Your Event Catering: Plated, Buffet, or Stations?

Most people can’t accurately, honestly describe me without somehow describing my love for food and a nice, cold beer. I associate the delicious pairing of food & drink with a cozy evening in, a festive night out with friends, and as a major element to thoughtfully prepare when hosting a get-together. Most of my social plans and hobbies revolve around trying new foods while pairing them with craft beer or wine… thus my hobby of running & exercising follows 😉

So you can imagine, as I’m planning my wedding, the biggest decision I’ve dealt with so far is how to make my catering selections.  We had the pleasure of tasting and confirming the local Wilmington catering company, Culinary Creations, (owner Marcus Buric) as our caterer, but the conversation still remains: Stations? Buffet? Plated Meal? Which one will showcase the food and beverage selections in a way that is best for my event?

I’ve dissected the elements that should be considered for each option for those of you who are struggling with a similar decision:

Plated Meal:

This option is typically identified as the most formal, elegant way to serve dinner at the reception, and is a beautiful way to present the food. Having a plated meal also ensures that all guests will stay on a relatively structured timeline for the event, leaving plenty of room for all event activities, since all of the food will be served at the same time. However, when considering this option for your wedding, keep your guests thoughtfully in mind. Between gluten-free eaters, allergies, and picky guests, a plated dinner option has the potential to offer a few restrictions in the eyes (and stomaches) of your attendees. If this selection is chosen, you’ll want to ensure that the courses of food you select will cater to every type of palate.

 Bottom Line: If you are envisioning an elegant event, this is likely the most straight-forward way to achieve that.Image


A buffet allows for many different foods to be offered to your guests; keeping the food presentation simple and fresh. As your guests make their way through the buffet line, they can choose from a variety of foods as often as they’d like. Although the lengthy line may seem like a hassle, if you allow your catering staff to manage your guests in a staggered table dismissal to the buffet, then the problem will be eliminated. Again, you’ll just want to ensure that you offer smart, thoughtful choices for your guests’ eating preferences. Also, ensure that you build in plenty of time for dinner in your event agenda since many guests will be eating at different times.

Bottom Line: If you want to offer a variety of food options and keep dinner service relatively informal, then this is a great option.


This is what I consider “the happy medium” of the three options. Stations are a great way to achieve a fun presentation and promote a night full of mingling.  Each station will offer an organized food theme, giving your guests the opportunity to graze different flavors all evening.  Guests have the flexibility to “grab-and-go” while they socialize, keeping the atmosphere casual yet polished. Although rental costs can quickly add up with this option, it can achieve a semi-formal plated option that guests can have throughout the night. However, keep in mind that stations work best in large, open spaces. When drafting the floor plan, make sure that your venues space will allow room for free-flowing traffic at each station.

Bottom Line: If you want a mix between casual and elegant dining while promoting a social atmosphere, this option is a good fit.


My main piece of advice for this topic is to select a caterer that is just as passionate and invested in the success of the event as you are.  As a wedding professional, they should elevate your vision for the wedding and create something spectacular that aligns with the overall theme!

Cheers to that!



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