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dinner woes!!!

Posted by martinsbride (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 18, 05 at 16:55

my fiance and i are trying to decide if we should have a sit down dinner or a buffet... we know that since i'm not compromising the evening thing that we will be expected to serve dinner... i would really like an elegant sit down dinner whereas my fiance believes that we should save money wherever we can and that a buffet would be cheaper. i'm just wondering, how many of you had sit down dinners and how much did it run you? same for those of you who had buffets, how much? do you guys think that it would really be cheaper to have a buffet? or could i splurge on this one thing?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: dinner woes!!!

Please don't feel that if you don't serve a meal, you are "compromising the evening"! As was discussed on another string, all you have to do is avoid a meal hour (i.e., start at 8 pm or 2 pm) and then you can serve just desserts or just appetizers or even just cake and champagne and/or coffee. Be sure that the invitation says something like "desserts and dancing to follow" so people will know that there is no meal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a no-meal wedding, though.

If you do want a full meal, be aware that buffets are not always cheaper than sit-down dinners, as many people assume. Usually they require more food, especially if you are offering several choices. And they require more work than you might think. I don't think it would be very helpful to you for all of us to try to remember what we spent, as menus, venues, and regions vary so much: a hot dog buffet in a back yard at home and a lobster buffet at the Ritz Carlton in Boston are both buffets, but sure cost different amounts.

Instead of breaking your heads trying to figure this out in the abstract, talk to your caterer and tell him/her your budget, then ask for suggestions for both buffet and seated dinner in that price range. That's the caterer's job, so let him/her figure it out.

We have done events both sit-down and buffet and have attended many of each. They are both fine. There was a string on this a while back, and I seem to recall that more people preferred a sit-down meal (if you are having a full meal, not if you are just having light refreshments up to "heavy hors doeuvres"). Several people commented that they find it difficult and messy to go through a buffet in party clothes and high heels. Others felt it wasn't especially sanitary. Many people hate standing in line, period. When we did it, I found that a buffet made it harder to control the pace of the evening. My personal preference is for sit-down table service for a full meal, and buffet for "snackier" refreshments. But I have fun either way!

Enjoy your planning.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

As an event planner I can tell you that there isn't much difference in cost between having a buffet and a sit-down dinner no matter what you serve. With a sit-down dinner less food is needed, since everyone gets one plate of pre-chosen items, but the labor costs are higher. Staff must be in the kitchen plating the food while others serve it.

With a buffet you get more food and more variety of food with less labor. Therefore, the trade off is between spending money on labor and spending money on food. The benefit of a buffet is that there is more mingling and interact between the guests than occurs at a sit-down dinner.

Your guests will enjoy either option. If you have a buffet, you can still have the tables set with glassware and silverware so that it looks elegant.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

Another thing to consider is the number of guests...if you have a large number of guests, it may be difficult to get them all through a buffet line in an acceptable length of time.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

i'm having 150 guests. the reason i asked about the prices is i just wanted to get an idea of the difference. i'm well aware that prices change over time and they are different in each area of the country... i'm really wondering what's the average amount spent per plate at a sit down dinner? but as someone already said, there's not much price difference... so i guess now it's just a matter of opinion...


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RE: dinner woes!!!

Personally, I like buffets. It gives me another opportunity to get up and mingle and meet guests from the "other side of the room." I also like to choose my foods.

Just my 2 cents.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

I agree with Dian57. I like the variety offered with a buffet. If time is an issue, request that it be set up with 2 sides. Another option is to have food stations if you have the space. This works really well and cuts down on the time spent in line. You can have a station for salads, one for the meat items, and another for the vegetables, rolls, etc.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

Buffets cost more than sit down dinners we were told at our location. They have to keep refreshing the food on the buffet and I suspect people fill their plates more when there's a buffet. So we are having a sit down dinner.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

i really like the sit down dinner idea... just trying to change fiance's mind...


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RE: dinner woes!!!

I think 150 sounds like a lot for buffet. We did buffet once -- really 3 stations -- with about 200 people, and it worked okay, but I wouldn't do it again. Too much hassle.

As for mingling, that might be an issue if you don't have a cocktail hour first, but if you do, I wouldn't worry about it. Come to think of it, if there is a cocktail hour, or any other reception period before the meal where people are will have been on their feet (some in high heels) for a while, that would also counsel against buffet in my mind. You don't want to wear out Grandma, and you don't want the young people ready to sit instead of dance!


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RE: dinner woes!!!

DH and I strongly preferred a sit-down meal. The food cost was slightly less than a buffet, and the staff cost slightly higher (we were using a caterer, not a hotel). We preferred that our guests were served rather than getting up and getting in line.

We offered only one entree, and avoided things that are common allergies or are religiously objectionable to some people (i.e., shellfish and pork). We provided an alternative entree for the few guests we knew to be vegetarians.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

Yes-both pros & cons to the sit down/buffet issue. Having been not only a wedding planner, but also a caterer,cake decorator, hostess for weddings for 30 years-maybe this would help you decide. If you have an agreeable caterer...ask if you could have a multiple choice of 3 dinner entrees-beef, chicken and fish.
Then when you send out reservations..insert a dinner card selection for them to return with their RSVP. That way-the caterer can estimate how many of each selection they need to have, plus a few extra of each. Then at the reception-at the hall entry..have a table of 'tickets'-in 3 colors-one for each entree. Bold print FISH and the person's name at the top-these would then be placed at the top of their place setting for the servers to plainly see.
Although many won't admit it? Some caterers when doing a buffet-will stuff the plate charge per person, to YOU-then they make an overabundance of food & use for another event! These are caterers who tell you that you don't get to have the buffet items left to either take home or place on a side table for munching later that evening for your guests. Instead-they whisk it away! If you have 200+ guests attending, I'd definitely insist that there be TWO buffet tables, so 4 lines of guests can quickly use the buffet. With this set up-=it should only take 30 min for all to get thru the lines. I always served the Bridal & Parents' tables-regardless.
Just a little input for you to ponder.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

"i really like the sit down dinner idea... just trying to change fiance's mind... "

1. What is it about the buffet that he likes or the sit down that he doesn't like? It might be easier if you can directly address his concerns.

2. How much do you care and how many things regarding the wedding are being done in a way he would prefer, but you would not? Acquiescence on this aspect of the wedding celebration by either one of you might be a good barganing tool for some other aspect you don't agree upon.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

duckie, you speak as if you think that i don't really care what he wants. i'll have you know that he is paying for the wedding and this situation is quite the reverse of what you percieved. he chose the invitations, dictated the colors, decided the place, the when, where, and who... decided how many guests we would be inviting and i think that since it's my wedding too, we should do at least one thing that i've wanted. and i'm sorry if you think that it's wrong that i'm not willing to compromise here, but i've been a doormat for the rest of the planning and i would just like to have something my way on my wedding day...


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RE: dinner woes!!!

Oh, martinsbride, I am so sorry to hear you have been feeling like a doormat for virtually the entirety of the wedding planning. For your fiance to plan the wedding, with virtually no decisions from you, must be heartwrenching. You have my sympathies.

By no means do I feel it is wrong for you to have simply one thing you want on your wedding day.


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I can't believe you've put up with this! This wedding is for the both of you, not just him. You both should have had a say in what is decided. I think you two have a lot of talking to do before you go through with this wedding.


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it's not that i mind very much. i still get to choose my gown, it has been really stress free for me (as he's handling everything) but yeah. i'd always assumed that i'd be planning my wedding. since i was a little girl. he's a take charge kind of guy... that's one of the reasons i fell in love with him


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That's great that he is a "take charge kind of guy", nothing wrong with that in the right scenario. Planning a wedding is not that type of scenario. Planning a wedding is suppose to be between the bride and groom and it is suppose to be stressful and fun. My daughter is getting married in October, she and her fiance have picked out everything! It is called 'compromise' not 'dictatorship'. If the only thing you can choose is the reception, than I would go with the most expensive!! Good luck sweetheart. God bless.


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Who cares if he is paying for it, you should be negotiating on every decision, since it is your wedding too.

"he chose the invitations, dictated the colors, decided the place, the when, where, and who... decided how many guests we would be inviting and i think that since it's my wedding too, we should do at least one thing that i've wanted. and i'm sorry if you think that it's wrong that i'm not willing to compromise here, but i've been a doormat for the rest of the planning"

I know this is none of my business, but I would hate for you to be the doormat for the rest of your life. Good luck to you.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

sorry about my previous post, I was upset for you, and I should have kept my mouth shut.


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RE: dinner woes!!!

i am a doormat. have been for most of my life. and i usually don't mind. i'm very agreeable and hate conflict so i've been known to just go along with everyone else's plans no matter what i feel. i'm starting to learn to stand up for myself, but there are some things that i just don't feel like fighting over and what flavor cake we have at our wedding just dosen't seem like a good use of time to me. all i have to do is say okay dear and we're on to the next thing. i love my fiance and i couldn't picture my life without him and if he wants to plan this wedding (strange as it seems to all of you) then i'm going to let him. and if he wants to take care of me for the rest of my life then you can be sure that i'm going to let him (although i'm quite sure i can take care of myself... i think). he's been there for me when nobody else has been. he was the one who, when my grandpa died, sorted through my emotional wreckage and helped me pick up the pieces and make peace with it... he loves me. he's not abusing me or our relationship, he's just being himself. he is my rock... all i wanted from you guys was an answer to the question do you prefer a sit down dinner or a buffet and what are the pros and cons of each? is there much difference in cost? that's it. i did not request a full analysis of my relationship based on what you know of one situation. our relationship is fine. we are conflicting over what sort of dinner to serve at our reception, let's not go into full meltdown people, i think that our future is secure. it's dinner!!! so if you please, i would not like my relationship to be judged anymore by anyone, much less people who don't know the whole story or the people involved. this site sucks. maybe i'll just ask my parents what they think. thanks for the advice, ya'll, but i think i'll be moving right along now!


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RE: dinner woes!!!

jeez martinsbride. don't you think that was a little harsh? they were just trying to help.

i like a sit down dinner. the price is about the same but a sit down is kind of like an extra service to your guests. they will be love that they dont' have to wait in line to get their food!


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