Food and Beverage

Food and beverage are a crucial part of event planning. Events often offer light snacks such as pretzels or fresh fruit, but some events require plated courses, catering staff, or even custom meal choices. Make sure to plan for which food and beverage options will work best with your audience and your event's goals and logistics.

Before you begin, think about about what options may be best for your event by reviewing this Meal Function Checklist. If you're not sure how you'd like to incorporate food into your program, consider these Food & Beverage Planning Tips.


When choosing to have a catered meal at your event, always ask for the state rate menus to receive the most economic options. By doing so, you may have to choose between having a starter and dessert option – a choice dependent on the program goals and its audience. Most people don’t notice if a starter isn’t served though, so it is the easiest to eliminate.

Create customized menus and pricing when drafting your contract; this will ensure better food pricing and a unique experience for attendees. Make sure your contracted guaranteed amount is lower than projected numbers; it is common to account for half the amount of expected registrants when contracting, i.e. if you expect 90 people for an event, plan for 45-50 people during the catering details of the contract.

Negotiate the latest date possible with no penalty for guarantees.

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.