wedding catering

Which Is Better For Wedding: Catering or Banquet? [All Details]

Have an upcoming wedding? Are you confused between catering and banquets? Don’t know which one to choose? We will guide you through as always. 

Weddings are mostly large scale and exhausting. They include a lot of preparations and crucial decisions involving hundreds of people.

Wedding decisions as they are can be often bewildering. Just like the decision of choosing between a caterer or a banquet service.

Which One Is Better For The Wedding?

The quality of service offered by the banquet is better than that of catering. Moreover, banquets are accompanied by a venue as well. Banquets also provide a better food presentation than catering.

If you don’t want to get into the hassle of finding a venue separately then banquet is a fantastic option as the authority leasing the venue will also provide food services. However, if you are on a budget then catering is the way to go as banquets can be a bit expensive due to their better services.

Some More Differences Between Banquets & Catering

There are many more subtle but noticeable differences between catering and banquet services:

  1. Budget

On a very basic level, the budget of the banquet always exceeds the budget of catering. This is because the quality of service offered by the banquet services is better than that of catering.

  1. Venue Dependent

Banquet services are accompanied by a venue. If you require a venue for your wedding then most probably the authority leasing the venue will also provide food services. In the case of catering, food is all that is served.

  1. Staff Count

Banquet services always include serving staff as per the scale of the event. As for catering, it is not mandatory that serving staff is also provided. More often than not staff isn’t accompanied. 

  1. Food Presentation

If you want a good presentation for your food, you should opt for banquet services. In catering, the major focus is solely on the quality and quantity of food and nothing else.

  1. Event Scale

If the event is of a large scale, as in involving 400 to 600 people, the banquet is the way to go. If it is a fewer number of guests, catering services are capable of handling the requirements.

  1. Food Options

There is a limitation to the number of dishes a catering service can deliver. This is generally relative to the number of guests. However, banquet services do not have any such short-coming.


Catering is simply providing food. To be defined formally, catering is a service of delivering and serving food and beverages at any prescribed location.


Catering only involves services related to food. The delivery location may be a hotel, hospital, pub, aircraft, cruise ship, park, filming site or studio, entertainment site, or any event venue.

Generally, catering is typecasted as a low-scale service. However, it is not so. It all depends on your budget and the scale of the event. Also, catering is not a buffet but the vice versa is true.

Types of Catering

Many different types of events fulfill their food requirements with the help of catering services.


Though it is hard to pin down each event, they are broadly classified into four categories:

  1. Mobile Catering

A mobile caterer uses a vehicle to serve the food. It can be a cart or truck specially designed for the purpose. It is a very common form of catering for outdoor events such as concerts, workplaces, fests, and movie sets. 

Mobile catering services require minimal maintenance costs as compared to other catering services. For some, it is also known as a food truck.

  1. Social Event Catering

Whether it’s your birthday party, retirement party, or a big backyard BBQs plan, social event catering covers all. At such social events, the length of the guest list is variable.

Many people opt for catering as it is a more economical option. Also, apart from food, there isn’t much to arrange for. Appetizers, bartenders, and balloons are a few other arrangements.

  1. Corporate Event Catering

Corporate events mostly include office parties and official lunches over an important meeting. Catering to such occasions is also a classification of catering.

Such events do not lay much emphasis on anything else apart from the food. The venue is the office itself and hence all they need is food.

  1. Wedding Catering

For your special day, you will agree that food plays a crucial part. You’d want it to be perfect and that the guests like it.

Catering to weddings is altogether another distinction. All weddings are of different scales and budgets and accordingly, the food also varies when it comes to catering.

Difference Between On-Premise and Off-Premise Catering

Before diving deep into the differences between the two catering varieties, let us first know what are these?

On-Premise Catering is a type of catering service in which the food is prepared on the site of the event. The venue is required to have a kitchen or cooking space where the caterers can prepare the food.

Off-Premise Catering is the kind of catering service wherein the caterers transport the food to the venue. The food is prepared at a location away from the event-venue, hence off-premise.

Reading about what they are, the basic difference is quite clear between on-premise and off-premise catering. Let us now look at other prominent differences between them.

From Customer’s Perspective:

  1. Cumulative Cost of Event

When we think of catering, we only relate it to the food when it is so much more. On-premise catering generally comes with a package of venue, furniture and food.

In the case of off-premise catering, all you get is food. The host will have to arrange for the venue, furniture, more often even the staff too.

So when you calculate the total cost of organizing the event, off-premise catering ends up costing more than on-premise catering.

  1. Backup Food

Most of the times, the guest list ends up expanding at the last moment. Or your guests might end up gorging on a certain appetizer and you need more of it.

Naturally, if there is a kitchen at the venue, the on-site caterers can take care of the food requirements.

However, with off-site catering, it is a hard task. Even if the food is available. It might take an ample amount of time to reach the venue.

  1. Staff Overhead

For off-site catering, buffet system is the most likely choice as they hardly offer ample staff to cater to all your guests. As for on-premise catering, the number of guests is limited by the venue space.

If you are having a long guest list, you will end up hiring serving staff at your own expense in case of off-premise catering.

  1. Complimentary Facilities

When you order off-premise catering, you only the food and sometimes staff facilities. With on-premise catering, you get food, staff, venue and also fun activities facility.

You can organize karaoke, games, and a host of extra services apart from just the food.

  1. Event Location

Choosing on-premise catering limits you to a handful of conventional locations like hotels, restaurants, homes, etc. 

Whereas with off-premise catering, you can experiment with interesting event locations. You can organize a wedding at a museum, or a party at central park and now worry about the food.

From Caterer’s Perspective:

  1. Limitation of Menu

It is not always practical to deliver certain dishes to different locations. Hence, off-premise catering has to limit itself while designing the menu.

In this field, on-premise catering has an advantage. It has a wider variety of dishes to decide the menu from.

  1. Food Presentation

Transporting food from one location to another location successfully deteriorates any food decoration. It is difficult for the caterers to keep the food warm over long distances.

On the other hand, on-premise caterers have an upper hand in this situation too. They can present their food warm and pretty.

  1. Timely Food Delivery

There is always a viable probability of an unprecedented event occurring. Due to some unforeseen turn of events, the off-site caterers might end up delaying the food delivery.

This can be hardly true for on-site caterers. They prepare the food at the venue and hence, most likely there isn’t a chance of any delay. 

  1. Cooking Space

The cooking space is supposed to live up to certain standards. Only then can it be used for cooking. For example, frying can only be done in well-ventilated spaces or one with a chimney.

Often the on-premise caterers are called upon a venue and given spaces that are too compact and it reflects in the quality of dishes. Off-premise caterers are free of any such worries.

Advantages of Off-Premise Catering

Reading the differences discussed above you might be wondering that if there are only a handful of advantages to off-premise catering then why should anyone go for it!

Well, you are not wrong to think so but there is more than just a handful of advantages of Off-Premise Catering. Come let us devour them:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

Choosing off-premise caterers can help cut down your budget by a large chunk. You have the authority to manage the individual costs of all other things like the venue, decor and staff.

  1. Not Limited By Number of Guests

Off-site catering is seldom limited by the length of your guest list. Provided the caterer assures you that they can handle the amount of food required, it is a great option to choose.

Off-premise caterers generally have their kitchens that are well-equipped. Hence, it is easier for them to manage the quantity of food.

  1. Versatile Locations

If you don’t want an orthodox conventional location for your event. Or if you have a lovely venue decided and worried about the food arrangements, off-premise catering is the way to go.

Whatever be your location, they can provide you with good and ample food for your guests while you enjoy the beauty of your occasion.

  1. Imaginative Menus

Though the menu is somewhat limited for off-premise caterers, they are good at innovating new dishes. These are capable of easily replacing the off-the-table dishes.

Off-premise caterers have cooks that are good at experimenting and hence, you might be surprised!


The most common acquaintance we have with the word banquet is that of a venue where events are held. However, it has more to it than just a venue. 

A banquet, as defined formally, is a formal large meal or feast involving at least 3 courses of food. This meal is served at a celebration or a mass event.


In layman terms, banquets are simply venue and food. The services include a venue apt for the event and also the food as required by the hosts.

Types of Banquet Services

Alike catering, there are various types of banquet services. Broadly classifying them into 5, we list them below:

  1. Sit-Down Banquets

Sit-Down Services are the ones where the guests remain seated at their respective tables and the food is served to them at their place.

This kind requires a lot of skilled staff to maintain the rotation of food. Also, the guests feel special. This way it opts for extremely formal events.

  1. Buffets

Buffets are based on the motto ‘Self Service’. In this kind of banquet, the food is served in large dishes placed on a long table. The guests are required to fend for themselves as they like.

In this type of banquet service, fewer staff are needed. Also, it is easily preferable for large gatherings.

  1. Passed-Tray Service

Passed-Tray services are chosen when the event requires to serve only appetizers. The finger-foods are circulated across the gathering in large trays for a specified duration.

Many events see a combination of passed-tray and buffet services. The appetizers are serviced by passed-tray and the main course is served by buffet method. 

  1. Station Service

This is a modified buffet service. The venus is set up with different stations across. Each station serves a different kind of food. For example, one would offer fruits, another would offer finger foods, another would be serving drinks, and so on.

This is generally opted by big-budget events. 

  1. Pre-Set Service

In Pre-Set Services, the food is already set up on the seating tables before the guests arrive at their places. Foods served in this manner include drinks, snacks, and desserts.

However, it is a challenge to maintain the sanitary of the food as it has to sit for a while before the guests arrive. Most commonly, the foods are packaged items.

Wedding Planners prefer Banquets or Catering?

Most wedding planners go for caterers instead of banquets for 2 reasons. Firstly, they are more economical, and secondly, they use dynamic wedding locations that do not have banquet services.

Click here to find out why Catering is called craft services.


Weddings are one of the most important days of anybody’s life. everyone wants it to be picture-perfect. And the smile for picture-perfect is brought by awesome food.

Catering and banquet services are two options to go by. We have discussed in detail about the peculiar differences between the two. We hope it will help you to make an informed decision.

If this article helped you have great food for your wedding, then do spread the love. Share it with your friends and family.

*featured image credits: © Jorge Royan / / CC BY-SA 3.0