I am thrilled to be able to work in many countries around the world (not to mention earning those frequent flyer points!). It never ceases to amaze me how different customs can be among different cultures. For instance, the choice of serving a sit down dinner or buffet style dinner.
I know it seems like a small thing, but this choice can make a big difference to your budget as well as to the mood of your entire event--not to mention making sure your event is culturally appropriate for the country (mostly if you’re planning a destination wedding).
Here’s what’ I’ve discovered:
- Indonesian events: mostly buffet
- South of France: mostly sit down dinners
- Hong Kong: mostly buffets
- Panama, (my country of birth): mostly buffets
- Middle East: mostly buffets
- Italy: sit down dinners
In America it could go either way. I noticed there was a trend in the desire to keep an event more informal and economical (especially last year with our economical drop), so most events were served buffet style. I do, however, think this is slowly changing back to the formality of a sit down dinner.
When serving sit down dinners, I have tried many ways to keep this part of the night interesting. For example:
- Leave a chair open at each table for the host (and/or hostess) to visit with their guests (This works best for smaller events. If the event involves over 200 guests, 20 tables is a lot to visit.)
- Try having guests move to different tables for dessert and coffee to encourage mixing groups.
- I also prefer to assign tables not seats. I find this to be more organic (and less controlling).
What’s you preference? Sit down or buffet? And if sit down, what do you think works best to keep it interesting (especially when some guests are having a hard time connecting with other folks at their table)?