Buffet, family sharing or a formal sit down: Which wedding feast is for you?

Getting married is a wonderful experience, but the big wedding meal you’ll be having with all your special guests is the most important part, right? Right. Whether you’re catering for picky eaters or those with dietary requirements such as low cholesterol, vegan or sugar free dishes, there’s plenty of choice for how to present the feast. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of three options: sit down meals, family style settings and buffets.

Sit down meal

Traditionally the sit down meal involves three courses – appetiser, entrée and dessert – however, for an extra touch you could add a small amuse bouche at the start. Guests will usually be given a couple of choices for each course, and will be asked to pick their favourite before the day.

One of the benefits of a sit down meal is that you’ll know exactly how much food is required, and you will be given a price per head, making it more straightforward to control the budget. Also, it’s easier to manage the guests, as they’ll all be sitting down and receiving their food at the same time. On the downside, as food choices will be limited, it’s difficult to please everyone. However, you will be able to ask your caterer to provide special dishes for those who are following gluten free or low cholesterol diets.

Table Setting - Matthew Oliver

Photo credit: Ben Yew Photography

Family style

If you want a less formal approach but still want your guests seated together, family style is a great option. This involves all the dishes being set out on the table and everyone helping themselves to what they want. This style can be cheaper than sit down meals, as typically fewer waiting staff are required.

Family style is perfect for picky eaters too, and it’s easier to satisfy different requirements, like those who are vegan or want low cholesterol dishes. The interaction is good fun and gets people talking to each other. The main issue is that it’s harder to organise portion control, so you run the risk of having to pay for food that goes uneaten.  

Family Style Wedding - Matthew Oliver

Photo credit: Matt Willis Photography


Buffets are often seen as the most informal and cheapest approach, and one that can make a lot of sense. If you want a really casual meal where guests can mingle and nibble as they go, buffets are perfect. You’ll be ordering a wide range of dishes too, so there will be something for everyone.

The negative side of a buffet is it can lead to a bit of chaos, as guests wander off if they don’t have any formalised arrangement about where they’re sitting. This can be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to speeches. You’ll also need to pay close attention to additional costs. For example, make sure you find out if you have to pay extra for linens and serving dishes.

Scone Tower Wedding - Matthew Oliver

Photo credit: Hayley Savage Photography

So there you have it: three of the most popular wedding menu options, and there’s plenty you can do to personalise each one. Do you want your friends to mingle? Pick the buffet. Do you want to offer your friends a fancy diner? Organise a sit down meal. Whichever option suits you and your special guests best, make sure it’s organised well so that you can go on and do what you’re meant to do: enjoy your big day to the fullest!

By: Ame Rukwongsa, Mavens of London