fruit display at an Indian wedding

Wedding Meal Styles – What You Need to Know

I’m going to go over buffet, plated, and family style meals at wedding events. We all know that buffets are the most common meal style at South Asian weddings. Here’s why:

  • venues are ‘hands off’ when it comes to meals for outside catered events, because of liability issues. With buffets caterers are responsible for transporting, setup, replenishing, and clean up.
  • caterers bring the food already, ready – no cooking at the venue.
  • with buffets, the roles and responsibilities of the caterer and venue are clearly defined.
  • also guests like the flexibility of selecting the items and quantities of each.
  • plated and family style cost more
  • important for our culture, buffets make it easier to manage guests’ dietary restrictions compared to family/plated.

Buffet cons: considered less elegant, guests wait in line to get food.

Indian food in chafing dishes setup for for an Indian wedding reception.
Photo: HDE Video Concepts


Guests getting dinner in the buffet line at an outdoor Indian wedding reception.
Photo: HDE Video Concepts

Plated Meals

  • not common
  • elegant
  • formal

Plated Cons: costs more, guests still wait – at their table, instead of buffet line, guests don’t get to select dishes nor quantities, accommodating dietary restrictions is tricky, not all caterers can do plated. Since plated meals involve a lot more labor – more servers to serve as well as service throughout the events – they cost more.

Indian wedding samosas single served on cups


Mexican food served an a sangeet for an Indian wedding.
Photo: VEK Photo


Indian food served buffet style at an Indian wedding
Photo: Wedding Documentary Photo + Video

I’ve observed that after a long program, people want to stretch their legs, mingle, or grab a drink at the bar. So while waiting, for their dinner plate to arrive, most guests get out of their seats. It’s not usually a very formal atmosphere where everyone stays in their seats.

Family Style Dinner 

  • Indian food is very family-style friendly
  • it’s unique to have at a reception

Family Style Cons: costs more, portions are often too small, getting refills isn’t easy, accommodating dietary restrictions is tricky, and you have to be extra careful planning centerpieces you’ll need space for all those dishes! Similar to plated meals, family style meals require more labor from the caterer as well as venue staff, therefore cost more.

Indian wedding reception family style dinner
Pin for later:
chafing dishes setup for a wedding reception
Photo: Lin and Jirsa



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