Buffet ReceptionA sit-down dinner for your wedding reception is an elegant tradition. There’s no denying the appeal of well-dressed waiters bringing plates of freshly-cooked food to your hungry wedding guests. But the buffet reception meal is becoming more popular, and there are good reasons why. Here are some pros, cons, and things to consider when you’re contemplating a buffet reception meal.

Pro: A Variety of Food

When you have a traditional sit-down dinner, odds are your guests will have to choose between one of three entrees. Usually, those are the old standbys – steak, chicken, or fish. With a buffet reception table, you can give your guests a lot more variety. Vegetarian guests or those with allergies will especially appreciate additional options.

Cons: Older guests may not enjoy it

Guests of a certain age–let’s say grandmas, grandpas, and great-aunts–see a fancy sit-down dinner as more elegant than a buffet reception. They may not care about the extra choices or the great spread if it means they have to wait in line and serve themselves. Once they taste the food, that attitude may change, but expect a little resistance when you make the decision.

Pro: Lower costs

Since guests set their own table service and are their own wait staff, you’ll be able to keep costs down compared to a sit-down meal. You’ll still want to have a waiter or two pouring water and busing dishes, but you won’t need anywhere near the personnel that you’d need if they were serving all the food.

Con: The line

There’s no getting around the biggest downside to a buffet reception: that endless line snaking its way around the reception hall, where your guests wait in single-file instead of sitting comfortably at tables chatting. You can mitigate that problem with some clever managing, though–have bowls of mixed nuts or other snacks at the tables, and encourage guests to sit and chat until they’re called to join the line. Appoint your most managerial aunt or uncle to call each table in turn to keep that line from getting unmanageable.

Pro: A beautiful display of piping-hot food…

A well-laid buffet table is a work of art. If your caterer is doing their job, the buffet table should be a visual delight as well as a gustatory one. Not only that, with chafing dishes and heat lamps the food stays hot until the end of the meal. With a big wedding and a sit-down meal, often-times the plates get cold before they even get served. And when they’re in charge of their own portions, even the hungriest guest can get full.

Con: …for the first few guests.

Of course, that beautiful display won’t last forever. By the time the third table is called, the aesthetic appeal will be largely gone and those crisp white linens will be covered with splotches.

Though it may not have the same glamor appeal as a sit-down dinner, a buffet reception can provide variety and flexibility while also helping out your wedding budget. As long as you have a good line manager, it’s definitely worth strong consideration for your reception meal.