Next to venue selection, catering is by far one of the biggest elements of event planning and tends to take a major chunk out of the budget.
Follow these simple tips to cut costs without skimping:
Short & Sweet
The longer the event, the more your guests will eat – as simple as that! By limiting the duration of the event programme, you could very well get away with fewer snacks and drinks, reducing the overall catering fee. A sit-down dinner for instance, doesn’t only cost more than cocktail snack platters, but increases the running time of the event by at least an hour or two, which can only result in hungrier guests. A cocktail-style dinner also allows for more mingling which means less time for guests to fill the bellies to overflow.
If a cocktail isn’t an option, a sit-down meal is your next best option. Upon first glance a plated meal appears to be more expensive as it requires more staff than a buffet or food station for instance. However, in the case of the latter, you automatically lose control over portion size which in turn leads to bigger cost and bigger wastage. More often than not a buffet also requires more staff and fulltime attendance to keep the table in order to keep it looking appealing even after fifty guests have dug in.
Tuck into Promotional Ops
Open the event to restaurants and caterers in the area, giving them the opportunity to promote their business. The idea is to provide each vendor with enough floor space to serve their goodies as well as promote their company to your willing guests. While you’ll still be paying for the products and food, this option allows you to cut back on staffing costs as the vendors will supply their own and guests will help themselves.
Cash Bar/Limited Bar
Having a cash bar is one of the most effective places to cut your costs – after all, open bar can rack up a bill that’s double that of the food! When cash bar simply isn’t an option however, opt for the limited bar where guests are offered a pre-selected list of wines, beer and speciality drinks. While this option might seem rather bland, there’s no reason why you can’t put an interesting spin on it – for instance, instead of the standard and expected beers, opt for a selection of local brews. By keeping the speciality drink/s spirit-free, you can also save a remarkable amount of money.
Stick to One Glass
While you might be tempted to hire glasses of all shapes and sizes, picking one all-purpose glass that works with most type of drinks is definitely the way to go. When hiring different glasses for various beverages, you tend to order more glasses per head, especially since you can’t predict what each individual guest will be drinking. A single style of glassware also makes the bar look more polished and sleek –always a bonus!
Cut Unnoticeable Corners
After a big and hearty main meal, things like after-dinner coffee and dessert are often left untouched. If it’s there, your guests might tuck in, but if it’s not, they won’t even notice. Alternatively, serve your coffee and biscuit as of dessert – i.e. choose to serve coffee or dessert, not both.
Consider the Venue
A venue with on-site kitchen and staff might be more expensive than one without, but if you take the extra rental costs of caterers and hired equipment into consideration, the bill far exceeds that of a fully equipped venue. Another tip is to find a venue that is flexible on hours and allows for rental companies to pack up and clean up without charging you overtime for late-night or early-morning collections. A venue with an easily accessible loading bay will also help to cut back on the hiring company’s hourly fee.
Photo Credit: www.businessmechanics.co.za