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  • Writer's pictureRaghu Lakshminaarayanan

Buffet at Indian Weddings – To opt or not to opt?

As wedding caterers, we have most clients telling us that the reception dinner in a wedding has to be a buffet set up without going into the pros and cons of it. Buffet is an international concept borrowed and adapted to Indian settings and gained extreme popularity at weddings in the 90’s.

The Buffet system is 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.

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 many 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.

More often than not, the option of a buffet is more often a blessing for the wedding caterer and no one else.

As wedding caterers, we find that in India, clients prefer to have a buffet dinner for the wedding reception than any other event. 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 by the wedding caterer. 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 by the wedding caterer. 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 must 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 clamouring for seats by the young and the old, defeating the purpose.

Young parents find it difficult to feed their children in this system since children cannot manage a plate on their own and need to be seated. Ladies carrying handbags or clutch purses find they have too much on their hands to handle. Long winding queues to even pick up a plate and get a morsel of food upsets quite a lot of people, making them even skip dinner at times.

The idea of a buffet system was thought of as being a blessing by most clients 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. Thus leading to wastage of food that they may not have the appetite to eat

While patience is the key to enjoying a good buffet many do not possess it. As marriage caterers we ensure that the dishes are refilled at the counters continuously to avoid delay in service.

To make a success of a buffet dinner we appoint dedicated individuals to supervise arrangements to see that the guests are comfortable. As wedding caterers, we take special efforts to ensure that no guest leaves half hungry or frustrated with the experience. Accidental spillages of cutlery, drinks and dishes are bound to happen and cleaning staff have to be alert in their job in order to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.

Multiple counters offering the same dishes must be strategically placed to avoid rush and congestion at a single spot. We ensure plates are stacked up in counts of 50’s or 100’s to have accountability to the client and also to have a track of additional plates being used by additional guests.

The wedding caterer should have the right type of food counters and food warmers to keep the dishes hot. Cold food is certainly not welcome with guests.

As wedding caterers, we have the following advice to our clients.

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 the MOST important part of Indian Weddings.

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. As wedding caterers we put in a lot of thought into what should go into a buffet and advice our clients accordingly.

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