Imma go ahead and spoil this one… there is no right answer, they are both GREAT!!!! it all comes down to the type of event you are having and how you want that event to flow. I’ve seen plated dinner for 1000 go fine and I’ve seen plated dinner for 100 go completely amuck. Knowing that capability of your Caterer and their strong suits is a good place to start.
Lets start with what the strengths of both are. First the buffet. Foremost the buffet is usually the cheaper option, this is deff not a bad thing. Some times the focal point of the party isn’t the food. In a lot of cases food is a formality of the time slot chosen. With buffets comes a certain ease for the staff. Not only is it easier for the staff to prepare in most cases its much easier for the average careering company to handle. Imagine if you are serving a plate to each guest you need considerable more servers for the same group as it would take to staff a buffet or two. Next with the buffet you tend to get people fed quicker, which is certainly helpful for the client looking to get the formalities out of the way and gets the party started. One of my favorite reason the buffet shines is that every person gets the exact portion they want. Don’t like green beans… no problem, have a dairy aversion, steer clear of the cheese plates. Don’t like salad, no biggie, go all Ron Swanson and get two helpings of the Roast Beast. The Buffet provides more control to the guest to make sure they get there perfect base for the rest of the night.
The plated dinner has a fair amount of strong pros too. If you are a massive foodie and want there to be a 7 course meal, well then plated is the way for you. People don’t go to parties to make decisions, a lot of times they just want to sit back and relax and not have to think, the plated dinner shines here. Also, if like my family you have a large and strong family type vibe the plated dinner is definitely the way to go. If you have relatives coming from all over the country that haven’t seen each other in years then the tempo a plated dinner is much better. No hustle and bustle of getting up, just enjoying the company of those around you.
Now right in the middle of these two lies the Family style dinner, which is my personal favorite. Your get the traditional ascetic of the plated dinner with all the convenience of the buffet, very much the tuxedo T-Shirt of event culinary service, letting your guests know “hey!!!! we’re classy…. But were ultimately here to party”