Wedding Reception Forum

Dinner or buffet?

The only aspect of my wedding that I was always absolutely positive that I wanted was a sit-down dinner. My fiance and I are planning to invite 250-300 people, but my mother says that's too much for a sit down. Many of the venues that I've been looking at won't accomodate that many people for a sit down, either. They all say the buffet is the most common thing now.
1. Am I crazy for wanting the sit down dinner?
2. How many people do you guys think is a realistic number for a dinner like that?
I realize that the more people you have, the more expensive it is going to be, but I've been doing some research, and many caterers say it can be just as expensive for a buffet (they will more likely have lots of extra food!)
3. Any ideas?

Thanks! :)

Re: Dinner or buffet?

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    I have been to a wedding of around 200 with a sit down dinner and it was nice not having to wait in a huge line.. also for my wedding I had a sit down dinner because it was the same price as buffet.. the buffet just overed more dinner chooses
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    My wedding is no where near that size. But I would think a plated dinner would be easier, then your guests wouldn't have to wait in a huge line.
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    I am having a plated, sit-down dinner, but I am only inviting around 150..  300 people is a lot.

    However, as a guest, I prefer sit-down dinners and I definitely don't think you're crazy for wanting one.
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    I've been to tons of weddings and only one was plated.  There were about 75 people I think. 

    If you're really set on plated dinner, just keep looking until you find a venue that will do it.  Or consider cutting your guest list so it's more manageable.
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    unplainjaneunplainjane member
    First Comment
    edited May 2010
    if you want sit down dinner do more venue/caterer research on the price difference and then you can make your decision that way. if there really isn't that much difference in price then do the sit down dinner. i've actually never been to a buffet wedding. i'm kind of curious though. if there are enough stations that people don't have to wait in line for too long i think that would work nicely too.
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    As long as the venue can handle it a 300 person sit-down is totally doable.

     My DH does 100-200 person plated dinners often (they are not large enough to seat more people). It's done very efficiently.

    Personally I prefer plated dinners.  I hate having to walk with my food. DH HATES buffets (as in he WILL NOT eat off a buffet). So having a buffet was not an option for us.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
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    I absolutely positively hate buffets and i totally agree with you.  I know everyone thinks differently but you should have what you want.  Keep looking and I'm sure you'll find a venue that can accomodate.  

    Buffets seem cheaper and less elegant to me.  I hate having to walk somewhere to get my food, I hate that it sits out under a hot plate, I hate that it's not nicely presented on the plate to me, I hate that I don't like my food to touch each other so I have to get up five million times if I want to put more than three things on my plate and if I want to try new things.  I hate that I keep having too many plates at the table because they're not cleared fast enough and there's nowhere to put them.  I don't like anything about buffets really.  

    That said, if I were your guest and you had a buffet, I wouldn't think badly and I'd enjoy the free food.  I'm just saying.... you should get what you want: A sit down dinner.  
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    I like buffets because they generally have more options and I'm a picky eater so they work really well for me. However, the last dinner that I went to only had around 100 guests and I waited in that buffet forever. Fortunately, we were right behind H's cousin and her fi, whom we love dearly, so we were able to chat with them while waiting, but it is a pain. I can only imagine how long it would take to get through the line with 200-300 people eating.
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    mica178mica178 member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary First Comment
    I prefer sit-down dinners as well.

    I have been to one 300 person wedding with a buffet (the others were all sit-down with extensive wait staffs).  The DJ called up tables one at a time to reduce standing time.  It wasn't too bad, esp. since they served the salad and bread so no one was starving waiting for their table to be called (it takes a long time for 30 tables to get food!). 
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    We're having a 9-course family style sit-down dinner. 

    I've been to large (250+) weddings where they had buffet style and I didn't really like it too much since the lines were way too long and by the time I got to the front, most of the food was gone. 

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    Keep looking. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to find a venue that can accommodate a plated dinner for that number. There should be tons of places in Houston that can do that number. I don't know where you've been looking, but be sure to check hotels and country clubs -- they should be more accustomed to large groups.
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    Thanks for all of your responses! It is really putting me at ease. I'm actually having the wedding in Brenham (a small town near Houston) and it's been harder trying to find the right place that can meet our needs, but I'm definitely going to keep looking! I'm inspired :)
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    We had a platted dinner but we had about 175 guests.

    I've been to weddings that had around that number of guests and I've seen it done both ways and I can't say one was better than the other. One wedding that had the buffet the lines were really long and it took awhile for everyone to get through the lines and sit down. For plated meals with that large of a guest list it always seems like one half of the room gets their food and are done eating before the other have has even been served.

    I think once you start getting to 250 - 300 guests food service is going to be more difficult not matter how you decide to serve it because it's so many people. I think it's a matter of finding the right venue that has right right amount of servers per table or if you do the buffet have enough stations so that you're not creating huge lines.

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    I always vote for the buffets or stations for several reasons... the plated dinners don't give you that much and FI and I are always really hungry afterwards and he makes us hit up the drive-thru on the way home. Plus you don't get much variety or the opportunity for seconds. With a buffet or stations, guests can choose what and how much to eat and if they really loved something, they can go back up for more.

    Plus, with a guest list that large, it could be really hard for the waitstaff to get all the food out and for everyone's plate to be still hot and not dried out.
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    jacqcfjacqcf member
    First Comment
    We are having over 200 people at our reception and are doing a plated dinner. I was a Director of Catering at several hotels and now have my own design business and would never recommend having a buffet for over 150 people. Buffets are more expensive because the amount of food that has to be made.

    Buffets are not that common now, the charge should be lower for a plated-dinner because they can manage the "food cost", and if the venue is good, the time to serve the dinner is no different and everyone should get their food nice and hot.

    Good luck!
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    It's funny after reading all of these messages...  To be honest, originally I wanted a sit down dinner because I felt it would be more elegant.  However, not sure where these people find caterers but every single place I went to the price was almost double for a sit down dinner as opposed to buffet.  Buffett can be efficient if you have a good mc who can direct people.  Having everyoen go upu at the same time does cause for the line to be super long.  But if you have a few tables at a time go then it's quicker and easy.  Remember with a sit down dinner your gonna have to give people options.  Meat eaters and Vegitarians. 

    I changed my mind to have a buffet because it's cheaper, it's easier, it's more convenient, more choices, less waste, and it's carefree. 
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    I don't think that it is an issue of class, or even finances. We are having a buffet. We have about 430 guests, and our wedding is a fancy event on a lakefront. It's just an easier way for us, with that many guests, to make sure that everyone gets what they want (for dietary reasons) and that they receive a warm meal. A buffet does not always mean reaching under the warming lamps either. Mine is using chafing dishes. We are having a few different buffet tables with the same food. We are also considering having the bread and salad be "family style" so that people won't go hungry waiting for their turn. As for no food being left at the end of the line, that is avoided with the RSVP's. If your caterer is a good one, there will be a lot of extra food. We will be serving the leftover ham, rolls, and cheese later so that people can have sandwiches too, since all that dancing makes guests hungry! Laughing
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