What is Full Service Catering?

What is Full-Service Catering? 

When you’re planning an event, large or small, one of the key elements is — of course — delicious food and drink.

If you’re starting out in the planning process, especially if you’ve never hired a caterer before, you’re most likely trying to decide between full-service catering, partial service catering, or perhaps just a food drop-off.

Whether you’re hosting a big birthday bash or an intimate wedding with your closest family and friends, catering services alleviate the stress that comes with food planning and preparation.

Let’s dive into the differences between types of caterers and see what exactly a full-service catering operation entails. 

What is Full-Service Caterer?

When it comes to full service vs. traditional catering, a full-service caterer handles all aspects of your event’s food service. From working together to come up with a menu concept, to serving and cleaning, a full-service caterer is here to help ensure that your special event runs smoothly. 

What is a Partial-Service Caterer?

Depending on the company, a partial service caterer works in a few ways. They either drop off the food and leave the rest up to you — or, they might help to set up the food tables but do not serve or clean the space. When you’re hiring a partial service caterer, make sure to ask the questions (as they all work differently). 

Which One Should You Choose?

The type of caterer you choose depends on your budget and your event. If you’re having a giant formal wedding where you’re interested in elegant sit-down service, a full-service caterer is probably the way to go. If it’s a backyard barbecue or casual birthday party you’re hosting, partial service might be your best bet. 

The Full Details About Full-Service Caterers 

When going with a full-service caterer, you’ll typically get a combination of the following elements.


Some caterers provide tables for just the foodservice items (like a table for the charcuterie spread or one for the taco buffet) whereas other caterers include full special occasion rentals — like the tables themselves. The expense of tables can add up quickly, so doing your research beforehand to see what your caterer can provide is always encouraged. 


Similar to the tables, some caterers offer chairs as well. Options can include simple folding plastic chairs or fancier chairs with cushions. Map out the vibe you’re going for with your event beforehand, so that both the tables and chairs match your overall theme.


Along with the tables and chairs, caterers often bring full linens, too, like napkins and tablecloths. Linens are a fun way to get creative with your catering. Go for yellow napkins if you’re using a citrus-inspired summer theme or white linens if you’re keeping things classic, timeless, and simple.


Glassware is a key element of a successful event. It’s what your guests will use to sip wine, stay hydrated, and hold in their hand while they mingle. Like linens, the color and type of your glassware can offer a way to get creative with your special event. Imagine the feeling light green vintage glassware elicits versus clear, crystal glassware. Both are beautiful but each one offers something different when it comes to making a statement. 


Will you need forks, knives, and spoons or some combination of the two? Are you interested in silver or gold, vintage or modern? Silverware is a minor detail of your tablescape that can actually make a big difference. Ask your caterer what they offer, so you can start visualizing 

Plated Meals

A full-service caterer comes ready to serve a memorable plated meal. Whether you’re serving a dual entree like tenderloin and scallops or doing a full vegan dinner for your guests, plated meals from a caterer offer something special and out of the ordinary. 

Buffet Style

If you have food-loving guests who are eager to try different options — from salads to mains — buffet style is both interactive and fun for an event. A full-service caterer will help run the buffet and make sure it stays filled up and ready for your hungry guests.


Whether it’s plated service, family-style, or buffet, helping serve is one of a caterer’s most crucial roles. If you’re hosting an event, it’s important (and fun for you and your guests!) that you be able to work the crowd, mingle, and interact. Taking serving out of the equation and placing into the hands of a professional and experienced catering team is always a good way to relieve stress.


Caterers will work to maintain the food and drinks and keep your guests filled up and happy! Whether they’re replacing buffet items, getting a water refill at the table, or filing up the tray passed appetizer plate, maintaining is one of a full-service caterer’s most important jobs.


Bartenders bring social flair to special events. Whether they’re mixing a signature cocktail for a wedding or pouring glasses of champagne for a celebratory New Year’s Eve toast, bartenders encourage guests to socialize and mingle. If you’re having a small event, one bartender might suffice, yet if the event is a big one — you might want to consider hiring a team to ensure your guests don’t get too thirsty while they wait in line. 

From private event catering to wedding catering, to corporate event catering, we’re proud to offer it all at Eco Caters. We strive to make each event unique — and our chef teams utilize their endless creativity to make sure your guests delight in the design of your menu and the style of your food of choice. 

We’re proud to be a local, family-owned and operated, full-service event catering company who works hard to execute each of our clients’ visions.

If you’re looking for a full-service organic catering company in the Los Angeles, San Diego or Washington DC areas, feel free to reach out to us today. Whether you’re looking for a plated dinner or a world-class lunch, we work closely with our local farmers to bring delicious bites and beverages to events of all sorts.

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