How to Select the Right Service Style for Your Event

A lot of planning goes into creating the perfect event, but your catering doesn’t have to be another stressful addition. With this quick guide we will simplify catering service styles and help you find the perfect fit.

Here at Duvall Catering & Events, there are many options for service that set the tone for your event and create an atmosphere for your guests. Your food preferences and overall atmosphere goals will help you decide what works best for you!

Passed & Displayed Hors D’oeuvres

Our hors d’oeuvre selections make a great addition to any style of service and allow your guests to try a variety of items. Create a vibrant social atmosphere by going heavy on the passed hors d’oeuvres and adding a few small plates or stations, letting them take the place of dinner altogether. Featuring a favorite or nostalgic food item is popular for passed hors d’oeuvres. It can also amp up the cute or fun factor depending on selection.

Our displayed hors d’oeuvres are suggested curated selections perfect for both casual and formal events. Displayed items allow you to play more with food décor- placing themed elevations and using floral on your display is a great way to carry ceremony floral into your reception space.


Buffets create a collective dining experience. With this service style, your guests can help themselves to a full meal presented with a selection of proteins, sides and vegetables. This does not have to be a traditional single line. We often see buffets accompanied by a salad display or dessert station to help break up the service line and allow for more of a flow. 


Stations, either displayed or chef attended, create individualized experiences at each table and will give great variety to your catering menu for the evening. This service style allows your guests to create multiple plates of food in smaller portions as opposed to one large plate at a buffet. Our station menu selections offer both heavy and light menu options, making them one of our most popular service styles. Anything from an empanada display to a traditional beef tenderloin carving station get your guests up and moving to a designated place to make a plate.

This style will create an atmosphere that can be described as more “mixing and mingling” rather than everyone being seated at once for the entire length of dinner. Another aspect to consider with this style is that you do not need to offer full seating for every guest which can be a huge cost savings! You can supplement full seating with extra tall cocktail tables, and maybe even a fun lounge.

Small Plate Stations

Picture small plates as a segway between traditional stations and a served dinner. A chef creates a beautiful presentation on a composed plate and sets it out for your guests. Your guests are going up to grab their plates instead of being seated and served. Like stations, small plates allow your guests to help themselves to multiple plates throughout dinner time. These stations allow for a more social atmosphere with a variety of taste profiles and are a great way to offer more than one type of cuisine.

Served, Plated

Our plated service style allows your guests to stay seated during the meal while servers bring food to the table. This creates a more formal atmosphere with service similar to that of a restaurant. We often see a preset salad or dessert course on the table to limit service time and allow room for speeches or more dancing.

For a served meal you may choose for everyone to receive the same entrée or perhaps have guests choose from a limited selection when they RSVP. A popular option for served entrees is a dual entrée course containing two protein options. This section saves yourself added steps prior to the event which will include collecting everyone’s choices, creating seating cards that clearly display their choice, and assigning seating.

Served, Family Style

Family style offers your guests a seated dinner experience with a twist. With this style servers bring large platters of food to the table for guests to pass as if they are in their own home as opposed to individually plated meals. This creates a more relaxed atmosphere and creates a sense of community amongst tables. 

Duvall has catering options fit for any celebration. Our Catering & Event Sales Managers are here to help you determine which service styles will offer the best presentation for your event. Contact us to get started on your dream event.