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Family Style Reception Meal

Family Style Reception Meal

A large portion of a wedding budget is dedicated to food cost. Most couples are not aware that there is a variety of ways to serve the reception dinner. One of my favorites is family style! I love how family style works for any style wedding.

mini1446136925(Wes Brown Photography)

A family style reception meal is similar to a large sit-down dinner with other guests. Large portions of what is being served are placed on each table for guests to take as much as they prefer!


  • Mealtime is very efficient – allows more time for dancing, toasts, cake
  • All guests are eating at the same time
  • Guests are able to serve themselves as much food as they would like
  • Creates a warm “homey” atmosphere. All guests are interacting. Passing plates is a great way to keep the conversation flow comfortable.
  • The in between of buffets and serving guests individually. Guests are still seated and served but in a more casual way.


  • Each table must have enough space for all platters and dishes
  • Budget may need to be increased because of multiple rental items for platters and serving pieces for each table
  • Food costs may increase to ensure caterer makes enough food so none of the servings run out

mini1446137122(Danelle Alexis Photography)

An important thing to remember about family style is to give specific seat assignments. This allows the caterer and wait staff to figure out how many meat vs. veggie entrees each table receives. It also makes guests feel important knowing that you took the time to choose who they are sitting with and where.

A good start to creating these seating charts is creating a document with all guests name and crossing them off as you go. Organizing the document by relationships can sometimes be helpful in placing guests at each table. (brides parents, grooms friends, brides cousins, etc)

Tip: Don’t be afraid to mix tables up and place guests with strangers. HOWEVER, do not place your divorced aunt and uncle at a table with their new spouses. Remember your guests don’t want any awkward encounters and are there to enjoy the day too!

mini1446137113(Danelle Alexis Photography)


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