~Decide on a date, time, and venue.
~Create a theme.
~Make a budget and try to stick to it!
~Create your guest list.
~Choose your invitations.
The sixth step is to choose the style of dining. Will you have a breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, informal dinner, or a formal dinner?
Then the seventh step--choose the style of service:
~Buffet Style--guests pick up part or all of their meal from displays on a dining table, sideboard, or countertop.
~American-Plated--the food is portioned on plates in the kitchen and served directly to guests at the dining table. Food is served from the guest's left side and removed from the right side. Beverages are served and cleared from the right side.
~Family-Style--guests serve themselves from large bowls and platters placed on the dining table. This style of service originated in the South.
~French Style--the food is partially prepped in the kitchen and brought to the dining table on a cart (French gueridon). The food is then fully cooked in front of the guest. This type of service is considered to be very fashionable.
~Russian Style--all of the food is cooked and portioned in the kitchen and then presented at the dining table on silver trays. Each guest is served individually from the trays. This is a very impressive style of service.
~Butler-English Style--the food is portioned on trays in the kitchen. The trays are held by the Butler and guests at the dining table serve themselves by using tray utensils.
The final step of this post, the eighth step, is to plan the menu. When you are planning your menu, consider the season and occasion. An inviting menu is a balance of bland, strong, sharp, and sweet tastes, with foods of different textures, temperatures, and colors. Be careful not to duplicate tastes; i.e., if cheese is served in a hors d'oeuvre, do not include it in another dish. Serve crunchy with smooth foods and don't forget to be colorful in your selections. Stay in your culinary comfort zone. If pigs-in-a-blanket are your specialty, serve them--I certainly do and they are always a hit with my guests!
Remember, there are no set amount of courses you must have, formal or informal; there are suggested courses you may have. Your table setting will allude to what you will be serving. An informal menu may include as few/many courses as you choose. Here is an example of a formal dinner menu:
Sherried-Base Bisque (Serve with a glass of sherry)
Turbans of Scallops & Petite Potatoes (Serve with a glass of white wine)
Crown Roast and String Beans (Serve with a glass of red wine)
Herb Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing (Serve no wine with a salad)
Pecan Pie ala Mode (Serve with Champagne)
I hope that this information is useful to you in planning your event.