There are many ways you can help in making your special event planning an enjoyable process and worry free experience. You will find helpful advice on how to work with your caterer included in this article.
First you will need to select a date well in advance. If this is not possible, and you are planning a last minute function, you may need to be flexible with your date: If you are planning your event on a Wednesday, try to be open to Tuesday or Thursday. If you are planning a weekend event, consider the weekend before or after. It is okay to have a particular date picked out, but if your caterer or location is already booked you will find yourself having to compromise. That is why it is always important to choose a date well in advance, and be sure to secure that date with any deposits necessary; otherwise you will have to be flexible with your date selection.
Provide your caterer with the contact information for the hall or venue location, such as names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Your caterer will be working in another party’s venue and this requires a lot of communication between the two businesses. Some information that your caterer will need to know from the venue location are; the entry and exit times, the kitchen equipment available, floor set up equipment that is available, who will be setting up tables and chairs and taking them down (if this is necessary), proper insurance coverage, trash removal, security, and maintenance.
Give your caterer an estimated guest count. It may be hard to say for sure how many people you will have at your party, but any ball park figure; 10, 100, 1000, will help your caterer greatly with preparing a menu and proposal. As your event date gets closer inform your caterer of any guest count changes that occur.
Know and discuss your budget with your caterer. If you have a $5000.00 food service budget and are inviting 250 guests, you have a $20.00 per person budget; $5000.00 at 100 guests is $50.00 per person. You will obviously get a more elaborate menu with a larger per person budget. Work within your budget – don’t expect a Porsche on a Pontiac budget.
Have an idea of the type of menu you are interested in. It is helpful to give your caterer a theme in which to work with; Lunch, Dinner, Barbecue, Clambake, Station menu, or Formal buffet. Know the type of service and formality you would like; plastic or china, serviced or dropped off, buffet or sit down, indoor or outdoor. Narrowing your menu selection and formality of service will give your caterer a more focused direction.
Plan an itinerary with your caterer. Set your times for the caterers arrival (with time included for set up), your guest arrival time, time of the meal, such things as wedding toasts, cake cutting or serving of dessert, last call, and your guests departure. It is important to know when your caterer will be arriving and need access into the venue to begin setting up, and how long they will need to stay after the event to take things down, clean up, and remove their equipment. Share contact information and arrival and set up times for any other contracted companies that will be part of the event, such as the venue manager, DJ’s, cake, florist, chair covers, photographers.
Have a floor plan prepared and share it with your caterer and hall manager. This will help especially if you will not be available for to prepare and set up the event room. With a floor plan provided your, caterer and hall manager can be sure that everything will be placed in the proper location where you would like it in the hall.
When working with a caterer there are due dates for payments. Making these payments on time is very important. This makes it easier for your caterer to arrange for any rental equipment that is necessary, schedule employees, and purchase products in the proper time schedule that these things need to be done.
Make sure the proposal you receive from your caterer is correct (times, menu items, service, rentals, etc…) and includes everything that you expect from them. Go over the proposal for your event any time it is updated to be sure everything is correct, because what is on the proposal is what your caterer is planning to do.
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