After 20 years in the catering biz, Owner Mark Andersen has learned a thing or two about selecting, booking, and working with venues. To help bypass potential pitfalls, Mark has given us a handy list of guidelines to keep your worries at bay and the party running smoothly, or raging raucously, whichever of the two you are going for.
Before Selecting a Venue
You love the views, the room is giving you old Hollywood vibes, and there are more than enough restrooms on-site. Is this enough to go on when booking a location? Unfortunately not. “As you are whittling down your options, the more practical questions need to be asked, too,” Mark urges us. “Dotting those I’s and crossing those T’s will save you from headaches the day of your event.”
“First off, you need to be sure that the size and dimensions of the space is going to suit your party plan.” Evaluating a venue based on your seated head count, whether you will need buffet service stations, or room to mingle while appetizers are being passed, where additional tables and décor will be, is the best system for determining a compatible venue. “Guest count is only a starting point. How you plan to use the space should most inform your decision.”
And whatever you do, Mark continues, “Do not overfill the room. People get hot. It’s too hard to get a drink. And it’s a hazard for any staff working the venue.”
Another factor when selecting a venue; consider the kitchen space available on the grounds of your party. Whether there is room to store, prepare, plate, and keep warm our creations directly affects the game plan and itinerary of our team. Your All Occasions Catering consultant should have received advance notification of resources available, as ease of cooking and prep work allows for a fresher and more polished food presentation.
We talk a lot about weather at AOC, and it’s not just because we’re great at small talk. Rain, snow, wind, and the occasional flash flood can flip our plan of execution on its head. Having some prior awareness of strategy for unfortunate weather will not only allow us to come prepared, but it will allow our hosts and guests of honor to relax and know the show will go on. Mark warns, “If your venue has no ability to adapt to inclement conditions, it might need some reevaluating.”
After Selecting a Venue
Once you have nailed down your desired location and your vision is taking shape, be sure to communicate your decision to any other vendors with whom you have already booked. Particularly for All Occasions Catering, coordinating our day with the venue’s schedule is key to ensuring we have enough time for set-up and aren’t in the way of other staff, entertainment or décor providers. Mark urges, “The sooner we know where we will be working, the better we can choreograph our role” in your big day.
A notice to all Do-It-Yourselfers: In short, don’t! While we understand your cost-consciousness, and appreciate your “if you want it done right, do it yourself” sensibility, there are some things better left to the pros. Party specialists spend every day of their working lives performing tasks such as set-up and clean-up, logistical planning, and yes, catering, to the point we can do it efficiently as a team, avoid rookie mistakes, and think ahead for details our clients typically don’t. Relieve yourself of the fuss leading up to and on through the end of your event. The cost of hired expertise is paid back in the enjoyment of your party and the precision of its end result.
“Our biggest hurdle as a provider tends to be the simple assurance that in the end, everything tends to work out just fine,” Mark reminds. There may be surprises to navigate, however even with the most complex of itineraries, we are seasoned in this profession, we are solutions oriented people, and very little of the unexpected is something we haven’t seen before. Take a nice, deep exhale and focus on your role as host and your own guest, and allow the splendor of the venue you have selected, and the team within it, to carry the day.