A Guide To Reception Dining Options

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Trying to decide between a sit-down dinner or buffet? Or perhaps you want something a little different like progressive dining and station style dinner service. From a cost perspective, one is not necessarily cheaper than the other. It’s a common mistake for couples to think a buffet is a less expensive alternative, but there are many factors that contribute to the overall cost. The type of food you choose and the number of options you want to provide is the ultimate deciding factor. Beef or a pricey fish will always raise your per head price whether it’s on a buffet line, or plated and served. Offering multiple choices of each food group will also cause buffet or family style service prices to rise. When it comes to a sit-down dinner, the menu is pre-determined and the caterer knows exactly how much food they need and the cost is fixed. Buffets allow guests to take as much as they want and the food has to be constantly replenished which adds to the quantity of food needed and ups the cost. The second biggest deciding factor when it comes to price, is how much wait staff will be required. Plated dinner service requires a hefty wait staff which is why it may be more costly than a simple buffet. However, buffet or station style dining that features carving stations or make your own food bars require a chef which can be expensive. A chef is much more costly than a waiter. There are quite a few factors to consider when trying to decide what dining style is right for your big day. Everything from the type of reception you are hosting to the type of food you want to serve will weigh into your decision. You may also want to consider the preferences of your friends, family and guests. Are they picky eaters? Do they have dietary restrictions? Will there be a lot of children in attendance? All of these things will contribute to your dinning style choice. With so many options and things to consider, it can be a little overwhelming. We are breaking down what you need to know, so you can figure out which dinning option is undeniably you!

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Sit Down Dinner – If you’re hosting a formal affair, a sit down dinner is the way to go. Guests can enjoy a multi course meal served tableside by an attentive wait staff. While this option has always been the most traditional, because of its pre-set menu, it lacks the variety and options other dinning styles afford. Choosing a menu to satisfy everyone can be tricky.  

Buffet   The buffet is the most casual dining option and allows guests to eat their fill of a variety of foods. Standard buffets are self serve and set up on long banquet tables. This can be an inexpensive option if you avoid the need for servers and opt for chicken dishes over beef and fish. The downside to a buffet is guests may have to wait in long lines and won’t enjoy the luxury of being waited on.

Station Style   Station style dining is rising in popularity! Various food stations are set up throughout the reception, each having its own theme and type of food. This style of dining allows couples to really be creative with their menu and focus on presentation. Stations may vary from a self serve farmers table filled with breads, meats and cheeses to a spud bar or a suishi station with a chef creating custom rolls! Station style dining has something for everyone and is an exciting twist on the standard buffet.

Progressive Dinning -  Progressive dining, also referred to as a cocktail reception, is perfect for small weddings. It’s also a great option for shorter, more casual weddings that won’t have full table settings or a dance floor. Guests are treated to a constant flow of passed hors d’oeuvres featuring small bite sized portions. Small food stations may also be set up to compliment the roaming selections.

Family Style    Family style dining is an intimate option that brings the feel of a familial home cooked meal to your wedding. Platters of meat, vegetables and other side dishes are placed at the tables by servers and replenished as needed. Guests can help themselves to as much food as they like, unlike plated dinners that are portion controlled. Make sure you have ample space on your tabletop for all of the platters.  



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