5 Wedding Catering Styles: Which One Goes With Your Reception Menu?

Let’s talk about wedding dinners. No matter what type of wedding you are planning, there is a chance that food will play a role. To what extent – that is up to you. But let’s start here with the 5 styles of wedding catering that you are likely to choose from. {Photo above: Hannah Pickle from this New Orleans Micro Wedding}

How you determine what is right for you will depend on the number of guests that you have prioritized food in your budget, your venue, and the style of your wedding. We reached out to caterers and wedding planners to break down all 5 wedding catering styles and help you decide which makes the most sense for your reception menu. Let’s dive in!

Best style of catering when you can’t choose a menu: food stations

Catering food stationFood stations offer a variety of options set up in different areas around your venue. Many caterers really thrive in this type of service and are especially helpful with various cuisines supporting a wedding theme. Photo: Luke and Mallory

Food station professionals:

  • Food allergies: “With so many people sensitive to different types of food, stations that are gluten-free or dairy-free can make your guests feel like you really took the time to think about them.” -Steve Robertson, CEO of
  • Crowd Control: “Food stations allow you to stay away from a single line that can be endless with just a few very picky buffet people!” – Steve Robertson, CEO of
  • Create diversity: “Food stations provide great variety and encourage guests to explore the room. It’s a great opportunity to tie together a meaningful topic (like your favorite spots in a global theme) and get really personal and creative! “- Nora Sheils, founder, Bridal happiness

Food station cons:

  • Limits to social distancing: “Unfortunately, pasture boards where guests help themselves and adjust their choices had to be stopped with the precautionary measures now in place.” – Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director, Colette’s catering
  • Extended serving times:This is not for those who are concerned about your guests getting fed in no time. It’s about taking your time, enjoying the company, and mingling through the experience as the night progresses. “- MIHO Catering Co.

The best catering style for a relaxed wedding: buffet

Wedding catering stylesWe all know a buffet. The food is served in large, warming dishes while the guests set off. Photo: Mandy Ford Catering: MIHO Catering Co.

Buffet professionals:

  • Buffets provide control: “A pro is that we can control the buffets and let our employees serve the guests safely.” – Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director, Colette’s catering
  • Relaxed + Affordable: “If you are looking for a relaxed, communal atmosphere, this is definitely the best option! It also helps that this option lowers the labor cost of the service, which has an impact on the overall cost of the meal. Allows hosts to choose a hearty menu that will appeal to everyone. “- Amrit Dhillon-Bains, Anais events

Buffet cons:

  • Style clashing: “Since the buffet style is more of an informal catering style for weddings, it may not match your wedding or venue aesthetic. We at Anais Events look after many large guests, so our tip is to discreetly excuse each table personally from the planning or banquet staff. DJ Table (cattle) calling is a big no-no! ” – Amrit Dhillon-Bains, Anais events

Best option for a conversation starter: family style

Family-style catering wedding
Family style is the bridge between comprehensive service and a self-service option. Plates are brought to individual tables and passed around for guests to prepare their own meals. Photo: Luke and Mallory

Family style professionals:

  • A safe option: “One of our favorite ways to serve dinner is still safe, family style! With smaller, more intimate dining tables at receptions, showers, etc., we can make plates for any small table to enjoy. ” – Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director, Colette’s catering
  • Great for the community: “The family-style table service is a great conversation starter. The dynamics of the table changes when you have to ask someone you just met to hand over the carrots. Consider this comfortable format if you want the table setting to be more casual and friendly. “- Joel Lippman, Hutton Brickyards
  • Large selection: “In contrast to plate dishes, you can experience different main dishes and side dishes here.” – MIHO Catering Co.

Family style disadvantages:

  • A crowded table: “A big disadvantage is that the tops can take a big step on your tables. That means fewer flowers or decor. One way to fight that? Hanging installations! ” – Nora Sheils, founder, Bridal happiness
  • Requires direction: “Guests can sometimes be confused about which platters / dishes belong to their section of the table when serving long communal tables. Here is our experienced in-‐‐Housee betweenIbornd servers Withe theIonI’m in spreadIcatInG how tThe in thejTheY. theand myl. “- MIHO Catering Co.

Best for upscale kind + gourmets: Plated dinner

Plated dinner wedding catering
An overdone dinner is the most classic style of wedding catering. During the entire meal time, several courses are distributed to seated guests. Photo: Luke and Mallory

Overdone dinner professionals:

  • Overall efficiency: “Your timeline becomes more efficient as the servers deliver meals all at once. While a buffet will take longer to serve, for example, if you allow guests to move back and forth from their seats. “- Erica Trombetti, Infinite events
  • A Cook-Driven Experience: “There are some great professionals out there when it comes to having a dinner plate at your wedding. First, the food is beautifully presented with a cook-focused dining experience. The increased perception of the guests is wonderfully combined with perfectly executed service. ” – Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director, Colette’s catering
  • Social distance friendly: “Overdone dinners allow guests to remain seated and socially distant.” – Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director, Colette’s catering

Plated dinner cons:

  • Increase in labor costs: “A disadvantage of this would mainly affect the total cost of production. It would take more work to create the overdone courses, be it with chefs or service staff. ” – Sarah Kuhlberg, creative director, Colette’s catering
  • Choice of meals: “If you don’t want to pre-select their meals, you can choose to order at the table and your guests can choose their meal choices when they sit down.“- Erica Trombetti, Infinite events

Best type of catering that fits all wedding styles: food trucks

Wedding food truckFood trucks bring the kitchen – and the goods! – to them. Many food trucks offer wedding packages so that guests have options within a specific menu. Photo: Heirloom photography from this modern greenhouse wedding

Food truck professionals:

  • Ideal for outdoor settings: “This style of catering is best for a private dorm wedding or if the wedding is in a barn on a farm. In other words, lots of land and the feeling of being outdoors! “- Valarie Falvey, Kirkbrides
  • Local foodie fun: “Food trucks are another great way to give your guests options and an interactive experience. For us in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a great way to immerse guests in the local foodie culture! At this point, many cars are very familiar with COVID precautions, so you can be sure that your guests will stay safe. ” – Nora Sheils, founder, Bridal happiness
  • Adaptable + Affordable: “I love having food trucks for a unique twist at an elegant wedding. They serve amazing food, you can have fun with your menu and the prices are so affordable. “- Natalie Good, creative director of Good business

Food truck cons:

  • Event location conducive: “Your venue must be logistically conducive to this setup and must not be too far or impractical for guests to take a walk.” – Valarie Falvey, Kirkbrides
  • Best for smaller events: “Many carts are not used to large crowds at once. It works best when an event is held that invites grazing, smaller portions, and a casual atmosphere. Also plan to spend a little more to provide service staff for bus and tour guides and to manage COVID requirements. ” – Nora Sheils, founder, Bridal happiness

The best style of wedding catering will of course depend on your unique style, requirements, and budget. But now that you’ve hit rock bottom it may be easier to make a decision than deciding where to dine out on Saturday night. May be. Good Appetite!

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