Friday, September 26, 2008

Spetember Wedding at the ODB

As some of you may have noticed, that on September 13th, we closed the restaurant for a private event. A young couple from our area got married at a local church and booked the ODB for their reception! Aside from the 3 Perkins weddings last year (3 of us daughters got married within 6 months of each other), this was our first large, in-house wedding reception.

It was a beautifully sunny Saturday afternoon with a light breezy. Not too hot and not too chilly. Perfect for the outdoor seating necessary for a group the size of about 150. We could have easily sat 50 more for an even 200 guest event utilizing our backyard and front patio. I look forward to doing more of these next summer.

Foodwise, this is a much easier event for us than would be a catering at another location of the same size. All work aside, the catering aspect of the ODB is where we'd like to grow. However, it became apparent to us that we really need to promote weddings here at the restaurant. When an event is in-house, you have all your tools right there at hand and everyone knows where they are. Unlike a catering, where you have to pack, load, unload, find, repack and put away ALL of your equipment every time. (That's why you have professionals.) We also had a level of familiarity with the location (our restaurant) that is not even possible with off-site events. We were able to utilize our regular staff rather than calling on part time caterers because we did not have to staff the restaurant AND an off-site catering. All in all, it was an incredibly successful event at every level.

The happy couple chose to go with a light brunch buffet for their meal option. The menu included Quiche, Crepes, our Cinnamon French Toast, Roasted Red Potatoes, fresh Fruit Display, an assortment of fresh Pastries and delicious salads. We also provided a mimosa bar which was the hit of the day. We learned the hard way where not to put the receiving line - next to the buffet! The key to handling a large volume of people is handling the traffic flow of said people.

The restaurant was beautiful for the big day. The bride's colors were white, pale green and gold. White linen was everywhere. Each table was decorated with an elaborate centerpiece consisting of a tall candle surrounded by green fruits and vegetables on a gold plate and topped with gold ribbon. It literally took 3-5 of their people 3 hours to get them all done! The cake was a unique creation made by the mother-of-the-bride. It consisted of 3 simple round cakes tiered atop vases and covered with spun sugar. Beautiful!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dean Weddings

In this blog, I plan to offer you a sneak peak behind the scenes of the many weddings we do over here. At the Dean wedding, I was just lending a helping hand. I had no part in planning or set up. I was just the knowledgeable hands and feet for the day along with my husband. It's been a while since I was on my feet 14 hours straight. It brings back memories of the old caterer days!

The wedding was set on a beautiful piece of private property in the Mohawk valley. A wonderfully landscape lawn blended into a wide-open field trimmed just for the day. Huge white tents stretched over the white and green clothed tables. The site was such a blessing for the couple! Aside from how beautiful it was, they had no site rentals for either the ceremony or the reception. The in-laws even had all of the large white tents to use as sun coverage. All in all, a savings of possibility thousands of dollars. The wedding was beautiful. The bride was beautiful. The band was great and there was food for everyone. It was a beautiful August wedding in Oregon. Now for the inside scoop!

The family chose to go with the do-it-yourself option on food and spent the money on the band and a great bar. Doing the food yourself is an option that will not work for everyone. The huge expense of TIME can often out way any money you save by not paying a catering staff. We're not just talking YOUR time and energy. The time of various family members will be used as well. In this case, all of the bride's immediate family was elbow deep in food for days before the weddings. (For anyone who's contemplating this, Potato salad for 300 takes a long time, just so you know!) I understand the concept of saving money this way, but brides and their families are often not prepared for the emotional and physical cost of doing the food yourself. When my sisters and I got married, we had the advantage of many years of combined knowledge in the business and a restaurant at our disposal. For those of you without the experience or tools yet would still like to do it on your own, here are a few tips that will save you time, money and energy.


Pick a simple menu to prepare. Grilled chicken breasts are a lot easier than chicken skewers - a lot less preparation involved. Green salad is easier than potato salad - again, a lot less preparation. If you're going to do it yourself, save yourself time and energy wherever you can and the easiest place to do that is in the preparation of the food. Make sure you choose foods that will hold up well over time and are simple to arrange on the buffet. Also give thought to whether the menu you choose can ALL be prepared ahead of time so no one is stuck at the grill during the ceremony cooking something at last minute so it will be fresh and edible.


Have you ever thought you'd have to have a place to store food for 300? Most people don't have refrigeration for that much food just hanging around in the garage. Check into renting a refrigerated trailer. Beer distributors have them for kegs and you may be able to get one cheap if you're serving their beer. Believe me, it’s a lot easier than sending gallons of potato salad home with members of the bridal party to refrigerator until the big day.


Although food preparation is a time drag before the wedding, it is a consideration during the wedding celebrations as well. Obviously you and all your immediate family will playing their various roles in your ceremony. None of you will be available to get all the food out on the buffet - nor should you try to. Make sure to assign a responsible adult not essential to the ceremony to take care of any last minute cooking. This person also needs to get all the food out and arranged on the buffet right before the ceremony starts. And not forget about refilling the buffet. Depending on the size of your wedding, the buffet may need to be refilled half way through and YOU better not be doing that either. Here's a place you might spend some extra money on staff. Hire someone experienced to head this up and stick around for the clean up. Helps a lot.


A buffet is the only real option for a wedding do-it-yourselfer. Have you ever set up or stocked a buffet before? Stocking a buffet, especially for a large wedding, requires two people. They'll play tag team, a runner to check food levels and report back and the other to prepare the next platter of food to put out and hand it off to the runner. Weddings larger than 200 need two buffets and they should always be double-sided so people can go down both sides of the buffet. This will speed service time up and keep everyone in good spirits.


Don't forget about clean up! Who's going to break down the buffets, wrap up all the leftovers, take down the decorations, and clear the tables? You'll get lots of volunteers to help with set up including bridesmaids and girlfriends of groomsmen. Don't expect these same people to stick around afterwards to break everything down on their own. This requires a special request on your part. Otherwise, it’s going to be the mother of the bride or some such responsible individual who gets stuck with it all at the end of the night. Many hands make light work and a word to your bridal party ahead of time is not out of place. Their role as part of your bridal party comes with responsibilities, not just the fun and games.

Like all aspects of your weddings, the food service is all about details. You will have to think of everything necessary for food service and make sure it gets to your reception whether by your own hand or delivered. If you still want to do it yourself after all this, go for it! The best thing you can do is to be informed. Don't be afraid to ask someone who knows what they're doing to advise you or even help you out on the big day.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Something Borrowed

The wedding dress.Whether you're looking for a fairy princess dress or a more casual affair, finding the right dress for your special day can be an exhausting process. You do your research - checking out gowns online and scheduling consultations to try on a selection. You bargain hunt - checking Craiglist and ebay for deals. Where is that perfect dress?

Often brides are hampered by price range. The 'perfect dress' may cost more then the wedding itself if you are not careful. Rather than limiting yourself to the few dresses that are within your price range (and marginally close to what you are looking for) consider renting a weddings gown! This is apparently all the rage in places like Australia and Europe and is just starting to make headway in the U.S. Imagine a gown originally valued up to $2500 available for rent for less than $200. You can truly say 'price is no object.' You can have the wedding dress of your dreams for what it would have cost to preserve your bought dress for the next fifty years.

This is the route I personally chose for my wedding. Well, actually it was more out of necessity than choice. Time, life, and budget all worked together to keep my perfect dress just out of my reach. I was within two weeks of my wedding and just about to resort to altering a prom gown when I stumbled across an ad on Craigslist - Something Borrowed Bridal Boutique. Started by two friends, Carol Holm and Anita Sanders, these ladies had retired from their real jobs to open this business together. One was from Australia were renting wedding dresses is apparently a pretty common practice. Housed in the beautiful front room of one gal, the entire setup reminded me of a high end clothing store where models were going to walk out any second for me to look at dresses on. My mother, mother-in-law, and sister sat on comfortable couches and chairs just outside the screened area as I took my pick of the dresses on the rack. Each dress was unique and beautiful. Since they were all altered, size was relative and there were a lot of options. Shoes and jewelry were available with each dress so you could get the full impact of the dress as you show off in front of the full mirrors. It was truly a more pleasant experience than the more sterile one I experienced at David's Bridal. The ladies also took care of all the cleaning and pressing so I did not have to worry about anything on my special day.

There may a few sentimental reasons for buying a dress. You may want to keep it. Why? Are you thinking of saving it for your daughter? Come on! Did you for a second consider wearing your mother's dress? The likelihood that changes in fashions and your daughter's size would even allow for this is small. In reality, your dress will be carefully packed away (and expensively preserved) in the attic for years until you take it out for memories' sake to have a look. It's a bit of a waste of a beautiful dress really. Aside from the traditional sentimentality surrounding a wedding dress, renting the perfect gown makes more sense.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Doing it all yourself

When it comes down to the practicality of budgeting for a wedding, a professional wedding planner is not an option for many of us. "How hard can it be," you may say to yourself - a thought you'll look back and laugh once you're in the thick of flower colors and invitations and catering bids. The biggest mistake I see brides make is to try to do everything themselves. Unless you are one of those people who love details, planning an event the magnitude of your wedding (even a very small wedding) will drag the life out of you. Even those of us who excel at organization and taking care of details, you will lose sight of the bigger picture - YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED! Here are a few tips to make planning your special a bit easier.

There are a lot of people who want to help you - sisters-in-law, bridesmaids, mom (of course), and mother in laws too. Use them!

2) Take Vendor Recommendations
You know people who've gotten married before. Pick their brains for the right photographer, caterer, florist, and reception location. You don't have to do all the research yourself.

3) Group Effort
Get everyone - bridal party and relatives - together for things like invitations and decorations. The time goes so much faster with more hands.

4) Know What You Want
Everyone will have a suggestion or an idea for your big day. Politely listen (especially if they're relatives) but remember this is your wedding. It’s your dress and your reception band and your dinner menu.

5) Appoint a Director
Someone has to be directing the action during the rehearsal and the actual ceremony and its not going to be you. Appoint a director and tell them exactly what you want to happen. They'll be on the outside looking in making sure it all comes together and you'll be better able to enjoy your day.

6) Time is Precious
Decide if it is worth the time and effort to do the entire running around yourself. Florists, bakers, and equipment rental agencies will deliver. Caterers may be able to handle decorations, set-ups, cleans ups and rentals. Your hairdresser will come to you. Make this as easy on yourself as possible.