Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wedding at the Blue Rooster B and B

This summer we had the opportunity to cater a wedding at a new venue site for us - The Blue Rooster B and B in Lorane. The B and B is maintained and run by Nancy and sees quite a bit of traffic from King Estate which is just down the road. As one of the few B and Bs in the area, Nancy has quite the monopoly on wine tourists along Territorial HWY.

The grounds were gorgeous! Manicured lawns and flower beds. A large pond and backed by acres of trees with a view down the valley. A huge old barn with re-finish floors for events and several live birds nesting in the rafter. With her unique setting and low prices, Nancy always books out with weddings between Labor Day and Memorial Day and is, in fact, already booking into next year. With this venue site, the bride and groom are responsible for renting and bringing in EVERYTHING needed for their event. A nice thing Nancy does for the wedding party is rent the facility by the weekend not by the day. This cuts out the need for the wedding party to break everything down the night of the wedding or to be rushing around like crazy the day of setting up. Much less stressful.

Like all couples, this bride and groom were working within a very specific budget. Our initial consultation revolved around the different pieces of the reception and what I should / could do as the caterer and what they might look into doing themselves to save money. First up was the bar.

Alcohol is a huge expense for any event. This bride and groom decided they would be better served to hire an individual with an alcohol permit (as the site requires) and purchase the kinds and amounts of beverages they wanted themselves rather than doing it through the caterer (me!). There are pros and cons to doing this. The biggest plus is the potential money they saved by buying the alcohol themselves as they may know someone and get a good deal. With open bars, caterers charge by consumption and this charge is added to the final total on top of which gratuity is figured so they also saved a little there as well. In the end, I don't know how much money they actually saved paying a bartender separately and buying the alcohol themselves.

They chose to handle the rentals of china, tables, chairs, and linen themselves as well rather than go through me. Again, the only cost they saved here was the additional gratuity that would have been generated from a higher final total due to rental fees. If they picked up and returned all of the rental equipment themselves, they could have saved quite a bit of money as rental companies charge an arm and a leg for deliveries. It was a lot of work for members of the family and the wedding party to do on the wedding weekend though. By taking care of the rentals themselves, they also took responsibility of clean up and set up of all rental equipment. Not so, if the caterer handles the rentals.

We were able to put together a very attractive menu that stayed away from BBQ at the bride's request. To save money, we split the entree down the middle doing Smoked Tri Tip for 100 and Roasted Garlic Chicken for 100 rather than enough of each for all 200. In this case, it worked
quite well, but then again, we always bring extra! We also prepared several appetizer trays at the Mother of Bride's request which were served just after the ceremony while pictures were being taken. It was a beautiful display, but not quite enough for everyone. The bride and groom took care of the non alcoholic beverages themselves as well, so the meal was quite literally all we handled for this event.


We did our best to clear tables and pick up glasses before we left but, with the family handling the rentals, we didn't stay long after dinner. This was the first wedding I had done where the bride, groom, and assorted family took so much of the work onto themselves. I am a money saver too, so initially, this made sense to me. Now, I am not so sure. Here's a few things to consider when you or someone you love is thinking to save money by 'doing it themselves.'

This is the big one and the one couples and families often deem an acceptable sacrifice in order to save money. Weigh it carefully! Should the Mother and Father of the Bride be shopping for foods, beverages, utensils as well as decorations right up until the day of the wedding or even cooking for the event in their own kitchens. And what about set up and clean up? The wedding party and family should be able enjoy their time at the reception, not jump right into tearing everything down and hauling everything away once the final guest takes off.

I think buying food / alcohol yourself gives the impression you're saving money when really not. The costs are just not going to show up all nice and neat on a catering estimate. Same goes for rentals. All couples save themselves is a little bit of extra gratuity from the rental fees by not going through a caterer for rentals. But they are costing themselves a lot of time and effort in set up, clean up and tear down of said rentals. All I do as the event planner when handling rentals is pass on the exact fees the rental company will charge me.

This isn't one most people think of. Quality is in the details. In general, professionals do a better job than amateurs. Having a professional catering company in charge of the reception from set up and food and beverage service to clean up and tear down will ensure a top notch experience for all of your guests. Thing also won't fall through the cracks like they do when volunteer friends of the family are in charge. For instance, the coffee will get made, the punch bowl refilled, the bar glasses collected in glass racks, trashes emptied, cake passed, and the cake plates and forks in place for the cake cutting. Details really, but these are all details the Mother of the Bride or event the BRIDE doesn't / shouldn't have to be thinking about on the day of the wedding. If you can't delegate a non family member to do these, I think you need to hire someone (like your caterer) to do it for you. Just a few thoughts!