Broke-Ass Tag: wedding advice

9/16

Buffet line

Credit: Lucky Photographer from Kate & Daniel’s Real Wedding

One of the decisions that can significantly impact your wedding budget is about how you’ll serve your guests. This applies whether you’re serving dinner, appetizers, cake and punch, breakfast-for-dinner or any other type of meal. So let’s break down some of the options, shall we?

Buffet

Pros:

  • This is typically a more cost effective option if you want to offer more variety to your guests (and yourselves!).
  • Often guests can go back for seconds since buffet-style calculations tend to overestimate to prevent running out of food.
  • Guests can pick and choose exactly what they want on their plates.

Cons:

  • A buffet line can really slow down the flow of your reception. (Pro Tip: Try for two buffet lines to keep things moving, and assign someone to call each table.) 
  • The buffet display itself takes up a good chunk of space in the room — and it might take away from your dance floor or make things crowded.
  • Although most caterers are awesome about calculating for buffets, humans are unpredictable and it’s a good possibility that you may run out of one or more popular food choices … or on the other hand, that you’ll have a lot of wasted leftovers. (Some venues / caterers will allow you to take leftovers home, but many will not.)
  • If guests self-serve at the buffet, the chances increase that you’ll run out before the last table gets up. (Pro Tip: Hire catering staff to serve appropriate portions at the buffet.)
  • Buffets force guests to make decisions on the fly, which is part of what takes so much time at the buffet line. (Pro Tip: Display menus either at each guest place setting or on a board at the front of the buffet line, so that guests can plan ahead and make quicker decisions in the buffet line.) 

Sit Down / Plated

Pros:

  • Plated meals can be served more quickly than buffet service by an experienced catering staff. (Pro Tip: If you want dinner to move faster, have bread and salads or appetizers preset on the tables before guests enter the room, and keep the dinner service simple — two courses, max.)
  • It’s easier to greet guests table-to-table while they’re waiting for plated service. (Pro Tip: Or just have a receiving line. Either way, make time to eat your own dinner!) 
  • With plated service it’s easier to close down the bar and serve wine at the tables — which can save you an hour or more of bar time (and $$$).
  • Takes no extra space in the room, since meals are served directly at the tables. More space for dancing!
  • With plated service there’s almost no leftover wasted food since each portion is calculated in advance.

Cons:

  • Plated meals are usually more costly, and require additional staff. (Pro Tip: Check to see if your catering package includes the cost of service, or if that will be added to the total meal cost.) 
  • You and your guests will have fewer meal options on the wedding day.
  • Guests are a bit “stuck” at their tables until after dinner, whereas getting up for the buffet line lets them stretch their legs and mingle with guests at other tables.

diy-taco-bar-elissa-nick-southern-california-real-wedding

Credit: A Sight of Love Photography from Elissa & Nick’s Real Weddingtaco-signage-elissa-nick-southern-california-real-weddingCredit: A Sight of Love Photography from Elissa & Nick’s Real Wedding

Family Style:

A cross between buffet and plated, where each table gets its own larger servings and then guests serve themselves at the table

Pros:

  • Like with a buffet, guests can pick and choose exactly what they want on their plates.
  • Again, as with buffets, guests might have the option to self-serve seconds. (Pro Tip: It’s still a good idea to have catering staff bring the platters to each table and maybe even serve the first round of each item, but after that, guests can usually manage their own service.) 
  • Often family style offers a couple of options to each table, so more variety is possible here than with plated meals.
  • Family style encourages guest interaction in a way that the other meal service options don’t.

Cons:

  • Family style platters can be heavier, and messes are almost inevitable. (Pro Tip: If serving family style, make sure there’s at least one adult at each table where children are seated.) 
  • Larger platters crowd the tables. (Pro Tip: If you’re serving family style, cut back on the glassware, favors at the table and centerpieces. There won’t be room for them as well as food unless you increase your table size.)

Stations

Pros:

  • Stations are pretty similar to buffets in many ways, but because they’re spread out into different areas, they move guests around the room and can go more quickly.
  • Stations allow for a bit of extra creativity, since you can serve mini-buffets at each. Think mashed potato stations, s’mores stations, carving stations, sushi stations, etc.
  • Guests seem to love the novelty of station food service, and it allows them to mingle with other tables more than other methods.
  • Some stations can be left up while the dancing begins.

Cons:

  • Like the buffet, stations usually take longer than plated meals.
  • Stations can take up a lot of space in a room, depending on how many you have.
  • Stations can create traffic jams unless the traffic flow is carefully mapped out.
  • Guests can be indecisive at stations, especially if they’re set up as mini-buffets / bars. (Pro Tip: As with buffets, providing menus at the table or at each station will help to speed up guest decision time.)

And as always …

Be sure to find out definitively if any of your invited guests (or their guests, if you’re offering a +1) have food allergies or dietary restrictions — don’t guess!
It’s a good idea to offer at least one vegetarian option, even if you don’t think any of your guests are vegetarian. First, it’s often the top choice for kids (if invited), but it’s also usually a safer choice for those with dietary restrictions and guests looking for lighter options.

Note, too, that if you have any guests with gluten sensitivities or other food allergies, you’ll need to check on (or assign someone else to check on) those specific meals with the catering staff on the wedding day.

Finally, make sure you take time to eat at your own reception (don’t forget appetizers, cake and plenty of snacks beforehand! And hydrate!), and if you’re not serving appetizers to guests (especially after a cocktail hour), consider placing non-perishable pre-dinner snacks on the tables, like popcorn, pretzels or chips and salsa.

  • 2/4

    Photo by Shaina Sheaff

    Photo: Shaina Sheaff Photography

    Hindsight’s 20/20, right? Oh, it’s great to look back with all of your knowledge accumulated through experience, but when you’re in the thick of things, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees.

    This truism applies to planning a wedding about as nearly as anything I’ve ever experienced. You get inundated with advice: some well-meaning, some completely self-serving, but it can all get jumbled up into a big, confusing mess. So with that, I’d like to offer you a little more advice … on the advice I just wish I hadn’t stressed about.

    Anything from any website that offers any article written from the perspective of a jilted wedding guest

    A lot of the bigger online publications are going to drive their visits with clickbait. What’s an almost guaranteed promise of a click? Drama. From guests angry their children weren’t invited to bridesmaids totally not down with traveling, there are a lot of pissed off posts. But they reflect singular opinions. And if you DO read into them, there are probably deeper problems than the one being railed on. Keep in mind that people who love you are going to be happy for you. It may not mean they can be there, but if they choose to be angry, they might just be an unhappy person. You’re better off serving yourselves as a couple when it comes to wedding choices.

    Almost anything from the comment section of the above mentioned articles.

    “Well I wasn’t mad about it until NOW!” was the prevailing hidden message in so many things I poured over with panic in my heart. Reading complete strangers’ thoughts on a subject I hadn’t even broached in the planning process caused me more grief than any conversation with, you know, an actual person who loves me and was invited to our wedding. Certain things will always be a little controversial and the ULTIMATE RAGE that comes out in comments is generally stoked by a collection of like-minded people and the occasional voice saying they’re unreasonable. Then it’s the Internet, so it’s time to fight. Skipping the comments section is one of those pieces of life advice I ignore way too often, but I would implore you to try. It’s for your own sanity.

    Trying to make everyone happy with music selections.

    I love music, and I love a lot of different kinds of music so putting together a cohesive playlist was hard enough. Asking other music lovers for their advice turned into a rundown of the latest Pitchfork playlist of experimental folk electronica that just seemed way too complicated for a wedding. In the end, I just went with songs I already owned that met a few criteria: “Is it about cheating?” “Is it a breakup song?” “Does it include the word ‘fuck’?” No? Then it works.

    Trying to make everyone happy with the bar

    Photo by Shaina Sheaff

    Photo by Shaina Sheaff Photography

    Not being too far removed from the poor college kid life, I remember frequently saying that $1 Miller High Life was awesome; $2 Miller High Life wasn’t too bad and $3 Miller High Life was practically undrinkable. Free anything was free booze and if someone tossed me a Keystone with no expectation of compensation, I just said thanks and popped the top. Most people still respect the rule that you don’t complain about what’s free, but if you’re looking for advice on what to serve, keep your polling numbers low. Like, one or two people, low. If you’re pre-purchasing anything for an open bar, the more choices you include, the more difficult it is to estimate the amount of each you need to purchase. We ultimately served four beers which served us well, proving all of my concern for making the perfect choice was a colossal waste of brain space.

    The word “tacky”

    We’ve discussed this word before. It’s a shitty, shame-y word and you know what’s tacky? Calling someone’s personal preferences tacky.  The end. Food isn’t tacky. Bright colors aren’t tacky. You are not tacky. This goes back to the bit on social media comments, too. Everyone’s got an opinion and I hear they’ve all got assholes, too. If anyone wants to insult you or your choices about how to celebrate your love, fuck ‘em. Well, maybe that was a little tacky, but, pfft.

    So go forth in love and joy about your seriously awesome love story and try to take a deep breath. Pleasing everyone is hard, so just make your love the focus and the rest will all work out.

    What else have you found isn’t worth the stress? Share you advice in the comments below!

  • 1/19

    Real Bride Julie: Learning to Be Married

    For a weekend last March, Matt and I set aside our wedding planning to take a big step in our spiritual journey towards marriage. We had opted to get married in a Catholic church. The Church we got married in. Photo by SK Photography This had nothing to do with the cost of things. If we had chosen the cheaper option, we would’ve gotten married…

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    1/13

    just remember- you're not alone

    Being a BAB has been an amazing experience for me. With my limited budget and limited crafting skills (I try, but I’ve learned when it comes to Pinterest fabulous chalkboard direction signs and flower arrangements ... I’m better off using my other talents), I’ve had to learn to be resourceful to get what I want. And I’ve also learned that many things we’re told we…

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    12/11

    World's Best Boss Mug

    World's Best Coffee Mug, $13.75 by Etsy seller MagicCityDesigns Hiya BABs! Today's advice question comes from a reader who wants to know about the etiquette of inviting coworkers to her wedding. (Hence, the mugs. Because coffee. And Dunder Mifflin. #pamandjimforever)  Hello and happy holidays!! I am writing to request etiquette guidance: I had a very strong relationship with my former coworkers, which has not carried over to…

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  • 12/7

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Being a bride and also working in the industry gives me a unique perspective. I'm involved with an online community of bridal professionals and creatives, and I reached out to them this week when my bridal side had questions. Long story short, I was getting some anxiety because I was getting bad vibes from my photographer. Nothing terrible, just not feeling like we were clicking.…

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    11/18

    engagement

    Love must be in the air: Between my graduate school cohort, the assistant lecturers with whom I share an office, and my Facebook news feed, I think I’ve seen about 10 engagements, six weddings, three babies, and one vow renewal in the last month alone. All this love and excitement lately has me feeling a little nostalgic; as a person who had a Pinterest board full…

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    10/30

    Wedding Planning + Pinterest

    Hiya BABs! What have you accomplished in your planning this week? Now be honest, how much of it involved Pinterest? Pinterest can be a double-edged sword for couples planning a wedding, both your BFF and worst enemy, the coach in your corner, or your opponent about to take you down for a TKO. Arguably, social media may even be killing weddings. In today’s post, we’ll examine…

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  • 10/28

    IMG_5057

    It’s getting down to the wire. The distance between us and our wedding is no longer discussed in months but rather weeks and pretty soon it will be mere days until we’re there. It’s been a long time getting to the altar for us but now that it’s almost here it feels like we’ve had no time at all to prepare. Add to that that…

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