Skip to main content

Serve it Up

Apr 08, 2014 11:08PM, Published by Anonymous, Categories: Planning



Décor and dancing will no doubt be major ingredients of your wedding reception, but don’t overlook dining options on your big day! From seated dinners to stations, buffets, family style, and more—which table service will you choose? We’ll introduce you to each, and then you can decide which one is best for you!

Seated Dinner

A true white glove service, seated dinners are the most formal and traditional table service option. Guests are elegantly served simultaneously and can enjoy their meal while it’s fresh out of the kitchen with friends and family, including the bride and groom, with fewer interruptions. While this option allows for guests to be a captive audience during toasts, it also holds them captive waiting for the next course. Seated dinners require more work to coordinate, tracking each guest’s entrée preference and accounting for those loved ones who forgot to RSVP. While the menu could save you a few dollars—caterers often say that because they don’t have to account for the variable portions they would with a buffet, they can cut food waste and thus cost—seated dinners require a bigger staff to serve all guests at the same time, and the additional labor can quickly add up.


Stations

Trendy and completely customizable, stations are a creative option to serve your guests and get them mingling. They are usually paired with passed hor ‘d'oeuvres and can be especially suited for late afternoon/early evening receptions, featuring a menu not as hearty as seated dinners. This is a fun option for foodies! Choose a carving station with delicious beef tenderloin, a DIY pasta station complete with all the fixings, a raw bar featuring Maryland crabs and oysters, or a go for brunch vibe with an omelet station. Keep in mind that some stations require attendants—meat carving, sushi, omelet, crepes—and thus increase the price, but the sky is the limit for creativity, and your guests will definitely remember their unique experience.


main5

Buffet

Allowing guests to serve themselves and offering a broad menu are great aspects to having a buffet. It also gets guests out of their seats and is typically the most cost efficient option in wedding table service—even if you decide on having two buffet set-ups, which is always a good idea if you have more than 50 guests. Working closely with your caterer in advance is essential to eliminating crowd control catastrophes. Long lines and empty platters may turn off guests, so make sure the catering team is on its toes.


main4

Family Style

The most intimate option to table service for your dinner is family style, as it’s channeling an environment that bespeaks celebrating with good conversation and a sense of community. With family style service, table-sized portions of each dish are served by course, and guests serve themselves from the table. Picture long, beautifully adorned tables or several round tables bunched together so guests can easily intermix. Comparable to the cost of a buffet, this option has the most flexibility when it comes to negotiating with a caterer, but beware you will want a staff that has experience. Family style requires good timing and attention to detail so all guests are presented with courses, served a second helping if desired, and have dishes cleared efficiently.


main3

Potluck

Customary in many other countries and cultures, a potluck dinner for your wedding is a casual option that is often overlooked. This seemingly laid-back table service can be requested upon guests in lieu of a wedding gift—and is only really encouraged from local attendees, not out-of-towners. Newlyweds must pre-plan this type of table service in advance so guests that provide a dish also know to graciously include a recipe card of their dish for the newlyweds to build up their repertoire. A major factor in this option is the amount of guests attending; it needs to be a manageable number and a potluck point person should help organize the service. Dinner should include an appetizer or salad, a main course, one to two side dishes, and several desserts. The funds saved on catering costs can make it possible to hire a few people to help clean and organize the dishes post dinner service.


main

Consider all the pros and cons of each type of dinner service for your special day, make sure you’re mindful of the budget, and, most importantly, feel comfortable with the decision. Saying bon appetite is almost as important as saying ‘I do’… almost.

Consider for Dinner

Does it coordinate with the tone of my wedding?

Will children and the elderly require help serving themselves?

Is it appropriate for the time of day/night?

How long will it take to serve my wedding of 50? What about 500?

Are there any dietary restrictions?



  • Raspberry and Strawberry seasons have begun! Come pick your own at Linvilla Orchards!  General H...


  • David Rogers' Big Bugs at Tyler Arboretum

    08/21/2017
    09:00AM — 06:00PM

    Exhibit opening day: June 3, 9 am - 6 pm Exhibit continues until August 29 They’re BIG, they’...


  • Kids can cook! One week cooking camp!

    08/21/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Join the fun and learn what the "RAVE" is about. Turning Leaf Wellness Center, LLC offers a week...


  • Turning Leaf Wellness Center, LLC offers a weeklong cooking camp from 9am-noon for children ages ...


  • Emily's Produce Farmer's Market

    08/21/2017
    09:00AM — 06:00PM

    Enjoy local farm fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, eggs & more! Enjoy a homemade lunch or b...


  • Two Paths

    08/21/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    The Galleries of Quiet Waters Park will host an exhibition featuring the watercolors and drawings...


  • Log Canoe Racing: Photographs by Morris Ellison

    08/21/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Opening in conjunction with the 30th annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival, Log Canoe Racing: Ph...


  • ‘En Blanc et Noir’

    08/21/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    As beautiful as a color-laden photo can be, there is something to be said about removing the dist...


  • Summer Group Show

    08/21/2017
    09:00AM — 05:00PM

    Our Summer Group Show includes a large variety of styles & media with work by new artists & Galle...


  • Toddler Time

    08/21/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    Children ages 18 to 36 months (with caring adult) enjoy a variety of developmentally-appropriate ...


  • Babies in Bloom

    08/21/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    Babies from birth to 18 month (with caring adult) enjoy songs, action rhymes and playtime while b...


  • Toddler Time

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Children ages 18 to 36 months (with caring adult) enjoy a variety of developmentally-appropriate ...


  • Backyard Birds & Birdhouses

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM

    Opening reception May 20 in conjunction with the Delmarvalous Festival The beauty of nature is j...


  • Revival

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of NMWA’s 30th anniversary in 2017, Revival presents contemporary sculptors and ph...


  • Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces tells the remarkable history of th...


  • River Arts Photo Club Show

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Recent works of the local photographers.


  • Ken Karlic Exhibit

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    Meet the Artist: Ken Karlic Enjoy a live Painting Demonstration! Live guitar music by Tim ...


  • Creepy Crawlers Preschool Gardening

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 11:15AM

    Hands-on environmental education for our youngest crowd!  Creepy Crawler gardening classes are op...


  • In the Tower: Theaster Gates

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Over the past decade, American artist Theaster Gates (b. 1973) has explored the built environment...


  • June Schwarcz: Invention and Variation

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    June Schwarcz (1918–2015) is considered one of the most innovative enamelists working in the late...


  • President John F. Kennedy’s administration coincided with a golden age of photojournalism in Amer...


  • Weekly Fine Art Classes

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM

    Chesapeake Fine Art Studio offers top-quality art classes in a variety of media every week. Study...


  • Plein Air Judges, Unite Exhibit

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    Troika Gallery will exhibit the paintings of two Plein Air Judges, West Fraser and Kenn Backhaus,...


  • Under One Sky

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    In this joint exhibit, Carol Donahue and Gail Higginbotham, reveal their artistic similarities an...


  • Matthais Mansen: Configurations

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Matthias Mansen is a contemporary Berlin-based artist (b. 1958) whose work advances the long trad...


  • Nicolas Party: Sunrise, Sunset

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    Sunrises and sunsets are among the only moments in the day when we are reminded, as the sun appea...


  • Representational Ambiguity

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Ken Karlic's watercolors can best be described as sophisticated chaos, as an accurate drawing giv...


  • Equilibrium: Fanny Sanin

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    This exhibition explores her methodical process through a selection of some the artist’s earliest...


  • Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    One of China’s most provocative living artists, Ai Weiwei has spent nearly four decades exploring...


  • The Academy Art Museum is pleased to present its Annual Members’ Exhibition. This exceptional tra...


  • Retrievers: The Hunter’s Best Friend

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    The Retriever in its many breeds–Golden, Labrador, Chesapeake, Flat Coated, and more–have been th...


  • Parallax Gap

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    Parallax Gap transforms the Renwick Gallery’s Bettie Rubenstein Grand Salon into a visual puzzle....


  • "Ken Karlic: Watercolor Expressions" Show

    08/21/2017
    10:00AM — 05:30PM

    In honor of the 27th Annual Art Walk McBride Gallery is hosting a watercolor painting exhibition,...


  • Four Centuries Walking Tour

    08/21/2017
    10:30AM — 12:45PM

    A period dressed guide in colonial attire will lead you through Annapolis’ historic district and ...


  • Toddler Time

    08/21/2017
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Children ages 18 to 36 months (with caring adult) enjoy a variety of developmentally-appropriate ...


  • Preschool Storytime

    08/21/2017
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    Children ages three to five (with caring adult) build the early literacy skills needed for school...


  • New York Artists' Guild

    08/21/2017
    11:00AM — 04:00PM

    Exhibition will be held in the Studio Gallery.


  • Harbor Queen Cruises

    08/21/2017
    11:00AM — 04:00PM

    Watermark immerses people in the history, culture and fun of the Chesapeake Bay region and Harbor...


  • Eighth Annual Crab Week

    08/21/2017
    12:00PM

    Let’s get crackin’! Join Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina for the resort’...


  • Open Portrait Studio

    08/21/2017
    01:00PM — 03:30PM

    Mondays, 9:30 a.m. - noon The group meets weekly with a live model. Model fee collected weekly....


  • Four Centuries Walking Tour

    08/21/2017
    01:30PM — 03:45PM

    A period dressed guide in colonial attire will lead you through Annapolis’ historic district and ...


  • Spa Creek Tour on Miss Anne

    08/21/2017
    03:30PM — 08:30PM

    This 40 minute Annapolis boat tour is for those who want to get close to the water on a smaller, ...


  • Phillips Early Bird Special

    08/21/2017
    04:00PM — 05:00PM

    Catch the early bird each day at Phillips for special savings on our buffet and menu dining at Ph...


  • Chicken & Rib Night

    08/21/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Get a free draft beer and special sauces only available Monday nights! Smoked Fried Chicken: ...


  • Yoga en Español

    08/21/2017
    05:45PM — 06:30PM

    Yoga en Español Práctica Suave . Mujeres Sólo Todos los Lunes 5:45pm - 6:30pm Precio: $10 9...


  • Book Club

    08/21/2017
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    We will be discussing A Man Called Ove by Swedish author Fredrik Backman. This feel-good story ab...


  • August Wine Dinner

    08/21/2017
    07:00PM

    Summer dishes paired with prophecy wine! Welcoming wine: Pinot Grigio First Course: Mexican shr...


  • Come out to Camden Yards to cheer on your favorite Baltimore Orioles as they play the Oakland Ath...


  • Come to Prince George's Stadium to cheer on the Bowie Baysox as they play the Reading Fightin Phils!


  • Join host Norm Amorose every Monday at the Market Street Public House at 7:30 p.m. for a fun-fill...


  • Federal House Bar & Grille Acoustic Shows!

    08/21/2017
    08:00PM — 12:00AM

    Tuesday, August 1st - Jordan Sokel - Acoustic Solo Wednesday, August 2nd - Kajun Kelley - Acoust...