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Cocktail, Buffet, Or Sit-Down Dinner: What to Choose for a Wedding Reception in NYC

Julia's Blog about Event Staffing /May 22nd, 2022 / ~ 9 minutes read
Do you have a wedding reception coming up in NYC that you need to hire event staffing for? The determining factor when it comes to find staff for a wedding is that you need to decide what type of service you will be providing your guests. Will it be a sit-down dinner, buffet service, or just a cocktail event?

Each of these wedding reception styles differs greatly from each other and requires you to hire specific event staff in NYC to match.

Cocktail Reception

This is a type of service where drinks and hor d'oeuvres are passed around to your guests, providing them with easy access to food and beverage. It can range from casual fare such as beef sliders to extravagant offerings such as caviar.

  • Per guest, it is very cost-effective to provide this type of service compared to a sit-down dinner.
  • If the venue you booked is small, this service style allows for more people to fit inside.
  • Your guests can socialize more with each other without tables getting in the way.

  • Since seating is limited, you and your guests will have to be on your feet more.
    Even though you are saving money on food, the cocktail service will most likely end up costing you more.
  • Passed appetizers mean smaller portions, so you will need enough food being passed around so your guests aren't hungry.

wedding reception


This type of service allows you to have a lot of flexibility. While it is a set menu, it allows your guests to choose exactly what they want to eat. You get to choose exactly what you want to be part of the buffet, and what kind of buffet you wish to have.


  • Very accomodating to you and your guests, you get to choose the exact menu you want and your guests can pick and choose what they wish to eat.
  • Guests can serve themselves, so you don't need a lot of extra staff to provide table service.
  • You won't have to worry as much about your guest's dietary restrictions or allergies, they choose the food themselves.


  • You will need to offer a variety of foods so there appear to be options for your guests.
  • Since people are serving themselves, you will need to have ample amounts of food available
  • Waiting in a line for food can be at times annoying for some guests.

Sit-Down Dinner

wedding reception
This is probably the most common and traditional wedding reception style of all. It involves direct table service and providing a menu with at least 3 different entree options for your guests to choose from.


  • You can control costs because you know exactly what you are offering each guest.
  • Everyone is served their food at the exact same time.
  • Because the meal is a scheduled part of your event, it allows you to coordinate and schedule other wedding reception activities.


  • You will need more staff than the other reception styles so it will be more expensive.
  • Menu offerings are limited for your guests.

How Many Event Staff Are Needed for Each Type of Event

Depending on your event style, you will require different size staffing for events. We have listed here our recommendations for the main staffing requirements per individual event type.


  • Bartenders - 1 per 50 guests
  • Cocktail Server - 1 per 40 guests
  • Food Passer - 1 per 25 guests
  • Busser - 1 per 50 guests


  • Bartenders - 1 per 50 guests
  • Buffet Attendants - 1 per 50 guests
  • Buffet Runner - 1 per 80 guests
  • Drink Servers - 1 per 40 guests
  • Bussers - 1 per 50 guests

Sit-Down Dinner

  • Bartenders - 1 per 100 guests
  • Waiters - 1 per 10 guests
  • Beverage Attendant - 1 per 30 guests

Julia Valler Provides the Best Event Staff for Wedding Receptions in NYC

Julia Valler has been long considered one of the leading sources for hiring wedding servers, bartenders, and several other types of wedding reception staffing options for the last decade.

Our agency and staff have the knowledge and experience of successfully staffing and coordinating wedding receptions of all sizes and types. We guarantee our clients that our level of service is of the highest caliber in the industry.

Give us a call today to get our staffing recommendations for your wedding reception and receive an immediate quote!
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