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Budget Weddings

Staffing

I would love some input in appropriate staffing levels for a wedding with 100 guests. We are on a tight budget but seemed to be doing okay before my rentals and staffing quote knocked me down a notch! Our caterer is serving the meal at a buffet and we wanted to do a mostly self serve bar. Our venue sets up the tables and chairs, and the rental company quote included fees for delivery, set up, and tear down. 

So, how much staffing should we need? The staffing company wants us to use two bartenders and thee wait staff. I made the choice to do a buffet and the self serve bar to help cut back on staffing so to me this seems excessive. I know we want helpers to bus tables and keep the bar stocked, cut and put out cake, etc. and I was hoping to have room in the budget for a day-of coordinator as well. Now I'm not sure what to do!

Re: Staffing

  • I would love some input in appropriate staffing levels for a wedding with 100 guests. We are on a tight budget but seemed to be doing okay before my rentals and staffing quote knocked me down a notch! Our caterer is serving the meal at a buffet and we wanted to do a mostly self serve bar. Our venue sets up the tables and chairs, and the rental company quote included fees for delivery, set up, and tear down. 

    So, how much staffing should we need? The staffing company wants us to use two bartenders and thee wait staff. I made the choice to do a buffet and the self serve bar to help cut back on staffing so to me this seems excessive. I know we want helpers to bus tables and keep the bar stocked, cut and put out cake, etc. and I was hoping to have room in the budget for a day-of coordinator as well. Now I'm not sure what to do!
    If it's between a DOC and bartenders/servers I would, without a doubt, go with the bartenders/servers. You're going to want someone checking on the food to make sure it has proper utensils, refill it when it's getting low, checking on tables. You absolutely will want, with 100 people, a bartender. When you have cocktail hour everyone will be trying to get a drink and once, and you'll want professional staff to do that. Not to mention with that many people a bartender will be able to monitor and control how much people are served. With that many people I think a self-serve bar is ripe for problems.

    Finally, what about clean-up? Will your catered do that? If not definitely get servers so they will do the clean up efficiently.
    ernursejOurWildKingdomzitiqueenmadamerwin
  • That seems like a really reasonable minimum number of people. 
    MesmrEwe
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited September 2016
    One bartender per 50/75 guests is pretty standard.  So in your case 2 would be correct.  

    * note for liability reasons you do NOT want a self-served bar. You are asking for trouble.    If the caterer is providing the alcohol they need to cover themselves also.   Here in CO we can lose our liquor license if we have alcohol unattended and/or allow guests to self-serve. Might be different where you live, but it's not something you want to go cheap on.

    3 staff for the buffet sounds about right.  It's not just serving.  They setup the buffet.  The clean the tables.  The breakdown the buffet.   If they need more of something they are the ones who have to leave the station to get more.   Then you add in cake.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    ernursejInLoveInQueensmadamerwin
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    That sounds about right. I'd probably have a fourth floor person to be honest. But I'm willing to bet the second bar staff helps during dinner as well. 

    Imagine the break from ceremony to reception, 100 people self serving it standing in line for 1 bartender?  

    You have 3 people to release tables, clear plates, watch the station and swap food. That's not a lot of people. 
    image
    charlotte989875
  • ScottishSarahScottishSarah member
    500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments First Answer
    edited September 2016
    That sounds about right. I'd probably have a fourth floor person to be honest. But I'm willing to bet the second bar staff helps during dinner as well. 

    Imagine the break from ceremony to reception, 100 people self serving it standing in line for 1 bartender?  

    You have 3 people to release tables, clear plates, watch the station and swap food. That's not a lot of people. 
    I tend to agree with the comments above.  We had (for 70 guests) a venue manager, 2 bar staff, 4 chefs, 1 kitchen porter, a DOC, a floor supervisor, and 5 waiters.  This was for a plated meal but honestly you can't under estimate how important it is to be adequately staffed.

    As an ex wedding supervisor, I would reccomend  for a buffet for 100, 2-3 chefs, 1 kitchen porter, 2 staff serving and replenishing the buffet, 2 staff clearing plates and glasses and 2 bar staff.  
    kimmiinthemitten
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Definitely trust the advice of those in the industry (both your vendors and our posters here!). I realize this is the budget board and I'm sorry you were taken aback by the quote. However, in the name of good hosting, bear in mind that the professionals who gave you the quote know what need to be done. Trust them. Get another quote or two from other companies if you must as well.

    We were planning for around 80 people, by the way, and though we could have had one bartender, we asked for two and the coordinator agreed. Trust me, no one likes to wait in line for drinks! 

    There are things for which corners just can't be cut. Having not enough staff will affect the guests' experience. 
    ________________________________


  • "If this was a church picnic" that would be low on the staffing..  IMO that's a reasonable number of people given the work needing to be done!

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  • jacques27jacques27 member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 1000 Comments 5 Answers
    edited September 2016
    I used to work for a caterer who did lots of events and those numbers are the bare minimum I would suggest you get away with.  We always suggested one bartender for every 75 guests and one server for every 25 guests for buffet (10-15 guests for plated) - so actually, you are actually short a server based on our numbers. 

    1) Self-serve bar is a liability nightmare, a logistical nightmare for guests standing in line, and a cost nightmare as most would likely overpour themselves leading to either waste and/or running out early. 

    2)  With three servers, you basically have one to run back and forth replenishing, one to monitor and assist people as needed, and one picking up dirty dishes.  You really can't go any less than that.


    Day of Coordinators are nice, but lots of people manage to get married without them.  If you're organized, working with competent vendors, and have decent staff at your venue, there really shouldn't be an issue.  Meanwhile, I've attended at least two weddings where it's obvious they tried to cut corners on staff and people are still talking about those weddings...and not in a good way.  One had two chefs and two servers for 200 person buffet that was intended to have "stations".  People were waiting in line for 25+ minutes only to get to a station and find that less than half of what was supposed to be at that station was there because the servers couldn't get to everything fast enough.  And then there were dirty dishes around everywhere and one of the spouses of the catering staff who was supposed to be attending as a guest started to bus tables.  We all still talk about it when the subject of weddings comes up and remember what fast food drive thru we hit on the way home.

    Your guests aren't going to notice that your day of coordinator was there to hand out tips and final payments or make sure your décor is set up so you're less stressed.  Your guests are going to notice standing in line, being hungry, and having dirty dishes sitting around.  Do not skimp here.
    MesmrEwe
  • SaintPaulGalSaintPaulGal member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary First Answer
    edited September 2016
    In my opinion from working somewhere where weddings and other events are held, you are already at the lowest possible level of staffing.  It would be much better to add than subtract from the numbers you quoted.  There really isn't anywhere you could cut.  Just one bartender would lead to absurd lines, and what happens if he or she has to pee?  And if you cut it down to two servers you would have one to monitor the buffet, one to bus tables, and nobody to actually see to guest needs.
    InLoveInQueensMesmrEwe
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