Recently, I've been seeing many more requests for buffet style receptions. And with good reason. Not only can buffets be cost effective, but they're also more interactive and provide a larger variety of food for your guests.
Many of us are accustomed to the multi-course sit-down dinner (bread, salad, pasta, entree, cake-done). As lovely as it is to keep tradition, after many years of attending weddings and events, they begin to lack their allure.
Of course there are venues that offer exceptional food and many different options so that the hosts can customize their menus- but it seems as if people are taking more notice of buffet style receptions.
When planning a buffet style reception, choose a caterer who will guide you in choosing the appropriate food for your overall theme and style and work with all of your vendors on this. Let them know that you are having a buffet style reception and you want their thoughts on how to make it as beautiful and functional as possible. Vendors see many different events and may have some ideas you haven't thought of.
Do your research. Get quotes from different caterers and don't be afraid to ask for references. Discuss food items and ask about what's in season igh markups.
Don't neglect the small details- make sure that your caterer is knowledgeable in styling and plating. Nothing is more of a turnoff than poorly presented food.
Keep in mind that during buffet style events, some of your guests might get up for multiple servings, so discuss possible waitstaff to collect dirty dishes and make sure there are plenty of dishes to replenish.
I was recently asked by a client if she should have assigned seating since it was a buffet and a party of less than 100. I absolutely suggest seating arrangements and encourage you to discuss announcing table numbers with your DJ or emcee. This will help to avoid large lines and crowds. As another way to avoid this- discuss setting up multiple buffet stations so that your guests are not waiting to be called for a long time.
Whether you are doing a Buffet or a Sit-Down Reception or party, the key thing to keep in mind are your guests. Remember that they are there for you and that they want to enjoy your wedding or event as much as you do. As I said before, do your research, plan accordingly and get as much advice as possible- in the end either food serving style can be just as costly as the other, but it is the experience and the memories that should be made worth it.