wedding caterer serving styles

Gil’s Elegant Catering Pros and Cons of Wedding Caterer Serving Styles:

From elegant plated dinners to casual buffets and everything in between, the options for your wedding day catering style seem unending. The serving style you select can have a major impact on your guests’ experience, but it can be overwhelming to sort through your options. Luckily for you, we’ve been doing this for over thirty years! We’ve seen it all, and our experience has given us a few insights on the pros and cons of every wedding serving style. Before you settle on that  five-course meal or family-style dinner, take a look at our pros and cons:

Plated Dinner:

  • Pros: Traditional and elegant, a plated dinner adds a layer of sophistication to a refined wedding style. With traditional entrées and professional servers, you’ll make a stylish statement. Plated dinners also encourage conversation among guests during meals and between courses. They may be an ideal choice for couples who aren’t expecting a wild dance floor; the meal itself will be an engaging activity that takes a substantial amount of time during which you are not expected to provide additional entertainment. Plated dinners also allow plenty of customization options to craft the perfect menu to your taste.
  • Cons: On the flip side, plated dinners can be tricky for couples that are anxious to hit the dance floor and get a party started. Counteract this dilemma with a carefully planned schedule to keep courses moving so your guests can start dancing sooner. Also, plated dinners may not provide as wide an array of meal options—be sure to ask guests about allergies or food preferences early on to avoid any faux pas.


  • Pros: The laidback style of a buffet offers something for everyone. Buffets are a great choice if you prioritize variety for your guests, as they are highly customizable with multiple options. It also ensures guests get their fill of whichever food they prefer. Although more casual than a plated dinner, buffets can still be elegant and practical.
  • Cons: Logistics with a buffet can get tricky; you don’t want all your guests impatiently forming a line at one time. We recommend having your servers discreetly stop by each table to let guests know when it is their table’s turn.

Family Style:

  • Pros: Encourage conversation over the table as guests pass dishes and interact together. Guests can help themselves to whichever dishes suit their taste, and there’s no awkward moment if they pass over something they don’t like.
  • Cons: This one really does work best with families. Interacting over the table might feel forced if guests don’t know each other already. Careful seating planning is important if you opt for family style serving!

Action Stations:

  • Pros: We love action stations! Check out our blog post about why they are a statement piece at any wedding. Action stations provide entertainment, variety, and tasty food. They allow flexible timing for guests to eat whenever they’d like, and encourage movement flow throughout your venue. Additionally, serving food right off the grill at an action station ensures food will be hot, fresh, and delicious.
  • Cons: Be sure to still provide seating and several options with action stations. You don’t want guests to form a line and treat an action station like a buffet. Instead, select a couple of interesting action stations to place in your venue. Plan plenty of seating so guests don’t feel obligated to stand and eat.

Passed Appetizers:

  • Pros: Passed appetizers are a delectable choice to keep guests happy before the meal is served. You’ll have a wide variety of options, and can really design a menu that fits your wedding style. Passed appetizers are ideal for entertaining guests if the wedding party will be delayed arriving at the reception venue.
  • Cons: Passed appetizers don’t necessarily mean you can skip the main course. Work with your caterer to design an hors d’oeuvre menu that is filling if need be, and has enough variety to accommodate all palettes.

Table Display Appetizers:

  • Pros: Table displays look incredible! In addition to incredible taste, a table display adds visual impact to your reception venue.
  • Cons: Table displays tend to require lots of small plates, and easy disposal of dishware after guests have enjoyed their appetizer. Work with your caterer beforehand to coordinate serving logistics.

Of course, don’t forget to add a custom bar experience and delectable dessert or late-night snack to top off the evening. The most important thing to remember is that with an experienced caterer, your food will be of the utmost quality—no matter which serving style you choose. It helps to consider the pros and cons of each style, but in the end you can’t go wrong serving

Allow us to craft the perfect setting for your guests with a serving style just right for you. We’ve gained ample expertise as a Dallas wedding caterer over the years, and we would be delighted to design a custom menu for you—in any serving style. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can assist you in any way.