Wedding Planning Tips: Buffet vs. Plated Dinner

Should you treat your wedding guests a plated dinner or let them choose from a variety of options with a buffet? There are benefits to both so we picked the brains of wedding planners -who have seen dozens of receptions and meal styles – to tell us which option is best. Here’s what the pros said:


Marisa Manna Ferrell from So Eventful

Plated dinner service is nice because everyone at the table gets their food at the same time. Also, with a plated dinner you can spread out toasts and/or incorporate dances during the courses to keep the guests engaged. Buffet dinner service is a most cost effective way to dine your guests. Buffet requires less staff, which means lower costs. Buffet offers a variety of food selections for your guests.

Buffet Dinner vs. Plated Dinner - Inspired by This
Photo by Onelove Photography


Rebecca Calagna of Rebecca Calagna Events

When deciding between plated dinner or buffet for your reception, there are a few things you should take into consideration. First, what is the overall style and feel of your wedding? Are you having a black tie, formal event or a more casual, laid back affair? Plated table service is the most formal while a buffet-style meal brings some casualness. Second, a plated dinner can save you money on food cost, but you will pay more for service. A buffet dinner will most likely save you costs on both service and food. It also gives your guests control of the portion of the meal they would enjoy. Lastly, ask yourself which type of meal you prefer; Are you a more formal or more laid back? One choice is not better than another. You will need to take into consideration budget, guest expectations and your personal preferences.

Buffet Dinner vs. Plated Dinner - Inspired by This
Photo by Lucero Photography


Priscilla Erwin of Orangerie Events

Growing up, my family would frequently visit K&W Cafeteria on Sundays after church. While the food options were limitless and the taste never disappointed, there’s something about a buffet at a wedding that is reminiscent of me scooting my tray along the metal counter as hair-net-wearing ladies plopped food onto my plate. A wedding should be a bit more refined which is why I always recommend family-style or plated dinner service to my clients versus a buffet.  Your guests will appreciate all being served at the same time, the individualized attention of a having a waiter and will be grateful for not being ushered through a buffet line like a herd of cattle. 

Buffet Dinner vs. Plated Dinner - Inspired by This
Photo by Graham Terhune

Have more wedding planning questions like this one? We’re here to help! Should you have an open bar? What about a day-of coordinator?


10 responses to “Wedding Planning Tips: Buffet vs. Plated Dinner

  1. We did a buffet for our wedding and it worked perfect! It kept the guests busy and helped with the flow

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