Stress-Free Custom Menu Planning: Expert Advice From Event Planners

Stress-Free Custom Menu PlanningCreating a custom menu that accommodates every guest attending your private dining event is one of the most difficult elements of event planning. To strike the right balance with your custom menu, innovation and creativity must be blended with the diversetastes and needs of your guests…

  • Know Who Is Attending Your Event
    Are you hosting an event for a specific demographic? Even if you do not know every person on your guest list, based on demographics, you may still ascertain that certain groups have common tastes and preferences regarding food.

    For example, if your attendees largely focus on healthy eating, you know to provide healthful menu items that feature a variety of fish, seafood and vegetarian options. Within this framework, you may then create a custom menu with these food items prepared in a variety of ways.

    If your guests are older, they tend to have milder, more meat-and-potato-based menu preferences. Focus on creating a custom menu featuring a variety of proteins and simpler side dishes that set the spice level at mild to medium. For younger or middle-aged groups, it is more acceptable to offer adventurous meals with higher spice levels and innovative flavor profiles.

    In any custom-menu framework, the goal is to offer a variety of tastes, temperatures and textures to please everyone.

  • Anticipate Your Guests’ Dietary Needs And Restrictions
    Today, there are a number of special dietary needs and food restrictions that every event planner must take into consideration when creating a custom menu.

    Guests with food allergies or intolerances, gluten sensitivity, religious/ethnic dietary needs and more must always be accommodated, even if you do not realize their needs until they are sitting down at the table.

    When possible, establish your guests’ dietary needs ahead of time. RSVP cards are a great way to collect this information, by providing attendees with an open field on the card to list any dietary preferences or restrictions they may have. With this information handy, tell your venue in advance so they are prepared to meet these dietary requests.

    Also, be sure to check with the event planner at your private dining venue to learn how they handle every food allergy, preference or restriction, especially when it comes to last-minute requests. Avoiding last-minute, special request issues ensures a smooth meal service.

  • Arrange A Tasting At Your Private Dining Event Venue
    Creating a custom menu that all of your guests will enjoy is critical to hosting a successful event. Tasting a variety of menu items and seeing how the items are presented will ensure you are making the right selections.

    Be aware that every private dining venue will varywhen it comes to arranging a tasting of their menu items. Check with your venue event planner about their tasting offerings or events. You want to partner with a venue that is excited to set up a time allowing you to experience sample dishes and see how they are presented.

Ready to learn more about planning the perfect custom menu for your private dining event? Schedule a no-cost consultation with an event planning specialist at R2L.

Creating A Private Event Plan: Do Not Overlook These 3 Critical Steps

Event planning is challenging enough without the added stress of delaying the event due to guests or vendors arriving late. Potential delays are certainly more of a concern if your private event is in an unfamiliar location or if you have a lot of out-of-town guests attending.

While there is often no way to avoid issues such as traffic jams, with some clear and realistic pre-planning, you are able to eliminate a number of reasons why guests and vendors are typically behind schedule.

A critical step in your private event plan is to ensure your team and guests have all the information they need to easily find the venue. It is also beneficial to give everyone an accurate indication of how much time it takes to travel to the private dining venue from various directions.

Take into consideration the following private event planning tips to help vendors and guests arrive on time:

  • Location
    Even if your guests and vendors are vaguely familiar with the location of the private event, it is important to provide very detailed instructions on parking and where the entrances are located.

    For guests traveling from out of town, choose a venue that is centrally located and has a number of hotels within walking distance or a short cab ride. Inform guests of approximate walking times and the phone numbers of a few different taxi companies.

    Transportation And Traffic
    Provide your traveling guests with the most direct route from various points. If your private event is being held during peak traffic times, make note of this with approximate travels times so your guests know they need to leave a few minutes earlier to get there on time.

    If there is any construction or detours happening (common during summertime events), provide alternate directions. If transportation and traffic are going to be an issue, it is a nice gesture to offer a shuttle service to the private event with specific pick-up and drop-off locations.

    Daily Events
    Philadelphia is a bustling city, so it may be possible that your private event is happening on the same day as a sporting event, concert, 5K walk/run or convention. To avoid travel conflicts due to other daily events taking place near your venue, ask your event planner for a list of any major happenings that may impact your event.

As you work on your private event plan, you simply cannot control every scenario. But, with a lot of careful planning and detail, you can provide your guests and vendors enough information to help ensure their arrival is timely and stress-free.

Ready to learn more about planning the perfect private dining event? Schedule a no-cost consultation with an event planning specialist at R2L.

7 Tips To Hosting An Unforgettable Private Dining Experience

7 Tips To Hosting An Unforgettable Private Dining ExperiencePlanning the perfect private dining event is all about the details. Private dining details are defined by your guests’ preferences, dietary needs and anything that contributes to making the event an exceptional experience.

The following seven event planning tips showcase the important details you must address to not only accommodate, but also impress your guests:

  • 1. Know Who You Are Hosting
    The more information you can gather about your guests ahead of time allows you to create a private dining event that is sure to please everyone.

    Take the time to understand the ages and personal preferences of your guests. Knowing who you are hosting helps you develop the perfect theme and provide the right accommodations for your private event.

  • 2. Give A Realistic RSVP Timeframe
    Send out your private dining invites early enough to give guests enough time to respond. A three-to-four-week window for a response is an appropriate timeframe.

    For larger private dining events, consider using an online RSVP service – it is easier for guests to respond, a simpler way for you to manage your guest list and is typically free and less time-consuming than invites sent through the mail.

  • 3. Provide Guests With Information Ahead Of Time
    Directions and parking are concerns for guests unfamiliar with the location of your private event. You want your guests to show up feeling stress free and ready to celebrate.

    If your guests are coming from out of town, provide them with a list of hotels and modes of transportation. Also provide detailed directions to the venue, along with parking options. They will be grateful for the guidance.

  • 4. Create Sensible Seating Arrangements
    Seating arrangements ensure your guests have a good time at your event. A placard placed at each table setting creates less awkwardness, so guests do not have to guess where to sit when they arrive.

    Note certain personality types and seat people together who are likely to click. Consider seating a guest who is more introverted next to another guest known to be really upbeat and friendly, one who inherently encourages others to join in.

  • 5. Prepare To Cater To Different Palettes
    Using the information you gathered about your guests, it is also important to consider menu items everyone enjoys. Create a custom menu with options catering to the simpler, casual eaters as well as the more adventurous ones.

    Additionally, you will likely have a handful of guests with dietary restrictions, so your private dining menu must cater to their needs. The more information you gather ahead of time the better.

  • 6. Mix It Up
    If you are hosting a sit-down dinner, be mindful that your guests may have been sitting in long meetings all day prior to your dining event.

    Allow your guests to mingle by incorporating a dessert station or passed sweets, instead of another course at the table. This helps to re-energize the group and encourages everyone to socialize before departing for the evening.

  • 7. Thank Your Guests In Person
    Many think that sending a simple “thank you” card is enough to properly thank guests for attending their private event. What really makes an impression, however, is a personal conversation.

    Thank your guests individually for attending the event and send them home with a little something to remember the evening. This rather simple gesture goes a long way.

Hosting a private dining event does not have to be a daunting task. With a focus on the right details and plenty of preparation, once your guests have arrived, you should relax and enjoy the event along with everyone else.

Ready to learn more about planning the perfect private dining event? Schedule a no-cost consultation with an event planning specialist at R2L.

How To Choose The Right Private Event Vendors For Your Special Occasion

Choosing private event vendors is a stressful process, especially if you are unfamiliar with the destination location. It’s highly recommended that you do your due diligence to find the best vendors. You want to trust that they have the resources and experience to get the job done.

When planning a private event, you need to research and find private event vendors for elements your venue does not provide.

The following three private event vendor services must be chosen wisely, because their dependability is what delivers a successful private event:

Audio/Visual Vendors

When researching audio/visual vendors, consider the following questions to ask any company you are considering:

  • Will they help you simplify the logistics of your private event?
  • How adaptable are they to meet your A/V needs?
  • Do they maintain high-quality audio/visual equipment?
  • Are they familiar with the venue where the private event will be held?
  • What is their back-up plan in case something A/V-related goes wrong?

The venue and event planner you hired should be able to assist you with finding trustworthy, reliable and professional companies to help make your private event a success.


Your event planner likely has formed relationships with local florists. As you work with a florist, allow your event planner to assist you with the following factors of selecting the right floral arrangements:

  • Scent – Many people are allergic or bothered by strong-scented flowers, especially around food. Ensure your table arrangements are absent of heavily fragrant flowers that take away from your guests’ enjoyment of the meal.

  • Outdoor Vs. Indoor – If your event is being held outdoors, you need flowers that will continue to draw water long after the stems are cut, so they remain fresh and vibrant throughout your private event. If the event is indoors, you may go with more delicate flowers for your centerpieces

  • Size – Centerpieces or floral arrangements placed on tables should not interfere with guests trying to have a conversation and make eye contact with each other. Although they are impressive, avoid elaborate, tall centerpieces that create a frustrating barrier for guests wanting to connect.

  • Creating Your Own – If you plan to create your own centerpieces, order flowers a few days early so they are in full bloom for your event. Another tip is to keep the arrangements monochromatic; this creates an elegant cohesiveness and tends to be more affordable than purchasing a range of colors.

Rental Companies

Choosing the ideal rental company for your private event entails a lot of research on your part. Whether you are renting chairs, tables, tablecloths, a dance floor, glasses, flatware or special lighting, you must be able to view their equipment ahead of time.

You will also want to read testimonials that answer important questions regarding timeliness, customer service and even flexibility when it comes to working within your budget.

Not only should your event planner provide a list of reputable rental companies, but they should ensure the rental company provides a person on-site to coordinate all deliveries for your private event.

With the help of your event planner, selecting the right vendors for your event helps simplify the big day and gives you peace of mind that everything is under control and being handled by professionals. That leaves you time to take care of the other important details and focus on what matters most: joining in with your guests to enjoy the event.

Ready to learn more about finding the right vendors for your upcoming private event? Schedule a no-cost consultation with an event planning specialist at R2L.