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Passed vs. Buffet

Hi guys - I was just wondering how strongly people really feel about buffets?

The issue I'm having is my SO doesn't think we should pay for an open bar because we, along with our families, are not big drinkers. I have explained to him that it is rude to have guests pay for drinks/have a dry wedding ect but he still isn't happy about paying for one.

So basically I am going to have to be a little more lenient on some of my other wishes in order to make the open bar happen. I have always preferred passed plates to a buffet - and I know some people think that buffets are tacky and others are totally ok with them - so what are your guys views?

Thanks for your input!
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Re: Passed vs. Buffet

  • crackktheskyycrackktheskyy Stars Hollow
    500 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I tend to find plated dinners more formal but I don't think a buffet is "tacky" by any means. I've been to weddings with buffets that have been really wonderful. It honestly depends on the caterer. As long as you are accommodating your guests with the appropriate sized meal for the time of day and as long as you make a good faith effort to try to include foods that can fit into certain dietary restrictions, I think that's what counts.

    Also, cash bars are rude, but dry weddings are not rude by any stretch of the imagination.
  • While cash bars are rude, a dry wedding is not.  Some of your guests may not appreciate the lack of alcohol, but it's not improper hosting as long as non-alcoholic beverages are available free of charge.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of buffets or stations.  They make me worry about people sneezing/coughing/etc into the food or dropping the utensil and fishing it out of the food with dirty hands.  I also don't really want to have to balance a plate (or worse - multiple plates) while wearing a nice dress and heels.  I also prefer passed apps during cocktail hour for the same reason - I don't mind holding my drink, but I don't want to hold a drink and a plate (then how do I eat?).

    People tend to think buffets are cheaper, but you may want to get quotes for both a buffet and a plated meal.  With a plated meal, the caterer knows exactly how much food to prepare.  However, people can make multiple trips to the buffet and eat much more than they can with a plated dinner, which would incur a higher food cost (although the buffet would have a lower staffing cost).
  • I love buffets because I can eat exactly what I want, in the portions that I want.
    Maggie0829huskypuppy14[Deleted User]Llikotdesserd
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    emmyg65 said:
    I love buffets because I can eat exactly what I want, in the portions that I want.
    This is why I prefer buffets as well.

    And dry weddings are not rude but making your guests pay for their drinks is.

  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    Ditto PPs about the dry weddings thing. Those are not rude at all. It's also not rude to have only beer and wine or only a signature drink or whatever available if you do want to serve some kind of alcohol. It's a way to cut the costs of that. 

    As for the buffet vs. plated issue, I don't care either way. I'm a very picky eater, so buffet usually works better for me. We had a buffet at our wedding, but we didn't really have any specific reason for having done so. 

    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
  • The only thing I don't like about buffets is the single line for food that can get really long and annoying.  If you can break the lines up and make it more like stations, then I prefer that over plated meals because you can choose what you want on the spot.

    When you say "passed", do you mean family style?  I like this too and think it's a nice alternative to buffets because you still get to choose what you want without any lines.

    While dry weddings are not rude, I understand the preference to having an open bar and sacrificing/compromising for it.  What about having wine, beer, and a signature cocktail instead of a full open bar?  Would you SO be more comfortable with that?
  • Hi guys and thanks for the replies! 

    I get what you're saying about dry weddings not being rude - I guess I just want my guests to be happy (and if I'm perfectly honest, while I'm not a heavy drinker by any stretch of the imagination,  I'm going to want a glass of wine or 2 - and I want to have that option)

    I hadn't necessarily thought of the beer/wine/signature cocktail option but it is absolutely something I'll bring to the table to for him to consider. He might be much more willing to compromise with something like that than a full open bar. 

    And just to clarify - I had meant plated when I said "passed" but family style is also something to look into with the venues we are looking at. 

    Thanks again!
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  • tammym1001tammym1001 Akron, Ohio
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    I definitely prefer a buffet because I'm not only super picky about what I eat, but also about my food not touching each other on my plate (yeah I'm a nightmare for servers, but I tip well). With plated meals they usually try to make it all fancy with sauces and other stuff and I end up picking at my food.
  • emmyg65 said:
    I love buffets because I can eat exactly what I want, in the portions that I want.
    This is my feeling, too.  Buffets do have a less formal feel, although they still can be very nicely done.  You can have a line going down each side or set up multiple buffets so there is less of a wait.  Can you compromise and have a plated course followed by a buffet entree?  We had plated soup, plated salad, and then buffet lunch/dinner.

    As for the bar, can you pay by consumption rather than a set price per head?  The downside is that it's harder to budget, since you do not know how much people will drink, but if you think that you are paying for a lot of people who aren't going to drink the per person charge, you could ask about only paying for what people actually order from the bar.

  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Buffets or stations are not tacky at all. Most of the weddings that I've been to have been plated, but the ones that were buffet or stations have had some of the best food.  I think there are pros and cons for both. We are probably going to do stations, because there is more variety this way.  And we have a lot of picky eaters. 


  • I would personally cut back to beer wine and signature cocktail on the drinks.  That opens up a little more money for the food.  As a personal preference I think buffet stations is the best way to go.  You can get a little of everything or a lot of one thing and skip the stuff you don't like.  Also stations cuts down on the dreaded lines.  Just make sure you find a good caterer to do this. 

    I was at a wedding once with a not so great catering compnay.  It was a single line buffet that was called up by table.  The table to our left went first, and then they went around the room leaving ours to last.  Since the catering sucked...over half of the buffet was picked clean, not a spot of food in the containers.  The food that was left behind was dried out and cold.  The second our group left the buffet line they slammed the doors shut and refused to let anyone back in for seconds/whatever. 

    With plated meals, at least my food was warm/hot and tasted fresher, but I often had only one option on a menu of ten that I wanted, since I don't like many foods (mainly the garnishes and the add ons). 

    I think a good caterer would solve this problem for you.  I would ask around and get price quotes for all three types of meals.  A plated meal would definitly be more of an upscale and fancy feel where a buffet is more in the middle and a family style may come off as more casual.  Of course the serveware, decorations/centerpieces and everything else can set the tone however you want. 

  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    We argued this with my parents. They were concerned that a buffet would be tacky. We made the decision to go along with it because it spared us the budget to upgrade the menu. We also have a lot of kids of a variety of different ages attending. We decided that a meal that keeps everyone tethered to their seats for hours was going to be more difficult for them. While it might take a while for everyone to get served, here's no waiting for each course.
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I prefer plated, but do not feel like buffets are tacky.   DH flat out refused to eat off a buffet.  Doesn't even pretend to eat.

    That said, given the choice between open bar and buffet or plated and dry or cash bar, DH would pick the open bar.   

    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. 
  • thanks for all of the responses guys!  

    Since we're talking about serving options - and I've thought about it more and more - what are your opinions on family style? As in where would it fall in the preferences as compared with plated dinners or buffet? 

    We're finding that a lot of venues offer family style at the same price as buffet - so which would people prefer?
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  • I hate family style. At least at a buffet, there is an abundance of each item. Family style puts dishes of each item in the table t gay "should" serve each person, but rarely does. Uncle Harry takes all of the potatoes and aunt sally loves the bread. And everyone else ends up with a plate full of Brussel sprouts.
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    If you were having a small wedding, like maybe 50 people or less then family style could work.  But family style just clogs up your tables and then your guests will have to stop eating to hand plates back and forth to others at the table.  Family style is a good idea in theory but tends to not really work out well in reality.

  • Thanks guys! I will remove the Family style option from my list of possibilities!

    Our wedding will be more like 150ish people - so not small enough to make it OK.
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  • I'm having a similar disagreement with my mother about buffet vs plated. Her concern is that people hate to wait for their food (anti Buffet). I prefer buffet because A - people can eat exactly what they want, B - people can eat more, and C - I feel that people actually get their food faster. We went to a wedding in September that was plated, and honestly - we were seated next to the kitchen which means we were one of the first tables to get our food. We finished eating before people on the other side of the room even got served. And it was like that for every course! I would rather have multiple tables of the same buffet foods, or at LEAST have a buffet table that can be accessed from both sides!

  • I think it totally depends on the venue and the food choices. Are they foods that will survive well in a vat under a heat lamp/over a burner? Or will you have dried out chicken and soggy, falling apart fish? Is the venue set up well to allow good traffic flow? Or have enough servers to get plated meals out much quicker than a buffet? How often will the buffet be replenished? Is your plated selection wide enough that people won't feel shortchanged that they couldn't choose between the potatoes and the squash? Are the green beans from a can, because those will taste awful no matter how they're served. ;)

    Sorry it's not a super helpful yes or no. :)

  • I prefer plated. I think it is more formal and more elegant. The food usually looks better too. I also hate standing in line and feeling rushed by all of the hungry guest behind me. 

    I don't think that makes buffet tacky though, actually I have seen buffets that cost way more than plated dinners and are much more impressive in the type of food and variety.
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