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5 Tips for Working with a Catering Company

It’s hard to know which event space is going to suit your needs best; you have to take into consideration the number of people attending, the décor, and arguably the most important thing – the menu. With so many options out there, we’re sharing with you five key tips to ensure a successful catered event.

1. Consider Venue Limitations and Setups

Every catering company has their own way of doing things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a say in how they set up their station. You need to consider different layouts and food stations, whether that be a buffet, a sit-down dinner, or appetizers. Be sure to relay your vision to both the caterers and the venue to keep your event functioning properly. According to 15-year event planning veteran, Wendy Tran, “Some spaces will not allow for a buffet since ample space is needed to seat guests, set up the buffet, and still allow room for guests to move around comfortably. When it comes to a sit-down dinner, however, space is not as big of a factor since only the waiters will be moving around the room.”

2. Research and Reviews

If your event would be better suited for an outside caterer, do your research and be diligent when researching event venues. Some venues have relations with certain catering companies and maintain a strict “No Outside Catering” Policy, while others give you the option to choose freely. When it comes to making your decision, pictures say a thousand words, but don’t forget about the hundreds of resources out there like Yelp, Facebook, and Google Reviews to find out what others have to say about the company. Comparing one vendor to another is the best way to see the pros and cons of each service.

3. Listen to Recommendations but Be Wary

Don’t be afraid to ask for tastings. While being respectful to the caterers, it is still imperative that you try the dishes you’ll be serving your guests. Think about the demographics of your guests and which types of foods they would like. For instance, if it is an older crowd, consider things that aren’t messy and can be easier to eat, and stay away from bold flavors. Caterers might try to upsell you on more expensive dishes, but stick with what you know your guests are going to appreciate.

4. Have A Realistic Budget

You don’t have to spend endless amounts of money to have a successful event. Budgets are a huge part of event planning and you can work with your caterer to make your vision come to life – without emptying your pockets. Saving money on catering can be easy with just some small adjustments to your menu like substituting steak for chicken, or filet mignon for pulled pork. Also, consider providing your own alcohol and drinks to keep bar costs low, while still providing that option for your guests. Another factor to consider in your planning stages, not all venues will allow you to provide your own alcohol – which can mean additional costs.

5. Make Sure to Convey Your Vision Properly

Everyone has a vision for their event, and although it can be intimidating telling a professional how you want things done, it is a necessity. Catering companies may have great ideas and suggestions, but don’t be afraid to speak up and express your vision with them. Work with your caterer and collaborate with all your vendors to ensure the best event possible. You know your guests more than they do, so be confident in your decisions.

As long as you do your research, and communicate your vision, expectations and limitations, working with a caterer will be a seamless experience. Your guests will not only leave satisfied but impressed by the lavish event you put on. If there’s one thing people remember from their event, it’s what’s on the menu!

Taylor Studebaker
Business Expo Center

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