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Banquet vs. Luncheon: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 3, 2023
Banquet is a formal, elaborate meal for many people. Luncheon is a light, informal midday meal.

Key Differences

A banquet typically refers to a large, formal meal that involves multiple courses and is often accompanied by ceremonial or celebratory activities. It’s an event with a touch of grandeur, where guests are served an array of dishes in a sit-down setting, and there is often a program or agenda that accompanies the dining experience. The setting of a banquet is usually quite grandiose, with elaborate decorations and a formal atmosphere.
Conversely, a luncheon is a more casual gathering for a midday meal, usually less elaborate than a banquet. Luncheons are often used for more informal gatherings, such as business meetings or social networking events, where the focus may be more on conversation and interaction rather than on the meal itself. The fare served at a luncheon is typically lighter and less complex than what one would expect at a banquet.
Banquets are often associated with significant events such as weddings, state dinners, or gala affairs, where there is a high degree of formality and an expectation of formal attire. They may feature speeches, entertainment, and a series of toasts. The purpose of a banquet often goes beyond merely eating and can serve as an opportunity for celebration, recognition, or ceremony.
Luncheons, in contrast, are generally daytime events with a more relaxed environment. They may be associated with business meetings, club gatherings, or as a part of conferences. While a banquet is an event in itself, a luncheon can be part of a larger event or program, serving as a break for participants to enjoy a meal together in a less formal setting.
While banquets are events that tend to have a higher cost per person due to the level of service, the quality of food, and the ambiance, luncheons are often more cost-effective. A luncheon is more about practicality and efficiency, offering guests a pleasant meal within a limited timeframe, often within the constraints of a workday.

Comparison Chart


High; often black-tie events.
Lower; business casual or casual.


Typically evenings.


Can last several hours.
Usually shorter, about an hour.


Celebratory, ceremonial.
Social, business networking.

Food Served

Multi-course, elaborate dishes.
Lighter, simpler fare.


Weddings, galas, state dinners.
Business meetings, club meets.


Usually more expensive.
More cost-effective.


Grand, luxurious.
Casual, functional.


Formal wear required.
Casual or business attire.


Structured with programs.
Informal with focus on dialogue.

Banquet and Luncheon Definitions


An elaborate feast marking a special occasion.
Their golden anniversary was celebrated with a grand banquet.


A casual, often business-related, midday meal.
She discussed the contract details with her client over a luncheon.


A large formal meal for many guests.
The charity gala culminated in a lavish banquet.


A light afternoon meal typically served between noon and 2 pm.
The company's annual luncheon was held at a beachside restaurant.


A sizable, formal meal with multiple courses.
The royal banquet included eight courses, each more exquisite than the last.


A meal served in a social or professional gathering during lunch hours.
The networking luncheon provided a great opportunity to meet new people.


A ceremonial dinner honoring a particular person or event.
The university hosted a banquet to honor the retiring professor.


An informal meal served to guests around midday.
After the morning seminar, attendees were treated to a light luncheon.


A sumptuous spread of food and drink for a celebration.
The banquet hall was filled with the aromas of a sumptuous feast.


A midday meal for a group, often with a speaker or presentation.
The luncheon featured a talk by a renowned journalist.


An elaborate, sumptuous meal; a feast.


A lunch, especially a formal one.


A ceremonial dinner honoring a particular guest or occasion.


An afternoon party at which a light meal is served.


What is a banquet?

A banquet is a formal meal that serves many guests, often with multiple courses and a ceremonial purpose.

What is a luncheon?

A luncheon is a less formal, lighter midday meal often associated with business or social events.

What attire is appropriate for a luncheon?

Attire for a luncheon ranges from business casual to casual, depending on the event.

Are banquets only held in the evening?

Banquets are traditionally evening events but can be scheduled at different times for special occasions.

Are reservations required for luncheons?

It depends on the event, but reservations are often recommended for organized luncheons.

Are luncheons always business-related?

No, luncheons can be social as well, but they are common for business meetings.

Do banquets include entertainment?

Banquets often feature entertainment, speeches, or presentations.

Can a wedding have a luncheon instead of a banquet?

Yes, some weddings may opt for a luncheon for a daytime reception.

Can a luncheon include multiple courses?

Yes, though typically lighter than a banquet, a luncheon can have multiple courses.

Is a banquet suitable for corporate events?

Yes, corporate events can feature banquets, especially for celebrations or galas.

What attire is expected at a banquet?

Formal attire is often expected at a banquet.

Is there a difference in cost between a banquet and a luncheon?

Yes, banquets are typically more expensive due to their elaborate nature, while luncheons are more cost-effective.

Can a luncheon be a formal event?

While less common, some luncheons can be formal, depending on the occasion.

What kind of venues host banquets?

Banquets are hosted in grand venues like ballrooms, banquet halls, and large dining rooms.

Are banquets always seated events?

Banquets are usually seated due to their formal nature, but there can be exceptions.

Is it common to have a theme for a banquet?

Yes, banquets often have themes related to the occasion they are celebrating.

Can a luncheon turn into an all-day event?

Typically, a luncheon is a shorter event, but it may be part of a larger, all-day program.

What is the usual duration of a banquet?

A banquet can last several hours, including dining and any accompanying program.

Are speeches a part of luncheons?

Speeches can be part of a luncheon, especially if it’s a business or ceremonial event.

Do luncheons require a set menu?

Not necessarily, luncheons can offer a set menu or buffet-style options.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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