Wedding Reception Food: Should You Have a Buffet or a Plated Dinner?

It’s decision time! You’re inching ever closer to the big day, and now it’s time to decide what you want to do about the wedding reception food. Will you go with a buffet and so guests serve themselves? Or do you prefer a plated dinner?

Wedding Food: Buffet Or Plated Dinner?

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Picking one may not be as simple as it seems. It’s important to consider everything before making a decision. Will it be a buffet or a plated dinner? We break down the pros and cons of each to help you make the right choice.

The Cost

You may think because plated dinners are fancier and require more staff, that they would be more expensive. That’s not always the case. Since people tend to eat more at buffets, you’ll need to order more food for that option. If cost is a real concern, make sure you’re getting the best value with either option. Ask for prices from caterers in your area to know for sure.

The Atmosphere

What kind of wedding are you having? If you’re going for traditional, elegant and classy, a plated dinner serves that aesthetic well. However, if you’re a bit more fun-loving or casual, a buffet makes more sense.

Seating Concerns

A seating chart is a stressful chore you may not want to have. If you’re having a sit-down dinner, it’s a must. With a buffet, that seating chart goes out the window since most people will be spending their time in line and mixing among everyone else rather than sitting and waiting for their meal.


Usually, with a plated dinner, only two or three food choices are offered to guests. That is one way you cut down on costs. Unfortunately, several guests may have dietary restrictions. If you have a mixed guest list featuring picky eaters or guests with food allergies, a buffet will provide more variety. Keep in mind that the more options you provide, the more the buffet will cost.


Want to keep your wedding classic and formal? The plated dinner is the right wedding food option for you. Your wedding will feel like something out of a bridal magazine.

The Flow of Events

If you’ve ever experienced both styles of wedding, you know how the flow of events changes for the reception. With a plated dinner, the reception is under a very strict time table. A buffet is more relaxed with events. People can dance while others wait in line to get food. Speaking of the wait…

An Interminable Wait

Regardless of how you serve reception food, wedding guests will have wait. Typically, plated dinners come out of the kitchen later than expected. Not only that, tables will wait while all the other tables around them get served.

At least people can sit when they wait for their plated dinners. That’s not the case for buffets. If everyone gets food at the same time, the line at the buffet tables will be enormous. Make sure to plan out an area for people to stand while they wait in line. Even though this is a con for both serving styles, you can always think of creative ways to keep wedding guests entertained and happy while they wait. From a photo booth near the buffet table to live music or entertainment, there are lots of ways to keep everyone content!

Which wedding food method will you choose?