Often times your caterer will take charge of setting up your buffet. However, if they don’t or you would like to have some input in how your buffet looks, here are a few tips and tricks to help guide your thoughts and assist in making your buffet fit in with the rest of your well planned wedding decor.
It’s important to set the plates at the end of the table where you want people to begin the line. Silverware and napkins can actually go at the other end if you like, or better yet, set at the dining tables so that guests do not have to balance their plate and utensils while serving themselves. If your buffet is double-sided (meaning you want guests to walk down either side of the table) make sure there are plates on both sides.
How to set the food
The main thing to keep in mind when setting up a display is to think logically about the food placement. Make sure that you keep salads with salads, side dishes with side dishes, and entrees with entrees. A good rule of thumb is to set your food in the way you would serve it at the table. So, it should pretty much go: bread, soups/chili, salads, entrees, side dishes.
A simple way to create a captivating buffet is to raise some of the items above others. This is a simple trick that can make a big difference. The best part about it is that almost anything can become a riser, as long as the top of the item is flat, the bottom of the item sits securely on the table, the surface area on the top is large enough to accommodate whatever platter or dish you are displaying, and that the item is sturdy enough to support the weight of the food. Some suggestions for levels: wooden fruit boxes, large books, bricks, clean paint cans, cooking pots, storage containers (like Tupperware), etc. If the item is not providing visual interest on its own, you will want to cover the item with a matching/contrasting fabric such as a napkin, so that you don’t see the actual level itself.
This is an old catering trick called “clouding.” Clouding is when you simply take an extra table cloth (or two) and then bunch and scrunch the fabric on the top of your table. It creates a pretty, fluffy sort of look around the base of the platters. The main thing to remember is not to use too much fabric — it’s there to accent the food, not hide it.
Thematic accent pieces can also add pops of interest, like a wheel of fortune at a carnival party, or a piñata for a Mexican fiesta, can really add a bit of color and fun to a bland buffet. For weddings jewels or a simple accent like curly, colored or metallic ribbons are great sprinkled when on the table. Just make sure that the items don’t overpower the table or get in the way of the food and they are kept away from anything flammable!