Steps to Planning a Wedding Buffet

Planning a wedding buffet can seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into easy steps will help you host a buffet that reflects your personal taste in an attractive, affordable way. Buffets are the most popular way of feeding wedding guests today, ranging from elaborate themed menus to simple, yet elegant, fare. The options for your buffet are endless, but some basic planning ideas will assist you no matter your preferences for your special day.

Set your budget. Decide what you can afford to spend per guest as you plan your menu. If your budget allows, consider hiring a caterer; recommendations from friends and relatives can help you choose one who will best suit your needs. Include the cost of renting chafing dishes, plates, glasses and flatware, if not provided by the catering service. For a small wedding, consider borrowing these items from friends and relatives.

Select a menu. Pick a themed menu or build one around favourite dishes. Provide two entrées, such as beef and chicken or chicken and fish. Consider the season. Lighter fare with fresh fruits and salads are more suitable for a summer wedding; heavier soups and meat dishes for winter. Consider the time of day. For a morning wedding, provide a brunch or luncheon menu. If a set catered menu does not appeal to you, ask the caterer to provide a menu of your own choosing. Consider providing more than one buffet table or "food station" with a different theme for each.

Plan specific seating arrangements. Although your guests will serve themselves, it is still a sit-down dinner. Planning the seating will avoid unnecessary confusion and help assure a smooth dining experience for all. For a very small, casual wedding, your guests may seat themselves.

Decide to not do it all yourself. Without a caterer, providing a wedding buffet for even a small gathering can be a tremendous amount of work, so accept the help of friends and relatives to make the day go smoothly. Keep the focus on you on your special day.


Providing a vegetarian option in your menu selection will help to ensure all your guests feel comfortable and welcomed. In choosing your menu, asparagus is currently considered the most elegant vegetable to serve.


Be sure your caterer and/or servers can answer questions about menu ingredients for those guests who may have food allergies.

Things You'll Need

  • Budget
  • Guest list
  • Caterer list
  • Plates, glasses, flatware
  • Chafing dishes
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About the Author

Patricia Caliguire began writing articles and short stories in 1998 and has been published in "Chicken Soup for the Soul—Woman to Woman," "Humor for a Teacher's Heart" and "Celebrate Life" magazine, among others. She is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina's Allied Health program.