5 Dinner Party Styles for Any Event

The essence of any party lies in the food. From the menu selection to the way it's served, the type of dinner party you choose to throw affects the flow of the whole evening. It determines your floor plan, the timeline, and sets the mood. There are many creative options that lend themselves to totally different vibes. Don't let that overwhelm you. Food brings people together and should be enjoyed throughout the whole process - including planning it out.

So how do you go about choosing the right style of dinner party for you? First, you want to assess what type of caterers your venue can accommodate. Then you'll want to envision the overall mood you want to create within that space. And then don't forget about your guests. You'll want them to have the most comfortable and pleasurable guest experience, too. Here at the Green Building and 501 Union, we pride ourselves in the flexibility and freedom to choose your own caterer that's best suited for your wedding or special event. Below are a few of the most popular options at our venues.


Food trucks are always a fun and unique option to bring a casual feel to any party, and you can pull up a couple different ones to create a yummy combination. Korean BBQ and gourmet grilled cheese, anyone? If you're going for a more formal dinner, but want to add a little flair, then you could call in a late night dessert truck. Guests are sure to be delighted to end the night with ice cream sandwiches. Ideal for weddings, holiday parties, engagement parties, and of course summer gatherings.

Though you'll still want to provide some seating, this usually opens up your floor plan allowing for more guests or lounge seating and activities.


This is becoming increasingly popular for corporate parties, fundraisers, release parties, and casual wedding receptions. It's similar to passed hors d'oeuvres where food is offered in bitesize servings, but the courses follow a traditional appetizer-entree-dessert pattern. Your guests are sure to feel full and satisfied while enjoying a cocktail-party atmosphere. This dinner style is best suited for standing-room events, which means lots of room for guests to mingle.


Looking for the most flexibility in your menu? Buffets are a great way to feed the masses especially if you're expecting guests with dietary restrictions or want to offer plenty of options to choose exactly what they like. There's also flexibility and creativity in the way the food is presented. You could have interactive stations like a build-your-own mashed potato bar, or set up an elegant world tour of cuisines around the venue space.


Classic and timeless, a plated dinner is considered the most traditional dinner style of them all and distinguish a formal affair, so they do take a bit more coordination. You'll need a seating chart and a way for guests to choose their entrée preferences, usually from two or three limited options. Each guest will receive their own appetizer, entrée, and dessert, and will be able to comfortably enjoy the food while listening to speeches and toasts. Plated dinners certainly elevate the elegance at weddings and corporate dinners.


When we say that food brings people together, we really mean it. And there's no better way to connect over food than passing a platter of sweet potato mash. At a family-style dinner, guests are formally seated and waiters bring large food platters to the tables for guests to serve amongst themselves. Communal dining instantly creates intimacy among guests whether you're hosting a brunch wedding for 60 or semi-formal affair for 160.

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