The Wedding Breakfast: Buffet Vs Sit-Down Meal, The Pros and Cons

16 June 2017

This week’s post comes courtesy of staff writer and expert bride, Samantha, who works over at The Wedding Secret, and regularly writes amazing content on their online magazine – you must take a peek!
 
Depending on what stage you’re at in your wedding planning, you may not have given much thought to your wedding breakfast just yet. This is an especially easy facet of your wedding day to ignore if you ‘re getting married at a venue with in-house caterers or a preferred catering company, as that takes a lot of the responsibility out of your hands. The wedding breakfast is, however, an important thing to start considering sooner rather than later, especially as food and beverages are going to comprise the lion’s share of your final tab. Choosing what dishes to include in your menu is one thing, but it’s also often forgotten that you have to decide how you want your food to be served; a small detail that can make a big difference to the flow of your day.
 
To help you decide whether a buffet or sit-down wedding breakfast is right for you, I’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both.
 

Buffet

 
Pros:
You can choose a lot of different food options
A buffet can be a great choice for weddings where the guests are known to have diverse tastes and food requirements, or if you and your fiancée have conflicting opinions on what food to have. You’ll be able to choose multiple dishes for each course, ensuring everyone’s left with a full belly.
 
You can have themed ‘stations’
Building on the advantage of being able to choose a lot of different dishes, you could even have themed food stations covering different cuisines. This is, again, bound to leave all of your guests with something they enjoy eating. And you’d be bang on trend by having a dessert station spilling over with sweets, doughnuts, and cupcakes, as well as your wedding cake.
 
Everyone eats at the same time
Sit-down wedding breakfasts tend to take a long time to serve. By having a buffet, you can guarantee your guests won’t be left longingly looking at the next table’s food whilst they wait another 10 minutes for theirs. They’ll need the fuel for all the dancing later on.
 
Perfect for relaxed, informal weddings (and budget friendly!)
Buffets tend to be a cheaper option as they require fewer wait staff and allow food to be prepared in bulk, so if budget is of concern, then a buffet should be something you consider. But that doesn’t mean it has to feel generic. Why not have a hog roast or a barbeque instead of the normal pork pies and salad platters? Earlier weddings could even have a cute vintage afternoon tea. Having a buffet gives you a lot of options.
Cons:
 
Things could get a little messy
Problems with organisation are can easily arise when hosting a buffet-style wedding breakfast, whether it’s something as small as someone accidentally taking two plates so your aunt doesn’t have one, to someone being a bit greedy and taking more than their share of food. Checking how much crockery you hire and slightly over-ordering on food can help to avoid this, but it’s still worth considering.
 
Queuing
Depending on how many guests you’re planning to have, a long queue could quite easily form. You don’t want your guests forgetting they’re at a wedding because they suddenly feel like they’re back in the school dinner queue! Having various food stations is a good way to side-step this.
 
You’ll need a larger reception space
Buffet stations take up extra room on top of the dining tables, making the layout not exactly ideal for weddings in smaller spaces. Be careful of anything feeling cramped and try to avoid having your buffet stations too close to dining tables, so no one is in the way.
 
It’s not as elegant
Being totally honest, buffet wedding breakfasts never feel quite as decadent and formal as sit-down meals do. This can be due to some organisational issues as mentioned above, and also to your guests having to carry their own plates. But if you want the feel of your wedding to be less formal, a buffet could be the perfect choice.
 

Sit-Down

Pros:
 
It’s traditional
If you dream of a traditional wedding, a sit-down meal can be the perfect complement to that. They’re very formal, allowing your guests to relax and chat to their table-mates whilst being served. They also allow you to relax and be waited on, which, as newlyweds, you well deserve.
 
You’ll have more control over your food costs
A sit-down meal usually allows you to choose two or three menu options per course, from which your guests make their selections ahead of time. This means your caterers will know exactly how much food to order, and will mean you can control your food costs a little more than you could with a buffet.
 
You can fit other parts of your reception around the courses
There will be inevitable gaps between courses as the staff in the kitchen plates up everyone’s food. This makes it easy to fill the time by fitting in speeches, the cake cutting, and even the first dance (if your dance floor is in the same room) around each course, keeping the day flowing nicely.
 
It can make your day feel more luxurious
Not just for you, but for your guests as well. Getting to choose their menu options and being waited on like they would at a restaurant usually makes guests happy and helps the whole event feel that little bit more lavish, which weddings should be. A nice way to add to this could be by combining guests’ place setting cards with copies of their own personal menu as a keepsake from your day.
Cons:
 
It’s probably going to take a while
Having everyone served by waiters could mean that some tables get their food long before others. I remember eating the entrée at my own wedding breakfast and looking over at another table who hadn’t even received theirs yet. No one likes having to wait ages for food when they’re feeling hungry.
 
It’s usually pricier
This isn’t always the case, but having a sit-down meal entails more staff both behind the scenes, and front-of-house. This could drive up your catering costs.
 
The formality isn’t for everyone
Sit-down wedding breakfasts tend to be ‘stuffier’ affairs, and aren’t right for all venues or all couples. They could also be a little long and awkward for some of your guests who you’ve had to seat at tables with people they don’t know and don’t end up getting along with (which is bound to happen to at least some guests at every wedding).
 
You’ll have to be careful of your food choices
Selecting two or three choices for each course isn’t necessarily a problem for every couple, but if your palates differ quite drastically or one of you is a vegetarian whilst the other is a carnivore, it might be harder to narrow down your options. You’ll also need to ensure you’re choosing crowd-pleasing dishes and that you have other options lined up for people with dietary restrictions.

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