Keeping your guests well fed and merry during an event is essential to creating buzz around your event. If they are left hungry, you will likely see unhappy faces, confusion and disappointment at the lack of food. Make sure there are ample snack breaks throughout the event, at regular intervals.
I went to a wedding many years back, where the ceremony started around lunch time which didn’t allow all guests the opportunity to pick food between breakfast and arrival. When the ceremony ended, everyone started getting those lunchtime pangs and grumbles. The children and adults were hungry, and audibly said they wished there was food. Unfortunately, there was nothing in place to tide guests over before the sit down meal, and there were group photos being taken. There were small distractions to take minds off the lack of food, like a caricature artist drawing the guests, but as soon as the entertainment was gone and onto the next guests, up came the hunger grumbles.
Make sure there are light snacks at relevant intervals during the day or night of your event. Having waiting staff wandering the location with trays of canapes before the meal will keep the guests at bay, without over feeding them before the meal.
As far as advice when selecting catering, I cannot stress enough the importance of a menu tasting. Sample all the foods and accompanying wines until you decide on the perfect dish to serve your guests. If you haven’t yet sent invites at this stage, choosing your 2 starters, 3 mains and desserts should be included for guests to choose. If you have sent out the invites, make sure you follow up with your guests on what they would prefer from your carefully selected menu. If you are aware of any dietary requirements and allergies before entering a food and wine tasting, make sure the chefs are aware well in advance to avoid catering for special requests, or to provide options that will be suitable for your guests.
I would also recommend confirming if the venue provides catering, and what options they recommend for catering outside if not. They should have a strong list of local companies that have received the best ratings to help you make the best decisions. There may be additional permits or equipment needed on site for the external catering team to work their magic, and being aware of this will also avoid any nasty surprises later down the line.
Venue bars can sometime be expensive, but remember you receive the service alongside the beverages. If you wanted to save some costs by bringing in your own drinks, understand the venue’s corking costs. This is a per bottle cost for licensing reasons that require you to pay to bring your own bottles. It may be cheaper to use the venue bar after all, but understanding your options ahead of time will help you cater for your budget.
Keep your guests fully informed on food, drink and any additional costs that may be involved. If they have an appetite like mine, they’ll obsess over what food has been ordered and how reasonable the bar charges are. You don’t have to provide a breakdown of drinks costs, but a ballpark will help them know the amount to bring – unless you decide on an open bar!
Finally, don’t forget to track your guests meal options, and if you have time – reconfirm what their selection was. I’ve sat down to meals in the past where I’ve ordered something 6 months before and when it came down to eating, I had no idea what to expect. You can solve this by leaving a menu on the table place settings, with the guests name at the top and a star next to their choices… It may take a little more time than just placing a name tent in front of them, but the better informed they are the better your event will go.
What kind of things do you look out for when organising catering for your event? Leave a comment with your best tips and tricks!