Serving Style Guide


PLATED | Guests are served each course at their tables by serving staff.

Cost: $$$
Plated services require more kitchen and serving staff to cook, assemble, and serve individual dishes.

Formality: Formal

Menu Options: Choose two main course options (or three including a vegetarian option) and collect guest selections in advance or serve a duet meal, which includes two options on one plate.

Logistics: Guests RSVP’s should include their meal selections which must be tracked for reporting quantities to the caterer. It is ideal to have a place marker or seating chart for each guest, indicating their meal selection, that is clearly visible to the serving staff.

Less stressful for guests than buffet style
Less wasted food with these meals, since plates are pre-portioned by catering staff
Increased level of sophistication

Less variety than a buffet, it is best to serve foods that accommodate guests with dietary restrictions
Takes up more of your reception time

FAMILY STYLE | Large platters are served at the center of each table for guests to share.

Cost: $$-$$$
Family style service requires some additional kitchen and serving staff to cook and assemble platters, but typically fewer than required by plated services.

Formality: Semi-Casual / Semi-Formal

Menu Options: Choose up to two salads for the first course and then a maximum of two main entrees and four sides for the main course. Order enough food for everyone to have at least one portion of each main entree offered. Expect some guests to take multiple portions.

Logistics: Table space is limited so table decor should be sparse. Consider plating or pre-setting* the salad course if you only select one salad.

*Pre-set dishes are placed on guest tables prior to guest arrival. You can choose to pre-set family style platters or individual plates. This option allows guests to begin eating right away and helps to narrow the timeline for meal service.

Encourages guests to mingle
Guests can help themselves to as much or as little of each dish as they want
Place settings can be fully set for a beautiful tablescape

Potentially messy
Guests will be distracted when serving their plates
Extra food must be ordered to account for guests who will serve themselves multiple portions

BUFFET | Guests dish their own plates from menu items stationed at a separate table.

Cost: $
Buffets require the least number of kitchen and serving staff.

Formality: Casual

Menu Options: Buffets allow for the most variety. You can choose as many salads, main entrees, and sides as you like.

Logistics: Buffets require the least logistic restrictions, but do require separate tables and space to form lines. While guests are able to observe activities while being served at their tables, buffet service requires undivided time to retrieve meals. If your event is large, its best to announce separate sections to dish up at a time.

Ability to offer a large variety of food in sizable amounts

Can get hectic if too many people go up to get food at once
No portion-control
Tables can look bare if plates are waiting at the buffet

Ash Baldwin