One of the best parts of an event - the food! Because it’s so important for events longer than an hour or so, catering typically takes up 30-35% of the total budget. You’ll want to make sure that you use every bit of your budget efficiently.
To make things easier, before you pick a specific vendor, identify which type of catering works best for your event!
Using a buffet style catering service at your event has a variety of benefits, but there’s also downsides. Consider the following when shopping for buffet catering:
- Less wait staff than traditional serving styles
- Larger variety of food and more choices for event guests
- Your guests can decide how much or how little food they want
- Great for more casual events
The downside of buffets is they can cost more than plated meals depending on how much food you need. When you are thinking about buffet catering for your event, consider the type of event you’re hosting and your audience!
Plated catering is more formal compared to a buffet. Events that are most suitable for this style are generally semi-formal to formal. You’ll have your guests decide on their meal choices ahead of time—this normally includes an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Meals are similar to those you’d find at a mid-to-upscale restaurant, and everyone is served at the same time.
- Your guest won’t have to wait in line
- Pre-selecting meals means your caterers know exactly how much food to make
- Great for fancier events
If you decide to serve your guests in courses, you may have to hire more wait staff so include this when you are checking your budget.
This is a unique and fun type of catering service! Food trucks are great for casual, outdoor events when you want your guests to be able to mingle.
- Social atmosphere
- Food is fresh and made to order
- Can be more affordable because there is no need for wait staff
Food truck catering does require a lot of outdoor space depending on how many vendors you’ll be hiring. You’ll also have to check with your chosen venue to ensure they can provide you with the appropriate space.
Cocktail Reception Catering
If your event is relatively short, finger foods and small, snack-sized meals are attractive and perfect for socializing! There are two ways you can offer hors d’oeuvres - self serve on a community table or butlered service. To decide between the two, simply consider if you’d like your event to feel casual or formal.
- Perfect for events of less than 2 hours that don’t require full-service meals
- Bite-sized food variety can range from casual to formal
- Suitable foods can be found for all event themes
Cocktail catering is the least expensive of the catering styles. If you’re on a tight budget, go for self serve stations. If your budget is flexible, consider hiring staff for a more formal, butlered service.
It's most important to note your event budget and the number of guests that plan on attending. Knowing these two factors will help you narrow down the type of catering services dramatically. Then you can focus on the type of event, level of formality, and venue restrictions.
If you’re shopping for venues and catering, our team at Captain Anderson’s Event Center in Panama City Beach, Florida is prepared to help you! To tour our event spaces, or for general inquiries, please call us at (850) 691-5653. We can’t wait to help you plan your next event!