After extensive research, as wedding planners, we have realized that the option of a buffet is more often a blessing for the caterer and no one else. Buffet is an international concept borrowed and adapted to Indian settings and gained extreme popularity at weddings in the 90’s. Buffets are considered convenient to serve a large contingent of people say at a convention or business conference where constraints of space make this an easy option. In the wedding circles buffet was initially introduced as a matter of style / fashion and being ‘In’ with the times. Gradually people found that it was perhaps easy to manage a large number of guests converging on to the dining hall all at once by offering a spread of dishes that they could serve themselves. Hence they began to opt for buffet.
As event managers we find that in India Wedding receptions are only mostly associated with buffet. Primarily because the morning Muhurtham lunch being a traditional one with specific dishes as a MUST cannot be adapted to the buffet style of eating. If it is dinner there is tremendous scope for innovation and bringing in variations in the menu. Moreover the main wedding Muhurtham is mostly a close knit affair with just the immediate family and friends in attendance. So it is comparatively less crowded. A wedding reception on the other hand encompasses a wider gathering and if the wedding venue is not too big then buffet is the best option to be used.
A reception menu also allows you the freedom to experiment with cuisines. As wedding planners we are given a lot of freedom to suggest varied specialties for dinner by the client that includes chaat varieties, salads, desserts and a wider range in the main course options like Chinese and region specific cuisines. While it is a good concept where a large gathering has to be managed, it has its disadvantages too. First of all most invitees are not too comfortable with the buffet system. The idea of carrying around a heavy porcelain plate for the better part of 30 minutes is not their cup of tea. More so with senior citizens who prefer to sit down and have their food.
Of course this problem can be rid by placing a few round tables in the hall but more often than not there is a clamoring for seats even from people who are a lot younger. Young parents find it difficult to feed their children in this system. Ladies carrying hand bags or clutch purses find they have too much on their hands to handle. Long winding queues to get a morsel of food upsets quite a lot of people, making them even skip dinner at times. The idea of buffet system was thought of being a blessing to avoid wastage of food since guests can choose what they like. But when the crowd gets a bit on the higher side the natural tendency of people is to get a little bit of everything on their plate for fear of having to wade through the crowd one more time to get a serving. While patience is the key to enjoying a good buffet many do not possess it. If dishes are not refilled on time frayed tempers begin to rise.
To make a success of a buffet dinner a few dedicated individuals need to supervise arrangements to see that the guests are comfortable. As Event planners we take special efforts to ensure that no guest leaves half hungry or frustrated with the experience. Multiple counters offering the same dishes have to be strategically placed to avoid rush and congestion at a single spot. Also appoint an individual to count the number of plates being placed for the guests. Unless there is a track on the number there are bright chances of you getting duped by the caterers who will charge you for extra guests. As wedding planners we ensure that this coordination is done so that the client is not made to pay unnecessarily.
When you plan a buffet dinner for a family wedding or event think twice. Don’t opt for it to make a style statement. Decide on it after assessing the kind of crowd that you are inviting. After all at the end of the day you will want your guests to leave with pleasant memories because food is a very important part of Indian Weddings. This makes them fill their plate with items which they may not like too much and go on to waste it. Again it is a common sight to see plates, cutlery or food items being dropped on the floor and cleaning measures have to be spot on to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.