Buffet or Sit-down?
How to Choose
Buffet-style is a more casual way to serve a large group of guests. A sit-down meal is considered more elegant and may be more expensive.
The first decision with a reception meal is whether it will be buffet-style, sit-down or a combination of the two. However, nothing says you can't mix and match your service styles. For example, feel free to have waiters plate your first course in the kitchen and then serve your second course family-style at the table followed by a dessert buffet.
How about setting a beautiful buffet with guests casually seated at smaller tables or even on lounge-style furniture instead of the more typical round tables? Your reception should reflect who you are and how you live. After all, your guests are there to celebrate you.
If you decide to serve a buffet, serving the first course at the table can help minimize lines for the main course at the buffet. As plates for the first course are cleared table by table, it creates a natural staggering of times for guests to visit the buffet.
Try to avoid the look of a hotel Sunday brunch. Those "groaning board" buffets with dozens of dishes may look lavish, but you're not doing your guests any favors. It's better to select one main course and just a few side dishes to make a delicious meal.
If you do want to serve several entrée choices, such as chicken, beef and fish, be sure to place them at different buffet tables with the appropriate accompaniments. This will ensure guests dine on a well-thought-out menu.
Using smaller plates encourages guests to visit each station individually and means they will enjoy the dishes in appropriate combinations, as they were planned. Smaller buffets also allow guests to pass more quickly through the buffet line.
While buffets should not feature dozens of dishes, they should be filled with plenty of food. There's nothing more forlorn than a long buffet with three dishes on it. Keep your buffets smaller and be sure the food is arranged and presented abundantly (a feast for your eyes and belly!).
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