Should I Serve a Formal Meal or Have a Buffet at My Wedding?

It’s one of the first questions you’ll consider after getting engaged and, for many couples, it’s the most difficult one to answer: What do you do about the post-ceremony meal? Both a formal meal and a buffet have their advantages, but the decision is one you should make after mulling over the pros and cons. A Manhattan wedding catering professional can offer some insight, though some important information may help guide your planning.

Initial Questions About Catering for Your Wedding

Even before getting to the issue of a sit down versus buffet dinner, there are a few considerations to bear in mind. A few factors will have an impact on your decision, such as:

  • Your budget;
  • The venue for the ceremony and/or reception;
  • The number of guests you expect;
  • Your theme or vision; and,
  • Scheduling and timing.

As you’re weighing the pros and cons of a formal affair and a buffet, it’s essential to keep these logistical concerns in mind. Manhattan wedding and social events caterers are flexible, but they’re only able to work within the parameters that you provide at the outset.

Reasons to Consider a Formal Meal for Your Wedding

To some couples, a sit down dinner embodies the elegance and splendor that’s suitable for the occasion. With a formal meal, you’ll usually work with your caterer on 2-3 courses, offering such options as a salad, appetizer, main course, side, and dessert. Your guests will typically choose from a variety of proteins when they send their RSVP.

This sit down affair is more traditional and structured, which makes it ideal for toasts, speeches, and other events associated with the wedding ceremony. There are additional advantages, such as:

  • The setup provides a way for newlyweds to offer thanks and personalized attention to guests as they dine;
  • The schedule offers predictability, from cocktails and welcoming to dinner, dancing, and sending the couple off;
  • The cost of a sit down dinner tends to be lower than other arrangements, since caterers have an idea of how much to prepare based upon the number of guests;
  • Your guests receive their meals at roughly the same time, so no one feels left out and the meal moves at a consistent pace;
  • Though options are limited, it’s definitely possible to please all your guests.

On the down side, a formal dinner may not be the right fit if you need to please picky eaters or those with food allergies. Plus, a sit down meal isn’t suitable in certain venues. If you cannot celebrate in an accessible, open space, you and your guests will feel alienated during dinner.

Contemplating Your Buffet Wedding Options

There was a time when a self-serve meal wouldn’t be considered formal enough to celebrate a couple’s nuptials, but a buffet can be just as sophisticated and classy as any formal event. You’ll have to decide how you want to handle seating. Assigning your guests to tables brings the meal more in line with a sit down dinner, while general accommodations are more casual.

For the meal itself, you can determine the details and caterers are flexible for your needs. For instance:

  • You may opt for a welcoming reception and cocktail hour, possibly with passed appetizers or appetizer stations;
  • If you prefer designated seating, you’ll need to call guests to find their tables; and,
  • You can choose for salads and/or appetizers to be passed by servers rather than buffet-style, which provides down time as guests wait to be called to the serving line.

The advantage with a buffet is that you may be able to offer more options, especially with finicky guests. Through consultations with your caterer, you may choose 2-3 proteins, a variety of sides, bread, salads, and other dishes. However, you may be surprised to learn that a buffet-style meal tends to be more costly than the formal affair. Despite the fact that you may need fewer staff to plate and serve as compared to a sit down dinner, there’s less certainty. You and your caterer will definitely want to please all of your guests, but more choices means more potential for waste. Regardless of whether it’s eaten, you’re still paying for the food.

Get Guidance Experienced Manhattan Wedding Catering Professionals

There are many additional factors to consider when looking at a formal meal or buffet for your wedding, so you should trust a specialist to guide you through the decision-making process. For more information on catering options for your big day, please contact Thomas Oliver’s Catering NYC. You can reach our office by calling (212) 239-0090 or visit our website. We’re happy to tell you more about our Manhattan wedding catering services for sit down meals, buffets, and other environments.

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General Info

Thomas Oliver's Gourmet Catering & Events

240 West 35th Street,
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 239-0090
Cell: (646) 335-6310
Fax: (212) 239-0092

Delivery Hours:
7 Days a Week 8:00am to 8:00pm

We Cater 7 days a week all over 5 Boroughs throughout NYC including: Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Bronx & Brooklyn, New York