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Out of all of the different wedding reception styles, a plated wedding dinner is the most formal and classic.  While you have probably experienced this style from the perspective of a guest, now it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of plated receptions from your new vantage point as wedding planning fiancés.

Perhaps well-meaning friends or family have provided strong opinions one way or the other based on their own experiences, but ultimately the choice should come down to how you envision your special day and whether or not this style will fit with that vision and venue.

We have laid out some of the main pros and cons of plated wedding dinners so that you can check them against your personal style and unique expectations to guide you to the right choice for you.

Pro: Unmatched Elegance

Nothing is as elegant as a plated dinner reception.  This style is orchestrated so that everyone is seated at the same time, and multiple courses of artfully plated food are delivered directly to each guest.  

If you want a more formal reception, this is an excellent choice.  Your guests can enjoy a relaxing, leisurely meal while conversing and dining with those at their table or listening to toasts and speeches, rather than having to walk around and gather their food from a buffet.

Plated dinner

Con: Less Variety

One disadvantage to a plated meal is that the only real opportunity for menu variety comes from the entree course.  Most couples do include a choice of entrée for guests to select from in their RSVP, but otherwise everyone will receive the same meal for each course.

If you know in advance that many of your guests have food allergies, special diets, or are simply picky eaters and therefore find it important to offer plenty of options, you may feel more comfortable with a buffet, or family-style reception.

Pro: Organization

A plated dinner offers much more control than any other style of service.  Not only are you able to regulate and predict the amount of food being served (which can be a win for your budget, by the way), you are also able to assure that everyone eats at roughly the same time.  

Timelines are everything when it comes to plated dinners and are a major plus if you prioritize having a choreographed, graceful feel over a more casual and open-ended one.  

Note, if you extend much beyond 3-4 courses, plated dinners can become rather lengthy.  This is not a problem if you want your wedding reception to be all about the great food and wine!  Conversely, it is something to keep in mind if you want to leave some time for dancing, or other crowd-engaging activities.  Many Brides and Grooms want both the elegance of a formal plated meal and the spontaneity and engagement with guests that fits their personality.  We have solutions that can help condense courses and accomplish both.

Seating charts are a part of every plated dinner and will give you a distinct upper hand in managing the chaos.  Giving yourself the power to dictate who sits next to whom has a lot of advantages beyond simply streamlining the reception – it allows you to avoid potential conflict, seat your VIP guests at the “prime” seats in the venue, or even play matchmaker!

Con: More Organization Means More Planning

As you can probably guess, all of this organization does come at a cost, and the “DIY Bride” looking to go it alone may want to turn their attention towards another style with a bit less planning.  A plated dinner involves tracking your guests’ entree choices, detailed spreadsheets, seating charts, seating chart displays, name cards… you get the idea.   

If you want to turn this “Con” into a “Pro,” consider hiring a wedding planner to deal with the organizational headaches for you, rather than abandoning the style altogether.

Still Have More Questions?

Call us today for your free 10-minute consultation and let one of our experienced catering coordinators guide you through these and other pros and cons of plated wedding dinners, or answer any other wedding catering questions you may have.

For over two decades we have helped hundreds of couples plan their dream plated wedding receptions, each one elegant, but not stuffy.  We can’t wait to hear what you have in mind!

Feel free to refer also to our Reception Style Selector for more detailed breakdowns of plated dinnersbuffetsfamily-style, and more.

Schedule your free 10 minute consultation.

The fastest way to get answers, no obligations, no strings attached.

Get started