When I was
studying Hospitality Business and Event Management at Michigan State, I did
what a lot of 18 year old girls did while attending Big 10 Universities – I
joined a Sorority. Regardless of some cringe worthy hindsight due to the Feminist
lens I look back with, I have nothing but positive things to say about my
experience in Greek Life: I made wonderful friends who are still big parts of
my life, and learned a ton about community and socialization, where it
otherwise may have been difficult (47,000 undergraduates do not make for a
small pond). Another lesson I learned that I still practice today is a little
feedback system we Sorority Girls call Pro-Con-Pro. Let me break it down:
“What do I think of this? Well, here’s a pro. Now, here’s a con. And here’s another pro, because I’m nice and I like to end on a good note!”
Pretty simple, huh?
So what I’d like to do, in honor of the month highly regarded as the beginning of Wedding Season (June!), is apply a little pro-con-pro action to the different types of service styles one often finds at a wedding reception. I think that this is important because I’m being asked by new clients on a daily basis what the benefits are of going with one style over another… so I’m actually being quite selfish in typing it all out once, so I can just respond with the link! Here we go!
Servers bring each course directly to seated guests. Every guest will get their own plate.
This is considered the most formal service type, while also being the most efficient! Your more traditional guests will be pleased with the classic format, and your especially gussied guests will have the lowest risk of dirtying their party-gear. Those things, coupled with a quick serve out (to get your guests out on the dance floor faster!), you can’t really go wrong.
This is the most formal service type… some weddings are trending toward the casual these days, so sticking with the classics may not be for every couple.
This is the least expensive option in most cases. Your caterer (Great Performances, perhaps?) will know exactly how much food to bring, and the rentals will be an easy formula with one plate per person per course.
Each dish is served on a platter to the middle of the table, where guests will pass around and help themselves.
Family Style service can foster a sense of community, which is what weddings are all about – bringing families together!
This option tends to be a little more expensive in that you need a lot of platters and serving utensils, in additional to the necessary plates. It can also be a bit messy. While the platters will look beautiful when they’re set down, things can get a little sloppy as guests start to help themselves. Guests are also more likely to spill on the table or their laps when doing their own serving.
It’s easy to mix and match your proteins and sides, as the dishes aren’t necessarily designed to go together the way plated meals are.
Buffets and Stations
All food items are set up on buffet tables, for guests to come through in a line to serve themselves.
Variety, variety, variety! With stations, you can include a lot more items, and you’re not limited to what I call the meal trifecta: protein, starch, vegetable. This is also the most free-flowing of your service styles, as guests can dance when they want, eat when they want, do whatever they want, and not worry about missing dinner.
This option can also be a little more expensive, as you need to bring in additional tables, linens, and décor to make your food stations pop. You’ll also need a lot more food as there’s nothing worse than a picked over buffet.
You can get really creative in terms of theme. If you love Asian food, we’ve got Dim Sum, Sushi, and Chinese Take-Out stations! If you love comfort food, look no further than GP’s Southern Comfort display (chicken and waffles, anyone?).
So there you have it: the three most popular types of service, and why some things work better than others. The most important thing for you is to decide on your priorities and go with what works best to fulfill them! There is no right or wrong answer, and I’ve seen all three options turn out BEAUTIFULLY. So go with your gut (and your budget) and enjoy watching your guests enjoy their meals, however you serve them (because you won’t eat at your own wedding, which we’ll talk about next month.
Eat, Drink, and Be Married!!!