How-To Set Up A Buffet

After all of the excitement of the wedding proposal, engagement and engagement party, it is time to wade into the realities of wedding planning.

One of those realities is that it can get really expensive really fast. And one of the biggest budget items for weddings is the cost of food and drink. If you decide that you want to serve the wedding food at your wedding reception in a buffet style, today we have some great advice on how-to set up a buffet.

You have a number of options for how you serve food to your wedding guests, including a sit-down/formal wedding reception, a family-style wedding reception, a buffet style wedding reception, and a specialty wedding reception such as a breakfast or brunch, in addition to wedding food, drink and dessert bars.

In addition to the standard sit-down wedding reception catering option, a hot wedding trend is interactive food and beverage stations where your wedding guests can customize their food, desserts and drinks.  In this type of setting, you can have a chef, bartender or sommelier on hand to interact and explain the origins of a dish, dessert, wine or other beverage to your wedding guests.

If you are more into the do-it-yourself mode, another wedding catering trend is DIY wedding food stations which are a fun way to let your guests serve themselves when it’s time to eat.

And if being environmentally conscious concerns you, since the serving and disposal of food for your wedding is definitely an area in which can make an impact on our planet, there are several eco-friendly wedding catering options available for you to consider.

But if you have already decided that a buffet is the way you want to go, here is a how-to for setting up a buffet, from Colin Cowie Weddings: 

Buffets work for both small and large gatherings, particularly the latter. They’re casual, easy, and give you the opportunity to showcase your creativity and sense of theater.

1. A buffet should look abundant if the table is large, group everything together rather than spreading out the food. At the other end of the table, place florals or set up a bar or coffee and dessert. Instant celebration!

2. A well-balanced buffet should offer a vegetable, a protein, a salad, a grain-based dish, and a bread. For summertime, set out a platter of poached salmon, a cucumber sauce, a plate of poached asparagus, a crisp salad, potatoes or rice, and a crunchy baguette- and call it a day!

3. For a more lavish buffet, offer multiples of each category. If you’re serving both meats and fishes, keep them on separate buffets so their sauces don’t mix. I have never been a lover of “surf and turf”; however, if space is limited and you have to offer both on the table, set the fish with the salad and rice at one side of the buffet, a centerpiece in the middle, and the meat, salad, and potatoes on the other side. Place your plates, napkins, and silverware at each end.


4. Put the clean plates at the beginning of your buffet, followed by the cold items.  Next comes the hot entrées. Last should be the silverware and napkins (so your guests won’t be juggling napkins, forks, knives, and spoons while trying to fill their plates).  If you have enough room, set a bar at the other end of the table, with bottles of wine and glasses waiting for your guests to help themselves.

5. For outdoor food stations, keep the food covered until you’re ready to dine, and set out enough citronella candles to keep any bugs at bay.

–Colin Cowie