by By Diana Wellman | November 01, 2009

The following checklist was compiled by Diana Wellman, director of catering and food services at Naples Bay Resort ( in Naples, Fla.

Initial Considerations
• Consider the duration of the event. Can you modify the agenda and eliminate a break, meal or guest night?

• Ask if the venue offers package pricing for F&B, which can deliver added value.

• Ask about off-peak dates and special offers.

• Ask whether any food and/or beverage vendors offer special pricing for the venue's clients.

• Inquire about last-minute cancellations for which your event might substitute at a reduced price.

Consider eliminating continuous refreshment breaks, and plan a modest 15-minute midmorning and midafternoon break instead.

Reduce cocktail reception time from 60 minutes to 30 or 45 minutes.

Select per-piece hors d'oeuvres and have them served butler-style (passed on trays). Displays cost more and do not have the personal touch.

Order by the tray instead of per person for all meal events.

If you do have stations, put more expensive stations (such as shrimp) in places with less traffic -- say, the second floor if a venue has multiple levels.

Scale back menu items. For example, offer a continental breakfast with an addition of breakfast sandwiches, and forego the full breakfast buffet of eggs, bacon, potatoes and other hot items.

Host a station or heavy hors d'oeuvres dinner menu in lieu of a seated dinner.

Consider providing lunch and letting attendees make their own arrangements for dinner.

Inquire about selecting a lunch portion/menu for dinner.

Serve a lower-cost cut of meat, such as thin flank (vacio), to replace a higher-cost cut, such as rib-eye.

While fish prices fluctuate, investigate typically good-value choices such as tilapia.

Consider whether local food items are less expensive due to reduced shipping costs.

Ask for pitchers of water, soda and juice to save on the per-bottle pricing of consumption (and help the environment at the same time).

Host a wine and beer bar instead of a full bar.

Provide a limited number of drink tickets, and offer a cash bar after tickets are used.

Inquire whether happy hour prices might be offered.

Ask if there is an overstock of a wine that you can purchase for a lower cost.

Inquire about providing your own beverages and paying a corkage fee.

Don't offer wine/alcohol during dinner, but provide a cash bar instead.

Words of Wisdom
Do not compromise on the quality of the food.

Do not shortchange attendees on the amount of food; i.e., by ordering only enough for 50 if 100 guests are expected.

Ensure there is sufficient staff to service your event. Service is as important as the food and ambience.

Consider hiring a deejay instead of a live band, but don't forego entertainment.

Do not apologize for the need to make cutbacks; in fact, don't allude to this at all.