There are basically several options when speaking of catering for your wedding reception. One of the most popular options these days is a buffet. Not only this kind of service offers more selections to guests but this can turn out a little less expensive than the traditional sit-down dinner. Read on further and discover how much does a wedding buffet cost today.
The Cost of a Wedding Buffet
The typical American wedding buffet prices include several items on the list including green salad, bread or rolls, fruits, cheese, and hot dishes. The cost, however, of a wedding buffet varies nowadays. The price per guest can start from $20 to $8 but the price may go lower or higher depending on several options such as the buffet menu. One thing, though, is certain here and that is the fact that a wedding buffet can usually give the bride and groom a savings of $10 to $20 or more per guest as compared to a plated dinner for the reception.
What Affects the Price of a Wedding Buffet?
The following are some of the usual factors that may directly affect the cost of a wedding buffet:
Menu. What foods are you trying to serve on the buffet table? The more dishes you want, the higher the cost will be usually. The same is true for the kind of foods you serve on the table. Crabs, shrimps, and lobsters will for sure make the cost of the buffet more expensive.
Stations. What stations are you planning to get for the buffet? You have several options such as pasta, cheese, candy, dessert, meat, and the like. The more you choose and the more expensive your choices are, the higher the cost of the wedding buffet will be.
Guests. It follows that when you have a few guests, you’ll spend less on the cost of the wedding buffet as compared to having 200 people or more in the house.
Location. Wedding buffet costs can be higher in large cities. The same kind of dishes for the same number of people may be cheaper in small towns as compared to urban places. In fact, in some places, a sit-down dinner is cheaper as compared to a buffet dinner for a wedding reception.
Caterer. Your choice of caterer can affect the cost of your wedding buffet. There are some caterers that offer a wedding buffet package for around $50 per person, which includes cocktail hour, champagne toast, salad, dinner of three entrees, three side dishes, and rolls or butter. The price also includes the service of the caterer in overseeing each buffet station. On the other hand, you can drop the cost of a wedding buffet if you consider a DIY project. Instead of ordering foods from a caterer, you can choose to cook the food yourselves and ask friends or relatives to man the buffet tables during the reception.
Decorations. How you present the foods on the buffet table can also affect the cost of the wedding buffet. For instance, couples who wish to make their buffet stations more elegant and more presentable spend more on decorating the table with sophisticated items such as fresh flower centerpieces, carved fruits, and so much more.
Buffet or Sit-Down Dinner?
A wedding buffet has its own pros and cons over a sit-down dinner. Check out this comparison between the two most common catering options so you can better decide which one is best to choose:
Formality. A buffet meal is less formal than a sit-down dinner. It looks more casual and laidback as compared to the formal and elegant sit-down dinner. However, guests are more comfortable with a less formal meal most of the time.
Accessibility. Guests have to line up for their foods on a buffet meal so elderly guests and those with small children may not feel comfortable about this setup.
Food choices. In a sit-down meal, you encourage guests to eat what is served to them while a buffet menu gives guests a lot of options. This may be a pro and con at the same time because the variation of options in a buffet service can encourage people to eat more food, which can mean more food is consumed and more food must be prepared. Also, with variations in the choices, you can expect your guests to pick what they want to eat so there are more chances of satisfying everyone and fewer chances of leftover foods on each plate. But, in a buffet meal, there can be worries of running out of foods at some point.
Socialization. At a sit-down dinner, guests are often boxed with mingling to whoever they sit with on their tables. On the other hand, a buffet meal encourages guests to socialize with everyone in attendance because they leave their seats at least once in their stay.
There is no right or wrong choice between the two options. The best choice will always depend on what you are expecting your reception to be and what offers you want to cater to all of your guests.
Planning the Perfect Wedding Buffet
Planning a buffet is not as hard as you thought it is. Whether you are after a cheap or an expensive wedding buffet for the reception, the right planning is essential for its success. Follow these tips on planning a successful wedding buffet:
- The first thing you have to do is plan your budget. Sit down and talk with your spouse to be and decide on how much you can afford to pay for each guest on the list. With the budget in hand, you can easily determine the right menu, caterer, and service you can get for the wedding buffet.
- Finalize the menu on the buffet table. Usually, a buffet must include at least two entrees such as a choice of beef and chicken or fish and chicken. Take note that the menu must be determined by the current season, time of date of the wedding, and the theme of your wedding.
- Survey different caterers of your choice to check out prices as well as food choices. Pick a caterer that can offer you the best food choices in terms of options, taste, and presentation that fall within your wedding buffet budget. Take note that more often than not, getting the help of a caterer will make the buffet a lot of more organized and presentable for everyone in attendance to appreciate and enjoy.
With the help of a good caterer, your wedding buffet will no doubt be a success. But in the end, good planning is still essential towards success.
DIY Wedding Buffets
One of the best ways to save money on a wedding buffet is to do the job in a DIY fashion. Doing this may be a lot of work. However, with the right help and the right plans, there is no doubt that you can pull a very successful DIY wedding buffet for the reception. Some steps you can follow here are the following:
- Get help in advance. Make sure there are people who will be willing to station at the buffet tables for you as well as set up the table before the guests arrive and clean them afterwards. You can enlist friends and relatives to do this job for you. Their main job is to setup the place, oversee the buffet tables, refill the dishes, and clean the plates once the reception is over.
- Decide on the food you will be serving and how much you need to serve. Make sure you budget the food correctly so you do not end up with too much leftovers or insufficient dishes.
- Make sure that the venue will allow you access to a large refrigerator so you can keep some foods fresh. Moreover, get a venue that will give you a room where you can do last-minute food preparations.
- Rent out plates, glassware, utensils, and linen for the buffet. Most wedding venues offer this for free. If you are expecting a small wedding reception, you can consider borrowing these things from friends and relatives.
- Make sure that everything is set up before the guests arrive. When setting up the table, follow this order: soups, salads and appetizers, bread and buns, rice, vegetables, and then the entree dishes. You can set up the dessert in a different table along with tea and coffee.
- When it is time to serve everyone, have the DJ or MC announce the order of the tables to avoid any kind of chaos in the buffet table. Usually, it starts with the bride and groom, maid of honor and best man, other attendants, parents, and the rest of the guests. If you have a large number of guests, consider dividing the buffet in several stations.
Most wedding buffets are a disaster simply because of the lack of planning and the wrong kinds of choices. If you don’t want this to happen to you, make sure you are aware of the challenges that come together with a wedding buffet. Even if you do not spend too much on it like a sit-down dinner, the wedding buffet can still be a success in the end. Good luck!