Wedding buffets, food bars, grazing stations, and carving tables are all great ways to encourage interaction between your wedding guests and your catering team. Whatever style of meal service you choose, it's important to work with your vendors to establish an event layout that allows everyone to move through the space easily. There's nothing worse than a line for the buffet that snakes all the way back to the dance floor. If you're planning to serve your reception meal buffet-style, here are a few tips to ensure it runs smoothly and efficiently.
Refresh, Refresh, Refresh
It takes a long time to get each wedding guest through the buffet line, so it's important to keep food refreshed and hot throughout dinner service. This is something most catering teams will be on top of, but you should to double check that your caterer arrives fully-staffed and able to manage this process.
Post Staff at the Stations
Most catering teams will assign a staff member to each buffet table, either to serve the appropriate quantity of food to each guest or simply to monitor food levels and ease of use. Be sure to talk with your caterer about the best way to staff your buffet to ensure quick service. Some stations, like on-the-spot pasta making or carving stations, will require a chef be present to handle the food.
Have Multiple Entry Points for a Buffet
Buffets are great for dinner service, but they can quickly get backed up if not efficiently managed. At larger weddings, it may be necessary to invite guests up to the buffet by table. Having a two-sided buffet setup also eases the lines since you're providing two entry points. Your catering team should have waiters at each buffet line entry, explaining where to get plates, how to go through the line, and answering any questions guests may have about the food.
Stick to Food That's Pre-Portioned
Portion sizes can be confusing for guests who are serving themselves. If you're having a buffet meal, you may want to speak with your caterer about making sure the suggested portion sizes are clear, especially if they're planning to use chafing dishes or Bain Maries.
Keep Dinner Plates at the Buffet Table
Dinner plates should always be available at (or just next to) the buffet table so guests can quickly serve themselves. Flatware, napkins, glassware, and charger plates can all be on the dining tables to define guests' seating.