28 Feb

Art of Entertaining: Family Style Serving at Weddings

One of the emerging wedding trends that we see is to serve meals “family-style”, where items are presented in bowls or platters and shared and served by guests at the table.  When I think of the holidays I spend with my family, most dinners were served family-style.  I remember setting the table with my grandma when I was little, learning which side the fork and which side the knife was to be placed on, and carefully-oh, so carefully-unpacking the china she had for decades, saved for just such occasions.

The memories of the whole family (24 people for our most well-attended dinner!) gathered around one table for the holidays are among my most treasured memories. It’s a tradition that continued unfettered until this past year when my parents finally down-sized. Family-style service is great when you are with your family or close friends, but for an event such as a wedding, there are things that are often not considered.

I think we all know what it’s like from our own experiences around the family table. Maybe the youngest or the oldest in your family can’t handle the size or weight of the bowl. We maybe struggle to help them, holding the platter or bowl in one hand and the serving utensil in the other to get just the right piece for our little sister or for grandma, and then hand the bowl or platter across to the next family member. Or, after everything has made its way around, when all you want to do is dig-in to the deliciousness in front of you, you are instead stuck holding the bowl of potatoes for which there seems to be not an inch of space on the table. When you do finally have the chance to dig in, by the time everything has made its way around, the food on the plate is cold.

This is family-style.  And while my most treasured holiday memories are of dinner served this way, I could never in could conscience suggest it for a formal affair such as a wedding. Tablescapes are snug enough with centerpieces and glassware. Guests must struggle with heavy bowls and platters. Food gets cold while it makes the rounds.

This is in contrast to a buffet-style or station-style, where guest visit different food stations, offering a variety of choices and the chance to serve themselves. In buffet or station-style events, guests can make their food selection from warmers (ensuring that the temperature is optimum throughout the evening) and then they can return to their seat and enjoy their meal. If they would like more, they can simply visit the buffet again or other stations. Guests do not have to be interrupted or worry about passing things to other guests before enjoying the meal in front of them.

Our recommendation is always in the interest of helping you take the best care of your guests as they have made the effort to join you for your special day. And while it is “your day”, a celebration of your love, we want to be sure you are a success when it comes to being a gracious and accommodating host to your friends and family.

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