Blog, Ideas & Inspiration

Catering feast or famine – getting it right for your guests

February 21, 2017

A dinner party for eight can be worry enough when it comes to deciding how much food you’ll leave, so working out the logistics of catering for 200-300 guests is a potential nightmare – which is why it really does pay to work with a professional catering company when planning a marquee event.

There is nothing worse than inviting your nearest and dearest to a special event and running out of food and drink part way through. It will influence the atmosphere of the event and contribute to the good (or bad!) memories that your guests have.

Pesto CateringSteve Bailey of Pesto Food has years of experience of catering for large numbers – as many as 10,000 over a weekend, in fact, so he’s well qualified to discuss catering logistics. “It’s not purely down to how many guests have been invited,” Steve told us. “Just as important is the timing of the event and what guests are likely to expect in terms of food – this is particularly true of weddings. Imagine the wedding ceremony is held at midday. Guests will miss out on lunch and, allowing for possible travel to the reception, photographs and so on, food is unlikely to be available for a couple of hours. Now, if you only offer light snacks throughout the afternoon, you’ll end up with guests flaking out or disappearing in search of the nearest supermarket, café or takeaway!

“Good catering companies will take time to get to grips with an event so that they can advise on what will work best. It’s about making the best use of clients’ budgets to put on a good spread and ensure guests’ appetites are satisfied.”

So what are the options when it comes to catering?

  • Canapés will keep guests going ahead of a proper meal. Four canapés per person per hour is a reasonable allowance.
  • Bowl food is a fun alternative to a formal meal. Easy to eat while standing or mingling with everyone, allow two bowls per person. Desserts work really well served this way, too – and will satisfy the sweetest tooth.
  • A buffet provides plenty of choice and looks really impressive. It can also be more cost effective than a plated meal.
  • Sharing platters are perfect if your guests are to be seated and may be on a table with people that they don’t know. Food is served to the table for guests to help themselves – it encourages interaction and there is nothing quite like food for getting conversations started.
  • A formal sit-down meal of 3-4 courses remains a popular choice for wedding breakfasts. Beautifully presented and served by waiting staff, your guests will be in for a treat.
  • Who doesn’t enjoy an afternoon tea? This is a great option if your event duration is 2-3 hours – no one will be expecting a ‘gut buster’ meal in that time. A minimum of half a round of sandwiches, several savoury items and two sweet items per person should be sufficient.

Pesto CateringIt’s also important to have enough drinks as well. Again, quantity will be dictated by the length of the event and whether it’s taking place in the day or evening. Don’t forget to provide choice – wine and beer, soft drinks for those who don’t drink or may have to drive, suitable drinks for younger guests.

Steve also offers one important reminder: “Take into account the mix of guests. Family events are likely to include older people and young children. Expecting an elderly aunt to eat bowl food probably won’t go down well. And younger children will probably turn up their noses if they are served a very sophisticated main course.”

Book your marquee and we can introduce you to some of the best catering companies around. Call us on 01372 459485 or email

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