wedding guests eating dinner


June 28, 2022

How to choose your wedding dinner style

You’ve selected your venue or caterer and now it’s time to choose your wedding dinner style. But where do you start? The style of dinner you serve can really impact your guests’ experience and the overall style of your wedding day. You’ll want to consider your overall budget and what you’re able to and like to allocate to the food and beverage budget. Think about who is on the guest list and how you’d like them to feel. Most importantly, what is your priority? Do you want to dance the night away or linger over a long meal? Below are 5 dinner styles to consider!


One of the most common dinner service styles is a plated meal, a seated dinner. Seen as a more traditional or formal meal. Most often the caterer will request your guest’s meal selections in advance to ensure they can properly prepare. This means you will include a protein selection on your wedding invitation. This looks like the beef, chicken, fish question on the bottom of your reply card. You and your guests will be treated to either a two or three course dinner similar to what one would experience at a restaurant. The two course dinner includes a set starter followed by your choice of entree. With three courses it also includes a plated dessert, often in addition to your wedding cake. The plated dinner is almost always served in banquet style venues and is great if you’re going for the black tie, white linen tablecloth look.  

Family Style

Another seated dinner option with a more relaxed feel. Family style meals are a sort of hybrid of a buffet and plated dinner. Servers bring platters of food to each table offering a variety of entrees and sides and guests serve themselves from the platters. This allows guests to have a little of everything should they choose. It can also be a great ice breaker around the table as your guests will interact over the meal. One thing to keep in mind is that the platters will take up real estate on your tables so decor and floral will have to be at a minimum. A great option for those going for an unfussy formal-ish approach to their day.  


The buffet dinner is served with a great variety of food on long tables. Often staff will assist with serving guests as they move through the buffet line. However, it will likely require less staff as compared to a seated dinner and can be a more affordable option. A great option for choosy guests who may want seconds or thirds! One thing to keep in mind is how execution of service is handled so that guests are not waiting in long lines. 


Similar to a buffet, stations offer great variety. Be it grab and go like a pizza cart or interactive like a make your own taco bar, stations are great for those looking to graze throughout the reception. The grab and go route will allow guests to quickly return to the dance floor if that’s your priority. Do note that stations can take up significant floor space in your venue. You’ll want to be mindful of the flow of guests when creating your floor plan. 

Cocktail Style

Who says you need a table assignment at a wedding? Cocktail style dinners really lean into that mix and mingle party vibe. If cocktail hour is your favorite part of the wedding this is for you. Guests are served a large selection of hors devours that typically rotate every hour or so. We see this working best when mixed with a few stations so guests can adequately fill up while enjoying libations. It’s important to communicate to guests what to expect so they don’t hold out for a seated meal!