When thinking about your party or wedding catering, there are several types of service. The most common are appetizers or appetizer stations, family style, buffet, and plated service. Part of what's made us the best Los Angeles catering company for 15 years is helping you with your own vision of your wedding or party along with your catering budget, especially Christmas party catering and New Year's Eve catering, as you may be hosting several events throughout the season. See what catering style best for your wedding, dinner party, or corporate event.
Appetizer Catering and Appetizer Stations
For spaces that don't lend themselves to sit-down meal service, appetizer catering and hors d'oeuvres create a party-like setting where guests can meet and mingle. Our friendly and experienced staff circulate during the duration of your wedding or party, refreshing trays to keep hot foods hot and colder foods cool. (We even use custom, covered appetizer catering platters for COVID precautions.)
Appetizer and hors d'oeuvres catering is one of the most costly types of full-service party and wedding catering, especially in Los Angeles, the heart of the entertainment industry and a social hub for all Southern California. The best appetizer catering near you isn't a plate of smokies and cheese for the big game on Sunday. Each appetizer dish is like an entire mini-entree, with every piece needing to be cooked, assembled, garnished, sauced, and plated. We estimate 2 pieces of each appetizer per person. (This goes for appetizer stations at weddings, too.) If your Christmas party or wedding catering has seven (7) different appetizers, for example, we have to make each guest 12-14 individual, composed pieces of food. For 40-person wedding catering, that’s almost 560 appetizers! (Contrast with 40 steaks, sides, and salads for sit-down dinner party catering.)
Most parties start in the early evening, so even though you're not serving a main course, guests will miss dinner, be more hungry, and eat more food. (This goes double for corporate party catering, as you don't want to order too little and disappoint staff, clients, vendors, and suppliers.) Cocktail party catering tends to go for longer for periods of time, too. So while a wedding dinner service might start at 6 pm and end by 7:30 pm, a Christmas cocktail party catering service might last till much later in the evening, 11 pm and after, and guests will expect appetizers to be served the whole time.
We're the top wedding caterers in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and more because we know how to work with you and your wedding catering budget to make your dream day an unforgettable success. If you're looking to reduce costs for catering a small wedding, for example, try adjusting the hours, like 8-11 pm or an afternoon party or wedding at 2-5 pm. Shorter parties, after meal times, imply that guests should eat smaller meals and join you for a bite after. Consider fewer appetizers and a buffet dinner as well.
Sit-Down Plated Service
With formal sit-down dinner catering, your party guests sit at tables and our waitstaff serve the meal to you. More formal than any other type of service, sit-down wedding and party catering looks elegant and stylish, your guests marvel at the presentation from the best catering company in Los Angeles near you, and they will enjoy the meal as it's meant to be eaten, with the proper amount of sauce and delicious sides.
Sit-down dinner catering gives you more control over the timing of your reception, too. We plan the exact time for each element of your wedding catering (champagne toast, the first dance, etc). Also, your party guests don't have to wait in line to get their food, as with appetizer stations at weddings, for example. While the food costs are usually less than the other styles of service, since the portions are controlled, your staff costs will be much higher, as you will need at least 1 server per 1-2 tables of party guests, plus the service captain, plus more kitchen staff to execute the plating in an efficient and timely manner for party appetizers catering.
Family-style catering is perfect for a more informal wedding or party. However, it is also surprisingly, the most costly! First, you need more food, since every platter needs to look plentiful when it's placed before your guests, or else your wedding or party catering seems skimpy and already finished and everyone feels like they should leave early. And since everyone can serve themselves, including seconds, you have to have enough of each item for each party guest.
Plus you need enough catering waitstaff to bring all the platters to each of the tables. (You don’t want the mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables to get to the table, then get the braised short ribs and creamed spinach 10 minutes later.) Lastly, the cost for renting all the platters needed for each of the menu items, for each of the tables, adds up. So if you're looking for a relaxed, casual environment, where party guests have more control over their meals and maybe even some leftovers, family-style catering might just be perfect for you!
Party buffet catering, like a birthday or wedding, consists of platters or chafing dishes of foods artfully arranged on central tables. Your party guests move along the buffet line and serve themselves or an attendant will assist with the main courses. When their plates are filled, guests take them to a dining table to eat. Servers usually provide beverage service at tableside. The pros/cons to this style of service is you have a little bit lower staff costs, but higher food costs, since you don't know what the guests will select, and they control their portions and can come back for seconds. Plus, even with a two sided buffet line, you will have people lined up to take their turn. Key to the success of buffet party catering food is to call tables one by one, rather than a free-for-all with all 150 guests in line at once.
Another way to offset the waiting is to have the first course, usually a salad, preplaced when guests get to their tables, or just after, so guests have something to eat/do while waiting for their turn at the buffet line. (See our great salad catering menu!)
Action Stations or Food Stations
Appetizer stations at weddings are quite popular. Similar to a buffet, except chefs prepare and serve foods at the buffet (rather than in the kitchen). Adding a couple of action stations to buffet party catering can help alleviate the long lines at the main buffet, plus it adds a fun interactive element to the event and guests love the chance to interact with the chef.
Entrees that lend themselves well to action station service include wok stations, mashed potato bars, fajitas, pasta stations, grilled meats, omelets, crepes, sushi, gourmet taco, gourmet burgers, and flaming desserts. These stations are sometimes called “performance stations” or “exhibition cooking.” Extra cost associated with these types of stations are one or more chefs for the station (depending on guest count), extra pans/tools for cooking and plates for each serving.
Hand service is a very elegant, expensive style of catering service that is sometimes used for small gourmet-meal functions. Guests are seated. There is one server for every two guests and all guests at a table are served at precisely the same time. Servers wear white gloves. This style is sometimes called “service in concert" or "synchronized service."