April 7, 2014


There are many ways to serve food to your guests at a wedding. The individually plated dinner is a more traditional and formal style that most couples still gravitate towards. However, family style dinners are increasingly popular and here's why...

A reception luncheon or dinner served family style creates a sense of community at a wedding. It reminds people of family celebrations such as Thanksgiving and holiday dinners, where there is a certain level of warmth and intimacy from sharing dishes with loved ones.

We're big fans of the family style dinner for weddings that are in between formal and casual because it encourages more interaction between guests at the table. Rather than focusing on the own plates in front of them, guests pass around the shared plates and engage in more conversations, especially around the menu. Family-style service also allows guests to taste more items, as it is common to have a couple of options for starters, entrees, sides, and desserts.

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel Photography

If you're interested in a family-style menu, we have a few tips for you:

1. Long tables lends itself better for family-style service, but make sure your table decor leaves plenty of space for the shared plates. If you don't have a planner, then you should work directly with your floral designer and caterer on this. Ask your caterer for the approximate size of the serving plates on the tables, and then have your floral designer come up with the right sizes and quantities of arrangements and decor for the table.

2.  Work with your caterer to devise a menu that's best suited for family-style service. Dishes with a lot of sauce, or are generally a bit messy to eat, are harder to be passed around. However, one option to get around that is to have certain dishes be served table side, where servers will go around offering the dish to each guest.

3. Be very strategic with your seating assignments, as it may feel awkward to some guests if they are sharing plates with people whom they do not know very well.

4. With shared plates, there will be a lot of movement during dinner. Therefore, it's best to keep all toasts and entertainments to the beginning, or the end, of dinner. If you try to interrupt dinner with toasts or announcements, it would be very difficult to get everyone's attention.

Have a great time creating your wedding menu, and if you need ideas, visit our Pinterest board here!

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel Photography

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  1. Nice article and images go to help me find some new ideas for wedding planning . free wedding planner app

  2. great tips! simple yet very helpful. thanks for sharing

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