Are You Banquet Table Ready for Family Style Meals

Are You Banquet Table Ready for Family Style Meals
Posted in: How To Guides

Are You Banquet Table Ready for Family Style Meals

The Latest Trend for Events

Over the last few years, we have started seeing family style meal service trending with weddings and special events.


Family-style offers a nice middle ground when it comes to formality. Plated meal service can be considered the most formal and buffet is considered to be the least formal.

I believe one of the main reasons why family-

style has become a popular trend is because the majority of brides are still choosing country, rustic or vintage as their inspired wedding theme. Family Style dinners have deep roots when it comes to old southern family tradition.

Family-style meal service is a fantastic option in creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. One of the greatest hallmarks of holidays spent with family is listening to everyone talking around the table. The same feeling can be achieved at weddings and special events with family-style meals.

With over a decade of experience in the catering world, I have developed some helpful insight on how to have a successful family-style meal service.


"A sit-down meal is considered more elegant" - Colin Cowie Events Designer



The first thing to consider is your banquet table size and layout. From my experience, most people would choose a standard 8'x30" banquet table. This is probably because not a lot of venues or rental companies offer a size wider than 30". The width of a 8'x30" banquet table end ups being too narrow for a family-meal service.  Once you factor in the place settings and the centerpieces, it leaves little to no room for the platters of food.

I've seen this first hand and it creates an awkward dining experience for the guest. Watching them try to juggle platters of food and finding a place to set them down without knocking anything over is a sight for sore eyes.  

A solution I found is to use at least a 36" wide banquet table or larger. Wide banquets, Queen banquets and King banquets make a lovely seating arrangement and allows for a smooth and enjoyable family-style meal service.  From a rental company or event venue's perspective, having these size banquet table available to offer to customers would be a great advantage.


2. Consider your Serve-Ware

Serve Ware Photo:

The second thing to take into consideration when choosing to offer Family-Style Service is the serve-ware the caterer will be using. If dishes are too bulky or heavy it will create a challenge for the guests to comfortably pass the platters or bowls around. Family -Style service will also require more serve-ware than other Meal options since each table will need to have the same dishes options.

Also, make sure the serving utensils being used are user friendly. Since guests will be serving themselves, weight and size of the serving utensils is something to consider.

In regards to the serve-ware, take into consideration easy handling but also look at the shape, weight and size of your available dishes, platters, bowls and utensils. Make sure that everything will fit comfortably on your banquet table and is easy to handle and use.



3. You Have More Food Options

More Food Options Photo:

Family style offers greater flexibility with your food options and portions. One guest might be on a diet and will be able to control their portion or another might be a vegetarian. This is also a great option for those with a healthy appetite. No one will leave saying that they are still hungry.

As mentioned before, table size definitely becomes a factor when offering Family Style Meals and all of your food options.

Staffing Needs Photo:

Compared to other options, like plated and buffet, Family Style allows for service of the guests all at once, as opposed to guests waiting for their table to be called.

In contrast, a Plated Meal service will take up more of their reception time to serve all of their guests. In the meanwhile, Buffet Meal will offer the same flexibility as Family Style, but will still consume a lot of their reception time.

A key takeaway to timing and a Family Style meal is to make sure the event has enough staff to serve all of the dishes in a timely manner. As opposed to individual plates, they will be serving platters of food for each table.


Family Style Meals are definitely the trend and brings a comfortable and cozy feel, yet elegant, falling in between formal and casual. It offers the benefits of both plated and buffet meals but offers greater flexibility in regards to food options and portion sizes. Family Style encourages guests to interact. The key takeaway is to make sure that you have the correct banquet table size to accommodate the additional dishes introduced in Family-Style Meals. This will ensure that all of the guests will be comfortable to enjoy this style of meal.

September 3, 2019