Reasons to have a family-style wedding dinner
If you are considering on wedding formats for that special day, an interesting choice for the reception is a family-style wedding meal. It is perfect for those who are looking for a vibe of warm comfort and camaraderie on that day. It is also a middle ground between a buffet and a sit-down meal. The basic idea is that you have to serve your own food, but you don’t need to get up to get it: there is large platters and trays of food that you share with the rest of people in the table. Just as you would do at home.
As always, weddings are very much custom-made for the needs of every couple, so family style dining doesn’t match every scenario. But how do you know if it can fit yours? Here are some tips and details to take into account to help you make your decision:
Casual-elegant feeling: A usual complain about having a buffet for wedding meal is that it makes the event less formal. While buffets with a formal vibe are totally possible and planners around the country do it all the time, it is true that having everyone walk around for their food is less organized than having everyone stay at their tables. But you can meet both worlds with this option, as people stay in the table but still have to interact in shearing the food.
It creates an environment of friendship and intimacy, and it is a great opportunity to have everyone interacting with each other. If the families of the bride and groom haven’t met yet, a family style wedding dinner can be very helpful in bringing the conversation together. The guests may also enjoy being more in control of the meal, being able to decide how much to eat (or drawing attention from how many times they refilled) and the fact that they don’t have to wait in line to get their food.
Operability: Family style weddings work better for smaller affairs, definitely below a hundred people, so that is an important thing to take into account. There is also the extra space you need on the tables for the extra platters and trays, and perhaps extra platters and trays as well, which can drive the rental price up. However the concept lends itself to using large banquet tables to solve the space issue and attain a gorgeous look at the same time.
Mid-size budget: A well-done family style reception can be less expensive as a sit-down dinner, as the amount of people you need for wait staff is less. However it all depends on how you set it up and what you talk with your caterer, as keeping platters always filled may need a bigger amount of food, some of which may be wasted in the end.
Final advice: It is true that you need less catering staff for this kind of dinner, but it is paramount that the staff you do hire is responsible and dynamic in their jobs. They would need to remove used plates and refill the trays as they start emptying, and they have to remain vigilant that the food gets distributed swiftly and in the correct amount to each table and/or guest. Therefore, you want to go with professional, well established caterers to secure the best service.