The following glossary highlights some of the common terms used by event planning companies and their definitions. This handy resource will help you understand more about event planning and its components, and may enable you to better communicate with your special event planner.
Of course, not all terms are represented here. If there is anything you don’t understand while talking with your special event planning contractor or in the contract or written plans they give you, ask for clarification.
a la carte
Any event planning services that can be purchased separately, as opposed to as part of an event planning package.
Also known as: single-choice event planning services, custom party planning, customized event planning services
The facilities and features of a particular event venue or location.
Also known as: event amenities
Auditorium seating is an event seating plan in which the chairs are set up in rows facing the speaker or main stage, like those in an auditorium or theater.
Also known as: theater style seating, theater seating
banquet style seating arrangement
Banquet-style seating is a table arrangement in which rectangular tables are placed in rows with seats at both sides. This set up allows for a head or top table to be placed at the front of the room.
Also known as: dinner style seating
banquet event order sheet
Banquet event order sheets are detailed documents giving the venue instructions and a time line for how the event, banquet, meeting, or other special event will run.
Also known as: BEO, function sheet, event order sheet
banquet table round
Round banquet tables usually seat between 8-12 guests, depending on the diameter.
Also known as: banquet round, round banquet table
A proposal submitted by vendors bidding to provide their services. Complete bids usually include the scope of work, details about what will be provided, and approximate costs.
Also known as: bid, bid for event planning services
Black tie dress is very formal, including tuxedos and evening dresses.
Also known as: black tie dress, black tie attire, formal dress
A buffet dinner is food service in which the food is prepared and set up at tables where guests serve themselves. This can often be a more affordable type of service as compared to individual plate service, and allows guests more control over what they are served and how much. It also offers planners and hosts more flexibility in the number of guests, as there won’t need to be an exact number of plates prepared.
Also known as: buffet food service, self-serve buffet
Business attire means the required dress for certain events is that which is usually worn at the office, including business suits, ties and jackets.
Also known as: business dress
business to business
Business to business event planners plan events that allow businesses to network with or serve other businesses.
Also known as: B2B
business to consumer
Business to consumer special event planners plan events for businesses that serve and cater toward individual consumers or customers.
Also known as: B2C,, business to customer, business to client
Part of the event planning contract that details penalties if cancellation occurs. This usually includes penalties for the client and the event planning service, whichever is the party that cancels the event.
Also known as: cancellation penalty clause
Casual attire events are those that require dress that is between business formal and street wear.
Also known as: business casual, casual event attire, casual dress events
A change order is a document that outlines changes in the original agreement, whether between the client and the party planner or between the venue or vendor and the party planner or client. Change orders may or may not involve additional fees.
Also known as: change requests, change order fees
Total number of guests expected.
Also known as: headcount, guest count
The actual number of meals served is known as the cover.
Also known as: cover charge, covers served
A deposit is a partial payment to secure a product or service. Some event planners or vendors require a deposit to reserve their services.
Also known as: service deposit, vendor deposit
family style service
Food served on platters at the center of each table so guests can serve themselves while seated is known as family style service. This eliminates lines at buffet tables and the need for individual plated service.
Also known as: family-style food service
A person or company that prepares food off-site and delivers the prepared food to the event venue is known as an off-site caterer. Off-site catering services may or may not be allowed at certain venues, so be sure to ask if this service is possible if it’s important to you to hire an off-site catering company.
Also known as: outside catering, offsite catering
Food prepared at the event venue is known as on-site catering.
Also known as: onsite food preparation
Peak season is when the event planners are busies and rates may at their highest. This is usually wedding season, during mid-summer.
Also known as: high season, busy season, wedding season
Some event planners have preferred vendors. These are specific vendors from which clients must choose. Caterers, florists, entertainment, and other vendors who are not on the preferred vendor list are not allowed.
Also known as: preferred caterer, preferred vendor list
The location of an event, event venues may include hotel ballrooms, auditoriums, convention centers, outdoor locations, parks, and even private homes.
Also known as: event venues
A walk-through is a chance for clients and their event planners to inspect a facility and its amenities. This often includes a review of the event itinerary and details.
Also known as: facility viewing
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