Food & Beverage Planning for Events



Whoa – totally left you all hanging with my follow-up to the post about the {5} Categories for a Successful Event. My bad. Food and Beverage is a very important part of any event. People love to eat and drink. Some people go to events solely for the food and drinks! Figuring out the food and beverage that you are going to have at your event depends on multiple things:

  1. Type of event
  2. Amount of guests
  3. Budget
  4. Theme
Type of Event

The type of food and beverage you plan to serve will depend on if you are planning a wedding, birthday party, cocktail party, or backyard BBQ. You can choose grandiose options like a plated meal, various cut meats, and decadent hors d’oeuvres — if you have a large budget. Having your event catered is always a great option {as it takes the burden off of you} but this is definitely not necessary for said birthday party or backyard BBQ. Again, it takes the burden off, but at a cost.

Catered buffets are great options for weddings, as it is usually a lower cost, catered, option and allows guests to choose what they want and don’t want. Some people don’t find it as “high class” but hey — if it’s free food for them, who cares! Do what is in your budget.

Amount of Guests

Figuring out the amount of guests for your wedding, is always the first step which I spoke about here, because it lays the foundation for a lot of your most important decisions when thinking through an event. This will matter in your catering quote and plan, in your alcohol and non-alcoholic beverage buying, and in the overall layout {sometimes figuring out where to put a 250 person buffet is not that simple!}


The big “B” word. Everyone has deal with this. {Well most of us!} Budget’s come in all shapes and sizes, and people tend to bucket certain parts of their budget as higher priority than others. Do I really want to spend $4,000 on hiring a white horse to bring me bare-back into the ceremony? Or would I rather spend that money on the food and drinks? Or dress!! Whatever your priorities are, the food and beverage plan tends to always take one of the biggest chunks of the event budget.

I do think it is important to spend your money wisely here, but having a decent spread of food and drinks can really make or break your event. Cutting costs here can really affect how the event goes. You do tend to “get what you paid for” in this part of the gig. It is important to look up reviews on catering companies to see how people rate.


This ties into the first point, Type of Meal, as the food and beverage depend on what kind of theme you are going for. If it is a cocktail party, you would focus on choosing great drinks and some fun hors d’oeuvres. Some parties only need a small dessert spread with coffee or tea {baby/bridal shower, anyone?}. Some focus on brunch items, potluck style {definitely most budget friendly, if you can “get over” asking people to pitch in!}, themed treats, bar-style {baked potato bar is my favorite!}, etc.

These are the main areas I focus on when I am planning the food and beverages for small to large events. What has helped you in planning this essential part of an event? Have any additional questions? Ask me in the comments below!

What did you think of this? Please share your thoughts, ideas and comments!