Melissa Roberts, catering supervisor at DMU, explains how:
Consider your location and whether all your guests will fit comfortably,
your seating, best kinds of tables and number of people per table, décor,
plated or buffet meal and type of menu. Don’t forget beverages and desserts!
Think about setup time. What is scheduled for the room before your event?
Ponder timing and its implications. Offering an appetizer menu at 4 p.m. instead of dinnertime will let you get away with serving less food.
Consider your serving style. Most locations prefer plated servings, but for huge quantities, buffet is best. Buffets go faster, too, if the event’s timeframe or program is a factor.
Decide your price limit. Tell your caterer the budget ahead of time — that’s key. Come to the meeting with ideas but understand they might not fit your budget. (Tip: Bulk beverages always go farther than bottled, especially with small cups.) Also, ask for an estimate with all details and charges so you aren’t surprised by any fees.
Plan ahead. For catered food, let your caterer know at least three or four weeks out. A good caterer can tell you what you’ve forgotten. The first week involves planning the menu; the second week, working on details; and the third, confirming the numbers of everything. The week of the event is prep time.
Collaborate. A good caterer will look out for your best interests. If you don’t get
along with the caterer, find a different one.