October 1, 2010

Catering Tips: Creating a Room Diagram

Image courtesy of Allison Reisz Photography
When planning an event of any kind, whether it be a corporate holiday party, conference, or a wedding reception, indoors or outdoors, in a banquet hall or under a tent, it benefits everyone involved in the planning and execution of your event to have a diagram of the overall room arrangement. The drawing should be well-labeled, answering each of the following questions, as applicable:
  • Where will each guest table go?
  • Where will the head/sweetheart/reserved table(s) go?
  • How many chairs/guests will be at each table?
  • Which meal has each guest chosen (for a plated reception)?
  • Where will the sign-in/guest book/gift/favor/place card tables go?
  • Where will the large decor/plants go?
  • Where will the bar go?
  • Where will the DJ/band/stage/speaking platform/podium go?
  • Where will the dance floor go?
  • Where will the cake table go?
  • Where will the appetizer/buffet/action station/non-alcoholic drink tables go?
From a catering perspective, having a detailed, clearly-labeled rendering of your room layout helps us know in advance where to set up the buffet or action stations and saves time and confusion the day of your event. We won't accidentally put the shrimp cocktail display on the cake table or set up your sweet tea where the favors should have gone and waste the time of the catering or another vendor's staff rectifying the situation. For a plated meal, we use the number of people seated at each table to determine how many servers to bring and assign to each table or section. Additionally, if you're assigning seats for a plated meal, you'll guests will have chosen their meal ahead of time. Label each seat on your diagram with the meal that guest has chosen to increase the timeliness in which your guests are served.

There are several resources to help you plan a room diagram:
  • If you are working with an event planner, he/she will usually do this for you as part of the service you contracted.
  • If not, or if you are doing the planning yourself, start by asking your venue's coordinator if there is a diagram template of the room's structure. This is the easiest and most accurate way to account for the room's dimensions and any irregularities in its shape.
  • Talk with each of your vendors about their own space and table needs, and have a walk-through with them, if necessary. Let their professional experience guide you through the process; they work on events every day and know the best "flow" and set-up for their services to function at their prime.
  • Add and label these and any additional tables and important elements you're using to the diagram, and send it and your timeline to your venue and all of your vendors before your event to ensure the smoothest set-up possible.
  • Use a free, online room diagram service, such as Seating Arrangement, to design your floor plan, assign guest seating, manage RSVPs, and send the information electronically to your vendors.
Screen shot of Seating Arrangement's "Floor Plan" Tutorial

No comments:

Post a Comment