4 Meal Planning Tips for Certified Wedding Planners
For certified wedding planners, there are a million little details that need to be taken into account with every event. While florals, weather conditions, and the comfort of guests are huge factors, food is arguably the highest on the list. The right meals, snacks, and drinks will be major indicators of a successful event, so it’s vital to ensure everything runs (and goes down) smoothly!
The good news is that with a little bit of planning and thought, you can create a memorable event for clients and guests alike. Join us as we run through 4 meal planning tips to ensure your next event is a success – and a delicious one, at that.
Stick to the budget
Planning meals for special events will be a highlight of your event planner career. It’s such a fun detail to oversee! You’ll be working closely with clients to come up with plans that reflect their unique personalities, tastes, and theme of their wedding or event. And, if all goes well, you can earn serious trust and build your reputation as a result.
However, because this is such an exciting aspect of the wedding planning process, it is often where clients get carried away. They’ll have many ideas about the meals and drinks they want to serve, but won’t be fully aware of how much food can cost (especially when there’s a large guest list involved). In each of your event jobs, you’ll want to make sure that you’re totally up front about costs, and that you’re suggesting meal and drink ideas that fall within your client’s budget – you don’t want them to be continually disappointed by coming up with ideas that simply aren’t feasible for them. Plus, you want to ensure that you can follow through on promises that you make.
One myth that your clients may believe is that a buffet is actually cheaper than a sit-down dinner. You’ll want to nip this in the bud right away by letting them know that buffets are often more expensive because more food is required (who doesn’t go for seconds when a buffet of food is available?).
Take your time and go through meal options with your clients to ensure that they’re being mindful of how much each item costs – it will keep them comfortably on-target and not stressed about the big meal!
Be mindful of allergies
So you’ve stuck to your client’s budget, planned some amazing meals, drinks, and snacks for the big day, and you figure you’re all set.
Not so fast.
Food and drink allergies are serious items to keep in mind early in the wedding planning process. When your clients send out their invitations, have them include a section where guests can indicate any allergies they have. Once all the RSVPs have been received, make a list of the guests who have various allergies (gluten, dairy, peanut and seafood are big ones to keep in mind), and then start planning meals around this.
The good news here is that you don’t need to make any drastic changes – if your wedding clients have their hearts set on a cake filled with nuts, or a seafood-based dinner, don’t worry. They can have their cake, and eat it too!
As the certified wedding planner, you want to make sure that there are plenty of options for those with specific allergies at the wedding – gluten-free dessert items, alternative dinner meals, and items without any dairy are most common. Work with the caterer to ensure that they use specific equipment that is free of gluten, nuts, or other allergens that may harm guests – and to be as careful and sanitary as possible when preparing the food. Being mindful of allergies is really the most important point here, as this attention to detail will eliminate any potential for guests to have reactions.
Pro tip: Keeping allergies in mind is important, but so is food safety. Especially in the case of a summer wedding in the hot sunshine, be extremely careful about leaving food to sit for any period of time. Follow this list of top summer event planning mistakes and get informed!
Stay true to the couple
One of the best aspects of being a certified wedding planner is getting to know your clients! This is such an exciting and happy time for newly engaged couples, and one reason many people decide to pursue a wedding planning career is so they can be part of these moments. As you iron out the details surrounding meals at the wedding, be sure to allow the couple’s personality to shine through. After all, this is their special day, and it should reflect their own love story and the chosen theme of their wedding.
As you get to know your wedding clients, ask questions that will allow you to understand how they met, what they like to do together, and their favorite foods. These are excellent starting points for meal planning. Perhaps the couple met through friends and went on their first date at a country fair – you can totally bring elements of a fair into the appetizers!
Maybe a snack bar featuring corn dogs, popcorn, or candied nuts would be a sentimental item at their wedding. Or, maybe the bride grew up with a specific type of pie that her grandmother used to bake and has since shared the recipe with her fiancé. Having this treat on hand at the wedding is incredibly touching.
These small – but important – elements will ensure that the wedding meal is enjoyable and romantic for both the couple and their guests. And this doesn’t need to be expensive! Bring in a few small touches from your clients’ lives (choose one or two, if they’re on a tight budget) and you’ll be amazed at how far you can go in creating an unforgettable wedding.
Keep things interesting
Last but certainly not least, any certified planner knows that the food at events should be fun! This isn’t the time for corporate meals featuring meat and vegetables (although some couples opt for this type of meal, and there’s nothing wrong with that). But an upcoming wedding is the chance to be creative, take risks, and have a great time – late-night chocolate fountain, anyone?
If the meal you end up planning at your clients’ reception is a formal dinner with four courses, servers, and white linen table cloths, why not organize a snack bar filled with sliders and shot glass fries to be brought out around 10:00pm? Dancing and general merrymaking will have begun by that hour, and guests will be looking for something fun and different to munch on. If it’s a hot summer’s night, a dessert table filled with ice cream and sundae toppings could be a massive hit with guests who want to cool off. It’ll be a hit with kids, as well!
In general, you should work with your clients to come up with wedding drink and meal ideas that will have guests talking – and perhaps even trying new things for the first time. Don’t be afraid to suggest drinks that are considered “out-of-the-box” for weddings, or snack tables that will thrill and fill guests’ bellies long into the night!