Wedding Catering Styles: Which is Right for Your Chesapeake Bay Celebration

Your chosen style of wedding catering should not only please your loved ones, but also fit the theme of your big day.

The catering at your Chesapeake Bay wedding will undoubtedly play its part in one of the pivotal points of the whole event. Your reception meal. It may not be one of the first things that comes to mind when beginning to plan your nuptials, but as you progress through the journey together, you’ll quickly understand its importance. Because making sure that your loved ones feel comfortable, with a plate (or canapé) of something delicious in front of them, is so important if you want happy guests. As an experienced wedding venue in Chesapeake Bay, with established, local caterers very much a part of every event we host. We understand the value that quality food, and service provides our couples.

If you have only just begun to look into wedding catering in Chesapeake Bay, it’s understandable to think that the process simply involves picking a food you love, and getting someone to cook a lot of it for you! However, there is slightly more to it than that. As, you’ll also need to consider which way your food should be presented, and how each option could benefit your reception. Maybe a plated dinner is too formal for your theme? Or perhaps canapés will not satisfy the wild appetites of your family and friends!

The wealth of wedding catering options in Chesapeake Bay can leave couples a little overwhelmed, and every so often the perks of each style are hard to determine. That’s why we thought we’d share the different styles of wedding food available. Along with the pros and cons of each one, to hopefully help you select the right one for your celebration.

Wedding Catering Styles: Which Option Should You Choose for Your Chesapeake Bay Celebration

The Plated Meal

The most traditional style of wedding catering, and a favorite among our Chesapeake Bay couples, is the sit down, plated meal. This popular option offers a more refined experience for your guests, over the other styles we’ll get into. As well as being fairly easy to pull off, logistically.

Each guest typically pre-selects what they’d like to eat from a menu included either in their invite, or presented on the wedding website. Which means meals can be served quickly. And, costs can be kept down, as your catering team will know exactly how much they need to order for your Chesapeake Bay wedding.

The downside of this catering style is that if some of your loved ones change their minds, or don’t want the meal choice they pre-selected – there’s very little you can do. Normally, a caterer allows for this and will make one or two extra plates, but they can’t make wholesale changes. You do also need to keep in mind that a plated meal is cheaper, but those meals do need to be served. And those servers need to be paid. An extra cost that can come as a surprise if you do not have in-house catering, or an all-inclusive venue.

Buffet Style Wedding Catering

Another popular choice at our Chesapeake Bay wedding venue, is the buffet catering option. We’re sure you know how a buffet works, and maybe you’ve even experienced one at a wedding before. Typically, during this type of service, guests make their way to the buffet table whenever they like, form a line, and choose which dishes they’d like to put on their plate themselves.

The buffet service offers the reverse benefits of a plated meal, as it is very hard for the caterer to predict the quantity of food needed overall. As well as how much to prepare of each particular dish. Meaning, certain stations can run out of food quicker than others, with unwanted food sometimes going to waste. If you want to have more control over each station, and avoid this, consider having a team serving your guests. This can also help to stop hold-ups in the line.

You can save money with a buffet service, over the plated option, but that saving is often soaked up by the need to overcompensate on food, and the hiring of specialist equipment. So don’t pick this wedding catering option for budgetary reasons. Choose it because you want a more casual experience, with guests able to move about freely, interacting with each other.

Family Style Catering

You could consider a family style service as a cross between a buffet, and a plated meal. This type of menu consists of shared food platters placed in the center of the table, along with serving utensils for each dish. It’s similar to a family dinner at home, but on a much larger scale! Guests will pass the food platters around among themselves and help themselves to whatever they want.

More and more Chesapeake Bay couples are opting for this style of wedding catering at their venue, as it offers the best of both worlds. Bringing together casual, relaxed eating, within a formal setting. While encouraging guests to share with each other, and naturally engaging in conversation.

The issues with family style wedding food are much the same as with the buffet. It’s very hard to know exactly how much food you will need, and if everyone is serving themselves, there’s no way of controlling portions.

Cocktail Style Wedding Catering

This style of wedding catering is ideal, possibly even necessary if you’re having a stand-up reception. Because guests will not be seated at communal tables, the food must either be brought to them by servers, or be easy to access. Cocktail food service is typically provided by wait staff, who roam around with canapés or situate themselves by a designated food station.

If you want your Chesapeake Bay reception to have a refined, yet casual feel, this style of wedding catering is perfect. As it offers your guests the opportunity to try numerous new things, like a buffet, but without the need to stand in a line. Or break up any interaction they may be having. The feel of a cocktail style event, with hors d’oeuvres being offered by smartly dresses wait staff, also gifts some real elegant vibes.

But, for those of you who have experienced this style of catering, you’ll know that it’s very possible to find yourself in a bad spot. With no servers coming your way, or just countless empty trays passing you by. Besides this, if you have guests with dietary requirements, it can be tricky to guarantee they receive enough food.

We hope this info on wedding catering options has informed your Chesapeake Bay celebrations, and maybe even helped confirm things with your wedding venue. It would be an honor to guide your big day plans further, and actually host your wedding at Tidewater Weddings!

We have an abundance of elegant spaces for you to tie the knot in and celebrate with loved ones on, across multiple sites near St. Michaels, in Talbot County on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. And we have a wealth of catering options available from trusted vendors we have worked with for many years. Discover these, plus many more, via our preferred vendors page.

You are welcome to browse some images from recent real weddings we have hosted, and if you like what you see, feel free to get in touch via our contact page.