Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Feeding the Midnight Masses

I love donuts, and will snack on them anytime, anywhere.

Recently, we’ve had several couples express an interest in providing guests with a late-night snack at their reception. Usually, this interest is followed by: “Can we do this?”

This question is always a loaded one for planners, mainly because the answer is always: “You can do anything you want, but… (insert relevant considerations here).”

When it comes to providing guests with a late-night snack, that ‘but’ consists of:

What’s your budget?

Your ability to provide a late-night snack mainly depends on your budget. If you’ve the money for a late-night snack, then go ahead and plan for it, but you might want to think twice about spending dollars on a snack that would be better spent elsewhere. The reason for this is that a snack is a bonus and not something traditionally provided to guests. Therefore, including it as part of your wedding festivities is not required.

What time do you have?

The second most important consideration when determining whether to serve a late-night snack is your event’s timeline. Almost every venue requires you to vacate its premises by a specific time and most charge penalties for not meeting that time. This means that you and your vendors must begin the break-down process well before your rental time expires, usually an hour before the premises must be empty.

The time required to serve a snack requires 1) time for setting up the snack, 2) time for allowing the snack to be chosen or delivered to guests and 3) time for the snack to be eaten. There’s no specific time to allocate to serving and eating a snack, and the time for its setup and removal depends on the snack you serve. A good rule of thumb is to consider whether you’ll be delivering the snack right on the heels of your dessert. For example, if you serve your first course at 7 PM, your last course will likely be delivered at approximately 8:30 PM, resulting in your guests being done with their dessert at approximately 9 PM. If you must begin breakdown by 11 PM, you’ve only got two hours to serve a snack in. In this instance, the snack you so carefully selected starts to appear as though a final course.

How will it get to your guests?

Having waiters deliver the snack to your guests might cost more, simply because it requires more waiters to be on-site for longer. Additionally, some venues might charge for delivering the snack because you’re asking its staff to do something unusual, namely serve a fourth course. But, even if the snack is placed at each individual place, what’s the likelihood that your guests will stop their dancing and eat it?

If it is not directly delivered to guests via waiters, how will your guests learn about and access the snack? Moreover, will the method you choose actually allow guests to acquire the snack, or does it leave open the possibility for the extra food going to waste?

What will you serve?

A late-night snack consists of anything edible, from treats selected from a candy bar to piping-hot-and-fresh tacos served from a taco truck parked next to your venue. However, a snack should be just that, a snack. It should not be a full meal or anything other than a treat to top off a semi-full stomach. After all, you will have just fed a multi-course meal to all of the guests to whom you are now offering a snack – do you want that meal to have been in vain?

What is your favor?  

Handing out a snack immediately before giving guests a favor consisting of food is redundant. A favor consisting of food can be eaten almost immediately and – since they’re usually small – serve as a snack. Therefore, serving a snack and then handing out a favor consisting of food is akin to serving two snacks right in a row. And, although snacks are awesome (writing this has definitely made me consider what’s in my pantry), two snacks just might be overkill.

If you’ve a favor made of food but also really want to serve a snack, consider the distance between the delivery of the two food items and the intention of when the favor is to be consumed. A favor consisting of a treat intended to be used on something else (such as a special marinade or a jar of homemade jam) goes nicely with a snack since it can’t be eaten immediately upon its delivery.

Happy snacking!