Tuesday, 02 October 2018 22:47

The Smorgasbord: Buffet-Style Weddings

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Celebratory feasts with large tables filled with a great variety of foods have pleased revelers for centuries. Is it the right choice for your wedding?

You’ve decided to tie the knot. You’ve decided you want a big, fancy, elegant wedding with several hundred of your closest friends and family present. Fine. But now you have to feed those people. That brings up three important questions. Which wedding caterers are you going to hire to prepare the food? What sort of cuisine do you want served? Two down, one to go … 

In one of the biggest decisions of wedding planning – how will you serve a meal to your guests? – there are four options. The first is reserved for religions and cultures where the reception is held in a church hall, basically offering cake and a (non-alcoholic) beverage. The other three choices involve a full meal, served on a plate to each guest, food station service (take your pick), and a buffet-style feast.

This blog is about a buffet-service reception (some call it smorgasbord) and wedding catering companies in Los Angeles, New York and just about everywhere else are serving up such wedding buffets. We suggest you can base your decision on three factors: ambiance, guest issues, and cost. Let’s break that down:

Ambiance– Buffet style is not necessarily inelegant. In fact, the historical origins of both the French and Swedish versions are about presenting a bounteous meal to honored guests. The display of food can and should be sumptuous, whether it be self-serve or a bit more controlled with service staff (at least for the meat, fish and poultry that needs carving). 

That said, your guests will be getting up from their tables, filing through a line and walking back to their tables with filled plates. Some like that approach, some might not, and it requires parents of children and people with disabilities to put a little more effort into it (you might assign someone to help each of them). 

Also, some tables go first, some later, and some last. To fill time, some weddings will place an appetizer plate on tables to give guests something to eat before their table is called up.

One advantage of buffet style is there tends to be more mixing among guests as they move around the reception. With a sit-down, full wait staff service meal, some of those interactions might not happen.

Guest issues – Simply put, we no longer live in an era where a nice slab of beef will please all guests. Dietary issues and preferences, ranging from vegan to vegetarian to pescaterian to gluten free to paleo to peanut allergies have made hosting rather challenging. A full buffet, with a broad variety of offerings, helps every guest choose what and how much to eat.

Cost– Surprisingly, there is not a clear distinction on how a buffet-style meal compares to other options. Less service personnel is required, but the food offering is larger and more complex (your enthusiastic guests will appreciate the selection and the quantity). There are many other variables that can make one less costly than the other options (dinnerware, centerpieces, bar service, chair and table rentals, etc.). So choosing this for economy is not necessarily logical. 

The decision would be so much easier (and cheaper) if your family was of the church-hall type. Alas, your friends from college might be chagrined if that’s what they traveled in for.

This is why you want to work with an experienced caterer. They can help you identify what makes sense for you, depending on the nature of the event you would like hold and your budget parameters.

Huntington Catering

Huntington Catering is an innovative, full service Los Angeles catering company providing wedding, corporate and private event catering and at home with the most sought after special event venues in Southern California.

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