Events and Holidays

How Many Servers Are Needed for a Large Dinner Party?

Whether you’re hosting a wedding party, birthday, anniversary, or any other dinner event – its success depends on having the right guest to staff ratios. No matter how pretty the styling of your event is or how excellent the band is, people will always remember how they enjoyed the food you served, and a big part of it is how much servers are there to cater to your guests’ needs.

Kinds of Servers at a Dinner Party

First, you have to identify what kind of staff you need. If it’s your first time hosting a party and it needed to be big, you have to be acquainted with the different jobs you need. The staff employed for every catered event varies with each job, based on the level of formality, degree of complexity, and the guest count of the event. Most catered events require these particular employees:

Event planner

The event planner meets with the client to determine his needs for the event. Usually, the business owner or the caterer fulfills this role. The planner discusses characteristics of the event with the client, such as the theme, level of formality, guest count, the motif, the types of food to be served, and the overall vision that the client has for the event. The planner may also suggest particular drinks and meals that correspond to the client’s aspirations for the event. He or she may also inform the client of the number of staff needed for the event and present an estimated cost for the services.

On the day of the event, the planner arrives to help with setting up and tearing down the items used for the event.

Supervisor

The supervisor ensures that the cooking and wait staff do their tasks in a timely manner. He or she handles any problems that may arise during the event and ensures that food is resupplied in buffet lines and cocktail trays.

Chef

The chef prepares the food and helps with decisions regarding the menu. A chef may be able to handle a small event, but in the case of large dinners, the chef needs sous chefs to assist.

Servers

Servers are tasked to bring the food to the guests and may refill their water, tea, juice, coffee, and other beverages. Their role differs based on the type of event. For cocktail events, they pass the trays around to the guests. Servers also bring each dish to guests for a sit-down dinner. You need to hire a higher number of servers for events with multiple courses, so every table receives prompt and personalized service.

Busboys and Dishwashers

Busboys are tasked to clear tables, though servers may be able to handle this job if the event is more intimate. If you’re using the same space for different events, like a cocktail hour and then a reception for a wedding, hire three to five busboys. If you’re not using disposable dishes, you also need three to five dishwashers.

Bartenders

If you’re serving alcoholic beverages, hire one bartender for every 50 guests. You may also want to add more if you want them to provide signature drinks.

If you need some tips for hiring servers for your dinner party, read here.

Number of Servers Needed for the Big Dinner Party

While no two events are exactly alike, there are general guidelines that can be followed when deciding how many staff you need:

Generally, you will need:

  • One server per 15 guests
  • One busser per 50 guests
  • One bartender per 50-100 guests
  • One event planner per 150 guests

But still, the exact number you need depends on the type of dinner you are hosting. Here’s a general guide:

Cocktail Dinner

A cocktail dinner is a flow-through event wherein your guests arrive and move freely in the venue in a fluid nature. It’s usually organized for social or business networking like mixers. It’s a type of party at which cocktails are served, along with light, simple foods like hors d’ oeuvres and other finger foods. For this type of dinner, get one server per 16-20 guests and a stationary bartender for every 70-100 guests.

Buffet Dinners

Buffet dinners allow the guests to customize their own meals by sampling a wider variety of the food you’ve provided. It’s a type of party that serves meals in a public area wherein guests can come freely to get their own food. They will get a chance to mingle with one another while doing so, and there is wait staff to depend upon for questions, cleanups, and refills. For this type of service, it is recommended to hire one server for every 20-30 guests. It will differ based on your buffet spread and requirements.

Sit-down Dinners

This type of dinner party serves each of your guests with a complete meal and is often executed for formal, multi-course dinner parties like weddings. It needs a well-executed dinner service. This kind of party allows intimate contact between guests while sharing and enjoying a meal. For this kind of service, it is recommended to have one to two servers per 10-12 guests. You can hire one bartender or one beverage server for every 30-40 seated guests for a dedicated wine service.

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