20 Oct

4 Sure Fire Tips for Hosting a Successful Seated Dinner

Some events demand a bit more on the planning end, and need to deliver a bigger bang to the guests. Sometimes, you simply have to stage a formal seated dinner if you are going to take your event to the next level, and make it the rousing success you, and your guests, deserve. When planning a large corporate event or seated dinner party, there is always the temptation to over-simplify the proceedings; either to stretch the event budget or to streamline the overall planning process. Of course opting to stage a business cocktail party or light buffet as a way to keep your guests happily entertained and mingling, while still managing to keep costs and prep time under control is one option. But some events call for more.

Professional event planners are generally well versed in preparing for and staging a successful formal seated dinner. However, for those that are not professionals, and no doubt been nominated by their boss to handle all of the plans for the company’s big event, planning a formal seated dinner can be a bit daunting. But never fear, if you’ve been tasked with staging a formal sit down dinner for your firm’s next corporate event, we have a few sure fire tips to help walk you through the process.

Finding the Perfect Venue

For those that read our blog regularly, we often stress the importance of venue selection. It’s easy to take a top-notch event and make it less remarkable than it’s capable of by choosing a bad venue. Formal seated dinners require a special type of hired venue. It’s not just about size. Yes, the venue you choose need to provide adequate space, but it must also deliver in other areas as well. The venue should have a workable floor plan than can be reconfigured to accommodate your party, as well as the ability to transform into an elegant dining room. Ideally, the venue will have its own support staff such as servers and bartenders. One of the very important features of the exclusive venues we cater at is that we provide the serving staff for your team, along with event managers, and set up support based on the size of your event.


Each of our venues has different features that may be perfect for your event. Use our interactive tool to help you find a space you love! Remember to use the Rule of 5 when choosing a venue to help you conquer the first step of your planning.

A Flexible Floor Plan

Again, the size of the space is only part of the equation, and the venue’s layout should offer ample flexibility so you have total control over the organization of your event. Check with the venue manager to ensure that there are no restrictions on how you utilize the rental space. Be sure there is ample room to separate the cocktail bar from the dining area, and that the room is spacious enough to allow for an easy flow of guests and staff throughout the evening. If you are planning a presentation or some entertainment during the dinner service you will also want to ensure the venue accounts for adequate space, as well as any technical support you might need.

We take our floor plans seriously, they are the map of the room and allow our teams to know what can and cannot work within a given space. Our Director of Food and Beverage, Steven Connors, is one of our go-to people to planning the perfect floor plan for corporate events that need to accommodate a variety of entertainment and presentation features, including large guest counts. He works directly with our venues to be sure everything our guests want for their event can be accommodated and develops creative use of the space when things may be constrained.


View this blog post which turned the IMA’s Randolph H. Deer Special Events Pavilion Pavillion into a night club! The same space was used for a beautiful wedding and the COTA’s Second Annual Miracle Makers Celebration . Three very different events with three very distinct looks. Our venues are a canvas for you to create any event you can envision! A venue with the ability to have a flexible floor plan is important, regardless of event, so that it allows you to include everything you need in your event space.

The Catered Menu

While the purpose of any corporate event is ultimately business, what you serve at dinner will have a major impact on your guests and on overall success of your event. However, while the ‘wow’ factor is important, it rarely pays to get carried away with the way choices are presented. It’s important to work with your catering event specialist to plan an elegant, upscale menu with broad appeal. Beware of caterers that want to experiment, or that suggest overly exotic dishes. Remember, the worst thing that you can do is serve your guests a bad meal, but the second worst is serving them a meal that they simply do not like regardless of how trendy or upscale it might be. Make sure you provide enough variety to satisfy most tastes, and don’t neglect healthy options like vegetarian choices. A great caterer can provide you with the perfect menu, and may even have package options to help your budget. Lastly, be mindful of specific dietary restrictions that may be present among your guests. It’s always important to ask!


Seating Plan

A formal seated dinner party needs a formalized seating plan. Don’t simply allow your guests to seat themselves, because they will invariabily gravitate into familiargroups and you want to encourage your guests to meet new people and make new contacts. Creating a workable seating plan will take time and some serious attention to detail. Try to create a healthy mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces at tables. You want to spark conversation, while encouraging networking opportunities. It will take some time to your seating chart right, and you may find you need to return to it several times to make changes to the arrangements.


Formal seated dinners take a bit more planning than a light buffet or cocktail party, but they pay off is definitely worth it, particularly when it comes to large corporate events. A formal dinner helps to cap off a long day of seminars and presentations, and gives your guests a chance to relax and talk over the day’s events. It can also deliver the ‘wow’ factor that will make your event memorable and create a stellar reputation for you and your company.

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