Ask the Experts: Deciding on Your Buffet Items

by Marta
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Ask the Experts is a weekly column that allows couples to ask a panel of experts their real-life wedding questions. If you have a question for our panel of experts write asktheexperts@onewed.com.

Question:
I plan on having 180 guests at my reception. How do I decide on how many items per person if I'm having a buffet?

Answers:
From Brandi of All Events Planned
When deciding on how many items to have on the buffet you must consider the amount of time you have for the meal, how many guests you plan on having go through the buffet line, and if your caterer is willing to offer multiple choices. Buffet style meals should include the same items as a plated meal.

You should offer salad, possibly soup, a vegetable, a starch, and a meat. Rolls and bread can be part of the table setup to allow for more space on the buffet and faster service. When choosing your meat option, you should have no more than three options. If you are having an extensive buffet, with three entrée selections, then you must allow for a substantial amount of time for people to get through the line.

Three protein options are a red meat, white meat and a fish. This will typically cover the needs of each guests and vegetarians will have the option to load up on salad, vegetables and the starch. Most clients will choose just two entrées, a red meat and a white meat. Fish is sort of a “wild card” in the catering world. Some guests love it and others may be turned off by the sight/smell of fish. You will want to sit down with your fiancé and your caterer to get a feeling as to what options will work with your guest list.

If you are interested in a full buffet with lots of options, ask your caterer to make smaller portions of the entrée choices. Instead of a 9oz steak, have them offer a 4oz steak along with smaller portions of the other meats. This way people will actually be able to sample all of the items but not end up wasting as much food. Try to keep in mind that with buffets, the more options you give, the more food people will put on their plate and the more money you will be spending.

From OneWed’s Wedding Maven:
This is not the type of question I usually cover, but as a vegetarian I just wanted to stress that if you are NOT offering a vegetarian option you should check with your caterer to make sure that the starch (pasta, potato, rice) and vegetables are in fact vegetarian. Things are often cooked in chicken stock to add flavor. As I mentioned in an answer to another question recently, you aren’t obligated to serve anything specific, but if you know you will have a lot of vegetarian guests, it’s polite to consider their needs.

About Brandi
Brandi Hamerstone is the owner & senior wedding planner for All Events Planned. In her nine years of experience in the wedding industry, she has planned over 300 weddings.