I have a question about a party I'm planning.

Joined Jan 15, 2014
I'm planning a party this month for 70 guests, 5.5 hrs long. I'm not preparing food for them but I'm serving & taking care of the food they want served. 3 of us working this party including a bar tender. We're valet parking the cars too. So, planning, serving, valet parking, and cleaning up after. Is $800 too much to ask for? This is the first party I've catered where I'm not cooking the food....
Joined Oct 31, 2012
     Perhaps a bit more information? If you are not cooking the food, are you really considered the caterer? 

From your post, the job sounds more like Event Coordinator however you will be serving and cleaning up as well? 

Anyway, with the information given, $800 divided by 5.5 hours divided by 3 people comes to over $48 per hour if I did the math correctly. 

That seems quite expensive for serving and cleaning up. The bartender will be getting tips as well, yes? 

So with the situation as posted, $800 is too much. 
Joined Sep 5, 2012
Depends. if the 5.5 hours is just the serving time, add setup, breakdown and cleanup. The meeting time to plan. Payroll taxes. The prevailing wages for the area. All factors to calculate. Add it all up and consider the total time involved and 800$ doesn't sound too unreasonable. Tips to the bartender is irrelevant.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
I assume you have to take a 24 hr. liability ins. rider to cover cars.  prob. $ 80. -$100.

3 servers yadda. There would probably be a $ 350. Valet minimum anyway. 35 cars @ 10. is normal.

Let's see, 3 for 5.5 hrs.

assume incoming and outgoing Valet will be before and after the 5.5. I don't know. An hour running before and an hour running after? If this is not a tipping bunch, not sure $ 800. is enough. Wouldn't be enough in my neighborhood
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Okay, I'm getting a bit schooled here as I don't know catering management too well. That's all to the good. I hate learning the hard way.

But I'm still curious about the OP's status.  If they aren't doing the food, are they the caterer or an event planner? Who's hiring whom and for what? Wouldn't the caterer be hiring the server, bartenders and cleanup people? 

     24 hour insurance rider for the cars? I didn't' even know you could do that or would need to. 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to learning more. 
Joined Sep 5, 2012
@chefwriter. It does sound like an odd setup. Maybe she is helping out another catering service or possibly a private chef.

@panini. Good call, I forgot about the car insurance. 800$ wouldn't be even close to enough here.
Joined Jan 31, 2012
I think the first thing we need from you (the OP) is either a breakdown or at least a total of your actual incurred 

costs here, before yours and your helpers labor time is even considered, (and your company's profit on top of that) 

just as in catering you would first list out your food costs and other fixed and variable expenses, both direct and

pro-rated. In this case, as mentioned above, insurance for the valet provision would need to be written in, just as

liability ins would be if you were  prepping/ providing food. Once you have those figures, you can add in what y'all

want for your 6 hours work, plus your planning time, etc.

Also as mentioned above, we're unclear as to who IS providing the food-- their family and friends, or some other

caterer, so to me it begs the crucial question as to who is to be held responsible for the quality/safety of that food

from the time you take control of it to the time it finds the guest?

As server/valet/bar you logically shouldn't be, but that doesn't mean you won't--my concern is that if you're a 

licensed caterer, serving food that someone else (especially if unlicensed) made ,and there's a problem, I'd hate to

see you being the one holding the bag. If this is a possible issue, you might want something signed by the client,

legally absolving  you of that liability. If it can even be done,depending on the actual facts here. 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
It's a very common practice here that a Party Planner plans the function. Bring in a outside chef (usually a good named one ) with food. Depending on size, sometimes supplying service and valet

internally if it's within the realm, instead of contracting out those services.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
You may need another person.

Someone has to stay on valet duty at all times for late arrivals and early departures.
Might just stand there counting volkswagons all evening but the owners will want to know that someone will be in control of their cars and keys at all times.

Maybe the bartender can be relieved after cocktail hour (the servers can take over the odd alcoholic beverage along with wine service for their tables) and go take the babysitting task.

chefwriter chefwriter brought another concern (IMO) .... unless it is a charity function and all the tips are being donated back to the cause a tip jar (again IMO) on the bar top is tacky.

Unless the customer has been living under a rock there will be a tip out to divy up at the end of the nite.

This is a great opportunity for your young company to grow.
There will be a few mistakes but correct them with a smile and learn from them.
I am kinda excited for you !

Joined May 29, 2006
5 hours service  2 hour setup with travel minimum  2 hours cleanup and breakdown 1 hour in reserve. ==10 hours  3 people  plus valet   service another hour minimum  11 hours x 3 people $800.%3 I $266. each  % 11 hours minimum each is 24.18. per hour  You work cheap .Plus the next day you will sleep all day. '''Good Luck great to be young'''  A chef or a caterer  doing valet? what kind of caterer are you?
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Joined Sep 5, 2012
Hey, im a caterer and I provide valet, coat check, limousine service, horse and carriage service, flowers,photography service, entertainment, tents, equipment and anythig else I can make money on.

I'm a chef and caterer but I'm also a business man. If it pays it plays.
Joined Oct 23, 2013
Haha yes Ive told clients I can juggle and play guitar as well! Whatever works. They laugh and its only funny cause its true.
Joined Sep 5, 2012
Ha! I Don't use my horse, he is just for riding for my daughters but I have used the ponies for birthday parties. I Use a guy that has several beautiful Belgins and 3 different carriages, 1 covered, 1 8 person, 1 4 person. He takes care of the cleanup. I simply plan, book and bill. My markup is 15% plus vat over cost.
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