Plated vs Stations vs Buffet – Options for serving your guests!

One of the main planning points (and expense points!) for weddings are the food and beverages! Depending on the time of day of your reception, your guests are probably expecting to eat a full meal. There are a few different ways to go about feeding your friends and family, and each require different planning methods and details!


A buffet service means that your guests will either pick up their plate from their seat, or pick up a plate from the beginning of the buffet line, and there will be a few choices for main “protein” dish, sides and a salad. The guests will have all of their food at once, which means you will need to provide a seat at a table for every person attending your wedding or event. This also means that the meal portion of your event will happen at one time. Something to think about: If you have a larger number of guests, will you release tables a few at a time so there isn’t a large line?



The station option is like a broken up buffet. Think, tapas! You can provide smaller salad plates at each station, so people can go to one at a time! This type of meal set-up is perfect if you are looking for a more ‘cocktail style’ reception, meaning that you don’t provide seating for every guest, and don’t have a designated ‘sit down and eat’ time. If you have a larger number of guests, this can save you quite a bit of money (think chair, table, linen, centerpiece, etc. per person!). This can also allow you to have more interesting options, with chefs preparing the food in real time at a few of the stations!


A plated meal is going to be the most formal of your options, and will also require the most work from you! You can offer choices to your guests on their rsvp cards included in their invites, or you can consider serving the same option to all of your guests. You will need to keep in mind food restrictions (allergies, vegetarians, etc.). This option will require you to assign not only tables to your guests, but specific seats. When assinging a specific seat, you will need to create place cards that will be displayed at each seat – with an indicator of some sort that shows the wait staff what that guest ordered!