Most wedding receptions include a buffet-style meal where everyone stands in an enormous line waiting while those at the food table decide if they want Italian or Ranch dressing on their salad.
There has to be a more unusual way to get people to their food, and a faster one at that, right? There are several fun options you can employ to feed your guests quickly and with a minimum of groans of hunger.
Here are some fun options.
One of the most popular is the number system. Each table is assigned a number and the MC or DJ calls numbers at various intervals. The people at that numbered table then find the buffet and begin their feast. You can place the numbers in a variety of locations. For the most utilitarian version, just place the number in the flower arrangement on the table.
Some brides don't like this look of numbered table as if at a convention. In that case, you can put the numbers under the flower arrangements, or under the chairs. If you have place cards at the tables, you can write a small number somewhere on the card so people know which table they're sitting at. For a fun variation, you can have the florist play around with the table floral arrangements. If the arrangements are going to have a dozen flowers, you could have the florist add one extra flower to table "one", two extra flowers for table "two" and so on and make the guests figure out which number table they are based on how many extra flowers they have in their arrangement.
The flower method could be cost-prohibitive, of course, if you have a large guest list and many tables.
Now, if the number system doesn't thrill you or make you think "unique", there are other options. Each table can have a colour and the DJ simply calls out the colour name. Depending, again, on how many tables you have at your reception, you could coordinate the tablecloths with the colour of the table. So you might have white, pink, lavender, beige, and yellow tablecloths, and the guests sitting at that table simply move to the buffet table when the colour of their tablecloth is called.
Another popular option for moving people easily to the buffet table involves having a little fun with your guests. You provide each table with a buzzer, either a bell like you might find at a store, or a small silver bell. Just something they can buzz or ring. The DJ or MC asks a trivia question, or a question about the bride and groom. The tables buzz in with their answers. The guests at the table with the first correct buzzed answer move to the buffet table. You repeat the process until everyone is finally on their way to getting some grub.
The trivia method is an especially fun way to help guests to get to know one another, as they might have to work together to come up with an answer. If your guests are hungry, you're sure to hear muffled groans and sighs of exasperation. But even with the small complaints, this is always a crowd pleaser because it's fun and gets everyone involved.
Now, this next option is fun but can engender a bit of jealousy sometimes. When people get their place card, whether it's placed on the table, or they pick it up when they look at the seating chart, you can put a number on it. But not everyone at the same table will have the same number. If you have 100 guests, for example, you might choose to have 10 people at the buffet table at a time. So each person would be assigned a number 1 through 10.
In the same scenario as above, the DJ or MC will call a number and those numbers will head for the buffet table. There are sure to be more than one person from each table heading for the buffet table, but the guests at each table won't get their food at the same time.
This staggered feeding can be fun or a nuisance, depending. It solves the problem of half the room being finished with their meal while waiting for the "later" table to finish theirs before the festivities start, but it can also mean that one or two guests might be long done with their food (or wanting to head back for seconds) when others at the table haven't even eaten yet.