Understand the Catering Service You Need in Bozeman, MT

Aside from all the dancing, mingling, and waiting to see the bride’s dress, most guests attending a wedding are excited to see what the reception is going to be like – mainly the type of dinner and food that will be provided. When planning a wedding you need to be aware of all of the catering options available. Just A Taste Catering is here to help you decide which type of catering option is the best for you.

Cocktail Reception

This style of reception is different from the rest mainly because your guests will be standing most of the night. Because your guests will be standing, you will need to make sure that food can be easily accessible or the food is passed around.

A cocktail style reception means that your guests will have to the option to try a selection of different foods throughout the entire night. This also gives them the option of eating when hungry, instead of having a more formal sit-down dinner.

You will need to take into consideration that the portion size of food will generally be smaller, this means you will need to make sure there is enough food for every person. It can also be difficult to accommodate certain guests’ dietary requirements and make sure that certain food gets to them.

Because you will need to make sure there is enough food to go around, you should keep these things in mind:

  • There should be 1 server for every 20-30 guests
  • There should be 1 stationary bartender for every 70-100 guests (this will vary depending on your needs i.e. cocktails require more service than beer and wine menus)
  • Try to be cost effective with a central food station
  • Make sure you have the right required equipment

Sit-Down Dinner

A sit-down dinner is the most traditional style of dinner at a wedding reception – it is also the most straightforward. This means dinner generally consists of three courses – salad, entrée and dessert. Guests will be served in a restaurant-style form. You can have your guests pre-select their dinner option by including it in your wedding invitation. Keep in mind that everyone has different opinions so an option for an alternative, for instance dietary restrictions and/or allergies etc. is always a good idea.

This is the best option if you don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out portion sizes and logistics. Because each serving size is catered directly to your number of guests, you can expect to have little to no waste. By having a sit-down dinner all your guests will be served at the same time so you can guarantee that everyone will get food.

If you’re wanting a more relaxed and casual vibe, a formal sit-down dinner might not be the right fit for you.
Having a dinner of this style requires more planning in advance so make sure you keep the following in mind:

  • There should be 1 server for every 8 – 10 guests
  • There should be 1 bartender for every 30 - 40 guests (this will vary depending on your needs i.e. cocktails require more service than beer and wine menus)
  • You will have to have addition wait staff than normal
  • You will have to provide catering with a seating a chart
  • Make sure to factor in all serving ware into your budget

Stationary Food/Buffet Dinner

A stationary food/buffet dinner is exactly what it sounds like. There will be a designated location at your reception within walking distance to the tables where all food will be located. Your guests will have the pleasure of serving their own food – which ensures that everyone will be fed.

By doing this style of catering you are able to offer more of a variety with food options. Most people include different choices for protein, vegetables, salads, etc., to accommodate all guests. This ensures that nobody will miss out of a particular dish because its not easily accessible.

You will need to keep in mind that you will not have control over serving sizes. Due to this, you will need to make sure that you overcompensate when deciding how much food to order. Just a Taste Catering does provide 10% over your final guest count to cover any unexpected guests and/or heavy eaters. We will also factor in how many buffet lines are needed to ensure guests eat in a timely manner.
Please remember to feed your vendors (i.e. DJ’s, photographer wedding coordinator etc.)

This style of dinner has a more relaxed feel to it so make sure that you don’t under plan for it. You should:

  • Have 1 server for every 20-30 guests
  • Have 1 bartender for every 30-40 guests (this will vary depending on your needs i.e. cocktails require more service than beer and wine menus)
  • Make sure you don’t need specialty equipment
  • Make sure to not undercompensate on food ordering

“Family Style” Dinner

The “family style” dinner is similar to a meal served during Christmas or Thanksgiving. Everyone will be seated around big tables and will have platters of food placed along the middle of the table for people to serve themselves. Your guests will be passing the platters around, helping themselves to whichever food they would like.

Most brides choose this style of dinner because it really showcases the family feel – which is what the entire day is about. It also encourages people to make more conversation with each other so they’re able to mingle throughout the night. Similar to the buffet style, there should be an array of different selections for people to choose from.

The biggest thing to consider with the “family style” dinner is the serving size per person. There will not be any portion control with this style so you will have to overcompensate when ordering. However, some people might eat less because they feel like they need to leave food for the other guests.

Because the food will be centered on the tables you will need to make sure that:

  • There is 1 server for every 10-15 guests
  • There is 1 bartender for every 30-40 guests (this will vary depending on your needs i.e. cocktails require more service than beer and wine menus)
  • Your table width is wide enough to hold platters and people (be aware of keeping table décor to a minimum)
  • You have all necessary utensils, platters and bowls for serving

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is catering more expensive than going to a restaurant?

  • Catering is bringing the restaurant to you – you don’t have to worry about travel arrangements and can focus on enjoying your night!
Does the price of the food change for each style?
  • No. The food costs never change based on style of service just the staffing.


For more information and to discuss which option is best for you, give us a call at (406) 599-6705