If you're planning a wedding, you already know that catering is a major portion of the wedding budget; a buffet service offers a less expensive option than a plated service and often provides a better experience for your guests as well. The reason for this is that your guests have full reign in deciding what to eat at your reception with a buffet service, rather than being served a meal based on a meal card they sent to you a few months beforehand. Here's how to design your menu to ensure that your wedding guests leave your reception fully satisfied.

Mind Any Food Allergies Your Guests May Have

You know your guests better than anyone. You'll need to account for any dietary allergies that your guests may have when you are choosing your menu; you'll also need to make sure that the catering staff is aware of them. Wheat allergies and nut allergies can be very serious, and you don't want someone to have a bad reaction on your special day. To this end, make sure the catering company is willing to label the potential allergens on every item on the buffet so that your guests who have food allergies know which foods are safe and which ones should be avoided.

Take Guests' Dietary Preferences Into Account

Some of your guests may have certain dietary preferences. Whether they are vegetarian, vegan or paleo, it's important to keep them in mind when you are selecting your menu. Your guests will certainly appreciate the added thought you put into their preferences when you are selecting the menu for your wedding. At the very least, you should offer a vegetarian entree along with some side dishes that are vegan-friendly. Pasta entrees made without meat are an appetizing option for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. For vegan sides, you'll want to ask your caterer. Many prepared salads are vegan and can have tasty vegan protein added such as blackened tofu to make them into a filling meal.

Work With Your Caterer And Venue To Prevent Long Buffet Lines

When most people think of buffet catering, they think of long lines. This doesn't have to be the case with a buffet from a wedding catering service. You'll need to work closely with the venue and with the catering company to ensure there is enough space, but in most cases you can have two buffet lines rather than one in order to service your guests more quickly. Call up tables sequentially to the buffet table closest to them. This minimizes the amount of time that your guests will spend on their feet waiting for food in a buffet line. Your buffet catering company will also have servers available to bring food to the head table as well as to any tables who have guests who are disabled or who have difficulty walking or serving food to themselves.