Hey there, Sparklers! I think we can all agree that everyone loves party food. Of course, your wedding reception is no exception. When it comes to picking the menu for your wedding, how you then choose to serve it will depend on how many guests you are serving, the level of formality, and your budget. The most popular service options include buffet, family-style, stations, plated, and heavy hors d’oeuvres. As you consider your personal style and what you think your guests will like, check out our rundown of these different service options to find what is best for you!



A plated meal is the most traditional type of service at weddings. Typically three or four courses (usually an appetizer, a meat or fish for the main course, and a dessert), guests are usually given a limited number of options per course. This is the most formal meal option, and is great for those who want a more refined atmosphere. You also can ensure that all guests are served at the same time. One drawback of this option is that it makes it more difficult to cater to guests with dietary restrictions. For costs, you will save on food, especially compared to less formal options like family style, since the amount of food needed is predetermined and will not vary from guest to guest. That said, more servers will be needed than with other services. Don't forget, you will need to obtain your guests' meal selections ahead of time, and provide catering staff with place cards and a seating chart indicating meal type.



Buffets are a crowd favorite, and a less formal alternative to your traditional plated service. This option lets guests interact with others beyond their assigned table. However, beware of lines and larger food costs, since guests tend to eat larger portions when serving themselves! In addition to allowing guests to mingle, another advantage of buffet-style is that it is easier to provide a larger variety of food than with plated dining.



Although a bit unusual, family-style service is becoming more and more popular as couples seek to make their weddings creative and less traditional. Family-style is modern and casual, creating a fun environment in which your guests can interact with one another. Some cons of family-style is that the cost can be significantly larger to account for uncertainties about portion size, and if guests are sitting with other guests they don't know, sharing the allotted portions could get awkward ("Want the last, roll, anyone?"). You also run the risk of ending up with a lot of leftovers which may go to waste if you aren't getting married locally.



Food stations share qualities of both buffet and family style in that they both offer more variety, and a relaxed, energetic atmosphere conducive to casual conversation. To ensure that guests are not waiting in a long line, give each type of food its own station. Be sure to include a station with guests with food allergies or other dietary restrictions in mind.



Serving heavy hors d’oeuvres instead of a full meal is fantastic for guests who want to try everything, and is the easiest way to control your spending! By offering tiny portions, guests can try the largest variety of foods possible. If you go with this option, be very clear on your invitations so that guests are not expecting a full meal. Your guests will appreciate the opportunity to try many different tastes, colors, and textures. Get creative by theming your hors d'oeuvres options!


We know that food is integral to every celebration, and finding the best way to serve your menu is essential! Deciding between services like buffets, plated meals, family-style, food stations, and heavy hors d’oeuvres helps shape the overall vibe of your wedding, whether casual, fun, formal, or traditional. Send us a note if you want more tips on selecting a food service perfect for your special day!



The Sparkler