The number one rookie mistake when party planning.
Have you ever planned a party before? If not or you’ve planned a party badly, then we have advice about the one rookie mistake that will make or break your party. A fine example of this is the following story, from an event coordinator who like me has seen this rookie mistake in action.
“I'm an event coordinator and several parties definitely stick out as being horrifying or disastrous... There's always a bride who comes in all starry-eyed and blows her whole budget on things like a DJ with tons of effects, a designer ballgown, huge floral centerpieces, specialty lighting, specialty linens... Chasing after a particular "look." That's fine and all, as long as she's actually budgeted the money for CATERING. So many brides think of food as the absolute last thing, and so their guests end up being at a lavish wedding but the menu doesn’t fit in and they are allotted four cheese cubes, two chicken wings, and faced with a cash bar. So, this gorgeous venue done up to the nines, and you have to shell out £5.50 cash for a glass of chard, oh, and while you were waiting in line at the bar, the food ran out in the first 30 minutes of the reception. Wedding receptions like that end very, very quickly, and usually you have a bride and groom wandering around a half empty ballroom trying to scrape together enough single people for the garter and bouquet toss. – writing credit to Bebe Mochi
The number 1 rookie mistake is creating a party with all the bells and whistles and forgetting the most important element, the food.
All over the world and in every culture, when people celebrate there is always food involved, it is the most important element of a party. Not the DJ, not the cake or photobooth, not even the bar. The only thing that keeps people at a party is food. Do I mean just any food? Actually, no as this story illustrates.
The wedding that took a nose dive at the buffet;
Many years ago I worked as a wedding coordinator, and there was a wedding of a couple who had saved up a lot of money and had a huge budget for it, they were an older couple in their 30’s so their parents gave them a monetary gift towards the celebrations and were not footing the whole bill. They had hired me to coordinate their ceremony and direct the activities of the day.
The plans for the run up to the wedding saw the bride throw a lavish tea for her bridal party, the groom taking his guys on a golfing day. Their rehearsal dinner was at a swanky golf club. They were going to be gearing their guests up to a fabulously amazing event. So, when it came time to choose the food for the big day the bride told me she just wanted to keep it simple with a large dessert station and coffee. I heard the brakes in my head screech to a halt. Wait…What???
She had spent a lot of money on the ‘pre-show’ and her idea was to serve fancy cake and coffee at her reception. As you can imagine the alarm bells were ringing loudly. I just didn’t understand why such a fabulous event that had been planned so well was now going to fall way short of its mark on people’s memories. The reason why I remember this wedding so well was because it was such a disaster.
I tried to convince her but how do you convince a bride running out of money that after her family and friends have attended their wedding and especially those who had travelled from far away and paid out for hotels, expect to be fed a substantial meal. It doesn’t have to be huge, it could be a hot BBQ pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw but just a dessert station, what was she thinking?
After all the planning and preparing of the things that she just had to have, she’d left the catering for the actual big show as an after-thought, what a rookie!
We get to the big day and people are very happily getting their desserts and coffee and probably thinking this is a really nice touch for a cocktail hour before the real food comes out, at least that’s what I would think. As time was getting on and people were getting hungry it was a bit uncomfortable for me, knowing “THAT’S ALL FOLKS!”.
When it got to that point in the evening when it was very clear the desserts was all there was going to be, people started leaving. They didn’t have much of an audience for the cake cutting, and the bouquet toss and last dance was cancelled as no one was left. She told me the next day she didn’t understand why her wedding was ruined, even though she was told over and over.
Let’s be blunt. Food matters, people love celebrations and food is the thing they look forward to the most. A celebration that is more than 2 hours long and especially those celebrations like weddings that last all day, you must feed your guests. I would actually go as far as saying that if you have guests coming from far away it is just rude to expect them to attend your celebration and have a poor show on the food.
It’s got to be a joke. Coming across the rookies is really hard work, I feel so bad for them but how can you work with a budget of £1 a head for 80 people, which is something i've actually been asked. This is not a viable party for any caterer. You can’t get a kids happy meal from Mcdonalds for a quid. Caterer’s don’t work for free, just like you wouldn’t for your boss, so asking this is insulting. Plan properly instead. If you have to have a party and can't afford anything else at the very least put on a decent food spread.
The order of booking Once you have booked your venue, book your food. Even if your booking is well in advance that’s good, caterers have their calendars open to take bookings up to 2 years in advance. Once the food is budgeted, whatever is left of your budget is what you have to spend on everything else.
Food for thought. What memory of your party will be left in your guests minds? I can assure you it won’t be your grand cake, or the laser light dance party, guests will always remember the food, whether good, bad or just plain ugly! Don't make this rookie mistake, plan your party properly and if you're not sure how ask the caterer, we plan parties daily.
Blog post by Lorna Robins head hero
at Buffet Heroes.
Buffet Heroes is a small family run catering business in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
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