When planning your event, one of the most important things to consider is how you want it to be served. While many party planners spend lots of time thinking about the menu itself, the type of food service can be just as important in planning the flow of the event and setting the tone for the type of party you have in mind. Read more to find out about the different types of catering styles that best suit your event.
This is a system in which food is placed in a public area where guests can serve themselves. Usually, the arrangement ranges from appetizers to desserts. After they get their food, the guests return to their designated seating area. The buffet service can be assisted or unassisted. The assisted buffet service includes waiters who are available to take your order and present the food while guests are seated. The more formal events tend to lean toward the assisted buffet style. The unassisted system is the buffet style in which guests serve themselves and is suited for a more casual feel.
Pro: Can offer guests a large variety of food in sizable amounts. Each person can serve what they want, so there is often less wasted food.
Con: Can sometimes get hectic if too many people “rush” the buffet at once, or linger around the food.
This is a service in which appetizers are served buffet-style on a table. The guests typically stand and serve themselves. It is uncommon to sit down to eat. This service style is sometimes referred to as a “walk and talk.” Most of the food is known as “finger food”. The reception service is most commonly used at short meetings and birthday parties.
Pro: Usually the least expensive. Works well for networking and business gatherings where you want to encourage people to walk around.
Con: Guests may leave the event hungry because of just eating “finger foods”
At a plated meal service, guests are seated at tables and served by a waiter. This service is usually intended for more formal events. Plated meals are the most efficient catering style and work great for all types of events. Plated meals are served two ways: guests are given options for their entrée, or you can serve a single-entree meal. If you choose to have a single-entree, it is best to choose a meal that appeals to the majority of guests. Guest factors will depend on the cost of this service. There are typically 3 courses that are served: soup/salad, entree, and dessert.
Pros: Can be more enjoyable for guests because they are being waited on
Cons: Typically have less variety in food; most expensive; does not encourage socializing, as people are confined to their tables.
There are many types of catering styles, but choosing the right style for your event is completely up to you! Your budget as well as the type of mood you want to set for your event will probably be the two most important factors in helping you determine what type of food service to employ. And don’t be afraid to leave it to the pros! An experienced party planner or caterer will be able guide you and help you decide what’s right for you and your guests. Bon appetit!