There are so many options when it comes to your wedding – Do I want blush or rose? Flat or heels for my bridesmaids? The solid or lace linen? Open bar or beer and wine? The options may also seem endless when it comes to catering. So let’s start with the basics for your Charlotte wedding … buffet versus plated versus stations.


A buffet dinner will have your dinner displayed in one central area for guests to select their food from.


  • Dinner moves quickly as guests select their meal and head back to their seat
  • Guests have their choice of what they would like to place on their plate
  • Generally less expensive due to less serving staff (food costs may be more depending on what you choose as you must have one portion of everything for every guest)


  • Guests must stand and wait in line for their dinner
  • Guests serve themselves so they could spill on themselves or take too much food
  • Some guests will finish dinner before others even get through the line

Best practices: Have your DJ/MC announce that all guests should remain seated until dismissed to the buffet. Then have your planner or catering lead stop at each table to dismiss.


A plated dinner will have your catering team serve the plated dinner to guests at their seat, similar to a restaurant.


  • Generally seen as more formal
  • Every guest eats at almost the same time
  • There is no wasted food since everything is pre-portioned


  • This dinner options is generally the most expensive due to the staff needed to run the service efficiently
  • Takes longer to get through the service which may cut into your reception time
  • Less variety on food since guests will only have the option of their protein

Best practices: Offer either two to three dinner entrée options on your RSVP card or a duet meal so guests have some option on what they eat. If you track the meal via RSVP card, make sure to ask guests to initial their entrée selection.


A station style dinner is typically a variety of stations offering smaller portions, such as a carving station, heavy hors d’oeuvres, Asian station, etc.


  • You do not need to have seating for everyone so this works great in a venue where space is limited
  • Guests are up and moving around for their food so it creates a more interaction and mingling among guests (with less waiting time in line)
  • You can offer a wide variety of dishes, offering something more simple for grandma and something more exotic to match your tastes


  • The stations will require more set up space so seating for all guests will be less of an option
  • You will likely need more on-site chefs for each station (depending on your menu)

Best practices: Ensure that your selections can create a “full meal” meaning a protein, a vegetable and a carb for all your guests. You will also want to make sure you have vegetarian options (or things that can be made vegetarian). If you have guests with other restrictions (vegan, gluten-free, etc.) make sure to chat with your caterer about how to best accommodate.

Overwhelmed? Let us help you sort through the MANY options there are when wedding planning by contacting us (by clicking here) today! 

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**Photo courtesy of Fern, Flavors from the Garden