It’s happened countless times. Couples come in with their minds set on the type of menu the want for their wedding, and then walk away from a tasting with a totally different decision. Often people don’t understand how many catering styles there are to choose from. We want to educate all couples on the types of reception styles. Keep reading for price points and what works best with different types of crowds!



Buffet-style is one of the most common catering styles. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the cheapest option available for a wedding. To be honest, there is not one specific style that is the “cheapest”. It really comes down to the menu selection. Regardless of the type of food on a buffet, the caterer has to ensure there is enough available for those guests who like to overfill their plate and come back for seconds. The caterer has to to order more of food than they would for some of the other options available.

Buffets are great for a smaller guest count. If you have more than 150 guests, we would recommend having two buffet lines available. This will help keep down dinner service time, allowing you more time to party!

Seated Served

A seated served meal is the best way to control food cost, but it can increase staffing costs. Caterers will know exactly how many plates are going out and the portions on each plate. Don’t worry – they always order extra just in case there are last minute additions.  Keep in mind: these are not numbers you will necessarily see when quoting out caterers, but are built into the cost.

One thing to note: a buffet generally has 1-2 main course options, where as, a seated may only have one. You can give your guests options for their protein, just remember you will need to track their meal selection and report it to the caterer. But wait, there’s more! You can opt to do a dual entree so each guest will get both proteins on one plate, plus two sides. Dual entree will increase your per person cost above a traditional single protein or buffet.

Served is a great option when the space is a little tighter, making it hard for guests to get up and walk to the buffet line. It’s also an added layer of service, creating an elevated guest experience.


Stations have become popular in recent years and we love them! We just wish guests understood it a little better. Generally, there are anywhere from 3-5 stations at an event. Stations have small plates and usually a main course and a small side to compliment the dish. The idea is to grab a plate, sit down, enjoy it, then get up and get the second one after. What we see happen: guests try to carry four plates at a time. Then they will sit down with all four in front of them. Even better than trying to juggle so many plates is when a guest tries to fill a small appetizer plate with a salad, two proteins and their accompaniments. The idea of stations is to get guests up and moving, encouraging them to mix and mingle.


If you’re looking for a fun and relaxed atmosphere, a cocktail reception is the way to go! Most clients who opt for this type of reception love delicate finger foods, a diverse menu, and want to provide an interactive experience for the guests. Depending on the caterer, this can be on the more costly end of the spectrum. You must provide enough food for your guests to feel satisfied, lots of service to pass the food and clean up behind the excess number of napkins and plates each of the bites come on.

No matter which one of the catering styles you feel best fits you as a couple, we highly recommend (read: insist) you have enough seats for all of your guests. We know most millennial couples want guests to get up and move, versus planting themselves down for the night. As you probably know from being a guest yourself, everyone loves to have a home base. This is the place you can drop your things off, place a drink down when you need to dance or use the restroom, or simply give your feet a break. The guest experience is everything, so you want to provide the best for yours!

catering styles
Photo courtesy of Alysia & Jayson Photography