Staffing a sit-down wedding

Joined Mar 15, 2008
We've been asked to bid on a sit-down wedding for between 120 - 140 guests. I'm assuming 8 people per 60" round table.

It's in a venue we've worked before, but usually we do buffets. The place has its challenges -- the main dining area only seats 80, and then there are some rooms on the same floor that will seat perhaps 30 - 40 people. There is also an upstairs area that is used for the cocktail hour and dancing after dinner, I don't think we'll serve any dinners up there.

With all that said, and the menu not set as of yet, I need a reality check on the number of staff I think we'll need. Here's what I've come up with:

FOH Manager
Kitchen Manager (my Sous Chef)
3 Kitchen Staff
10 Wait Staff
2 Food Runners
2 Bartenders

I've done events where I act as the FOH manager, and with a small event, it works, but with an event this size and two floors to manage, I think a FOH person makes sense and will keep me from losing my mind.

Any suggestions, thoughts or comments?

Joined Sep 16, 2009
well 8 person per table wasn't stressful for 10 waiter. but 60 table way too many. I can suggest to put a little bit more on your staff. 15-20 wait staff or 5 food runner. serving 60 tables wasn't easy.
Joined Feb 13, 2008

It seems to me you have enough waiters and runners, if not an abundance; adequate but not generous.

5 in the kitchen (counting you) seems very right. 25 to 35 covers per... 'Twas ever my motto.

I'm not so sure about the number of bartenders, 2 might be a little thin. It depends on the group and the beverage service. If it's mostly passed champagne, you'll be fine. Two will do ya. If it's trendy girly drinks with all the garnish and garbage, not enough. Mixed drinks? Add one and make her or him a runner/waiter after the crowd starts to sit down, then send her or him back to the bar when the cake is cut and the dancing begins.

Note to Nichole: Those are 60 inch tables, less than 20 in total. And NOT 60 tables.

Joined Aug 11, 2000
+ someone dealing with dishes

Bar backs?

Hope you have a dumb waiter.

Do you have a menu yet? Menu many times dictates staff.
Joined Mar 15, 2008
Thanks for the quick responses -- it's definately 15 tables, each 60 inches round, not 60 tables!

In terms of the bar, we typically just do a beer, wine, soft drinks bar, but I'll keep in mind that we'll need additional bartenders if they want a full bar or a signature cocktail.

I hadn't thought about a person to deal with the dishes...good idea.

There is an elevator in the building, but I don't think that we'll be serving dinner upstairs, just appetizers.

We don't have a menu yet. I'm still trying to get the bride to actually have a conversation with me and to fill out a questionnaire so I have a better sense of what she's looking for. She of course just wants a price and I keep explaining I can't give her one until I have more info...ain't it always the way?

Anyway, I'll keep you all posted as to what happens on this the meantime, thanks for the input on staffing...
Joined Jan 2, 2010
I agree with Shroom's suggestion about someone to manage the dirty dishes. I recently catered a sit-down event for 200 and found that I needed two people to deal with the dishes. One to run the dishwasher and the other to gather the dishes from either side: on the dirty side, to hand to the dishwasher; on the clean side to clear them away from the area for more clean dishes. It worked well, but may add costs you don't want to incur.

Without a menu idea, I don't see how your client can expect you to give a price.

I also agree that the one extra bartender/food runner floater person is a good idea. Ideally, cost being no object, one waiter per table for a sit-down dinner is the best way to go, but it does drive up the price. On the other hand, if you could go with 80 inch tables and ten per, you'd have fewer tables and plenty of staff. I find the biggest challenge is having a waiter run between tables, rather than being able to concentrate on a single one.

Just another thing to consider.
Joined Mar 15, 2008
Fortunately, we won't be washing the dishes, since they'll be rentals -- just scraping them off...but I will add a person to manage that. 80 inch tables won't work in the space we're using -- they'll be too big.

We still haven't gotten enough info from this potential client to work on a proposal -- I'm assuming that now that the holidays are over we can actually sit down and have a conversation.

I greatly appreciate all the input, and will take it all under consideration if/when I finally get to write a proposal for this couple. I'll keep you posted!

Happy New Year!
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