Is a Buffet or Sit-Down Dinner Right for Your Reception?

Decide on which popular dinner service is the best choice for your wedding.

When it comes to your guests, one of the most important parts of your wedding day is the food. It also tends to be one of the biggest portions of your budget, so there are multiple reasons to consider your main meal carefully. Brunch weddings are always a fun option, but of course dinner is still the most common way to kick off a reception. Similarly, while some couples might utilize family style or multiple food stations, the average reception will feature either a buffet or sit-down dinner service. If you are unsure which service style is right for your event, read below to see why people choose either method. 

choosing between a buffet or sit-down dinner for your wedding
Photo by Amy Anaiz Photography

One reason sit-down dinner service is popular is simply due to the formality. There is no doubt that having servers bring guests their meals feels a little classier and more elegant, especially since everything can be hidden away in the kitchen. It also allows for you to fit in toasts or special dances between courses. As long as your caterer has enough servers, it also means that your guests will likely not have to wait as long for food, and it makes the meal more accessible for your attendees whose mobility is restricted. And of course, less of a wait for the food also means there will likely be more time for dancing once dinner is complete.

However, buffets have their benefits as well. For one, they typically save money, largely due to requiring far fewer catering staff. Buffets also offer flexibility in a variety of ways. Someone who is not very hungry can take a smaller portion – preventing food from being wasted – while someone who needs a larger portion can take one. Those with dietary restrictions can adjust their servings based on the buffet rather than working with what they are served, and if someone changes their mind about their meal selection, there is probably still enough available to make that adjustment. If you’re going to a homey, relaxed vibe for your wedding, a buffet may fit the tone better than sit-down service. 

There isn't a right choice, but hopefully you can take the needs of your guests and the formality of your celebration into account in order to make the right decision for your soirée. For more advice, learn four rules for creating a wedding menu and read more about the new trend of mobile bar carts.

Authored by: Emily Lasnier