Disclaimer: Blah blah blah. Same stuff I’ve said the last two days.
Only one more day after this, I promise!
- Have enough food. Doesn’t have to be steak for everyone, a buffet is fine. Just have enough.
- Have appropriate entertainment. It can be a reception in the church fellowship hall where all are mingling, and that’s fine. A karaoke machine instead of a band is a hard sell, especially when the bride limits the singers to the bridal party only. (There were only so many times I could hear Redneck Woman.) A band is fine, a DJ is fine. If your guests are mostly over the age of 60, it is a waste of money to have a dance floor. A string quartet of high school students makes a nice background accompaniment.
- Take care of rituals early so that your extended guests can leave. Don’t wait three hours to cut the cake, toss the bouquet, etc.
- The best man makes a speech. Maybe the maid of honor. Not every member of the bridal party and every family member present.
- Beware the camera-on-every-table trick. If you do this, you’ll get a ton of photos of the first 90 minutes of the reception and then the film will be gone. It’s a great idea in theory. One of the best ways I saw it handled was to have the caterers put cameras on a singular table in shifts every hour or so, so that new cameras would be available for other photos.
- Be nice to your bartender. There may not be a tip jar displayed due to company rules, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t take cash. Also remember that an open bar does not mean that the bartenders are getting tipped.
- Know when to wrap things up. Make sure that you have a time table. Your caterers have been working at least two, sometimes three hours longer than you have been there, and usually they have another hour or so after the last guest leaves. Not to mention you will also have to pay a fine if you go over in time for your venue rental.
- Cakes do not have to be expensive, nor do they have to be oversized. Three tiers is fine, seven is ostentatious if you only have 100 people at the wedding.
- Cakes do have to taste good, however. A plain pound cake gets very heavy and is not tasty. Flavors are good. Remember not everyone likes chocolate, so if you are so inclined you may have the layers all be different flavors.
- The top layer will be saved and boxed for you if arranged ahead of time. If you forget to tell your caterer that you are saving it, then odds are it will be cut.
- A small cake is perfectly acceptable, and having a secret sheet cake in the kitchen for the staff to cut is just fine. What is not acceptable is going super cheap, and getting a “tiered” cake that has to serve 125 people that is not a full sized cake but is instead a ring cake and hollow in the middle. No lie, I had to stretch a cake made for 40 to feed 125. If I had given an amuse bouche to everyone they would have had a larger sample.
- Think of your venue. If you are indoors with air conditioning in the summer, you are fine. If you are putting a blast heater next to the cake table, the icing will melt. And whatever you do, do not, I repeat do NOT, get a tiered cake with buttercream frosting for a summer garden wedding. The frosting will melt. The cake will collapse.
- When the frosting melts, and the cake collapses, it is not the fault of the caterer. You are the one that ordered the cake and insisted that it be on display outside, in July, when it’s 103 degrees, for the entire ceremony, plated dinner, and dancing before cutting the cake. It’s been melting for several hours. The caterers have done everything they can to try and cool it off, including dry ice and frozen plates, but mother nature has other ideas.
- Cakes are supposed to be representative of you and your spouse. Be it a set of porcelain figurines at the top of the cake, a design that replicates the pattern in your dress, or a floral arrangement that matches the ones carried by the wedding party, think about what you put on top of your cake. Precious Moments figurines indicate immaturity. People will take bets at your reception on how long the marriage will last. Running average is 4.25 years. Original fondant characters are cute, representation of alma mater if done tastefully is fine, Barbie and Ken are not acceptable. Indicates a superficial couple. And most importantly, do not have your friend make 24″ tall replicas of the bride and groom. Not only is it oversized, but the faces are creepy. And I have yet to see one of those weddings last longer than five years either.
- If there are leftovers, the staff is going to eat it in the kitchen. The staff has been working their butts off for you for the last five hours (don’t forget that there was at least two hours of setup before you even got there) and they have not had anything to eat. They are starving. Allow them this little bit of sugar.
- This practice also ensures that the caterers (not the catering directors, but the ones that actually work the functions) can tell you where the best wedding cakes come from and what their best flavors are. For example: Graham has great cakes, but his fondant is too thick. Jacque makes adequate cakes, he does traditional styles very, very well. He also gives you a one-year anniversary tier free. Pierre can do no wrong, and is absolutely awesome. Give him buttercream, fondant, cake batter and the man is a genius. Noah can decorate a cake better than anyone in town. His cakes aren’t fancy, he only has about eight standard flavors to choose from. But dang, they look good. Pete can do things with fondant that no one else can do, but you have to catch him quick because he’s going back to Scotland in a year.
- It is your job to make the first cut in the cake with your new husband. Practice this. If you have not practiced, listen to the bridal bitch that is giving you instruction. Feed each other the piece of cake. Do not smash the cake into your spouse’s face, that is just tacky. Then move out of the way and let the pros work. Do not hover, do not worry about cake/slice size, just move. A true pro can slice a cake in a matter of minutes. We will use your provided cake cutter if necessary, but expect to see a bucket of warm water and two napkins nearby. I once deconstructed a four tier (fifth tier reserved, of course) cake and fed 250 people in about eight minutes.
- Think ahead when choosing a non-traditional cake. Topsy-turvy cakes, cakes with themes, cakes with odd shapes . . . all are great if done with taste and if they accurately reflect the couple. But remember–if you’re covering the cake with so much fondant that all have to have a bit of it, it will stain. The most fun we as caterers ever had was laughing at the photos being taken after an electric blue wedding cake was served to all the guests–and then everyone had blue teeth, blue tongues, and blue lips. To make matters worse, the cake truly was disgusting, and ugly to boot. It was decorated with a 10″ turquoise dragonfly on top. Didn’t make any sense to us, which is fine if it makes sense to the couple. Only judging from the laughter and comments of the guests and wedding party, it didn’t make any sense to anyone at all.
Tomorrow: Final day, final thoughts!