Planning a wedding or any large event comes with an endless possibility of options. It’s sort of like one of those “choose your own adventure” books from back in the day! In this day and age there is no right or wrong way to plan your wedding day, which can give you a lot of room for creativity. One of the more fun (and tasty) choices you get to make leading up to the big day is deciding on your food! There are a few options for styles of food service, and we wanted to make sure our couples knew about the different styles. We hope you enjoy this delicious blog post!

(Featured image: Paula Player Photography)

(Tom Daly Photography)

Seated Dinner:

Oh yes, the classic seated dinner.  This is the most formal service style.  With a seated dinner, every guest has a seat and is served their meal from the catering wait staff.  If everyone is going to be served the same meal, you technically wouldn’t need to have assigned seating..but you could if that is what you prefer.  

(Sarah Der Photography)

Seated Dinner with Choices:

Some people decide to give their guests a choice between a few meals such as beef, chicken, or vegetarian.  Typically, you would ask for their meal choice at the same time they turn in their RSVP. If you are doing choices it is helpful if everyone has an assigned seat.  You could then pass along your seating chart to your catering manager who will ensure that your guests get the correct meal.

(Chelsea Schaefer Photography)


A buffet is a meal consisting of several dishes where a guest can serve themselves.  Guests like a buffet because they can dictate what does and doesn’t go on their plate.  The picky eaters can make sure they only get foods that they know they like.  The big eaters can make sure they get enough fuel so they can dance all night long!

(Raygan Michelle Photography)

Family Style:

This is when food is placed on the table in serving dishes from which those eating may help themselves. Family style has similar benefits to a buffet, such as getting to choose what food/how much food you want to eat.  A perk is it is a little bit more formal than a buffet. Keep in mind when doing family style there isn’t much room for elaborate center pieces and you can’t always fit as many people at a table. 

(Melissa Durham Photography)


This is when your caterer sets up multiple stations of food throughout your reception space.  Similar to a buffet, but it is split up so it is not one long table of food.  Stations are fun because it gets your guests moving and mingling with others.  It can also be as formal or as casual as you want it to be.  The good thing about stations is that you avoid the one long line that often forms at a buffet. You can either have a stand alone station like a salad station where you can serve yourself, or you can have a chef-manned station like a carving station!

(Nick Kessler Photography)


Imagine the food service that you get during cocktail hour, just extended through the entire length of the reception.  This is the newest trend, a cocktail-style reception! Servers will pass hors d’oeuvres all throughout the night. If you decided to do this for your actual dinner, the items passed would need to be a little more substantial than your average cocktail hour items.  Some ideas for foods that can be passed are salads in a cup, soups, shrimp and grits, sliders, truly anything! This is fun because the servings are usually smaller, but you get a larger variety of items, therefore you get to try more fun things! This is more popular for corporate events, but can be a great option for a brunch-time wedding!