Should I Choose a Buffet Format for My Catered Event?

There are a lot of detailed decisions that go into every catered event – but there are also a few “big” decisions that really set the tone. For example, your menu choices are a huge aspect of your event. Choosing the right menu can make all the difference. Ideally, you’ll chose something that fits together well, is appropriate for the season, and works perfectly with the theme or style of your event. There have been many catered events where mistakes were made during the choosing of the menu, and the final outcome was not as good as it could have been.

Venue is another crucial aspect of any catered event. Most of us have attended catered events where the venue seemed perfect – but we’ve also been to events where it seemed like a much more appropriate venue could have been chosen. The importance of venue is difficult to overstate – as caterers who have years of experience working many different types of events, we know this very well!

Yet another central question for any catered event is how the food is actually going to be served. Basically, there are two options. You can have table service, in which waiters serve individual tables (like at a restaurant), or you can have a buffet format in which the food is stationary, and people form a line to serve themselves.

Now obviously, these are two very different experiences for guests at your event – and you need to make the right decision as to which format is a better fit.

Generally speaking, the more formal your event, the better the argument for table service. For example, a lavish wedding reception will probably not be the right setting for a buffet. Proper table service is the only way to really approach an event like that. Certain corporate events – such as the kind where speeches are given – are in the same boat. Table service just makes more sense. It also gives the event a sheen of formality and luxury.

On the other hand, table service would be awkward at an outdoor barbeque event to celebrate a graduation or birthday. The buffet format is much more suitable to events like these. Not only does it reinforce the casual nature of the event, it allows people to mingle freely and get food when they feel like eating.

Budget is the other consideration that deserves mentioning. As you can imagine, table services costs more than setting up a buffet line – this is due to the extra staff and effort involved in running table service. It’s still, however, important to choose the format that best fits the spirit of your event.

Your catering questions answered

One of the marks of a great professional caterer is the ability to communicate effectively with potential clients, answer questions, and help people make more information decisions – whether or not the catering company in question is actually hired for the job. Ask a reputable caterer in your area for detailed cost estimates on buffet service vs. table service, and you should receive valuable insight on which format is right for your event and your budget.