Food and Beverage

Food and beverage are a crucial part of event planning and often receives the most feedback from attendees. Make sure to plan for which food and beverage options will work best with your audience and your event's goals and logistics.

Select or create a menu that makes sense for your event and your participant's needs. During the contract process, make sure your contracted guaranteed number of attendees is lower than projected attendees numbers, i.e. if you expect 90 people for an event, plan for 75-80 people in the food and beverage details of your contract. You can provide the facility or caterer with your final  guaranteed number of participants 3-5 days before your event. Your contract will identify the exact due date of when the facility or caterer requires your guaranteed number of participants. 

Dietary restrictions are more common and must be considered when providing food. Consider special dietary needs when creating a contract, especially when meals will be catered. There are many ways to request and obtain dietary restriction information from participants, so make sure that needs are addressed during the contract process and registration of attendees. 

Factors to consider when selecting your event food and beverage

  • Type of activity, purpose, desired atmosphere, time of day.
  • Expected attendance – demographics.
  • Type of food service – meals or snacks, on-site vendor or off-site catering, vendor requirements.
  • Budget, including food and beverage costs, guarantees, deposit, gratuity amounts and labor charges for stations or bar staffing.
  • Room sizes and setups and how the space accommodates buffet, plated, and/or reception style food set ups.
  • Décor and entertainment.
  • Menu selections, including alternatives for those with special dietary restrictions.

Questions to ask your facility/caterer

  • Am I limited to the items on the menu?
  • What alternatives are available to meet special dietary requirements?
  • How will allergies and dietary restrictions be accounted for on the day of the event?
    • Will meal cards need to be provided by participants to servers with their dietary information listed?
    • Will buffet items be labeled with potential allergens?
  • What is the gratuity cost?
  • What time can event organizers access the space to set up?
  • How many seats will be at each table?
  • What is the policy on external food and beverage supplies?