When planning an event, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is which event
catering service style to choose. Buffet, plated, stations, or something else? The style of service
that you select will impact the atmosphere, flow, and timeline of the event, so it is important to
Here at John Michael Events, Orlando’s premier event catering company, we are experts in
presenting and serving our delicacies in any style you can think of! In this post, we’ll explore all
the various event catering service styles and weigh the pros and cons of each one to help you
decide which one is right for your event.
Whether you’re planning a wedding, social gathering, or corporate event, we are here to guide
you through the planning process and serve your guests the best on the day-of!
Best for any type of event!
Starting with buffet style, this is the most classic event catering service style. Buffets provide
the most variety for your guests and the greatest quantity of food. In our buffet menus, we
offer 1-2 choices of a chicken, meat, or fish dish, 1 pasta selection, a salad, 2 side dishes, and
dessert. All of our buffet menus also include dinner rolls with butter.
Buffets are great for large groups who may have a plethora of different food allergies or dietary
restrictions. With many choices on the buffet menu, there is certainly something for everyone,
no matter if they are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. Plus, guests can also revisit the buffet
for seconds (or thirds!) if they wish.
Buffets are also beneficial for serving a large group of people in the most efficient timeframe.
Buffet lines are frequently double-sided, allowing more guests to get food at one time. If you
have a shorter event timeline, this is a wonderful option for you!
Something to consider with this event catering service style is the matter of bottle necking.
Since buffets are typically self-serve, it is best practice to have your event coordinator or emcee
invite a few tables at a time to go up to the buffet. If this is not done and guests are released to
the buffet lines all at once, this may cause long lines to build up. This in turn may disrupt guest
flow in the event space.
Buffet Style Pros:
• Best for accommodating numerous dietary restrictions or food preferences
• Provides greatest quantity of food
• Serves a large amount of guests at once
Buffet Style Cons:
• Can cause long lines at the buffets if all guests are released at the same time
Best for any type of event!
Plated style is the other most classic event catering service style. This involves the catering staff
serving each guest individually at every table, similar to a restaurant experience. What is
different though is that guests cannot order any given entrée from a menu on the spot. They
must select their entrée in advance, so that the culinary team knows how much of each entrée
to prepare ahead of the event.
This creates more prep work for the event host or coordinator prior to the event day. The event
host must ask each guest for their food order individually, collect any dietary restrictions, and
notify the event catering team accordingly. Final catering counts are typically due 1-2 weeks in
advance of the event date.
What’s more is that there must be a way for the event catering staff onsite to know which dish
each guest has pre-ordered. The most popular way to note this is with place cards.
Traditionally, place cards are little tent cards that sit at each place setting with the guest’s name
on it, showing them where to sit.
The place cards should also have a certain symbol that represents the dish they are getting. For
example, there might be a circle in the corner to denote a chicken dish or a triangle to denote a
fish dish. You can get creative with the symbols or even color code the place cards, but either
way, there must be a clear sign that shows the event catering staff what to serve each guest.
If you’re aiming for a more formal dining experience and don’t mind doing a little more prep
work, this is the best option for you!
Plated Style Pros:
• Creates a more formal and traditional dining experience
• Guests do not have to serve themselves
Plated Style Cons:
• Need to track guests’ food orders and dietary restrictions in advance
• Need to create place cards in advance
Station or Hors D’oeuvres Style:
Best for any type of event!
Food stations is the next event catering service style we offer. With this option, individual food
stations are set up throughout the event space. In our stations package, we offer 3 different
food stations plus 3 butler passed hors d’oeuvres. For appetizers, guests may munch on options
like boursin stuffed mushroom caps, fiery mac and cheese bites, chicken & waffles, or balsamic
When it’s time for dinner, they may start at the salad bar then wander over to the mashed
potato bar and finally, the chef carved beef brisket station. We have a multitude of options for
each station, but no matter which ones you choose, guests are sure to be delighted from start
This event catering service style encourages a more casual, mix-and-mingle type of
environment. As a result, more creative and unique dishes are also encouraged. This style
presents more opportunity to incorporate your own personal flair in the food. Guests will love
to watch our chef carve their prime rib or roll their fresh sushi right in front of them!
Station Style Pros:
• Creates more casual environment
• Allows for more creative food options
Station Style Cons:
• Slower paced food service since guests will be meandering to each station on their own
Best for weddings
Brunch style is a more contemporary event catering service style that has quickly garnered
much popularity, especially for weddings! Perfect for a mid-morning or early afternoon
wedding, this style offers elegant and upscale brunch food options in a buffet line.
Our brunch menu includes butler passed hors d’oeuvres like mini cinnamon rolls, french toast
shooters, and mini quiche.
For the main meal, you might select our chicken and waffles, omelette station, Belgian waffle
station, pancake bar, or chef carved country ham!
Don’t forget about our chef prepared flaming donuts! Onsite, our chef will sauté donut holes in
melted brown sugar and butter and then flambé them in rum. Guests are then invited to
choose from assorted toppings, such as caramel sauce, cinnamon sugar, crushed Oreos,
sprinkles and more!
This event catering service style can also be used for an evening wedding reception, if you
prefer to have a “breakfast for dinner” meal!
Brunch Style Pros:
• More modern event catering style, popular with younger crowds
• Unique twist on event catering for weddings
Brunch Style Cons:
• Some guests may not prefer to have breakfast for dinner
Sweet & Snacks Style
Best for weddings
Our sweet & snacks event catering food service style is meant to be an enhancement to your
wedding cake or as a late night snack. If you and your fiancé have a big sweet tooth, you’ll love
our dessert enhancements like a s’mores station, pie bar, mini cobblers, or candy bar. These are
a great way to add variety to your dessert offerings!
If you have more of a savory palate, you’ll enjoy our sliders, street tacos, grilled cheese and
soup shooters or carnival fries. Our event catering staff can bring these treats out in the middle
of the dance party for guests to munch on, re-energizing them for the rest of the night!
If you want to treat your guests to amazing food options from the beginning of the wedding
until the end, this is definitely the way to go!
Sweet & Snacks Style Pros:
• Offer more dessert options for guests besides cake
• Late night snacks are a great “surprise and delight” moment for your guests
Sweet & Snacks Style Cons:
• Be mindful of how many of each enhancement you order because not all your guests
will eat all the sweet or savory treats. Our team can advise you on quantities for each
Summary of Event Catering Service Styles
Whether you choose buffet, plated, stations, brunch or sweet & snacks style, John Michael
Events is ready to deliver the best to your guests! Here’s a recap of all the event catering food
service styles we offer:
• Buffet: Offers the most variety and more easily accommodates most dietary restrictions.
May cause long lines or bottle necking, if guests aren’t staggered.
• Plated: Creates a more formal experience but requires more prep work in advance.
• Stations: A fun way to create a casual event environment with more creative dishes.
• Brunch: Provides guests with upscale and elegant brunch food and is becoming
increasingly popular for weddings.
• Sweet & Snacks: Intended as sweet and/or savory food enhancements for weddings.
Have Questions About Our Event Catering Service Styles?
John Michael Events is an experienced Orlando event caterer, specializing in serving all types of
events, from weddings to social events to corporate events. We offer all-inclusive wedding
packages that not only include event catering, but also the additional vendors you’ll need to
throw the wedding of your dreams! Twice a quarter, we are proud to host “A Taste of John
Michael,” a one-of-a-kind group tasting experience, where clients are invited to sample a
variety of our delicacies.
Have further questions about any of these event catering food service styles? Contact our team
by hitting the button below. We would love to chat with you!