How to Figure Costs for a Banquet

Figuring the costs of a banquet can seem like a daunting task at first. Depending on the type of event and number of guests, the costs of banquets can vary dramatically. Every banquet follows basic planning steps that help determine the type of budget needed. Additional fees for wait staff, room setup and food and beverages are usually required and important to remember when calculating the final cost.

Determine the cost of the venue. Start with the number of guests expected to attend the banquet and the date of the function. Table-and-chair setup and items requiring a lot of space should be communicated to the venue, as this may affect the size and price of the venue space.

Add the costs of renting tables, chairs, dinnerware, table linens, or any other needed items, such as a dance floor or risers, if they are not provided by the venue. Consider also the costs of any audio/visual components or fees that the venue might require for setting up the room as needed. Some venues charge a percentage of the room cost or a flat fee for their staff to arrange the room.

Figure food costs by choosing menu items and multiplying the expected number of attendees by the per-person cost. Caterers generally require a guaranteed number of attendees several days in advance. This number will provide a more accurate estimate of food costs for the banquet. Should more guests attend than the number guaranteed, the caterer will charge for the higher amount.

Add bartender fees and pricing for beverages if this service is offered. A standard formula for figuring bar costs is to multiply two and a half drinks for every guest for the first hour of the bar and one drink per guest every additional hour. Check with the caterer to see what additional gratuities or service charges are added to the costs.

Check on the cost of a wait staff if they are not provided by the venue or the caterer. As of 2009, this cost ranges from $10 to $15 per hour, depending on the type of event.

Factor in the cost of entertainment such as a band, DJ or emcee for the banquet if needed. Such services are usually charged by the hour for a set amount of hours.

Decide if the banquet will require any decorations. Determine the costs of decorating the event or hiring a florist or decorator.

Calculate the costs for any printed items. Most banquets call for invitations and/or programs to be provided to all guests. One may also consider any marketing that may be required for advertising your banquet or letting guests know the details of the event. If the banquet is open to the public, consider advertising costs for television, radio, Internet or newspaper to provide general information for the banquet. If the banquet is only for a select amount of people, invitations and programs will only be needed.

Check with the individual vendors to determine the tax rate, as some services may have differing taxes as determined by the city. Some venues will have a tourism tax in addition to the sales tax. There may also be additional percentages added to food and beverage taxes. Do not forget to add the tax when estimating costs, as they can add a large amount to the final total.