Wedding Catering: Plated Dinner

Wedding Catering: Plated Dinner

Wedding Catering: Plated Dinner

As far as catering service styles go, plated dinners present the biggest challenges for an off-site caterer. It’s also the most expensive to execute simply because it requires more service staff that either a buffet or family style catered wedding.
As a general rule of thumb, you need 1 server for every 8 to 10 guests when serving in the “wave style” or table by table service. You start with the head table, fanning out from there – it goes without saying that speed is paramount.

You really have to be in the zone as wedding caterers during a plated dinner service because you’re playing a supporting role to the main event – the wedding! Often times an extended speech will force a rewrite of your timeline.

Caterers need specialized knowledge to know what’s realistically achievable in any situation, while lots of venues have full-service kitchens, more often than not, your building your kitchen from scratch in a hallway or storage room.

As with every off site catering event, hiccups will happen. Don’t be afraid to ‘MacGyver’ your way out of a jam. Forgot a rondeau? Is your pan not big enough? Use a sheet pan over a burner. Instant flat top!


Hors D’oeuvres

It’s a good idea to keep your canapes cold during the cocktail hour. This is the time to prepare your lines for the hot food, warm your plates and set out your mies en plas. Organization is so critical in the beginning, make sure there is enough space for people to move past each other during the dinner rush – at least 3 feet.

Always set up a barrier between the kitchen and the service area . There is a chain of command that also needs to be adhered to, with the supervisor or expediter communicating directly with the chef.

Clear Floor Plan

Every expediter needs a clear floor plan. How else are we going to ensure that your 100+ guests are receiving the correct dish ordered, especially when there were 4 entree choices?

The expediter first calls the table number, then the individual entrees needed for that table. The chef relays the order to his or her team.

Always ensure to preheat your plate ware for any hot course

In situations where space is limited, make full use of a food warmer. It’s a great tool to hold already cooked/heated items and corresponding to the previous point, it is the best way to warm your plates and dishes.


Plating lines are essential. Every person has their own duty/position. They only take care of 1 or 2 items on the plate each, ensuring nothing gets missed or doubled up. An extension of this, is that you have clearly designated areas for each dish. Use KISS for every situation. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Cold Plates

When mass producing cold plates, lay out all the dishware and build en masse. Every plate should look identical.


If you’re able, keep the dessert cold too. Your kitchen crew needs a break!

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