One of the most fun things about using a private or semi-private dining room is that the space has furnishings, decor, and atmosphere, meaning you can save the event funds for decor, the menu, audiovisual and more! Here are our tips for making your event stand out to the attendees.
Select the space based upon your desired event outcomes. If you want your guests to mix and mingle, consider a reception style event with appetizers passed or stations with small plates. For events that are more formal, you may want to select a multi-course plated dinner. If you want something less traditional, you might consider a progressive dinner where gusts change seats throughout the dinner service or try a family style menu.
Table layout is one of the most crucial considerations for your event. Work with the venue to determine if the table confirmation for your guest count is fixed (cannot be modified) or flexible (can be modified depending on final guest counts).
Ask the venue what the standard table setup is for your event set-up is int he space. Once you know what the basics are, you can inquire about variations they can offer and any add-on services (services they can arrange or offer at a cost).
Often the venue can advise on slighting, whether the space has dimmable lights, up lighting, and if there are special audio-visual enhancements available plus any costs.
Many private rooms come with some basic audio visual (AV). AV may include a screen, sound system, and support. If you need a more extensive setup for your event, consider outlining your needs clearly and working with the venue to determine if there is enough space and who can help with the outsourced needs. Once the details are clear, ensure that the venue can provide access to the space with enough time for setup as this may not always be possible.
Some venues bring in their own fresh floral arrangements, others charge for this service. If you are considering fresh flowers, you may want to ensure the selections are low so guests can see one another across the table. Some flowers can impact the ambiance because they are heavily scented. Consider non-fragrant options that meet your specifications or succulents to ensure they do not impact the dining experience by overwhelming your guests. If you must buy your own arrangements, you can often select vessels and send them home with special guests at the end of the event.
Consider elements to personalize the night by asking the restaurant what they have done in the past. Often you can request printed welcome message on menus, often restaurants offer this for free or at a very low cost. Additional printed items to make your event flow smoothly could be a seating chart and place cards, which can often be provided by the venue for a minimal cost.
Select a Host
Identify an individual who is comfortable hosting the evening and work with them to find ways to connect individuals who may not know each other. Your host can often help by being a recognizable point person for the restaurant to ask questions during the event and they can also help guests feel more at ease, especially when guests are not familiar with one another, by planning introductions, icebreakers, or entertainment.
Consider enhancements that the venue can offer. This can often include mocktail, wine, or cocktail pairings to go with each meal course or selection or a meet and greet with the venue chef. Events with larger budgets might consider whether bringing in entertainment is appropriate, and fun including additional service staff or vendors to develop take home gifts or break the ice.
Consider ending the evening by sending guests home with a thank you note or take-home treat. Restaurants can often send guests home with a nicely packaged sweet or savory treat which is a specialty of the restaurant to commemorate the night.
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