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How to Plan a Plated Dinner Service | Austin, TX Wedding Planners

If you’re considering having a plated meal with different entree options for your wedding, there are several things you need to consider. Don’t let that scare you though! Plated meals take a bit more effort to plan for than a buffet, but can be amazing as long as you’re planning for them correctly. Here are some tips and tricks!



If you're doing a plated meal with entree options for guests, you will have needed to decide if you’re doing so before you order your invitations. The reason being that you’ll need to include your meal options, or at least the “gist” of your meal options on your invitations, and a spot where guests can let you know if they have any dietary restrictions, allergies, or if kids will be attending. It will also be crucial to know the exact amount of people coming so be sure to clearly state how many guests are invited on each invitation. This was you’ll have no unexpected plus ones.


You will need to talk to your caterer about any special meals they offer for people with allergies or food

preferences, like gluten free or vegan meals, as well as their kid’s meal options. When you get your

RSVPs back, be sure to triple check the number of each kind of meal (i.e. chicken, beef, gluten free) so your caterer can order the correct amount of food and the ingredients they may need for any special meals.


For a plated meal you will need to have assigned tables with a corresponding seating chart/escort display visible to guests during cocktail hour. This is very important for the wait staff since they will be bringing out a specific number of each type of meal based on who is sitting at each table. Usually your wedding planner will draw up a diagram for you to give to your catering staff, but sometimes the catering staff may take care of this on their own. This chart will let them know how many chairs and place settings go at each table as well as how many of each dish needs to be brought to each table. Sometimes a list accompanies the chart to make it even easier when the catering staff is plating your meals, for example:

Table 1: 4 beef, 2 chicken, 1 vegan

Table 2: 5 beef, 1 chicken, 2 kids


If guests are choosing their entree or have allergy options, it's a good idea to have place cards made so each guest knows which seat they need to sit at. The place cards will also serve the purpose of letting the wait staff know which dish to place in front of each person. You will basically need to come up with some kind of “code” that lets the wait staff know which people have ordered each kind of meal. One way to do this is to color code your place cards to match your wedding colors. For example, anyone who’s place card is maroon ordered beef, white cards mean chicken& green cards mean vegetarian, etc. We have seen people include little stamps of a cow, a chicken or a leaf, or even just writing a B, C or V on the corners of each card. Whatever “code” you choose, definitely make sure it is noticeable enough. Often times there is dim lighting when dinner is being served and you don’t want the wait staff leaning over your guests with large trays of food trying to figure out who gets what. Make is as easy as possible for the wait staff so your guests get smooth and seamless service.


It is really helpful if you can ask your DJ to make an announcement right before dinner is being served

for guests to please stay seated during dinner service. There are usually multiple staff members with

large trays of food having to walk between tables and it’s much easier for them to get the food to the

tables if they are not having to dodge guests. Keep in mind that with a plated meal there are usually no seconds.

These tips will surely help your plated dinner be a success!