Part of making plans for a wedding reception or any type of catered event requires determining the number of staff needed to carry off the occasion in style. There are a number of factors that go into settling on a number, including the size of the guest list and how the food and drink will be served. Here are some general tips that will make it easier to ensure there is enough staff on hand to keep things moving along smoothly.
While it’s true that a buffet does not require anyone to actually serve the guests, there is the need for staff to refill the various warming pans and chafing dishes used for the setup. A good rule of thumb is to have one staff member for every three chafing dishes or warmers that need to be checked and refilled periodically.
Remember that in addition to staff who focus on the food, it makes sense to have one person who is charged with keeping the punch bowl filled and replenishing the supply of any beverages that are being kept on ice. It also helps to have one person devoted to checking the plates and cutlery to ensure enough is on hand for those who are about to come back around for seconds.
A more formal reception with a sit down dinner requires at least one server for every eight guests. Along with a server to get the plates to the guests, a separate server should be on hand to take care of the water glasses and refilling whatever beverage each guest chooses.
There also needs to be someone assigned to remove empty plates from the tables. Generally, it’s possible for one person to handle up to three or four tables and ensure those dishes are cleared in a timely manner.
If the plan is to have a bar at the reception, it pays to have at least one bartender for every 50 guests. An assistant who can handle the non-alcoholic beverages quickly wouldn’t hurt. This helps to prevent long lines at the bar and allows the guests to get back to the festivities a little faster.
Talk with the caterer and discuss staffing based on the number of people attending, the way the food will be served, and how much cleanup is involved. It won’t take long to settle on a number and know that everything will be managed properly.