How to arrange the perfect banquet with De Vere
Good food, drink and conversation is the ideal recipe for a corporate dinner. Whatever the occasion, whether it’s an intimate private dinner, a corporate banquet, or a black tie event, a dinner is the perfect way to create a memorable night, and for an event organiser, it is an opportunity to ‘wow’ clients with a mix of impressive styling, cuisine and hosting skills.
The pressure to host a successful event and impress your guests can be a daunting task. To take the pressure off, the event experts at De Vere – a collection of historic mansion house estates, distinctive contemporary hotels and event destinations across the UK - have shared their key tips to help you create the perfect banquet.
Choosing your venue
Career Cast placed the role of Event Coordinator as the 6th most stressful job of 2019. However, you don’t need to put all the pressure on yourself; choosing a venue with a dedicated events team allows you to share the organisation and lift the weight off your shoulders.
Your budget, dinner party size and space requirements are also key when selecting a venue, so visit multiple venues to ensure you find the right space for your event. Speak to the team to see how they can make their venue perfect for you. For example, if a space appears a bit too big for your party size, but you’ve fallen in love with the room’s character features, try and find ways you can make it right. Speak to the events team about creative ways to make a large event space appear more intimate, such as lowering the lighting to draw in the room or having live music to add to the ambiance of the space.
If you want to create an event with a sense of grandeur, choose an historic venue with unique character and striking features. Alternatively, a blank canvas space gives you the freedom to make a space your own with striking lighting and styling and impressive visuals using state-of-the-art technology.
De Vere offers the best of both worlds, with a selection of contemporary, blank canvas spaces and recently restored heritage venues offering character filled rooms, full off original features.
Depending on the time of year, why not consider dining al fresco? According to TIME Magazine, spending just 20 minutes outdoors is enough to improve wellbeing. Choose a venue that can host an event come rain or shine and allow your guests to relax and unwind in the great outdoors.
You could even entertain your guests outdoors before the main event with an activity. Clients of De Vere have requested everything from simple lawn games to working up an appetite with outdoor Pilates. If you decide to keep the event outside, ensure your guests stay warm and dry whatever the weather by hosting your dinner in a tipi and stay warm with a fire pit. De Vere offers outdoor food and drink options, including their food vans - Pies and Sides at De Vere Wokefield Estate and Dog & Waffle at De Vere Beaumont Estate – and horseboxes which turn into al fresco bars to create a talking point amongst guests.
If you decide to head outdoors, ensure your guests can still access all the mod-cons, all of De Vere's properties now offer super-fast Wi-Fi all around the hotel. This means that guests can post about their experiences live, even if they are on the lawn or terrace
“At De Vere Cotswold Water Park, the views of our own private lake create the perfect backdrop for an event. With this in mind we believe it’s important to incorporate the great outdoors into everything we do inside. Our Mallard Suite has floor to ceiling windows and we always ensure the curtains are left open so that guests can clearly admire what our beautiful location has to offer,” says Natasha Milican-Lee, Conference and Event Sales Assistant Manager at De Vere Cotswold Water Park.
Natasha continues: “We like to extend our events outside and can offer BBQs, hog roasts and pizzas baked in our very own outside pizza oven, overlooking the lake, to help to make an event just that little bit more memorable.”
Food for thought
Research by Cvent showed that 74% of event planners said that diverse culinary offerings were important when selecting a venue. Eating healthier and becoming more aware of sustainably is becoming increasingly important, so to reflect this, De Vere’s Group Nutritionist, Wendy Martinson OBE, has worked with the team to devise menus including a variety of well-balanced dishes which are full of nutrients.
“Guests want something hearty but healthy and we find that dishes with beans, pulses and lentils seem to hit the spot and prove the most popular with guests,” recommends Jon-Paul, Reed, Group Food & Beverage Director at De Vere. “If you are catering for vegan guests, a successful vegan dish doesn’t have to be complicated. Ensure you have a good, nutritional balance with a clear source of protein, a range of colourful ingredients – antioxidants are found in the colour pigments of food – and great-tasting flavour.”
Why not choose a local English sparkling wine over Champagne or Prosecco for your welcome drink? The Guardian recently reported that British wine drinkers enjoyed 4 million bottles of English and Welsh sparkling wine in 2018 which is 6% higher than in 2017.
“English sparkling wine is having its moment and we are seeing a huge demand for it, so we are continuing to add more to our wine lists. At De Vere Beaumont Estate we serve Fitz English sparkling wine, which is produced in a similar way to Prosecco, it is a light bodied, fruity wine which is easy to drink,” adds Jon-Paul.
Create a lasting impression
You want to stand out and create a lasting impression so that your dinner is remembered by your guests for years to come. This can easily be done by choosing a truly iconic venue.
De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms is a renowned venue, home to spaces such as The Grand Hall, with its spectacular crystal chandeliers, 42-foot ornate ceiling and elegant art deco features, making it perfect for hosting high profile events. It is a truly unforgettable building.” says Murray Wilson, General Manager at De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms. “Also being located close to Covent Garden, we are in a fantastic central London location which is easily accessible.”
Nowadays, guests are always looking for that photo-rich opportunity so they can share their experience on social media apps, such as Instagram. With 1 billion users accessing Instagram every month and 50% of users scrolling the app daily, you need to style your event to impress your attendees as well as their followers.
It can be as simple as adding beautiful flower arrangements and well-placed candles on the table for a warming ambiance. Think logically about the styling, for example, ensure the table decorations aren’t too tall so that your guests can see each other, or too large so there is room for dinner plates. Placing furniture and decorations in the right places is key to making a space feel intimate and attendees feel comfortable.
Style it out
Look at your location and think about the aesthetic and ambience you would like to create for the evening.
“De Vere Beaumont Estate is home to a chapel, which was built in 1870 and features beautiful stained-glass windows and an ornate painted ceiling. For banquets, we place long tables in the Chapel to create an impressive look that complements the grand setting. This set up also allows guests to interact with more people around them and not just those sitting next to them. We decorate the chapel with pieces which emphasise the beautiful location, for example mirrored centre pieces and tall candelabras to allow light to pour in through the beautiful stained-glass windows and bounce around the venue,” says Darren McGhee, Venue Director, from De Vere Beaumont Estate.
“As De Vere Beaumont Estate is an elegant and characterful property with a country chic style, we accentuate this by bringing the outside in and adding flower walls and flower arches to our events,” Darren continues.
Adding a theme can make your event more memorable, so choose a venue that will suit your theme and decorations. For an autumn theme you could decorate with shades of red, yellow and orange and serve warming dishes using local and seasonable ingredients such as pumpkin, blackberries, and figs served with game.
Standing out from the crowd and creating an impressive banquet doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With careful planning, focusing on the finer details, and choosing a venue with the right team to help you along the way, you can create an impressive event and even get to enjoy the celebrations yourself with your guests.
To learn more about De Vere’s event spaces, visit here.