For the most part, planning an event is a wonderful experience. There are thousands of successful events planned and executed throughout Chicago each year that are a result of dedication & hard work. The last thing you want to happen or even expect to happen is for the catering to go wrong. Yet, there are many event planners, meeting planners, wedding newlyweds and those simply planning a family get-together who fall victim to common catering & general event planning mistakes, this either makes the event more difficult to manage or results in complete catastrophe. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you avoid making these mistakes so your event will go as seamless as possible.
Make Sure Your Ideal Venue Has Everything You Need
From gathering speakers to securing sponsors, a meeting planner’s to-do list sometimes seems never-ending, such as; checking the accessibility of a venue, calculating potential costs, finding the perfect caterer and understanding the technical needs of the event. One of the most important aspects often overlooked, is considering the caterer’s requirements to facilitate your request. For example, some venues will allow you to have an open flame to prepare your food on site, while others do not allow open flame and the caterer must prepare all the food with electric warmers. Electric heat is by far the safest method, but at the same time, it is also the slowest and most expensive way to prepare your food. This is one of many possible restrictions a venue may have, so make sure you know what you’re paying for when you sign the contract with your venue. Lastly, don’t forget to share the restrictions or concerns of the venue with your event planner and caterer as it will make a big difference when you get the bill.
Serve On Time!
One of the worst things that can happen at an important event is for your guests to go hungry. With the general planning, you have enough on your plate. The last thing you want to do is start playing phone tag with caterers who may or may not be able to meet your needs. Sometimes, a wedding party is late when arriving for the reception. Other times, a planned lunch meeting needs to begin early because of schedule changes. Either way, an imaginative and adaptable catering service is always more popular than the ones who are not able to meet these demands.
Know Your Guest List
Before placing an order you should know the preferences of your guests. If this is not your first time having an event, you may be familiar with how your guests eating habits were at a previous event. Or maybe you have a large group who has vegetarian or gluten-free needs. It’s definitely not a bad thing to do a little bit of research and try to have as much information possible for your caterer so you are able to accommodate everyone’s needs.
Prepare A Back-Up Plan
You might think “why would I need a back-up plan?” Or, “my event goes as planned every year.” Well, let us stop you right there. The truth is, prepare for the unexpected such as; power outages, scheduling changes, storms on outdoor events and undoubtedly the snow in Chicago will affect travel for a few weeks out of the year. To add to the concerns about Chicago weather, hotels are sometimes overbooked and traffic is always a mess. This is exactly why you should work out a back-up plan, and have other options in mind just in case you need to make an emergency call. Many events require you to plan, plan & plan some more.
Don’t Serve Alcohol Too Early
OK, this one may seem a bit obvious, but it happens. Are you having a business event? Don’t serve alcohol until the meeting has ended. A cocktail or two during afternoon breaks or shortly before you adjourn for the day is not as uncommon as you might think. Of course, some events are more flexible than others, but as a best practice it may be a good idea to simply separate business from pleasure. Wait until the bar has opened after the event to avoid silly mistakes, like joe confessing his undying love for susan during the company merger meeting
Know Your Guaranteed Number of Guests for Serving & Seating
Seating space should be handled properly. Consider the venue and the type of food to arrange the right furniture and tableware. You don’t want your guests to balance a plate while standing in the middle of presentation because you didn’t plan accordingly. Every event has “a number” or guaranteed number and it’s your job to communicate this to the caterer a couple of weeks before the event. When you have this number, it’s easier to plan for seating at the venue as well as getting the right amount of food for your guests.
Double Check Everything (Even Triple Check Everything)
No matter how well-prepared you think you are, double checking everything is important! You don’t want to show up on the day of the event and to find out the caterer hasn’t showed up. OK yes, it’s very rare for a catering company not to show up to your event, but what if it happened to you? Make sure you double check everything with your caterer leading up to the event, a day or two before the function and definitely the day of your event to make sure you don’t stumble on any unexpected surprises. Of course a great catering company will be one step ahead having communicated with you before you get the chance to pick up the phone or send that email, but it’s not a bad thing to have two very detailed and well-planned parties. By the way, if you’re seeking a catering company that plans one step ahead of our clients all of the time, call Corky’s at 630-396-3030.
Assure the Setup Time Is Adequate
Make sure you schedule enough time for the caterer to set up everything. You don’t want your guests to walk inside the venue while everything is still being prepared. The closer the time gets to your event beginning, the more apt you are to walk around the venue and check everything so you are sure to notice if things are running behind. Timing is crucial with anything, so treat your event as the most important happening ever and you’ll be guaranteed a success.
By The Way, Don’t Forget An Experienced Chicago Caterer
There are a lot of details that have to be considered to have a successful event. Yes, we’ll say it again and that is don’t forget to double check everything. You might want to create a to-do list so you can check-off items as you go. This will also help you stay organized. And by the way, if you haven’t hired a caterer for your; upcoming anniversary, award banquet, baby shower, bachelor party, baptism, barbeque, birthday party, bridal shower, business meeting, holiday event, class reunion, communion, engagement party, family reunion, funeral, graduation, business lunch, Quinceanera, retirement party or any other type of event, we encourage you to view our menus and call Corky’s Catering (with over 37 years of experience) in Chicago at 630-396-3030.