BUFFET? PLATED? FAMILY STYLE? TAPAS/APPETIZERS? What type of service is best for you? Many people get confused as to the difference between the different kinds of Service and what role they play in your event. So here is a description of each kind
At a plated meal, guests are seated and served by a waitstaff at tables pre-assigned by you. This style is the most traditional and typically the most formal. Servers often first bring out a plated salad (or it is preset on Tables), followed by a full plated meal.
Things to consider with a plated meal…
While this choice tends to be more conventional in essence, it can be modified to suit your ambience. A more casual twist on the plated meal is to just serve the salad family style with large bowls passed around the tables as guests help themselves.
When choosing your entrees, include items that will have the widest appeal to your guests. Don’t rule out chicken because it screams traditional, however our Salmon Cakes (GF) are excellent for this service as they stay moist. Chicken is probably the safest option preferred by most guests. Whatever you decide to serve, allow us at Crescent Moon Catering to advise you how to choose an entrée that will not become soggy or cold while being served to the amount of guests at your reception. If you want your guests to have a choice of different Entrees, you will need to have each of your Guests RSVP with their selection two weeks in advance. You will also have to provide a place setting Marker for each Guest showing what selection they chose. Do not leave it to your Guests as many of them will forget or change their mind. Remember the Caterer brings the number of portions of each you ordered.
If you choose to go with a plated meal, pay close attention to your seating arrangement in order to stimulate conversation and keep the event lively and festive. Plated Service tends to lock your Guests into their table assignment.
Plated Service tends to be the most expensive type of Service. It requires more Servers, More equipment, Chefs to plate the Meals, Runners to transport the plates and more servers on the floor to deliver the food to the Guests (and tipping the Staff as well comes into the Budget). Chicken tends to be the most inexpensive of the proteins, and beef is typically the priciest. If you prefer seafood, consider a simple white fish (Our Dover Sole Roulades with Asparagus or Green Beans…whatever is in season with an Orange Sauce) or our beautiful Wild Caught PNW Salmon Cakes (NO bread in our Salmon Cakes…all salmon) which tends to be reasonably priced.
***PLATED SERVICE REQUIRES CERTAIN FACILITIES AVAILABLE AND FACILITY MUST BE APPROVED BY OUR CHEF***
At a buffet, guests select their food from either one long table or stations strategically placed throughout the room. (Think: pasta station or carving station or our EXCLUSIVE PAELLA STATION.) An advantage is that you can serve a varied menu from which guests can choose what they like. Having a buffet-style meal does not mean that you have to sacrifice sophistication. A buffet can be formal when served by stylish waitstaff or more relaxed with self-serve stations.
Things to consider with a buffet…
A buffet-style wedding reception typically stimulates mingling and socializing, which can be ideal for a festive affair. In addition to the regular single table buffet, food stations are a nice variation that can add to the meal’s overall presentation.
Consider having your florist place a centerpiece that revolves around your decorating scheme in the buffet area.
Whether you opt for assigned seating or even a seat for each and every guest is your choice, but at least try to provide a suitable place for guests to eat. If your guest list is large, you may want to consider a different serving style, as the buffet line may back up, resulting in a group of hungry and impatient guests.
Typically you will save on the cost of waitstaff by presenting your meal buffet style. Dont forget to include tips for the Service Staff in your Budget. Again, costs depend almost entirely on what you choose to serve.
Family style simply means that servers bring out large bowls and platters of food, which are then placed on the tables for guests to pass and self-serve. It often feels like the holidays and creates a fun, family-oriented. It also helps guests get to know each other since they often help serve one another and chat while doing so.
Things to consider with family style service…
There are lots of additional platters, plates, and bowls that will need homes on the table once the food is brought out. This takes space away from your centerpieces and other fun table décor.
This is most likely a time where you’ll want to narrow down your main dish choices. Just because it’s family style, doesn’t mean you have to serve more options. Choose one or two proteins and a vegetarian option, like a beautiful Pasta. Add a big salad and a side like PNW 4 Potato Blend. If you get too many platters going on the table, it might get a little hectic.
You have fewer servers than a plated meal, however you do have to bring in Chefs to platter the food and there will be Runners as well which will incur extra charges.
At a cocktail or tapas reception, there is no full meal. Instead waiters circulate the room, offering trays of hors d’oeuvres to standing guests. This style of service is ideal for a cocktail reception, which is often a shorter duration than a full reception. These are excellent events for Corporate Events, Meetings etc.
This option is suitable for a late-afternoon or early-evening wedding reception. Serve at least six different appetizers for a two-hour reception and at least nine for a four-hour soiree. Augment passed-tray service by including a few of our Show Stopping Displays including our Mediterranean Antipasto Platter, or our Charceuterie Platter. Whatever you choose to serve, make sure it is something easily picked up with fingers or toothpicks. Overly messy items will inconvenience your guests.
If cost and time are major considerations in your event planning, then a passed tapas-style reception that consists entirely of cocktails and appetizers may be the perfect option for your Event budget. This style is typically the least stressful. If you’re considering a cash bar, we recommend going with a tapas-style reception instead. Would you ask guests to pay for a drink in your home? If not, then you should always say “no” to cash bars and a cocktail hour reception with small plates can help you fit an open bar into the budget. Since these events typically run for only two hours, in addition to savings on food and beverage – location, staffing, and other rental fees are also reduced in comparison to the other types of Service listed, and of course everything depends on your food selections.
In all Service considerations, remember to include Gratuity to the Staff in your budget (remember that for Plated and Family Style, there are more servers and more service so much like in Restaurants we recommend a 15% gratuity for Buffet 10%).