Do not do a buffet at your wedding. I know you won’t listen to me, and you’ll still do a buffet, so many of you do it. Everyone gets a little confused when I say this because first of all their caterers almost always try to sell them on a buffet package up front – because it’s easy and what’s usually done at the venue, blah, blah, blah. Or my favorite excuse, but every wedding I’ve been to had a buffet. I’m sure you really enjoyed the experience, too. No!
No guest in the history of ever has ever enjoyed a wedding buffet line. And if they say they have they are just being kind. Buffets are what you do at a conference ballroom luncheon, or in Vegas, or while your visiting grandma. Or in a hospital, or back in elementary school in the caffeteria. They are not classy, rarely awesome, and usually something you manage to avoid every other day of your life – so why do it at your very awesome, classy, expensive wedding? With that we’d like to discuss one of our favorite trends of 2019 – Family Style Dinners!
There are several amazing restaurants in Portland. And hands down Ned Ludd is on the top five list of anyone who’s been to Ned Ludd from anywhere on the planet. So if you go with a group, do order the Family style meal and enjoy every second of your night.
Two of my couples did family style last year. One was at Ned Ludd’s Elder Hall, the other was a pizza wedding at a private residence vineyard and farm, both were amazing!
One of the many great pluses of serving family style meals, your guests get served a meal Instead of feeling like they’re back in school at lunch, hoping there will still be fish sticks left when you get to the front of the line. Think of Thanksgiving, people are chatting and passing and happy and not a single person is waiting in a line. There are options and choices still, but they’re all right here – in reach. Your table decor becomes more about being practical and sparse, which allows you to spend on fewer more beautiful pieces for your centerpieces.
Family style may cost a little more per person than plated, guess what so do many buffets. Basically, if you are having a casual bbq style meal on a farm, go ahead do a buffet, because it fits the food being served. But do not convince yourself that you are having a fancy wedding with great food AND a buffet.
If your wedding is in a ballroom, anything less than plated, is just strange. If your venue is a fine vineyard with an amazing offering of wines, why would you think a buffet is an acceptable meal? If your wedding is industrial and modern, why would you bring in a stuffy old fashioned buffet? When I think industrial and modern I think amazing farm to table local family-style experiences that will make your guests remember their meal.
What about if your friends get hungry later? First there is the dessert table, because everyone is over serving a giant cake. That can be set up as a mini self serve station. In fact stations and food carts are an awesome alternative to a buffet. You can and should absolutely take advantage of a large venue by offering multiple genres of food in stations or at different carts as opposed to a traditional seated dinner. This option is most appropriate at farm/outdoor or very large open plan industrial venues.
Small stations are an awesome addition to any wedding for cocktail hours, early daytime weddings, brunch weddings, and late reception snack options. If you’re having an after-party or meet up at a favorite bar or club after the reception, make sure you offer a snack (passed or at a small station) near the end of the reception. Plan on having enough for only about a third of your total guest list because not everyone will need or want a snack. And don’t worry about options and variety, some sliders or corn dogs and popcorn is good enough.