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Family Style Wedding

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I've got a wedding this fall and the bride and groom have requested family style. Around here that means that each table has bowls and platters of food and the guests serve themselves.

Has anyone here done this before and how do you figure quantities? I'm thinking I can use fewer servers but more food than plated, but not as much food as a buffet.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 19
buffets can be monitored and staff assigned to dole out proteins.......family style is a free for all. I'm thinking for food than buffet, but one never knows.
Talk about cut off time with the couple. Dinner for 1 hours, food stops for cake cutting....just a thought.
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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
I see your point. A cut off time is a good idea, but an hour is a long time to eat, isn't it? I was thinking that people might be more reserved while seated at a table and not make pigs of themselves.
post #4 of 19
We served a family style wedding last week for 160 that turned out beautiful. We had the salads plated and on the table while the guests were busy with appetizers. By the time people were done with their salads we started bringing out food. I also made sure that there was sufficient room on each table to acommodate the number of serving dishes on each table along with the settings, glasses and centerpieces. I put everything on 3 pieces on service wear- a large and small platter and then a bowl for the rice. Still a tight fit. The actual service went very quickly. I always like it when the food goes out smoothly and quickly. The clients were very pleased and the guests were thrilled. We didn't set a cutoff for eating, but we did start bussing as soon as we could and it might have run a little over an hour. By the time they had finished giving out toasts we were pretty much done and bussed for the food. I also made sure that the menu worked well with the family style service. The main entree were whole peeled top sirloins that i bbq'd whole then sliced and plattered. Keeping my serviceware warmed then finishing the beef with hot au jus as they went out kept everything hot hot hot. Btw- there were 4 of us plating and 6 server/bussers for 18 tables (8 tops and then a head table).
Good luck with it. I certainly like doing them.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Peachcreek, did you find that you used more food than if you had done a buffet?

I'm looking forward to doing a wedding family style. It fits with the barn where they're having the reception and they're having a contra dance later.

There should be 100 people and I figured on 2 plating, 2 running, and 2 serving.
post #6 of 19
My experience is that 2 runners/2 servers for 100 people will not be enough. How many tables are you having and how many guest per table? How many bowls and platters of food per table? Will you be serving cocktails or do they go to a bar? For buffet/family style with cocktail service 1 server per 15 guest at the least, just my opinion. THINK? i need a napkin, i dropped my fork , i need more ice , can i have another drink, we need more salad, we need more food, we need, we need, we need, we need!!!!!!!!! Thats a lot of work around for two servers/two runners.

2 plateing up the meal depending if they can handle it should be enough.They can always pre plate and hold in warmer depending on what you are serving.

All just an opinion.
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
The table set up hasn't been finalized. It's in a barn with contra dancing after the meal. I wouldn't be surprised if they decided on long tables rather then rounds. The wedding is non-alcohol with water at the table and punch and iced tea at a station. I'm thinking of loosely 8 people per grouping for service- similar to what it would be if the tables were rounds. Does that sound right? I have never done a family style before and appreciate all comments. I'm thinking that I should push for buffet style. The couple is trying to save money and it looks like I'll need more servers if you're correct.
post #8 of 19
Remember, you are a reflection ofall the work you do. Meaning if you have to little help it will look like you cant handlle the wedding, not that the couple is trying to save money. Its not like you can embroider on the napkins, sorry for the service the newlyweds didnt want to pay. lol :lol:

This is not advice, just what I would do.
I would explaine the staffing situation profesionally and if they didnt agree I would politely say thanks, but I choose not to do this wedding for you.
I want to be clear, I am not advicing this for you just sharing what I would do.Take it for what its worth...
I dont see were there would be a difference in price in buffet or family style?

Best of luck to you, I'm sure it will be a great wedding because of you.
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
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post #9 of 19

Family Style Catering

It's a pain in the butt. I did one on the beach in LA. They wanted 4 entree's and four side dishes. Thats 8 platters per table. Plus wine on each table and water. The platters didn't even fit on the tables. I had 12 servers because we had to go back and forth to each table multiple times. Then they wanted seconds and we had to do it all again. We did have food left over based on 4 ounces per person since they had 4 entrees. They used their friends rental company for rentals and we found out at the last minute that we had to set up, clean them off and prepare it to go back to the rental company which we were not originally hired for. Be specific. They are not and eventhough these people had money they were cheap and hid things from us thinking we would just throw in the extra people and services! They had over $2,000.00 in rentals and never thought how the table scapes were going to be set up or if the platters would fit? Just be very careful. They really don't think. Buffet's are easiest.
post #10 of 19

why dont you do it batches of 10

so assume that there are 10 to a table then just t hink about how much food you would need for 10 people and then just multiply by how many tables you have, find out how many kidlets will be there and if they are little ones then just do it as if there were 7 at the table or if they are teens, just do it for 10
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when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
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post #11 of 19
I would think if you have 10 people at a table and you give them a plate of ten proteins they are going to be more civil in dividing them up. You're feeding 10 people at a time. It's not a buffet.
post #12 of 19

Sorry for the tardy response.

I costed and portioned as if I were costing a plated entree and came out right on target. The only thing that I had overages on were the appetizers and I'd blame that on the fact that the client wanted the appetizers in a small gazebo with the beverages and the weather turned rainy and the crowd decided to go elsewhere. Still it went great. Good luck on your event. BTW- we costed for extra labor when I bid the event telling the client that I would have to have someone from my company on site for setup and teardown. Seemed a little Draconian at the time, but the client was happy at the end when they had realized that they had no plan to clean up the mess.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks again all! I have learned a lot from reading your posts and have come to the conclusion that family style may be the way to go for this group. My only issue is if they want seconds. Would you bring over smaller portions, one for each person at the table or just a few portions? Does it seem reasonable to ask who wants more rather than bring more for the majority at the table? I would assume that it would be acceptable to bring seconds only for the person/s who asked.

The way it stands now, the menu is simple; one meat, one starch and 2 veggies. I like the idea of placing the plated salads during the apps. I am beginning to look forward to doing a different type of service. I may only do it once, but it's a learning experience.
post #14 of 19
As it's my understanding that "non-pros" are allowed to post replies (but not initiate threads) in the "pro" forums, I'll offer the following:

As a general rule, wedding guests can either be "civil" or "oinkers".

With a family style service, the onus is placed upon those seated at the table to respect the needs of the other guests. If there are eight to a table or group, then eight clearly identifiable portions of meat and starch, with maybe ten approximate portions of the veggies would indicate that it is expected that they "play nice"...

Leaving too much on the table, or giving the "oinkers" an opportunity to come out of their civilized shells, could encourage others to ask for more...

Should some of the guests be so bold as to ask for "seconds" on the main entree (have never personally seen that done before - quite gauche, IMO), have a 10% backup laying in wait.

Another thing I'd suggest is that you speak directly with the principle planners of the wedding party, and express your concerns about meeting both their budgetary constraints, and the potential expectations of their guests...

See what they have to offer, once they understand your dilemma...

Bread and butter is a good "filler" to lay out with the salads, and last I checked, not as expensive as protein... I'd keep that readily available to each table.

All that being said, you may wish to consider an additional 15-20% of food per table, if you expect people to ask for seconds. Especially for the head table and that of the bride's and groom's parents...

Lot's of variables in the mix, but with one protein, one starch, and two veggies, you've got a level of control over how things are distributed.

Sort of reminds me of a long ago comic strip, where the main protagonist was at an "All You Can Eat" diner, and the waitress grabbed his not yet emptied plate and said, "That's all you can eat!!"

The above is offered from the perspective of a soon to be "father of the bride", who is sweating the details. I'm thinking cheese, summer sausage, and crackers.
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I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
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post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
DMT, throw in some baby carrots, and you're all set!:smiles:

Thanks for your response and best wishes for your upcoming wedding.
post #16 of 19
and yet another
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #17 of 19
Well I have never hosted but normally you will want to have everything ready as well as the food, in a wedding you don't want to still be cooking when guests arrive.
post #18 of 19
Russian weddings are done like this . We serve it in courses set out on a large serving dish and they help themselves. Usually theirs is a whole duck or two, a salad. a vege, sometimes a bowl of borscht, a meat on a skewer type thing. and wine and iced vodka. Cake or dessert served later also family style. Reminds me of a takeoff on the old football type weddings, Strong coffee in a samovar on each table they drink a lot.
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post #19 of 19
It's been a long time, but I've done a few and been to a few.

Quantities are large -- more like buffet/chaffer than plated. Guests control the portions, you don't, and neither does the social pressure of going through a buffet line (for the third time). Some people will have multiple portions, while others, seduced by the abundance, will overload their plates, come to their senses, and not finish them. Consequently, consumption and waste both go up.

Like buffets, the serving dishes should be rotated into the kitchen to be replenishied and refilled when they start looking thin and ragged. You can't leave a half-empty dish to languish on the table unless that's the guest's insist.

There's less pressure in the kitchen and on the wait staff than with individual plating; but more on wait staff than in a buffet. If it's a large enough party for a large staff, you can split the difference. But if it's small enough to have you questioning whether to go three or four waiters -- always go four.

BDL
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