Planning a banquet requires organization and a plan. If you’re tasked with planning a banquet, devising a solid checklist to refer to as the occasion nears can help avoid or at least alleviate potential on-site headaches and keep things in order.
Communication with the venue is essential in assuring the banquet set-up is correct and can accommodate all guests. Consider the location from the guests' perspective as they arrive. Decide if valet service should be offered and determine if any guests need handicap-accessible entrances or elevators. Check that the venue has the correct guest count to ensure the appropriate amount of tables and chairs are set up. See the room to confirm it is set up according to your instructions. If the event features live entertainment, make sure the event space has a stage and a dance floor.
Food and beverage
Meet with your caterer at least two to three weeks prior to the event to make final decisions on the menu and the style of service, buffet or table. When planning the menu, account for guests with requests such vegetarian meals or diet restrictions.
Before food service begins, go over food with the caterer to check quantity against guest count, including last-minute guests. Communicate with bar staff on drink limits, type of alcohol to be served or tab limit if you are offering an open bar.
Programs, activities and speakers
Confirm with any event speakers the time, date and location of event one week before the event, the day before the event, and at least one hour before scheduled arrival at the venue. Any stage requirements such a podium and lectern, microphone or audio-visual equipment should be in place and tested at least one day prior to the banquet. Also, ask the speaker if he or she plans to eat at the banquet or would prefer to have a meal prepared for after the engagement.
Attention to details such as decorations, flowers, event-themed cake, awards and gifts and even childcare are sometimes overlooked in the planning process. List all miscellaneous accessories and services. Confirm the schedule of deliveries and arrival of any staff with service providers. Program cards and thank-you cards should be printed and delivered at least one day before the event.
Crystal Green is a marketing and event management consultant specializing in non-profit organizations and small businesses. Green spent the last seven years working for a statewide education association directing their trade publications, writing articles for programs' training teams and other event-related freelance projects. Green hold a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, and is currently working on advanced degrees.