The Wedding Blog

In Consideration of Event Food Service

Here at The Papermill Restaurant, we are asked frequently for advice on event service.  Whether you prefer a plated service, family style, or a buffet service we can accommodate what you like.  The whole COVID-19 experience and an increased awareness of food allergies have changed preferences in event food service profoundly.


Family Style:

·       Many guests now opt-out of this service because of the plate and utensil sharing. There are requests for gluten and dairy-free options at nearly every event and Family Style is more likely to result in cross-contamination, especially with gluten.  We provide separate options for our guests with allergies and serve them separately if requested.

·       This is good for close families or friends, parties of 20-30 people, groups without allergies.


Plated Service:

·       Some consider this more formal, but that really depends on the whole affair, not just the service.  This service option is the costliest to provide because of the additional servers that are required.  Plated service is faster to the table, but we don’t see a big change in overall eating time. 

·       Plated service allows you to control the event better.  You can create a moment with all the guests present with the opening of the meal.   You can control where your guests sit much better.


The Buffet:

·       We are in a renaissance with a whole new life at events for The Buffet.  This is the most popular request we see as “Buffet-19” means we, the caterer, control all of the utensils at the buffet.  We serve each guest. This means that guests touch only their own plates, they select what they want us to serve, and the line moves continuously. 

·       Guests direct exactly what foods they want.  Imagine they request the rare piece in the middle of the prime rib or the medium-well piece next to the cap.

·       You can choose to offer a butler service for guests as they return to tables.  For mobility impaired a plated service from the buffet is available. 

·       Some guests delight at getting that second trip to the buffet.


Ultimately, our client’s vision for the event is what matters most.  They know their guests and what they want.  And we love to talk about events.  

The Buffet: The Paper Mill vs.

We hear it all the time.   Is the buffet the poor step-child of event service?  Will people scoff at a buffet and just go home taking their gifts with them? 
Of course the answer is no.  The buffet is an excellent option for any special event.  We decided to see what others said on the subject so we looked at says Pro: A buffet may better reflect your wedding style.

Well, yeah unless someone is forcing you into something you don’t really want.  This is not a real profound statement, but then Martha Stewart Weddings quotes Tommy
Waters, a professional event coordinator, who says that, “…buffet style meals are a great choice for couple who want a more informal reception…” quotes someone implying that a buffet is less formal.

We don’t’ believe this is necessarily so.  A buffet is an opportunity to offer a beautiful display using the food. Buffets are something to celebrate. What you offer and how you present a buffet really says more about formality.  Our clients have wowed their guests with items like fresh oysters, lobster tails, a shrimp bar, and live carving stations.  Served formally, as we do, it feels quite formal and the guests direct the staff for what they like.  In terms of time frame, overall meal service time frames are not significantly longer.


Martha Stewart says Pro: There’s plenty of room for personalization and options.

We just keep agreeing.   The buffet doesn’t mean standard issue. You can add high-end options like carving stations and butler service.  Plus you can more easily serve a selection of favorite foods.


Martha Stewart says Con: Buffets can be harder to accommodate guests with allergies.

Sorry Martha, but The Paper Mill doesn’t agree.  In fact, we take food allergies and preferences seriously and pull them out of the mix.   This allows you to create a menu and know that your special food needs will be taken care of.  Whether you require vegan or allergen free cuisine (such as gluten, peanut, lactose, etc.) we accommodate your guests so you can all enjoy worry free.  Ask us how we are able to accommodate.


Martha Stewart says Pro: Guests can take what they like.

Absolutely.  This is the beauty of a buffet.  Your guests direct what they want on their plate before it is put on the plate.  They get the choices and sides they would like, and they get to remind the server of any food allergies or requirements in advance of any issues. We have a lot of success with a carving station of Prime Rib of Beef and the guests get to select the exact piece they want on the plate.   This lets them take a rare piece from the center, or a well done piece from the end, ensuring it is to their liking.


Martha Stewart says Con: It may take everyone some time to eat.

We don’t necessarily agree.  Overall eating time is about the same.  A properly managed buffet where your guests are invited to the buffet can ensure that guests who need more time and attention receive it, while still serving everyone together.  Guests that need more time to visit the buffet are typically asked first.  We also believe in managing the buffet with multiple serving lines and additional staff for butler service for those guests that need help getting to and from their seats.


All right,, we think you know a lot about the subject.  When it comes to a few items, you should get to know The Paper Mill Restaurant, Bar and Events.  You might change your mind.


“The Pros and Cons of a Wedding Buffet”



Elopements, Micro-Weddings, Large Weddings


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