Catered Food Service - What Works Best?
We often get asked by couples what works best for catered food service during the wedding. We typically see three types of services: buffet, family style, and food stations. We are always open to creativity!
1. Buffet: This is by far the favorite meal service for any size wedding. Weddings of 200 guests and more especially like this service as it is very efficient and generally the most economical. Often guests are fed within 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your guest count. This usually gives the bridal party a 10 to 20 minute grace period with guests fed and patiently awaiting speeches before using restrooms, refilling drinks and/or heading for desert. Family style can still be used for the head table and sometimes a few immediate family tables. Nearly all the food not served can refrigerated in our commercial coolers and taken home during Sunday clean-up. ( If you want the leftovers this has been the best choice.)
2. Family Style: This type is often kept to weddings of 200 guests or less if an indoor ceremony at our Barn is likely. A smaller wedding is suggested because of the extended prep time needed by caterers to set plates, glasses, etc. If the Ceremony is held outside or at another location then this service has worked well for any size wedding. For weddings above 200 guests, a portion of the dining area is used for indoor ceremonies and about 15 minutes is needed to flip ceremony benches and put up guest tables. Food served in the family style bowls/platters is generally discarded do to food safety regulations. This style of service is often several dollars more per plate and normally there is little food that can be kept by the renters.
3.Food Stations: This type of food service is a new trend we are seeing more often at our weddings. Guests can go to the food station of their choice and keep coming back as many times as they would like. Most caterers limit this option to 170 guests. The food stations have typically been open for an hour to an hour and a half. Normally all food from stations is discarded and only food containers not open at stations can be saved.
Head Table Meal Service: Many weddings choose to have a buffet line for their guests but do not want the head table to get up. If that is the case, you could choose to be served a plated meal or family style. Sometimes the immediate family tables are also served this way. This option is also nice if you have elderly relatives so they can remain seated. Work with your caterer to determine the meal service you would like to have at your wedding. Most caterers offer a variety of menu choices, depending on what service style you choose. Often, they also let you taste test so enjoy being engaged and sample some delicious food that will be served on your big day.