Do I need Service Staff?

Today, we have the lovely Nicola from Service Excellence sharing her expertise with us on hiring service staff for your wedding day, as well as what we can expect from the service industry in the future.
From harvest tables to plated dinners, things are going to be looking different in a post covid world, and all brides will need to ensure they have a service team who will be able to run the day smoothly. Let’s hand it over to Nicola.

There have been many assumptions about what the entertainment world might look like after the pandemic. The media has blown up. It has imposed fear and the uneasy feeling of a contactless society. Something that I would like to think is inconsiderable. Humanity relies on the contact of peers, however, our ideologies may need to change to an extent of social distancing and future measures in how we go about events and entertainment, post-pandemic.

The topic of “How many waiters do I need?” has been coming up more frequently as of late, with menus becoming more bespoke and wedding guest numbers having been reduced as a result of the covid pandemic.

It is apparent that brides sometimes have no idea about where to start when it comes to meal service and their menu choices. As the owner of Service Excellence and having had experience within the hospitality and events industry, I have the following thoughts; You cannot get away without having any service staff if you want your event to run smoothly. I suggest looking at how many guests will be attending and how intricate your menu is. We work on 1 waiter for every 15 guests attending. It is important to take note of what is on your menu. If it’s plated, one requires a bigger staffing asset to get the plates out in timely order. I further suggest that a floor manager is hired with the team as the floor manager controls the timing of the pass with the chef. 

Another suggestion I must not fail to mention is that drink service and foodservice need to be considered when hiring waiters. If you want floating champagne all night long and drink service to continue throughout the evening, I suggest hiring extra waiters for the drink service so that drinks are always topped up even when food service commences.

I would like to encourage brides to ask these questions when it comes to choosing their caterer. If service is important to you it’s best to hire well-trained staff who know what they are doing. The caterer is encouraged to send timelines, menu’s as well as any dietary requirements to brief the waiters. The more information we are given the better the service will run.

What is a floor manager and why should I have one on my wedding day?
A floor manager is a person who controls the communication between the kitchen and the floor. They are responsible for making sure the team is briefed about menus, times and how the bride wants the service to run. They are also responsible for making sure the team arrives on time. They play a vital part in making the event run smoothly. The team always works better when there is a leader as jobs and chores are delegated out. The floor manager also plays a vital role when it comes to communication with the venue and wedding planner. They would ask questions about champagne service, when candles must be lit or if there any special elements that must not be forgotten.

I really want a buffet-style dinner, do you think this will be allowed in the future?
This question is one that has been toying with brides since the pandemic started. I believe that buffet style is certainly not the way to go. If people help themselves the contamination is more likely to spread. If you are going to have harvest tables and buffet tables it’s best to have staff behind the stations to assist with the service. 

I would love to have a charcuterie style canapé hour, how can I ensure this is Covid friendly?
I would suggest speaking to your caterer in-depth about this. Boards provide a beautiful aesthetic and can be used creatively with bamboo baskets or bamboo cones so the individuals can grab a canapé. Canape’ boards are passed around by waiters and the bamboo baskets are disposable. One can also get creative using ceramic spoons which will hold the canapés. Your canapés could be plated individually where boards could be shared between two people or a board per person. If one was to do a harvest table I recommend each item being plated in a suitable way for a guest to pick it up and leave the table. Harvest tables require the guest to cut cheeses or meats which in turn could spread the virus. However if one were to have two waiters assisting with replenishing the harvest table and cutting cheese it helps the prevention of spread as they would have to be wearing gloves and ensuring they sanitise regularly. 

Do I need to tip the staff or will my guests be expected to tip the staff?
I don’t believe one is expected to tip the staff. We charge per hour and staff are paid a good wage per hour, However, if you feeling generous you are more than welcome to tip. 

Can I have service staff just for food and not for drinks? Or do you suggest to have for both?
You can have service staff just for food as well a just for drinks. We offer brides any staffing element required at events. From scullers, waiters, barmen and hostesses, we can assist with it all. We often offer extra hands to set up and break down events if it’s required. I do suggest having staff for drinks and food if you would like champagne and wine service all night. It all depends on the bride’s preference.

So how do I propose we go about guest service? After some food for thought; guest service will become imperative; professional guest service, even more so than before. Helping yourself won’t be a likely option. The methodical execution of waitron and waitress will be so precise that food will be carried out and cleared with grace. Stations will be set up throughout the kitchen where the front of house staff will only collect and drop. Catering staff will take all the extra precautions when plating and creating.

The service industry is all about the guest experience. Guest service enhances the experience of the cuisine. If the waitron sings, so does the cuisine. If the waitress dances, so will the meal.  I look to guest service as a methodical and precise reenactment from the chef. It is the colourful journey on which the chef decides to take his/her guests on. It is our responsibility as waiters and waitrons to guide that journey.

Nicola, thank you so much for sharing this expert advice with our readers today.
If you would like to get in touch with Nicola to get a quote for your upcoming wedding day, click here. 

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