Plated Service or Buffet Service: Which One is Right for Your Wedding Reception

Aside from the wedding menu, one important part of planning before getting a catering service is deciding for the table service type you are going to have at your wedding reception.

Here are the things you need to know and to consider before deciding for it.

Plated service– is a service type where all your guests remain at their seats and each course of meal is prepared on individual plates and served to each guest on their respective tables.


This type of service is convenient, easier, and less hassle for your guests making your wedding reception more formal and elegant.

Plated service is organized, and each meal is sequentially served to everyone at the same time. Your guests can take their time eating instead of lining up for the food. They get to mingle and have more time to chat with other guests from their table, but your guests have to understand the waiting time for each course of meal. Normally, each meal course is served 10 minutes after the previous one.

You can make sure that everyone is served fairly. No fear for running out of food.


A meal for plated service is exactly counted per guest. It has a fixed amount of serving and has fewer dishes.  Usually, it is limited to 1 soup and salad, 1 main course and a dessert. It limits the food choices for your guests, since they are only served of everything that’s available.

If you are hiring an off-premise caterer who has their kitchen at a different place and transports the food to a venue where the wedding is, preparation of food is more complicated and risky for them.  Each food requires on-the-spot garnishing and specific serving measurement on each plate is needed. It also requires them to bring proper equipment at the wedding venue like an oven or a heating cabinet to maintain the food quality. Thus, your venue should have a big pantry.


This type of service is expensive that can go up to 2, 000 per guest. Aside from a high demand on food preparation and presentation, a plated service requires more staff and servers to assist your guests. It has a ratio of 1-2 waiters per table plus food attendants to prepare the food. If you are going for a plated service, expect that you’ll be spending more on the staff and food presentation rather than the amount of food that will be served.

It is ideal for you…

If you are particular on having a more formal reception, an elegant type of service and a more artistic food presentation then plated type of service is best for you.

Buffet Service- is a type of service where foods are arrange on tables in a specific area of the venue. This is a self-service type where guests need to get their food on their own.


Your guests have more food choices and will be free to get anything among the options. Guests can also get food multiple times for as long as there are foods available. They can mingle with other guests from other tables too.

Foods in a buffet style have a complete set of meal courses. You may opt to have an appetizer bar (5 choice of appetizers), soup, salad, 4 main courses (fish, pork, chicken and beef), vegetable dish, pasta bar (2 kinds of pasta and sauce), plain & special rice, and dessert bar (8 kinds of dessert). You can also add several food stations (Crepe station, Quesadilla station, Pasta station and Mongolian grill station) making it more flexible and adaptive to any type of guests especially to those who have dietary and health issues. It fits and pleases everyone.


The downside of a buffet style is the long lines it could form upon getting meals especially if your guests are more than a hundred. It could create noise and chaos since everyone will be wandering around the area to get different foods.

Having your guests walk around and bring plates on their table can make it less organized and less formal. Long lines can also waste the time of your guests instead of spending it eating their food.

You don’t have to worry though about the VIP’s and senior citizens because these type of guests are exempted from the long lines and are served on plated type even if you are going for a buffet style.

Since guests are free to get whatever they want, some guests tend to get more of what they like and less of what they don’t, and it leads to less amount of certain food for other guests.


Since this is a self-service, fewer staff and less food presentation are needed, making it more affordable than a plated type of service. You get to pay more for the amount food rather than the staff and food presentation charges. You can make most out of your budget by allotting it for more food on your wedding menu.

It is ideal for you…

If you don’t mind a less formal wedding reception and want to have more food out of your budget, then this type of service is right for you.

Filipinos love to eat that’s why it is the common choice of many clients. Buffet style presents a lot of food. The more food you have, the happier your guests will be.

It is important to know how each kind of service will affect your wedding reception, so that you already have a vision of how it would look like especially during eating time.

Being aware of the pros, cons and cost of each catering service type will help you figure out which one can please you and your guests more. It will help you identify which service type is right for your wedding reception.

We hope this article helps you distinguish the right service type for your wedding reception. We would also love to assist you in estimating your budget well for your catering service.  Check this blog, How Much to Set Aside for Your Catering Service, to get your free guide on your catering service budget.

Co-authors: Maricar Alcobendas, Sales supervisor at Hizon’s Restaurant & Catering Services,Inc. | Irin Rae Hurtado, Sales Supervisor at Hizon’s Restaurant & Catering Services,Inc.| Simon Dayrit, Research & Development Chef at Hizon’s Restaurant & Catering Services,Inc.

About Hizon's Catering

For more than 30 years , we have been blessed to be a part of thousands of weddings, debuts, kids parties, corporate events, and private celebrations. In all these events, we make sure we are not only your caterer but more importantly your partner in every step from conceptualizing, budgeting and planning up to final execution.

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