Sit Down Dinner or Buffet Reception? 5 Considerations

Planning a wedding is full of tough decisions. Deciding between a sit-down dinner and buffet could take weeks of stress and deliberation. However, assessing five important elements of the big day can make the decision as simple as saying, “I do.”

The Budget

If sticking to a tight budget is of utmost importance, a buffet style dinner may be your best bet. Because caterers and venues typically use less staff members for a buffet, they usually quote a lower price. The more legwork and staff needed, the bigger the bill, especially when it comes to sit-down dinners. Bigger budgets may allow for more food options or even more cake and drinks.


One of the many perks of a buffet is the opportunity to socialize. Sit-down dinners may prove to be very anti-social. Rather than simply familiarizing themselves with only tablemates, guests can strike up a conversation with other wedding-goers while waiting in line and maneuvering through the venue. It also provides for a friendly and comfortable atmosphere once the dancing and partying starts since everyone had the chance to get acquainted with other guests.

Guest List

Weddings with a large number of elderly guests may be best suited for a sit-down dinner. Navigating a crowded dinner hall with plates in hand can be extremely difficult for an elderly guest; especially if he or she has a disability. Having a loved one at the same table get a guest’s food may not always be an option in these scenarios. As a result, sit down dinners would be ideal for the comfort of all your guests.

Alternatively, a buffet is ideal for weddings with a lot of children. It’s no secret that children are picky eaters. The ability for them to pick and choose from a large variety helps eliminate the potential of starving children. The same applies to vegetarians, those on diets, and other picky eaters.


Formal weddings call for formal dining. As a result, brides and grooms should look no further than the sit-down dinner. It helps to eliminate the confusion of chaotic lines and table number organization. Buffet dinners call for a more casual atmosphere and theme. However, with the proper guidance from venue staff there is no reason why a buffet can’t hold up to your formal expectations without issues.

Venue Space

A wedding with a long guest list in a small reception hall may not mix well with a buffet style dinner. There is nothing worse than the commotion of guests bumping into tables and chairs in route to the buffet in cramped quarters. The order of a sit-down dinner is almost necessary in these scenarios; especially if you invite people known to trip and bump into things easily. Pushing tables back in place and cleaning up spilled plates shouldn’t be on your wedding day agenda.


Regardless of what you choose, mealtime at a wedding is your moment to sit for a while and take it all in. Make it a stress free moment and dig in!

About the Author
Team Wedding, founded in January 2000, is a network of wedding related directories and niche wedding websites designed to alleviate wedding planning stress and to give brides and grooms the one-stop-shop experience they need in this busy, modern world. Top Wedding Sites, is the Internet’s first directory of the top ranked wedding sites, voted on by brides, grooms and others interested in hosting a wedding. Plan your wedding fast, easy and in the comfort of your own home, office or anywhere you can get an internet connection.

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  1. Terri

    I personally have no problem with a buffet- style dinner but some people say it is tacky. I guess they say it is tacky because the wedding guests end up doing work.

  2. Top Wedding Sites

    Not tacky, but not the right choice for a formal event. If it’s an informal wedding it’s totally appropriate to host a buffet meal. And, in many cases, the only real work the guests must do is stand in line.

    Another choice is to host at a time when a full meal isn’t expected. Then you can serve cake and champagne and/or passed hors de’oeuvres. Both can be very elegant choices.

  3. aurea @ bridal shower favors

    I attended a lot of weddings last year and usually the reception was a buffet. It does have its advantages because it is indeed budget friendly and wedding guests can choose what they want to eat. 🙂

  4. NJ Wedding Officiant

    Hi Terri.

    I like the point you make about a buffet being a more social structure than a sit down. Maybe a venue worker could be appointed to serve older guests. It might not be all that expensive to arrange and it would be a very thoughtful gesture.

    Personally, I generally prefer a sit down dinner over a buffet. I’d opt for inviting less guests and have a sit down. A brunch sit down on a weekday might be a good option to have your cake and eat it too. So to speak.

  5. Top Wedding Sites

    Yeah, I prefer to be served, especially at a formal affair. It’s a nice change of pace for guests.

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