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Nevada-Las Vegas

Buffet before the ceremony?

I am currently in the process of planning my October Vegas wedding all the way from Florida! I am planning to have the ceremony and reception at the MGM Grand Skyline Terrace Suite (already have it booked). The hardest challenge, though, is figuring out food. I am budgeting for 20 guests. 

Originally I wanted to do catered food in the suite, but I heard the table space at the MGM is very limited in the terrace suite. Then I thought about doing the MGM buffet, but it wasn't that great, and because of a conference they are having that day the buffet is way more expensive than it needs to be ($1,000 for 20 people)

So I figured for the costs we would spend on the MGM buffet, I could instead just get a party bus and take people to a much better buffet. I've heard really good things about the M Resort, which is about 20 minutes away. Because I really wanna enjoy the balcony terrace at night, I was thinking we could start the day at 1, take everyone to the buffet and stuff themselves, leave at 3:00, stop at the sign (3:30), and then head back to the MGM at 4. Photographer would meet us at 3:30 at the sign, get some party bus shots, and then follow us back to the hotel. Ceremony would start at 5, and I could get some pictures in before then. Reception would be from 6-9 with open bar, light snacks (cheese, crackers, veggies, etc.) , and a wedding cake. Afterwards we were gonna head to Freemont to get some more shots, and that would be an optional thing. If people wanted to come, they could come down and be in some shots. But since a lot of people will be from the east coast, and it will be midnight their time, they could peace out too. Before we went to Freemont, we were gonna stop at the Bellagio (just the two of us) and get some more shots with the photographer there and at Paris, and some general strip shots.

So anyway, that's my rough timeline right now. I know it's a little weird to eat before the ceremony, but I don't see an easy way to have food in the suite without it being crammed or going to the MGM buffet, which was just okay. Plus, a party bus definitely sounds very "vegas"-y.

Does anyone have any thoughts about that? It's still a work in progress, so I'm open to advice.

Re: Buffet before the ceremony?

  • wrigleyvillewrigleyville Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I'm one of those people who can't eat very much and doesn't stay full for hours on end, so eating at 1:00 and then not eating another meal until 8:00 or 9:00 (post-reception) would be torture. I'd be hungry and angry. Cheese and crackers aren't enough.

    If you have a reception at a meal time, which 6-9 is, you need to serve food. I'd figure out a way to do the party bus and strip tour before the ceremony and then serve dinner at your reception.

  • Ditto PP. I wouldn't want to eat a buffet at 1:00pm and then snack later.

    For what it's worth, we frequent the M Buffet and I don't think it's THAT good. Not better than some of the strip buffets like Wicked Spoon. And not worth the hassle it's creating for your timeline.

    Have you looked in to any of the restaurants at MGM and the possibility of a private dining room?? 

    If you are wanting to stay in your suite, maybe instead of a full plated meal look in to serving HEAVY appetizers - meaning enough to constitute a full meal but avoiding the space it might take for other types of food. Remember, regardless of whether you serve cheese and crackers or a plated meal, there needs to be enough seating in your suite for all the guests.


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  • adverbadverb member
    100 Comments Second Anniversary 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited February 2015
    Thanks all for your advice. In the suite there most likely will not be enough seating for everyone, and certainly not enough tables. So we could do heavy appetizers, but not everyone will be able to sit. The advantage of a buffet is everyone will be able to sit and eat as much as they want. Plus, we don't have to worry about clean-up.

    We could always send them down to the MGM buffet after the ceremony and forego the party bus. Or just have the party bus come before the ceremony for a photo tour for an hour, and then back. The MGM buffet is the easiest option, but also the most expensive because of some stupid convention that day. And there is NO private dining room at MGM.


    Also, I really do not want to leave the suite in the night time for dinner since the view will be so great. Didn't mind missing it for the daytime.

    There's also the option of doing an afternoon ceremony and THEN taking the party bus. Fiancee was worried it would be too hot to do a ceremony at noon in October, but I'm not sure how much it would matter.

    So timeline would look more like this:
    12 - Pictures beforehand
    1 - Ceremony
    2 - Leave for lunch buffet and do photo tour stops (maybe just at sign depending on time and where we go)
    5 - Get back to the hotel & start open bar
    5-8 - Open bar, reception, & cake
    8-10 - Night photo tour just the two of us & meet everyone at Freemont (optional)

    ^ The only thing I don't like about that is I have the photographer for 8 hours, so I'd have to add another 2 hours onto the photography. I wish I could "pause" for lunch since it's not gonna be very exciting with people eating.

  • The only thing I see wrong with that proposed timeline is you still are hosting guests over a meal time.. so if you feed them lunch at 2:00... you're going to have guests ready for dinner during your reception.

    Hmm.. this is a tricky one. 

    Could you do an afternoon ceremony, say 5pm... and do this?

    4pm - pictures beforehand
    5pm - ceremony
    5:30pm - dinner at buffet
    7:00-9:00 photo tour
    9:00 - ?? reception, cake, etc. at suite
    After reception wraps up - night photos and Fremont

    OR you could swap your reception/cake with the photo tour.


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  • Honestly the photo tour is not absolutely necessary. But, since I was able to get a decent deal on the party bus, I figured we might as well take them to the sign at the very least. All the other stops I do want photos at, but just the two of us, since I know groups can be harder to manage. I thought Freemont would be a nice night group shot, and I would make it optional for the people who want to bail out early.

    Also, is your timeline suggesting the MGM buffet for dinner?
  • annathy03annathy03 member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited February 2015
    How flexible is the ceremony time and party bus?
    I'm thinking:

    2 pm: Pictures beforehand
    3 pm: Ceremony
    4 pm: Cocktail hour on the party bus, go to Vegas sign only
    5 pm: Dinner <- MGM if you won't have the bus at the end of dinner or another strip location like Wicked Spoon if you do
    7 pm-10 pm: Open bar, mingling, and cake in suite
    10 pm: You guys head to Freemont with anyone who wants to join (unofficial after party, do not include in the invitation unless you're hosting it)

    This is still adding extra photographer hours for Freemont, but it gets you eating where you want (assuming you can have the bus 4-7), in the suite at night, and non-hangry guests.  Plus I think to do all of this you may be stuck with extra photo hours- your original plan had them from 3:30-11:30 (assuming the 8 hours you mentioned) but I didn't see anywhere THEY get to eat in that timeline, and I'd be shocked if your contract doesn't have a meal (often times a "hot meal") for the photographers written into it.

    ETA: Remember you need to feed your guests around the mealtime, but it doesn't HAVE to be a buffet.  If the bus co allows it you could pre-order some sandwich trays and pizza and bring it aboard (i.e. Town Square has a CPK and is reasonably close to the Vegas Sign).
  • Good idea eating food on the bus ... BUT the party bus does not allow it.

    I'm now leaning towards my original idea of getting food catered in the suite and maybe scrapping the party bus.I would love to do the party bus POST ceremony but PRE reception, but I'm worried people may be expecting food immediately after the ceremony.

    Your timeline, though, isn't too bad. The ceremony is at 3pm. Do you think an hour on a party bus would be enough time to go from MGM > Bellagio in the day > Sign > back to MGM? Hopefully traffic won't be too hectic. I could have light snacks set up before the ceremony so people would have something to munch on if they wanted.

    I would love to take the party bus to Freemont at the end of the reception BUT I wanted to stop at the Bellagio fountains at night, which I know might be kinda hectic with a large group (and people are sitting around waiting for pictures). Also, I didn't want to have to bring everyone back since I didn't know how long we'd be spending at Freemont and I wanted people to be free to do their own thing. Also, I really prefer pictures by the MGM sign in the daytime.


  • Ah, yeah that's a no-go if the bus doesn't allow it.

    If you want MGM photos in the daytime do them before the ceremony.

    An hour to do two stops will be pushing it, traffic shouldn't be bad at that time but getting 20 people on and off a bus then coordinating a photo takes longer than you might think.  I'd start with whichever is more important and know you may have to scrap the second.  The sign can have a line and parking is more limited; bellagio is a further walk, the party bus will probably have to drop you at the entrance to Bellagio or Cosmo (they absolutely cannot drop you on LV Blvd) and let you walk around to the front/public sidewalk where non-bellagio photographers are allowed.

    Honestly I think this would be a little tight, but it's the best I can come up with to make all that work:
    2 pm: Pictures beforehand
    3 pm: Ceremony
    4 pm: Cocktail hour on the party bus, go to Vegas sign only
    5 pm: Dinner at Wicked Spoon (cosmo, right next to Bellagio)
    6:30 pm: Photos in front of Bellagio fountain
    7:00 pm: Back on party bus to return to MGM
    7:30 pm-10:30 pm: Open bar, mingling, and cake in suite
    10:30 pm: You guys head to Freemont with anyone who wants to join (unofficial after party, do not include in the invitation unless you're hosting it)
  • So I'm thinking of just scrapping the party bus altogether. I really just want a group picture by the sign in the day, so I was thinking before the ceremony I could unofficially have a group go out there and whoever can make it we all get a pic together before the ceremony. So if the ceremony is at 4, maybe doing it at 3 or so. It's not too far from the MGM.

    Maybe I can do the party bus the day before, but I don't know. It would be fun, but I don't know if it's necessary.
  • wrigleyvillewrigleyville Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    You could do the party bus as your Meet & Greet the day before. That gives you guys plenty of time to hop off for some fun group photos, and you'll be so much more relaxed since you won't have a strict timeline.

    You mentioned the suite doesn't have much seating. Have you considered renting some chairs? We served heavy apps at our reception in the Vista Suite (Mandalay Bay), but we had more people than seats, so we rented some chairs and high-boy tables along with some uplighting. I think it cost around $150 for everything, and it was so worth it.

    If you go that route, you could have a reception in your suite with some heavy apps. If I ate at the buffet around 2:00, then sliders, mini-pizzas, etc. would be perfectly fine for dinner. The trick is to make sure you get things that have lots of protein and really fill people up.

  • The suite has seating for 20 between the couches, chairs, etc. What it doesn't have much of is table space, unfortunately. I may consider renting chairs though if our guest count goes above 20 - although either way it will be tight in the room. Good to know about renting chairs.

    As much as I'd love to give people a buffet AND heavy apps, I'm trying to pay for only one meal to keep costs low. If I keep everything in the suite, I also can save on transportation costs.


    I was planning an unofficial meet & greet the night before in the suite. I say unofficial because I don't know what time the suite will be ready that day and I didn't want to plan something in case there are delays. The suite should be ready at 4, but I'm worried because of people checking it out it might take longer. So I'll have to see..
  • wrigleyvillewrigleyville Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    That's true: two meals is a bit of a budget stretch. I was just trying to figure out how to get the whole day in there without having hungry guests. :)



  • Haha no worries. I think it's best if I just skip the buffet. If I didn't have such a sweet awesome pimp room I'd have no problem taking guests to a buffet post ceremony. Buuuut, since the room is nice (and is costing a pretty $$$$) I'd like to keep everyone there for the awesome night views.

    I appreciate your input though :)
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