Wedding Wisdom™

Weddings: Buffet vs. Sit-Down Dinner: Best Value?

10/24/2015 by Deborah McCoy

Are Buffets the Best Wedding Value?

Erroneously, many brides- and grooms-to-be think that buffets are the best value when it comes to spending their wedding dollars. It's understandable. After all, you select a certain number of foods and they're served... so it has to be a better deal, right? The same for "station" receptions...

Let's analyze the buffet from the caterer's perspective: Does the property know how much food to serve when they prepare for a buffet? Do they have need staff to serve the food in the buffet line and do the carving? Do they need staff to clean up the buffet and keep it tidy? And do they need additional servers once guests are seated to bring them water, or whatever else they need? (These questions also apply to station receptions.)

The answer to the first question is "no"... There is no portion control when it comes to station or buffet receptions, meaning the caterer must prepare more food than for a sit-down dinner. The answer to the rest of the questions is "yes". Buffet and station receptions require more staff.

The Pre-Packaged Sit-Down Dinner, or Lunch, Brunch, etc.

There are advantages when it comes to the sit-down dinner, lunch or brunch. First, the property has portion control and the staff that's necessary to manage buffet lines and stations is not necessary. These are big advantages and they can save you, the bride- and groom-to-be lots of money. 

In fact, the pre-packaged, sit-down dinner, lunch or brunch, where everything is included from the cocktail hour, to dinner (lunch, or brunch), to champagne toast, to cake... is the best value for the dollar. 

Buffet vs. Sit-Down Dinner: Other Considerations

  • Many think that buffets and stations are set up over the course of the event so that guests can munch at will. Not so. Once everyone is fed, the stations and buffet lines are taken down.

  • Buffets can also cause timing issues. If there's not enough lines to accommodate guests quickly, you'll find that the people at table one will have finished eating while the people at table 15 are just getting to the buffet line. Guests at table one want to dance, but they can't... and the guests at table 15 don't want loud music playing when they're trying to eat.

  • And take note, when you host a buffet or station reception, you will pay separately for the cocktail hour.

Whatever kind of reception you'd like to host is up to you, but I think that the pre-packaged sit-down dinner, lunch or brunch is the best value for your wedding dollars.

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