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Plated vs Buffet

Hi Brides! I need help settling the reception food tug of war between me and the FI.

During the early planning stages where I was delegating everything, I agreed to give him ONE task to handle and being a man, he choose the food. I found out yesterday that he wants us to have a buffet style meal when I really want a plated dinner.

My argument is that we are already having hors d' oeuvres AND appetizers. If we then have a buffet set up, I'm worried we have a bunch of stuffed, sleepy guests who won't have the energy to dance or might leave early. There is no price difference between the two choices and the entree choices are the same. I just feel that a plated dinner would be the better option for us, but he is fighting me on it. Should I give in or fight for a plated dinner?
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Re: Plated vs Buffet

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    edited December 2011
    I prefer buffets to seated dinner as long as the food is good. Its nice to be able to pick and choose what i'd like to eat and how much. I am not sure why you think people would be tired at a buffet?
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    edited December 2011
    I would do plated if the prices are the same.  I know some people have complained that they don't get enough to eat with plated meals (which I have never personally experienced) but it sounds like that won't be a concern since you have a lot of other food.  I prefer not to have to walk around with a plate, especially if I'm also balancing a glass/salad plate/silverware at the same time, and I don't like having to wait in line for food.  In larger weddings I've been to, the food has run out or been cold by the time the last tables were called up.

    If you decide to go with a buffet, I'd recommend hiring people to serve your guests (if your caterer doesn't already do that) and haing more than one line if you have a lot of guests to avoid common buffet issues.  Of course, I usually feel like I don't get enough food when someone serves me because I don't want all of the choices and feel like a pig if I ask for more than what I'm given, but that's my fault and I prefer that over the mess resulting from guests serving themselves, plus it avoids the issue of running out of food because the first 20 people in line each took 3 crabcakes.
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    fallbride1109fallbride1109 member
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    edited December 2011

    If price is not a concern, I would choose plated if you are having a more formal reception, simply because it is more elegant.

    That being said, we had a hotel wedding and had a (station) buffet dinner and there was plenty of dancing and people still there at 11:30 to send us off.

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    Simply FatedSimply Fated member
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    edited December 2011
    Buffets can be annoying when you have to balance plates in your nice clothes and sometimes heels, weaving in and out of tables. And by the time I get back to my table, the food is usually cold.
    And I hate waiting in lines for food when I'm hungry.

    And I swear, there is always at least one person who feels the need to touch all the food or bring their face RIGHT down to it to smell it. I'm not a germophobe, but ew.

    And unless there are servers to dish out the entrees, my friend, who can't eat cheese, has to use the spoon from the baked ziti dish to serve herself chicken because inevitably spoons go missing. And I really don't like the person who doesn't eat anything except for one dish, so they load up on it and there is nothing left for anyone else.
    And even when there are servers, unless you get a really nice serving staff, they always make me feel like an asshole for asking what the dish is. I'm sorry, but sometimes veal looks like chicken on the outside and I want to make sure I take something I'm going to eat.

    I've never had a problem with the plated dinner not being enough food, especially since appetizers and salads are usually served, as well. Not to mention dessert.


    Don't get me wrong, I certainly wouldn't hold it against the couple, especially if I knew there was a price difference. I just prefer a sit-down meal. To me, they are much more fun and relaxing.
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    edited December 2011
    We are having stations for a lunchtime reception.  I feel like we can have more options with buffet--just the way our venue works--and I prefer to be able to load up on what I eat (I'm a vegetarian, and I have enjoyed buffet weddings more than some plated ones, because, at the very least, I can pile up on salad).  Ditto PPs, though, that you should have servers for a buffet, so people don't walk off with spoons or use the same serving spoon for multiple dishes.  

    One thing you could consider is having a plated salad or starter.  We are going to have gazpacho in martini glasses served as soon as people sit down, and then the buffet stations will open as the servers clear the soup.  
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    edited December 2011
    I prefer a plated dinner to a buffet.  If they are the same price, I would go with a plated dinner.
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    edited December 2011
    Hopefully you will have a full meal option for vegetarians - I get jessicabessica's point, because when I was a vegetarian I often preferred buffets at events where I didn't get a choice for this very reason.  However, if there's a veggie option I think it's way better than just loading up on side dishes at the buffet.
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    Simply FatedSimply Fated member
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    edited December 2011
    If the dinner is plated, you can always request side dishes, just like at buffets where you can request servings of side dishes. No difference.

    I mean, if you're a vegetarian you shouldn't have to load up on side dishes whether it's a buffet or plated dinner. But you know you what I mean lol.
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    edited December 2011
    By that same token, you can also have a vegetarian meal at a buffet!  I was just trying to point out that I don't think that's a valid reason to have a buffet instead of a plated meal, if that makes sense.  I'm not a buffet-hater, I wouldn't judge a friend for having one, but I prefer plated over buffet so if they're the same price and there's plenty of food, I'd go with plated all the way.
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    edited December 2011
    Yeah, I think generally if people had a good vegetarian option then I might feel differently.  And good vegetarian option is not mushy pasta with mushy green beans and weird sauce that comes out after everyone else at the table has finished their meal.  But I know it's tough to know what will be sufficient for a vegetarian to eat.  We're trying to make sure we have enough options in our stations for our vegan guests (for what we're paying per person, I don't want anyone to leave hungry), and I'm worried what we have won't be enough, so I may revisit the menu.  
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    edited December 2011
    See, as a vegetarian I actually prefer a plated, specifically vegetarian meal. So I don't have to wonder if there's chicken stock in the fried rice or someone used the gravy ladle to serve their mashed potatoes.

    Also, I just think a plated meal lends a nice, fancy ambience to a reception. I also don't like serving myself and spilling on my nice clothing.

    At my wedding we had salad, soup, and entree and cake, plus passed hors d'oeuvres for cocktail hour, and it was a 5 hour reception. I doubt anyone was hungry.
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    edited December 2011
    One thing that I don't think anyone's mentioned is that buffets can take up more space, so if you're nearing the maximum capacity of your venue, you may have to go with plated.  

    As msmerymac pointed out, plated meals just seem fancier and more formal.  You need to think about what will fit well with what you want your reception to look like.  
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    jc04100657jc04100657 member
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    edited December 2011
    I prefer a plated dinner to a buffet. At my venue it was actually less expensive to do plated meal (a chicken and a beef with 2 sides) than a buffet.
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    Ashes_3Ashes_3 member
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    edited December 2011
    We are doing buffet with serving line on both sides! I don't mind either. I think that with plated sometimes you just don't get  enough choice and that is what I like about buffet!
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    Simply FatedSimply Fated member
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_plated-vs-buffet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:53d15acd-bbea-4c01-bfe5-f42dde2eef24Post:c8741d3d-ee06-4e35-9be6-f9e0f9778e7b">Re: Plated vs Buffet</a>:
    [QUOTE]By that same token, you can also have a vegetarian meal at a buffet!  I<strong> was just trying to point out that I don't think that's a valid reason to have a buffet instead of a plated meal, if that makes sense.</strong>  I'm not a buffet-hater, I wouldn't judge a friend for having one, but I prefer plated over buffet so if they're the same price and there's plenty of food, I'd go with plated all the way.
    Posted by LauraT25[/QUOTE]
    That makes perfect sense to me and I agree, but maybe I worded it badly lol.
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    edited December 2011
    I think we're on the same page, Simply!
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    edited December 2011
    We had a plated reception because I think plated is more formal/classy.  But, I knew I would like the food.  I tend to be a picky eater, so when at weddings I don't mind buffets because there is usually something on there I like.
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    edited December 2011
    Honestly, I'm a little confused about the 'more choices' thing.  I've never seen more than three entree options at a buffet, and I've never seen less than three plated options.  There's usually at least one main dish on a buffet that I don't want.  Maybe that's just my (somewhat limited) experience.  Are you guys saying that you would prefer to have a little bit of all three rather than be restricted to one meal, or that you usually see more variety (as in, more than three entrees) on a buffet?  I'm not trying to pick a fight, but it's been mentioned multiple times in the past and it's never made sense to me.

    When you throw in appetizers at cocktail hour, sides, and dessert, I just don't get the 'not enough options' part.  Even if the entree options were terrible, I usually eat enough at cocktail hour to constitute a full meal.  But I'm a pig like that I guess.
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_plated-vs-buffet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:53d15acd-bbea-4c01-bfe5-f42dde2eef24Post:1f50247a-8c2a-401b-89cd-6b32ca4201e4">Re: Plated vs Buffet</a>:
    [QUOTE]Honestly, I'm a little confused about the 'more choices' thing.  I've never seen more than three entree options at a buffet, and I've never seen less than three plated options.  There's usually at least one main dish on a buffet that I don't want.  Maybe that's just my (somewhat limited) experience.  Are you guys saying that you would prefer to have a little bit of all three rather than be restricted to one meal, or that you usually see more variety (as in, more than three entrees) on a buffet?  I'm not trying to pick a fight, but it's been mentioned multiple times in the past and it's never made sense to me. When you throw in appetizers at cocktail hour, sides, and dessert, I just don't get the 'not enough options' part.  Even if the entree options were terrible, I usually eat enough at cocktail hour to constitute a full meal.  But I'm a pig like that I guess.
    Posted by LauraT25[/QUOTE]

    I was one of the more options posters.  I think we are having more options at our buffet than we would have plated, but that's probably pretty venue- or caterer-dependent.  We are having two kinds of fish (Alaskan FI = serving Alaskan fish) and the rest vegetarian (lasagna + porcini mushroom purses + green beans + potatoes + a whole salad station).  I think some people may want to try both fish dishes, so they can do that, and they can decide how much starch/veggie/etc. they would like to have.  And if they want to eat ravioli with a heaping side of roasted potatoes, that's their choice, although it's not something that we would serve as a plated dish.  We will have a clear menu laying out what is vegan/vegetarian, and we will have attentive servers to answer questions. 

    I wouldn't judge anyone for having a plated meal versus a buffet.  I would judge someone for having bad food or not enough food (so I guess I'm also a little piggie).  

    ETA: The last wedding I was at, the only appetizer I remember seeing was meatballs, then dinner was a little salad, a nonveg soup, and a mediocre plated meal.  So right now, I may have a little availabilty issue. 
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    edited December 2011
    jessica - thanks for providing your example.  I do agree that a buffet is more customizable, so I see that point.  And I completely and utterly agree with your last little paragraph, and would like to add that I also don't judge people for only providing something less extravagant if that's what they can afford as long as a) it tastes good, and b) the food is in keeping with the rest of the wedding (time, location, formality).
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    jess9802jess9802 member
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    edited December 2011
    When my FMIL and I were discussing catering for the wedding, she ranted about plated meals: small servings and always one table that hasn't been served by the time the first table is done eating. Every wedding I've been to has been buffet style, we're doing buffet, but I do know what she's talking about. When I've gone to work functions where a meal is served, it's usually plated. The last such event had 500 people present, and my table had eaten and had our plates cleared before a table right next to ours had even been served. Honestly, when it comes to serving a large crowd, some sort of wait is inevitable. It just depends on whether your guests get to do it sitting down or standing up.

    A buffet meal has not kept people off the dance floor at any wedding I've attended, however. What are your FI's arguments for a buffet? Is it options or serving size?


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    edited December 2011
    Each table (we only had ten) was served simultaneously at our wedding.  I think the serving of the cake was a lot slower though (maybe only 3 or 4 servers, so the back tables were served later).  This is what I've always experienced, or near it ( one server per 1-3 tables) at every function I've been to with plated meals.  I guess my response might be different if that wasn't the case, but it makes me wonder how it would be done in the OP's situation.

    Edit: Jeebus I am totally monopolizing this thread.  I've had a lot of downtime today.
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    edited December 2011
    We're only having seven tables, so I don't think we have to worry about people waiting to be served for a plated dinner. As far as the options go, they're the same for both dinner styles. The buffet has three entrees: chicken, beef and vegetarian. The plated dinner has a choice of the same three. I think the FI is arguing that maybe people would want to mix it up at a buffet (chicken and beef) and he's worried about the portions being small for the plated dinner.

    But in addition to the entrees we're also having two displays (fruit/vegetable and cheese) three tray passed hors d' oeuvres AND two additional appetizers. I have no doubt that everyone will get their fill if we go the plated route.

    I agree with the posters who didn't like the idea of people walking around balancing food and drinks. No I have more fuel for my argument!
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    Simply FatedSimply Fated member
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    edited December 2011
    I'm so confused. (as usual!) How does a buffet cut down on people being served at different times? And if they're served at different times, inevitably they will finish at different times, no? I'm not understanding your FMIL's logic lol.
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    edited December 2011
    I'm not trying to be the sour grape in the conversation here, but, as the one thing that you allowed your FI to do, shouldn't you just let it be HIS decision?
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    Simply FatedSimply Fated member
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_plated-vs-buffet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:53d15acd-bbea-4c01-bfe5-f42dde2eef24Post:95afb035-1523-4a3f-83d9-a88eb16de19b">Re: Plated vs Buffet</a>:
    [QUOTE]We're only having seven tables, so I don't think we have to worry about people waiting to be served for a plated dinner. As far as the options go, they're the same for both dinner styles. The buffet has three entrees: chicken, beef and vegetarian. The plated dinner has a choice of the same three. I think the FI is arguing that maybe people would want to mix it up at a buffet (chicken and beef) and he's worried about the portions being small for the plated dinner. But in addition to the entrees we're also having two displays (fruit/vegetable and cheese) three tray passed hors d' oeuvres AND two additional appetizers. I have no doubt that everyone will get their fill if we go the plated route. I agree with the posters who didn't like the idea of people walking around balancing food and drinks. No I have more fuel for my argument!
    Posted by mellowdee7[/QUOTE]
    You can let him know that at some venues (some, not all) the hired servers are told to give smaller portions of the main entree if they see the guest is requesting more than one entree. This is usually common at places where the buffet is the same price as plated, because the food servings kinda equal out to be the same.
    So although you get to taste the chicken AND the fish, you get the same amount of food.

    At buffets you can request a larger portion from the server or go up multiple times... but there might be limited food so by the time you go up for a second helping or the guests at the end of the line reach the food, there might not be much food left. So it's not that buffets have more food, it's just that some guests take more food than the venue expects an average person to take.
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    Simply FatedSimply Fated member
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_plated-vs-buffet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:53d15acd-bbea-4c01-bfe5-f42dde2eef24Post:7e99dbc4-896c-47d4-9df3-b6d1d2d095f2">Re: Plated vs Buffet</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm not trying to be the sour grape in the conversation here, but, as the one thing that you allowed your FI to do, shouldn't you just let it be HIS decision?
    Posted by lindsaynewbride10[/QUOTE]
    It depends... does he have a say in the choices she has been making?
    As long as he has veto power on things for the wedding she has been working on, surely she can have a say on things he has been working on.
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    edited December 2011
      We're doing plated. Here's why:
    * easier for people, especially those with mobility issues or clumsy people like myself that will spill a plate of food if given the opportunity
    * We're doing speeches and toasts during dinner. It would be difficult to do them if people are wandering around
    * everyone gets the same quality meal. I always seem to be at the last table called up to the buffet and end up waiting for more food, getting the dried up bits of food left in the chafing dish or they run out of what I want. The last person served at a buffet rarely will get as good of a meal as the first person served.
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_plated-vs-buffet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special Topic Wedding BoardsForum:23Discussion:53d15acd-bbea-4c01-bfe5-f42dde2eef24Post:7e99dbc4-896c-47d4-9df3-b6d1d2d095f2">Re: Plated vs Buffet</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm not trying to be the sour grape in the conversation here, but, as the one thing that you allowed your FI to do, shouldn't you just let it be HIS decision?
    Posted by lindsaynewbride10[/QUOTE]

    As far as the style of dinner we have I think that should be a joint decision. I consult with him before I make any decision like going with a certain photographer. We both agreed on the photographer, but I chose the details (packages, albums, prints etc). Likewise I'm giving him full range on the menu items, he's picking each entree, side, appetizer etc himself. I don't think it's being unreasonable to have my say on the style of dinner that we have.
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    jess9802jess9802 member
    First Comment First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/special-topic-wedding-boards_food-cakes_plated-vs-buffet?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Special%20Topic%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:23Discussion:53d15acd-bbea-4c01-bfe5-f42dde2eef24Post:9e3b1e58-79f5-4eb9-9fd3-6db10e285b61">Re: Plated vs Buffet</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm so confused. (as usual!) How does a buffet cut down on people being served at different times? And if they're served at different times, inevitably they will finish at different times, no? I'm not understanding your FMIL's logic lol.
    Posted by Simply Fated[/QUOTE]

    Don't worry - I didn't either. Her vehement opposition to plated meals was more funny than anything else. She's probably never been stuck last in a buffet line.
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