If the job of planning a banquet falls to you and you have never done it before, its easy to get a sense of panic and just want to scream "What do I do first?" So before panic sets in there are some basic steps you can take to make the job of organizing a banquet much easier on you both at first and down the road.
For starters, you have a rich resource in the experience of others who have put on successful banquets so you can tap their wisdom to help you with what to do first in organizing the banquet ahead. If the banquet is associated with an annual event, the person or persons who planned the event last year can be a wealth of information for you. And you will find that people who have gone through the cycle of planning a big event will be happy if not eager to help you with advice or even to roll up their sleeves and get involved to help you make the banquet a big success as well.
Getting lots of people involved in the form of a banquet committee is always a good idea. Choose wisely who you have on your team because you want people who will all move forward creatively. Disputes and egos only slow down the process. But if you have people who have served on banquet committees before and have specific areas they are good at like room decoration, meal planning or managing the guest list, the more you tap that talent, the easier your job of over all planning will be.
There are some elements of the event itself that you may or may not have a lot of leverage about so that cuts down on the decisions you must make. So before you go very far in planning the event overall, itemize the things that cannot change such as…
. The date if the event must occur on a very specific night for reasons pertaining to the theme of the night. A retirement party or anniversary or birthday banquet are good examples of banquets that are limited by time.
. The hall. If the group holding the banquet owns the hall or the banquet must occur in a specific place because that location is meaningful, then you have to make that location work.
. The guest list and how many you have coming. If it is set in stone, you will have to reconcile that with the facilities and that could add to the challenge.
. The theme and order of events for the evening
. The budget.
Once you have a good fix on the variables that must happen for the event to be a success and you have a good support group, it is just a matter of making it all come together. You have been to enough banquets that you know what makes a banquet really great from a guest perspective and what is less important.
That will be important when your budget is limited and you must cut costs. By laying out your priorities and those priorities are focused on the guests and that the event serves the goal of the gathering well, you will know what is important and you will put emphasis on those aspects of planning. And that good sense will lead to a successful event.