Choosing your menu is one of the most important decisions you will make for your wedding. One of the first decisions you will need to make is whether to serve a buffet or a plated meal. I would first consider the type of wedding you are having. Do you want a very formal wedding or a more relaxed atmosphere? These answers will determine which type of menu will be best for you and your guests.
Jena Marullo, Owner/Food and Beverage Director for Glendalough Manor, says “If you choose a plated meal expect a very formal dinner service. This dinner service is at least three courses with your first course typically being a soup or salad, the second course is the main entree and the third course is dessert (wedding cake).” Keep in mind that with a plated meal your guests will be seated for over an hour being served their meal and dinner will last longer with a plated meal versus a buffet.
Plated meals do make your guests feel catered to and with some extra touches “your guests will not have to get up for anything; which is the intention for a plated or seated meal”. Jena suggests offering a wine service during the entree course consisting of one red and one white wine selection as well as offering a cocktail service in between the salad and entree course and coffee service during dessert to enhance their dining experience. If you decide to choose a plated meal, make sure to include your selections on your response card. This way, you can be prepared to let the caterer know how many of each entrée will be served.
Some of the biggest advantages to serving a buffet dinner rather than a plated meal are not only the amount of food but also the variety of food offered to your guests. With a plated meal your guests are limited to what the bride and groom have chosen and they must decide weeks in advance what they want to eat on your wedding day. A buffet menu allows guests to serve multiple entrees, sides and appetizers so they can pick and choose what they would like to eat. Jena Marullo suggests that “if you decide on a buffet style meal I would recommend choosing a facility that is familiar in properly executing a buffet service. Glendalough Manor does this by releasing tables one by one to eliminate a line forming and also having wait staff serve the main courses to avoid running out of food.
Whether you decide to do buffet and plated make sure to base your decision on what you want the overall feeling to be during your wedding. Make sure to talk with your caterer or facility director if you are still undecided. They can help determine what choice is right for you and what your options are. Many facilities and caterers are now offering a heavy hors d’ oeuvres menu with chef attended stations, plated salads, passed hot and cold hors d’ oeuvres that might be the right mix for you. Jena has completed over 400 weddings and says she “still prefers a buffet style meal over plated but this is a personal decision that needs to go with the personality of the bride, groom and their families.”
Tell us your thoughts on a buffet versus a plated meal!