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Let us help you decide if you should have a buffet-style wedding reception

Milagros is a writer, recipe editor, and recipe developer. Her passion for food began at a young age and her hunger to learn and grow has never simmered. She knows everything that she does about the industry from working with amazing ...

The pros and cons of going buffet at your wedding

When it comes to a wedding dinner, there are always two options to consider: a sit-down dinner and a buffet-style dinner. How do you figure out which one is right for you? We're here with a pros-and-cons list for doing it buffet-style to help you decide.

More: How to plan a wedding on a shoestring budget

Here are five advantages to a buffet-style wedding reception:

Pro: It's easier to accommodate food allergies and preferences

If you decide to go with a buffet-style dinner, your guests can have a full meal and ultimately decide on what they want to eat instead of just the typical chicken or fish options. So many people have food allergies nowadays that it’s best to give everyone an array of options and let them choose instead of accommodating individual guests.

Pro: You save money on service

If you go with a buffet, you won’t have to hire a huge waitstaff to serve your guests — this will save you a few extra dollars. You’ll need just one person to monitor the buffet and another to serve wine and water to your guests. Think of it this way — you may be able to afford that second dress for the reception that you were thinking about buying.

Pro: It's more social

While your guests are in line to get food, they are able to mingle and talk to people who they may not know too well or who aren’t at their table.

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Pro: It gets guests moving around

Having a buffet gives your guests the option to get up and move around — they won’t feel like they're stuck at their assigned table and, more important, waiting to get fed. During a sit-down dinner, most people sit at their tables and wait even when they want to get up and mingle, because they fear they might miss their meal when the waiter finally comes around to their table.

Pro: People eat while the food is still hot

Food is always hot at a buffet. Have you ever been to a wedding where the service is slow and you’re at the last table? Yeah, it’s not that fun. You receive your plate, take a bite, and it's lukewarm chicken — not appetizing at all. When you have a buffet, people will know the food they’re getting is hot and fresh — it makes for a better dining experience.

Now here's what's not so good about having a buffet-style wedding reception:

Con: Buffets encourage overeating — and that gets expensive

You may end up spending more money on food if you have a buffet-style reception. Your guests are free to take as much food as they want (even if they don’t end up eating it all). The worst possible thing is running out of food before everyone gets to eat, so this is something to consider.

Con: There could be hidden costs

Depending on what catering company you go with, you might end up dishing out money for linens, chafing dishes and serving plates if the company does not supply them.

Con: Lines! Amirite?

People hate waiting in line. Standing in line to get food may pose a problem for some people — some may end up skipping the dinner just because they don’t want to stand and wait. You can always have two separate lines for food, but this may or may not get rid of the cluster of people trying to get food all at once. Another option is to call a few tables at a time to get food.

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Con: The buffet is a space hog

It takes up room in your venue. If your wedding reception is in a small venue, then you can always have the buffet on the dance floor and remove it after dinner, but this can be a hassle. If you have room to have it in the back with nice floral arrangements, then go for it, but with smaller venues, it may not be the way to go.

Con: The grandparents may not be into it

The older crowd isn’t always fond of buffets. Your parents and grandparents may have pictured something a little more "elegant" when it comes to your wedding, so if you decide to go with a buffet consider that. Plus, some elderly guests may have aches and pains that make waiting in line a hardship.

So there you go. It really depends on the guests you're expecting, the tone of the wedding you're planning and what you think will work for you. But hopefully this framework will help you decide your best party plan.

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