This service is most commonly used by caterers because it allows large numbers of guests to be served quickly with a minimum number of servers. The dinner is prepared in the kitchen and then served to the guests on banquet trays.
Buffets require more time for the meal because guests are actually serving themselves. The guests will be able to choose from a variety of foods (main course, vegetables and desserts) which are displayed on large tables.
Guests are seated at their tables and they help themselves to the platters of food. Then they pass the food along the table to the other guests. This may be more costly since the caterer cannot control the portions of food that the guests eat and the caterer must keep the platter full.
Food stations are similar to the buffet service. Foods such as kebabs, pasta, stir-fry, appetizers and desserts are prepared to order by the caterers' chefs at the buffet tables. Watching each chef prepare the food can be entertaining.
When inquiring on a caterers services, check that they offer the service you are looking for. Some RI caterers may offer only a clambake or BBQ style menu and may limit the service availability.