Plated-Style Wedding Meal Service: What you need to know


What is the plated-style of dinner service?

The plated, sit-down dinner is generally regarded as the most popular of any wedding dinner service available. Typically guests are seated at an assigned table and the meal is served directly at the table by the wait staff. What follows is a three- to four-course meal that generally includes an appetizer, a salad, an entree, and a dessert. Most wedding caterers give guests a choice of two to three entrees, so your guests can pre-select their preference when they return their RSVP.


Why choose plated-style?

The style of dinner service you choose will ultimately be informed by the type of event you are staging and the atmosphere you wish to create. There is no one-size fits all style of meal service. With that in mind, here are a few reasons to love the plated-style of serving.

The Height of Sophistication

The plated-style meal service brings a level of elegance or sophistication to any wedding reception. This style is ideal if you prefer a more posh (upscale) celebration. Guests will be served by an attentive wait staff all at the same time. This reduces wait times and helps minimize irritability from those unreasonably impatient guests.

Avoid Long Lines

As opposed to the buffet-style, your guests will not have to navigate those long lines to the buffet table. Avoiding the lines and the need to retrieve your food can be less stressful to your well-dressed guests. It also speeds up the dinner service or allows you to utilize the time in between courses.

Allows Flexibility with the Reception Itinerary

Selecting a plated dinner service means that you’ll be able to plan certain reception activities – such as toasts and dances – in between courses. This keeps the festivities moving along nicely without a question as to the timing of any one activity.


Things to Consider

As with any decision you will make when planning a wedding and reception, there are a few things to consider before deciding if the plated-style service is right for you.

Budgetary Concerns

You may want a posh reception, but you don’t have a posh budget. A full 3-course plated dinner service may not be the right choice for you. Depending on your serving choices and the number of servers required to carry out the service, plated-style is usually the more expensive choice. With that in mind, if food is a higher priority than, say, decorations, you can make some trade-offs that will help you offset the cost.

Limited Menu

Dietary restrictions are becoming more prevalent than in years past. With this style of service, caterers only allow for a few entree selections. Because the menu is preset, meal options are more limited – making it difficult to accommodate guests with those specific dietary requests. We recommend that you consider the pros and cons of this style if you have a guest list replete with kids and/or picky eaters. You may end up with a large quantity of uneaten entrees.

Increased Foot Traffic

With the wait staff in play carrying large trays of food, this may make it difficult for your wedding guests to get up and move around during the dinner service. This may not be a major consideration if you have a large reception hall, but if space is already limited, this could create a potential challenge. Bottom line: consider the reception space when deciding what service style may be best for you.


Final Thoughts

The style of dinner service you choose will be decided by the type of event and the atmosphere and ambiance you want to create. Of course, budgetary concerns will also figure into any final decisions, and they must be weighed accordingly. Ultimately though, it’s your big day! You will not be able to satisfy every person’s request, no matter how much you would like to. There will be those guests that complain no matter what you choose. So choose a serving style that best suits your ideal reception and enjoy the party. If you still can’t choose, see our previous post on family-style meal service and buffet-style meal service.