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Plated vs. Buffet for Your Wedding – That is the Question!

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When I meet with my wedding couples, one question I am often asked is if I recommend going with a plated or buffet dinner. As I believe that weddings must be a personal reflection of the couple themselves, I will often ask back “What style of event are you looking to host?”  There are many benefits to both options!

When it comes to a plated dinner, there is a perceived notion that it is more elegant.  It is indeed a more formal style of service, however for a wedding couple who is overly social and would like more of a relaxed atmosphere for their guests to interact and mingle, then a buffet would be a great choice for them.

Plated dinners are typically three or four courses, however can also be further elevated to a multi 5 or 6-course meal.  When considering what is right for each wedding, I would take the full agenda into account for the evening.  If it is a very busy event with several games, speeches, and activities then perhaps a three or four course dinner would be more suitable.  In the circumstance that a wedding is a little lighter on the agenda, then an enhanced multi-course dinner is an excellent way to fill the evening and help to create a memorable event for the guests.  On the flip side, a dinner buffet is also a great option for a wedding with a lot of planned activities, which can often still take place as guests are eating with minimal disruption.  Timing is everything when it comes to a plated dinner whereas buffets tend to be a little more flexible and forgiving on agendas!

Another question to consider is how involved does a couple want to be in planning and managing of their event?

Plated dinners require a much more hands-on approach to managing than a dinner buffet.  With a buffet, the wedding couple will keep track of their RSVPs and create a seating chart accordingly for their guests to determine where they will be seated, however more elaborate details need to be obtained for a plated dinner.  The RSVPs will need to indicate each guest’s entrée selection (such as beef, fish or vegetarian), a seating chart is often created in an excel sheet and supplied to the venue/caterer to show each guests’ name, table placement and chosen entrée, as well as any dietary restrictions.  In addition to this, place cards are also required for each guest’s place setting which will indicate to the service staff who the guest is and which entrée they have selected.  This can be as apparent as writing the guest’s name in the center of the place card and “beef”, “fish” or “vegetarian” in the lower corner, or it can be a little more subtle by using symbols or colour-coding in lieu of spelling out the selection.  This is where a wedding can be as creative as they like and tie in their corresponding wedding theme, and to some couples this sort of a DIY project is a dream!  There are however, some couples who simply do not have the time to manage RSVPs in that great of detail, or are particularly fussed with having assigned seating and place cards, so for this type of couple a buffet can be the optimal selection.

Whichever option you chose for your wedding day, you can’t go wrong as long as it is right for you!  

MEET OUR EXPERT: Nicole Folino, Wedding Specialist, Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver

Nicole began her hospitality career 20 years ago at the Fairmont Waterfront.  In her tenure as a wedding and event specialist she has had the opportunity to broaden her horizons and spent time working at other venues before returning ‘home’ to Fairmont Waterfront. During her career, she has formed strong relationships with some of the city’s premier vendors; from planners to decorators, florists and photographers and now she looks forward to being able to share her experiences and connections.

"I believe that your special day is just that – your day and it’s our mission to make it special.  I believe that in today’s times there are no longer rules about what is right and wrong for a wedding; it’s about what is right for you!"

Telephone:  604-691-1910

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