Banquets have made a comeback after decades of being ignored. More businesses, social clubs, and individuals are embracing a more glamorous way to celebrate milestones, raise money, or do charity. Most attendees marvel at the classy environment they indulge in away from their everyday work and home atmosphere.
As a planner, banquet planning can seem intimidating as expectations run pretty high, especially if the guests have to pay an expensive ticket to attend. Here is a step-by-step guide highlighting all you need to know about hosting a memorable banquet fit for any purpose.
The To-Do List for Banquet Planning
First off is to answer ‘What is a banquet?’ A banquet is a formal meal, mainly elaborate, shared by many people for a specific cause.
The venue, entertainment, and food and drinks are fundamental things to consider in banquet planning.
In addition to this, you also want to have arrangements for decorations, hospitality staff, gifts and souvenirs, event management, and guest transportation.
Draft a clear to-do list and categorize the items from the most important to the least. Use this list as a guide for budget allocation. Most of your budget should go to the essential things critical to setting the right mood for the event.
How to Manage Your Banquet Planning Budget
Banquet planning requires a generous amount of money, regardless of the purpose. People love attending banquets because of the glamor they present, which involves money. But there are several ways to make the most of your budget.
After creating your priority list, have a flexible amount of money you will allocate to each category- this will guide the types of vendors you source your goods and services. Make the figure flexible so you can move around your money if some things cost more.
Consider the purpose of your banquet events when budgeting. Whether you celebrate a milestone or want to raise money for a worthy cause, you must spend money to earn it. Remember, if your banquet is for profit-making, you will likely need a more generous budget to get the attendees to open their wallets.
For more accurate budgeting to set up a banquet event, have a defined number of attendees. Have your guests RSVP beforehand to get a good idea of who is attending. Precision will help you know how much food, snacks, and drinks you need, the size of the venue, and so many other details that require money.
Monitor and control costs as a team for more accountability and brainstorming. Having a second or third opinion will generate better spending ideas and simplify accountability. Accounting for an entire banquet budget independently can drain you and increase avoidable errors. Having a finance professional on your budgeting team is ideal as they come with much-needed resources like knowledge of accounting, accounting software, and more.
The Purpose of Your Banquet
Understanding the purpose of a banquet is a critical principle in banquet planning. Here are a few reasons you can host a banquet:
- For profit-making
- To raise money for charity
- To celebrate a professional milestone or achievement
- Personal celebrations like birthdays or engagements
- As part of an annual social club event
- An annual company party
The rules are simple when it is a company celebration. Creating inclusivity in this category would be best to increase job morale. As such, you will invite every employee and clarify whether they should bring a spouse with them. There is a plus-one reservation in most cases, so they can come with whomever they want. The primary goal is to ensure everyone has a good time and enjoys the milestones they’ve contributed directly or indirectly through their job roles.
If the banquet is for charity or profit-making, you may invite several select persons to support your vision. These banquets are some of the most glamorous because of the nature of the vent and the groups of attendees. Go the extra mile with the banquet activities to make the attendees feel pampered and lured to donate or invest much money. Think valet parking, five-course meals, elaborate decorations, a spectacular venue, professional photographers, and more.
You can host a social club banquet to unite the members. Social clubs are some places where influential people hang out, but each has a unique schedule- this means some valuable connections could be made if they all met at the same venue and time.
Research has also shown that strong positive social bonds make leaving a company or group harder- this means better member retention for your social club. It is also an excellent opportunity to roll out plans and vision for the club and have members support them while they’re still in the planning phase.
The Banquet’s Theme
A theme provides structure to your event, allowing clients to understand the scope and expectations of the event. Banquets are known for their class and glamor, which automatically weans off casual dress codes and mannerisms. But, you still need to narrow down the theme to articulate the expectations to the attendees better.
Here are some popular go-to themes you can try when planning a banquet:
- Masquerade ball
- Arabian nights
- Casino night
- Enchanted Forest
- Wild west
You can implement tens of themes in addition to those mentioned here. When choosing a theme, consider the purpose of the banquet, your attendees’ tastes and preferences, and the overall budget. For instance, when it comes to purpose, a fun beach party theme may seem out of touch for a fundraising banquet for a fight against human trafficking, child abuse, or other serious crimes committed against vulnerable groups.
The second thing to consider is your attendees’ tastes and preferences. If it’s a high-end profit-making banquet, your audience is top business people and innovators who may prefer a more formal banquet. However, this should not stop you from getting attendees out of their comfort zones and trying something new. The secret is striking a balance between something different and accommodating their preferences.
Lastly, your budget significantly affects the type of theme you choose. Decorate the venue based on the theme. If you select a pirate theme, you need to find supporting decor and keep it classy enough to meet banquet standards. A black-tie banquet is typical because the required decorations are readily available from many vendors, making it elegant yet realistic.
The Banquet’s Location and Venue
As mentioned, the venue is one area where you’ll invest most of your budget. You want to pick a mesmerizing place easily accessible to most attendees. If you’re wondering, ‘What is a banquet hall?’ It is an intriguing venue with incredible architectural features that host these classy events.
It also will save you money on decorations. Since the banquet facility already looks good, you can scale down on the decor compared to having a big, plain room where you have to transform completely.
Secure a venue with reliable transport systems such as Ubers, train stations, and ample parking. Also, check out the traffic leading to the venue to ensure guests won’t be delayed. Ensure there’s tons of space for attendees to park their vehicles, or better still, have a valet system to relieve them of the burden of walking from the parking area to the banquet room.
Some venues offer comprehensive packages where you can kill multiple birds with one stone. The banquet and event center may have its catering staff, photographer, photarea setup, PA and entertainment system, and an MC. If that’s the case, you can save time by busting their resources. If they have a good history of banquet planning, they probably have reliable networks with relevant vendors and, hence, the ability to deliver incredible results.
The Catering and Food Menu
Food and drinks are probably the second most significant investment after the venue. A unique feature of banquets is the food guests get to indulge in that is so different from what they’re used to at work or home. You cannot use an ordinary caterer for your banquet; you need a caterer knowledgeable in making exquisite culinary dishes that amaze your guests.
List possible food options, but don’t make it too long. A long list may confuse your guests and make it harder to know how much of everything you should make. Ask your caterer for some go-to options they have used in other banquet gigs they’ve catered.
The general rule of thumb is to have at least the following:
- Four main course options
- Two appetizers
- Five side dishes
- Three salads
For drinks, you can have ‘bottomless’ wine, cocktails, and alcoholic beverages if your budget allows. If not, place two bottles of wine on the table and have bottomless non-alcoholic drink options, which cost less. Have a bar that can serve guests more drinks at their expense.
You can serve the food family-style and have guests pass around the platters of food, which is ideal for banquets with fewer attendees. Mid-sized and largely attended banquets can have a buffet-style menu where guests pick and serve their food and then sit with their plates. The most preferable option is to have hospitality staff ask each person what they’ll have and bring it to them at the table like they would in a restaurant.
You can have your guests RSVP online with their preferred food choices so that you know how much you should make for each category. Make room for guests with dietary restrictions who may or may not communicate early enough. Have your chef ready to make gluten-free, dairy-free, and peanut-free food choices, among other alternatives.
Banquet planning is made simple with excellent guidelines for your decision-making. The main things to consider are the menu, venue, and entertainment. These are pivotal in creating the expected glamor for the vent.
Now that you know how to plan a banquet event, don’t forget to keep a transparent budget allocation and reliable vendors for hospitality duties, decor, event management, and transportation. Indulge your guests in memorable moments with a captivating theme they can enjoy and post about online.