These are all questions we get at Jacquie’s Gourmet Catering. Here are some answers, according to the expert, Jacquie Bols, owner of Jacquie’s for 36 years:
“There are no hard and fast answers to any of these questions,” says Jacquie. “I’ve catered a few thousand parties through the years in all kinds of venues. Some were hugely successful in less than ideal venues. Others were held in lavish surroundings, but just didn’t seem to catch fire.
“What seems to matter most is knowing your group. If your guests expect a top-notch venue, make sure you exceed their expectations. If you are dealing with a creative, artsy crowd, surprise them with the unexpected. That goes for what you serve them to eat and drink as well as where you hold the event.
“However, the old saying about guests tending to have more fun at an event where it feels ‘full’ is true. People want to be at a popular event. When your space is huge and beautiful but there aren’t enough guests to fill the room, it tends to make your guests feel uncomfortable.
“Sometimes the most successful events 'mix media.' I remember an upscale event held in a huge old barn out in the country, even though the event was black tie. The event planner hung ornate crystal chandeliers from the rafters and set each round table with colorful, over-sized, avant-garde floral centerpieces. The settings were china and silver on bright tablecloths. The food was very upscale and pretty surprising as well – right down to the cocktails. The entire event was over the top and completely unexpected -- and the guests loved it!
“The point is to consider who your guests are, why they are there and what their expectations are.
Then build your event around a theme, adding a few unexpected touches to keep everything interesting and talked about.
“One thing I never think you should skimp on is the food at the event. Guests will forgive an event that could have had another restroom or two, but they will always remember how good the food was or wasn’t. I hear from people years and years after an event who remember how delicious specific entrees or desserts were. Food and presentation matter a lot.”
Jacquie's Gourmet Catering owner/CEO