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Top Tips To Planning A Successful Private Dining Event

From our experience over the journey the team at [PD], have put together a few points to consider, that will help ensure your party or event is one to celebrate, not commiserate.

The most important consideration is to create an event-planning checklist, slow down and do your research, prior to booking a venue and paying your deposit.

Accurately plan your budget, research the venue, research the food, the menu and wine on offer, research your guests, their likes and dislikes, and last but not least, your likes and dislikes.

The easiest way is to start with the number of people that will be attending your event. Do an estimate on how much each person will eat. Do an estimate on how much and what, your guests attending will drink.

If your not sure about some guests, ask them or their friends. Check your numbers off with the venue’s food and beverage prices, and this should give you an idea of the overall budget.

Check with the venue as to whether there is a room hire charge. Some venues charge some don’t’ and some have minimum spends. The type of venue can also determine the price. For example, an award-winning, fine dining restaurant is going to be more expensive than a local pub.

Check the duration of your event or the package you’re committing to for example; the beverage package may be for 3 hours, yet your booking is from 6:30 pm until midnight. That leaves, a 2½ hour, shortfall that’s going to need to be paid for.

Set a budget and try not to go over it. Be aware if members of your group start ordering drinks, not within your package, this will cost more. The objective is to find out all the costs prior to making your booking.

Remember unless you’re having a surprise party, you don’t want any unexpected surprises!

This is something that’s really important to qualify prior to making your booking. If it’s your party or function and you or your parents are paying, then it’s pretty straightforward. The venue in most cases will require a deposit, with the balance being payable at the end of the evening. (Deposit may be charged as a percentage or per head.)

If your group is paying individually or as couples this can be where things may get a little tricky, as one of a venue operators pet hates is splitting bills. You also have to consider how the deposit gets split. It’s an important consideration because the responsibility for payment is usually with the person who books, and has provided their credit card details for the deposit. So check with the venue and your group first. It can also be advisable to ask what the venue’s policy is on deposit refunds.

Remember, no surprises!

The moment you get to a group size booking or function to secure your date, venues will require a Terms and Conditions document to be signed. This is good for both parties as it gives both the venue and the host security over the date of the event however you need to ensure you’re aware of all your responsibilities if you’re the person, financially committed and signing the document.

It’s something to be diligent with so you’re aware of any potential nasties but let’s not lose sight of the fun you and your guests are going to have at your party or event. Again, you just want to ensure it’s a celebration, not a commiseration.

Check the details of the venue’s food and beverage packages to see how long the packages are for. If there is no detail specified it may be represented in the terms and conditions document and if it’s not, request confirmation from the venue. Enquire as to what time the venue is licensed until. It’s not ideal if the event is brought to an end, because of the venue’s license and everyone is just starting to have fun.

Furthermore just because the venue is licensed to a certain time doesn’t mean your food and beverage package is valid until that license time. So do your research first.

Consider the venue’s location and how you and your guest will be traveling to and from your function or event. If drinking alcohol the chances are you won’t be driving however, it’s important to check with your guests. Check with the venue as they may have arrangements with nearby car parks or availability onsite. You can also check with GOOGLE MAPS to see car parks nearby. City car parks can be expensive so do your research. Remember, no surprises!

Unless you are totally familiar with the venue you are hiring, we advise you to physically make a site visit first. This will ensure the space you are hiring is suitable for you and your number of guests and is exactly as represented and what you are visualizing for your event. Sure, it’s a little extra legwork, however, grab your best buddy, make a time for a site inspection with the venue or swing by, have a drink or a bite to eat and see how it all feels. You’ll pretty quickly know if it’s the perfect place or not.

To ensure all of your guests have an enjoyable experience at your event, it’s important to consider, what your guests can and can’t eat or drink. Check with them first so you can confirm with the venue so they can cater to any special needs.

Some people may be vegan, vegetarian, have allergies to certain foods or food types or have religious restrictions. It’s always better to do your research first before you book the venue.

Click here to view [PD’S] Dietary Requirement & Food Allergy Guide.

It’s important to note that at some food focused private dining venues, playing your own music may not be preferable. It all depends on the venue, so ask the question first. You may have a corporate event where you need audio-visual equipment for a presentation, which is an imperative component to the success of your event, so check with the venue first, prior to making a booking. Check the compatibility with your devices and ask if you can do a site visit prior to ensure everything goes without a hitch for your special event.

On the surface, the type of cuisine served at the venue you choose may be what you’re comfortable eating but, what about your guests? In particular with private dining venues that may have a philosophy of what’s known in the industry as “Nose to Tail’ sustainable, no wastage dining. Meaning exactly as it states, using all of the produce including offal, which some of your guests may not be comfortable eating. So, check the menu off with your guests and do your research first, so everybody has a great time.

The style of how the food served in a private dining setting can vary from venue to venue, so it’s important to be clear and check the menu thoroughly or check with the venue first, to make sure its exactly what you and your guests are expecting. The most common style is A’ la Carte, which basically allows diners the choice of ordering singular items from the dining menu. Then there is the Set Menu method, which offers diner a limited menu, for a set number of courses, at a fixed price. There’s also Degustation, which is sampling numerous small portions of a venue or chef’s signature dishes, in one sitting.

As obvious as this sounds it’s important to the overall outcome you’re wanting to achieve for your small function or dinner party. A great place to start is to have a quick mental review of your group of guests, the occasion, and your budget and work out if you’re event is best suited to a high end, award-winning fine dining restaurant, a pub with a small function room, a café for full venue hire, a casual bar with a cocktail party focus, a business lunch in a corporate hotel or a rural and rustic winery.

Move forward with a focus from there and making your choice will be a lot easier.

Private dining rooms and spaces come in a range of interesting and unique settings, and with some of the most incredible features. They can be in stunning waterfront locations or have breathtaking views, have contemporary architecturally designed spaces or be in old historic buildings with character filled private rooms. An obvious thing to do is the make sure the number of your guests fit comfortably seated in the area. Then match the food, with the suitable space and location, and book your event. It’s that simple

Choosing wine can be a difficult thing outside of your own palate especially if you have a large group of guests you’re trying to please. A great place to start is with the food menu items you have chosen and pair the dishes with the appropriate wine choices. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice from the venue function coordinator or sommelier. That’s their job, it’s what they specialise in every day.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to do things yourself, the team at [PD] have put together a quick and easy “Wine Match Guide” that will help point you in the right direction, as to what style of wine, goes with what type of food.

Click here to view [PD’S] Wine Match Guide.