Wedding Reception Forum

Buffet Timing

Let me preface by saying, I never liked buffet weddings. But given the food we want to serve and the fact that our venue has ZERO food prep or storage space so the caterer has to do all that from their trucks a buffet is what we're doing. One thing I want to avoid is crowding and long lines at the buffet. Our Guest list is currently 220. We'll have 22 tables of 10 (will probably be less but I know to plan for everyone) and 2 buffets. We're going to have tables called up 2 at a time (one for each line). 

Does this seem doable?

Anything else to make this go smoothly?

How long do you think dinner will take?

Re: Buffet Timing

  • Can do you double-sided buffets? That way you can have even more guests go through at the same time.
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  • I don't like when they call tables one or two at a time. It sucks to be one of the last tables especially if the venue/caterer doesn't have adequate heating equipment or isn't refilling when things run out. If there was a buffet, I'd rather that people have the option to get up right away and wait on line or sit and wait. I'm interested to hear what others think though.
  • BecauseYouAreBecauseYouAre member
    Fourth Anniversary 10 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited June 2013
    edited cause i'm stupid
  • Do you have the space and budget to set up two separate buffets?

    The most successful buffets I've seen are where they have one set up on both sides of the room. It keeps everything moving and uncrowded. 
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  • We are doing 2 separate buffet lines one on each side of the room. But only one side of each buffet. It's 3 stations, not serve yourself, the other side is for the catering staff.
  • I'm stupid too and didn't read your OP carefully, sorry. 

    I think if you can do double-sided, that's best. But if you can't, hopefully your catering staff can keep everyone moving. Have you asked your caterer/venue about your concerns? They should know. 
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  • Our venue doesn't really know because the don't do food. The best idea I've got from the caterers is the 2 buffets. This is why I don't like buffets at weddings. Even though I love stations, buffets and fun different foods in general, but at a wedding just plop a slice of prime rib in front of me and then let me get my party on.
  • We had two buffets set up for 150 guests, and it worked ok (they were round tables, so people just walked around the table, not exactly double-sided).  Our venue coordinator staggered the tables going up to the buffets, and she didn't try to make people go to one buffet or the other, she just told them the buffets were the same.  

    I know that it's annoying to be the last table sent to the buffet, but your caterer should be keeping food at the appropriate temperature and refilling (ours certainly did).  It's also annoying to be the last table to get served your plated meals or to be the last person at the table to get served (often happens when I am waiting for a vegetarian meal).
  • I don't like when they call tables one or two at a time. It sucks to be one of the last tables especially if the venue/caterer doesn't have adequate heating equipment or isn't refilling when things run out. If there was a buffet, I'd rather that people have the option to get up right away and wait on line or sit and wait. I'm interested to hear what others think though.

    I agree with this.
  • Buffets can get messy but as long as the serving staff is efficient and the food is being replenished and kept at the proper temperature all will be well! Maybe you can make menu cards for each seat or each table since the holdup always happens when someone is questioning the serving staff on what a dish is...

     

    Good luck!

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    We had the tables staggered for our wedding.  We had stations so they took a bit longer then a traditional buffet.  I wouldn't leave the calling up the tables to the DJ.  They could easily get side tracked by something else.  I would make sure that one of the serving staff or your venue coordinator goes to each table and lets them know that buffet is open.

    I think having a double buffet is a great option if your venue can hold it.  I think the lines will move a lot faster.  That being said, I have been to many buffet weddings and even though the lines were sometimes long, they still moved rather quickly.


  • I went to a wedding that had about 200 people, and was a buffet.  There was one buffet table, with lines on both sides.  It went VERY well.

    They called tables, and mine was one of the last ones called.  Personally, I prefer it that way.  I hate having to rush in the line, trying to beat the crowd.  Usually the line ends up huge.  I'd much rather be waiting at my table.  This way, the guests also know when every table has gone up and when it's safe to go get seconds.

    However, this wedding happened to have excellent caterers.  I never would have known that I was close to the end of the line.  They kept bringing out fresh food, and just did an amazing job with it.  Probably my favorite wedding dining experience. 

    Anyway, that's my two cents :)

  • can you do family style at each table instead?

     

  • can you do family style at each table instead?

    I love when reception dinners are family style.

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Family style dinners are nice but I find that it really makes the table crowded what with the centerpiece, all the serving trays, each persons place setting, glasses, escort cards, favors, purses, cameras, etc.

  • @Maggic0829 said exactly what I was going to say. I love the idea of family style, but in practice, it makes everything super crowded on the table. 

    If you do family style, make sure you go for a larger table size (72 inch) and don't seat more than 8-9 per table. 
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  • I like buffets for the simple fact that people can pick their own food and you don't have to worry about someone not liking a "main course" like steak vs. chicken, or say if you have a 3 or 4 course meal and someone originally orders steak but then changes their mind and wants chicken and then the count gets all messed up. Buffets mean people can pick what they want from what is there. I would say just talk to your caterer about it :) If you are worried about running out of food, ask them how much they prepare, such as 2-3 servings per person of each item, etc. 
  • We had a one line buffet with about 130 people.  Everyone was served within about 45 minutes.   There was a line, but it went very fast, and some people opted to just enjoy cocktails until the line went down.   I think you'll be fine.
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