If you are considering having a buffet meal at your wedding reception, you may be wondering if it’s the right thing to do. Will guests think it’s tacky? Will they mind getting up to serve themselves? A wedding buffet can be upscale and elegant if you do it right. Don’t shy away to having a buffet. It may save you money and the guests will love it.
It’s perfectly acceptable to have a buffet at your reception. Brides do it all the time and with stunning results. You’ll save on the cost of help to serve the food. Waiters and waitresses are figured into the cost of the food. So, save a bundle and then do the food the right way.
The only way your wedding reception would appear tacky is if you asked guests to bring the food. You’re not having a potluck dinner, you’re hosting a wedding. So never allow guests to bring food to the wedding. Other than that simple rule, the buffet can be whatever you want it to be.
You will work with a caterer whether you have a buffet or a sit-down dinner. The only difference is that you have many more choices with a buffet dinner. If you are getting married in the late morning, you can have a brunch with eggs, roast beef, and mimosas. If you are marrying later in the day or at night, you can have a hearty and savory buffet.
Decide on the types of foods you want at your wedding. Will you have informal appetizer type foods and then the cake? If so, be sure there is plenty so guests aren’t expecting a main course afterwards. If you’re planning on going with several different stations at your buffet, be sure that the caterer has enough chafing dishes to keep everything hot. It’s a great idea to have a seafood, a chicken, and a meat dish as main entrée choices.
The caterer will be able to tell you how much food you need per person. The last thing you want to do is run short. So order over. You can arrange to have the rest of the food donated to a food pantry after the reception so nothing goes to waste.
Discuss the types of serving platters the food will be presented on. If your food is slapped on plastic dishes, it’s going to look cheap. Make sure the caterer uses silverware and good quality serving dishes that are attractive to you. Look at them and feel them before the big day so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised. Ask to see photos of other buffet receptions your caterer has done.
Just because you’re going buffet, doesn’t mean you’re going ultra-casual. You should still cover the table cloths in linen and have plenty of room for people to move around the buffet. Don’t cram all the food onto one table. Spread it out so people aren’t jammed in when they reach the buffet.
Decorate the buffet table with flowers and fruits and nuts. Whatever your theme is should be reflected on the buffet tables as well. You might have candles lit or fresh bouquets in urns. Also, plan on having your wedding cake on display at one of the tables. It’s also perfectly fine to have a dessert buffet table, too, but have that brought out after the meal so people don’t start eating to it too soon.
Be sure to have lots of coffee, tea, drinks, and non-alcoholic beverages available whether you go buffet or sit-down. You want everyone to feel like they’ve been pampered, so an open bar is a great way to set off the fact that guests have to get up to serve themselves. You might hire several bartenders to have bar stations around the room. This will eliminate wait time.
Guests will love your buffet reception if you take the time to do it right.
More on Wedding Food:
- Should you try to save money by catering your own reception?
- How to Choose a Caterer for Your Wedding
- Frugal Wedding Tips ? Feeding Your Guests
Michelle has been with Wedding Favors Unlimited for nearly 20 years. Starting out in Customer Service, she’s interacted with thousands of Brides helping them navigate every detail imaginable around a wedding. She became a full-time writer for us because she realized he kept getting the same questions over and over and wanted to share them with everyone. Feel free to ask Michelle a question below!