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Seated or Buffet: Which is Best for Your Wedding

You’ve spent months, many years, planning for the Big Day. If you’re like most engaged couples, you’ve invited a few too many guests to your wedding. You’ve spent an inordinate amount of time sweating even the tiniest details to ensure everything is perfect. On that day, after you’ve walked down the aisle and said your “I do’s,” comes your guests’ favorite highlight of any wedding—the reception.

Choosing whether to sit down and enjoy a more traditional meal or mix things up with the flexibility of a buffet is an important decision and will affect how your wedding will flow. In this blog post, we break down the pros and cons of each as they relate to flexibility, food quality and choice, cost, and crowd control based on our 61 years of New Orleans catering experience at Messina’s Catering and Events.

Think About Your Photos

When you look at pictures twenty years from now, do you want your guests toasting and smiling over lighted candles around tables adorned with elaborate flower centerpieces? Or do you want the freedom to have your photographers move about your wedding, grabbing more random shots as your guests mingle within the space? While this might sound like you’re jumping the gun a bit, it’s important to visualize what your dream wedding should look like. (Zolpidem)

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Your Special Event Venue’s Space May Help You Decide

Trying to squeeze too many tables in an intimate space better suited for a cocktail party and passed hors d’oeuvres can make the event far more stressful than it has to be. If you’re expecting more than 100 guests and are planning a sit-down dinner service, your choice of venue can often dictate precisely how many people you can invite in the first place. You’ll also want to consider who’s on your guest list and how they will enjoy your chosen venue. While every couple wants the wedding that fits them best, it’s also a common courtesy to imagine how much they will feel comfortable. For instance, if your guest list contains a lot of young families, you’ll probably want to avoid certain settings and décor that aren’t kid-friendly.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

The Buffet Dinner

While the buffet might get a bad rap and bring up images of sneeze guards and long lines when done right, a good New Orleans wedding caterer like Messina’s can make it both beautiful and delicious to consume.

Buffets offer much more menu flexibility than seated dinners. Guests can pick and choose what they want and sample small amounts of different dishes. They also can provide excellent food quality and choices and can be mixed up for the ultimate impact with live chef action stations and themed stations.

Include a chef’s carving station to wow and fill guests with various meat selections. Some of Messina’s carving stations include Beef Tenderloin, Southern Fried Turkey, and Root Beer Glazed Chisesi Ham, which far surpass your average buffet. Buffets can also be easier on the budget as they require less food service staff and overall planning.

Consider choosing a selection of hors d’oeuvres as a five-course meal, without all the fuss but all the fun. Include equal protein-heavy options, starches, veggies, fruits, and hot and cold items. (greenroom-oc) Hors d’oeuvres options are essentially limitless, so make your selections based on criteria such as time of day, theme, budget, headcount, and style to determine your selections.

The biggest con to buffet dinners can be crowd control. Nobody likes waiting in line, especially in their wedding guest finery. Too often, guests will swarm the buffet and create bottlenecks in areas that require a little longer to plate their choices. This wrinkle can make for some unhappy guests in your pictures. Experienced caterers like Messina’s can help evaluate your special event venue space and work to alleviate this with strategically placed food stations. Utilize different nooks and areas throughout your venue to display food artfully. Spreading the food out helps avoid lines and encourages people to spread out around the venue. Displayed fares are where selections like Messina’s famous raw bar, crawfish cornucopias, and marinated crab claws shine! Colorful fruit, cheeses, and tapenade also make for ideal displayed apps.

new orleans wedding buffet

The Seated Dinner

A seated dinner is the wedding standard. It allows you to add unique features and personal touches. There is a built-in elegance factor and a sense of formality fitting to such a monumental day. Execution is the key to maintaining temperature and quality with plated seated dinners. Some caterers suggest serving each table family style to encourage more interaction among guests and relieve waiting tables while others are already chowing down. Seated dinners can allow everyone a little respite during a day or night of celebration. Seated guests are also a captive audience and a great choice if you’re planning for lots of toasts to the happy couple.

In most cases, seated dinner service is the most expensive wedding catering option. It requires more planning, more staff to pull it off, and often more lavish menu options like steak or seafood.

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Trust an Experienced New Orleans Wedding Caterer to Help Guide Your Choice

At Messina’s Catering and Events, we can help you decide which type of food service is right for you, your venue, and your guest list. Whether you choose to go with a seated or buffet menu, New Orleans caterers like Messina’s are experts in preparing and displaying visually stunning dishes. We can also help with venue selection and the best places within those venues for the best flow and optimal natural light and ambiance. Visit to learn more.

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