You May Think It's Tacky, But Buffets Are The Superior Choice For Weddings

If you're tasked with planning (or, more to the point, paying for) a formal event such as a wedding and it's one that will involve feeding a large group of people, then you'll likely have a number of questions to tackle. Right at the top (or, at least, number two on the list — behind open bar, cash bar, or no bar) may well be: Should you have a table-service sit-down meal or a buffet?

If you're opting to go the fancy-schmancy route, then you might choose the former, since plated meals are seen as being far more appropriate than those where you stand in line and fill your own plate. Buffets, however, are usually the most budget-friendly option, as they tend to cost around 20% less than a sit-down meal (if not lower). Should you feel bad about going for the cheaper option? No, of course not, since saving money (your own or anyone else's) is never a bad thing. What's more, if you look at it from the standpoint of a guest at this shindig you're planning, then there are numerous reasons why a buffet is a better bet for everyone involved.

Guests don't have to decide in advance

One aspect of attending a wedding that's sure to provoke anxiety among indecisive people is the necessity of choosing an entree when they send in their RSVP card. How can they know what they're going to feel like eating three months in advance? What's more, they're forced to take a blind guess as to whether the chicken might be rubbery, the fish dry, or the pasta overcooked and sauced with sugary marinara. With a buffet, guests can see exactly what they're getting before they plop it onto their plate and pick whichever entree looks best. The beauty of a buffet is that attendees can make up their minds right on the spot.

What's even better is the fact that a buffet offers variety. Instead of being locked into a specific dish and its designated sides, a whole world (or, at least, a few tables) of options is open to folks. They can fill up on appetizers, sample each main dish, or just dive into the desserts. Buffets offer a little something for everyone and allow individuals to customize their own meal to suit their taste and appetite. This makes buffets less wasteful than plated meals, since instead of every plate coming with creamed spinach that no one eats, a small portion of spinach may sit untouched in a chafing dish while the rest can be repurposed as leftovers.

Folks can get away with having seconds (or even thirds)

At a sit-down meal, what guests get is right there on that one single plate: a main dish of some sort, plus a side or maybe two. If they're lucky, they might get a salad to start with, and there'd darn well better be a dessert to follow besides just the wedding cake (speaking of which, here's hoping it's a good flavor). Still, though, if that one plateful looks kind of skimpy, too bad, because that's all that was paid for and it's all diners are going to get. Their best bet then is to hope there'll be refills on the bread rolls and maybe plan to swing by a fast food drive-thru on the way home.

With a buffet, however, they stand a better chance of getting to eat their fill and stock up on foods they actually like. They can take a little bit of everything that looks good on the first trip then slide back into line to get another helping of whatever really tickled their fancy. Sure, some of the more popular items like shrimp and roast beef may run out at some point, but that creamed spinach will always be there in case of emergency.

People are better able to mingle (or not)

Among the most awkward things about being a guest at a formal event featuring a sit-down dinner — particularly if someone doesn't have a plus-one to accompany them — is the fact that they could end up stuck next to an unfamiliar face for the entire length of the meal. Sure, it's possible a pair of strangers could randomly hit it off. However, there's a good chance that one may spend the entire time chatting with their own plus-one while the loner misses out on potentially socializing with far more congenial guests who are seated all the way across the room.

There's no need for assigned seating at a buffet, though, and thus no need for attendees to remain stationary in order to be served their meal. Instead, they can feel free to circulate and chat with whomever they will. Should conversation pall, they'll always have the built-in excuse of going back for a second helping of vol-au-vents (whatever those are). And if anyone is a member of Team Socially Awkward, buffet-style meals will still benefit them, as they'll allow people to find a secluded corner to lurk in and enjoy their food without being forced into elbow-to-elbow proximity with a couple of strangers.