1. Your budget. Don’t begin calling or planning until you know your budget. Without this, the options are limitless and you will be wasting your time and your caterer’s time. Know your budget, as this will drive the entire planning process.
2. Time of Day. Timing is critical as it impacts food quantities. An event from 3:00 to 5:00 will demand very different quantities then the same menu being served from 5:00 to 8:00.
3. Head Count. Have a sense of your guest count. Again, without a guest count, a catering proposal can’t be generated.
4. Your vision. What type of party are you throwing? A one hour cocktail party, a four hour event with hors d’oeuvres and dinner, a champagne toast with dessert? Explain to your caterer the type of party you want. Review the caterer’s menu online, discuss your ideal menu and give as much detail as possible. This will help you achieve your ideal menu within budget much quicker.
5. Staffing. Staffing costs money, often as much as the food itself. When planning a menu, keep in mind that menus that require more staff will be more costly. Stationary hors d’oeuvres are more budget friendly options then parties with a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres which require on site kitchen staff and a plethora of well-paid servers and bussers. Buffets are a better option than a sit down dinner when working with a tight budget, because there is less staff required to execute the menu. Great parties, including weddings have been thrown with creative, artistic and innovative stationary hors d’oeuvres and buffets, so don’t dismiss anything until you’ve explored all the options.