occasion, food is what brings us together.  Make sure it’s done in a way that makes you happy…and full!