TIPS FROM A CATERER ON HOW TO PLAN AN EVENT

Spring and summer are busy event seasons. Event venues in Newtown, CT, and surrounding Fairfield, Litchfield, and New Haven counties are starting to get busy right about now. Those hosting weddings, corporate parties, and celebrations of all kinds will be taking advantage of the nice weather and seeking a caterer who can help deliver a memorable event and great food. As a caterer in the Newtown, CT, area, Butcher’s Best has seen its fair share of events. Here are a few tips that we’ve learned to help make your next event a success.

Plan Ahead
Time is your best friend when it comes to planning a successful event. You’ll be amazed at how long it can take to organize all of the details, and how much lead time you may need for certain event venues and vendors. For large events, like a wedding, it can’t hurt to start planning 8-12 months out. The first step should be your venue. Popular event venues like Castle Hill Farm in Newtown, CT, can be booked well in advance. If you’re trying to lock down a DJ, band, and/or photographer, you may also need several months to ensure they will be available.

For smaller events, like office parties, it can’t hurt to start planning 60-90 days out. You’ll want to ensure that your caterer and favorite venue is not booked. And it can take time to get all of the loose ends tied up, particularly if planning the event is not your full-time job.

Good Food Served by Professionals
One of the things your guests look forward to the most at an event is the food. You don’t want them to go home with a bad taste in their mouth, literally. To ensure that your caterer can deliver on the promise of tasty food, make sure to sample some meal options ahead of time. Also, look for a caterer who has experience cooking for large crowds and can deliver food options that hold up to preparation ahead of time.

Professional caterers will not only help you deliver a great-tasting meal, but also they’ll help ensure the catering experience is well managed, and that food and drinks are delivered on time. This includes bringing the right equipment and plating, and hiring experienced waitstaff and bartenders. You’ll be surprised how much of a negative impact an inexperienced bartender or waiter can have on the success of a party.

Do a Mental Dress Rehearsal
About one week before the event, walk through each stage and detail of the event in your mind. Use a checklist and check off each stage and vendor, from setup to breakdown. Take diligent notes and make adjustments when finished. This can be an effective exercise to help iron out any final tweaks that need to be made and to ensure that you’re not forgetting something.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Budget
Without careful oversight, it’s easy for an event to go over budget. Although individual expenses may seem minor when isolated from a budget, the small costs can add up fast. Keep a documented list of each item and its cost. And don’t forget about ancillary expenditures such as tipping. Even when you’ve done your best to manage each detail, there may be things that come up that you want to include — like that chocolate fountain. Prepare for this by setting aside a contingency budget that allows you to dip in to cover unplanned extras.

In addition to understanding and tracking your costs, you’ll want to get a handle on how your vendors need to be paid. Some require full payment up front, and some will take a portion before the event and a portion after. Others will accept payment after the event.

Have a Plan B
Managing an event requires some luck to ensure that all of your preferred vendors will be available on the same date. Popular caterers, photographers, event venues, etc. will be in high demand, particularly in busy seasons like spring and summer. Of course, you’ll do your best to line everything up, and planning ahead will help increase your chances, but you should have a plan B just in case. Have backups in mind in case your preferred vendors are not available or you find they’re out of your price range. By having someone in mind, you’ll be able to act quickly.

Well-managed events can appear seamless to guests. If you’ve ever planned one, however, you know it’s a different story behind the scenes. Planning can be stressful, fun, and satisfying, all wrapped into one. With some thoughtful foresight and a great caterer, your next Newtown, CT, area event is sure to go off with a hitch.