Adventures In Catering
I have worked in the service industry for the past twelve years. My experience has been mostly with coffee shops, not waiting tables or running food. When I took the job managing the social media aspects of Simply Delicious' business, I was excited because I wanted to learn something that would broaden my horizons and help me to experience things I have never done before. This included experiencing what it was like to cater a big event like a wedding.
I don't remember much about the catering experience at my wedding. The day was so hectic with the weather that I can only recall the food was extremely good and I ate all of it. I don't remember who set up the buffet, who cleaned up the tables when our guests were done eating, or who cut the cake and handed it out to the guests. I do remember seeing our caterer after the food had been served. She was soaking wet from head to toe because of the rain, but she still had a smile on her face. I admired her for he work ethic in the midst of a less than perfect situation. I was curious to know what went in to planning and executing a catered meal for a wedding.
Shortly after I was hired on at Simply Delicious, the owner asked me if I would be interested in helping out at a wedding. He had booked two weddings on the same day and needed some extra staff to help serve. My wife and I agreed that we would help with anything he needed for that day.
I had no expectations about what we were going to be doing that day. I was there to do exactly what I was told, and to try and not spill anything on anyone in the process. We met David at his shop in Creedmoor, where his staff had spent much of the day cooking and preparing food for the event. David had left for the shop early that Saturday morning in an effort to get started, and I know that he did not get home till after midnight that night. The teams were divided up between the weddings, instructions were given, and we loaded up and headed to the venue. We arrived at the venue about an hour and half before the wedding started. This was not before getting slightly lost and one of the vans getting stuck in mud trying to turn around in a driveway. Our adventure was off to a great start.
The venue was the brides family house, and it was situated on a beautiful piece of land. The tent where the reception was being held was located at the front of the house on the lawn. The ceremony was taking place in the back of the house by a huge pond. They had enclosed the seating area with trees and set up a white gate for the bride to walk through. All of the decorations were beautiful.
We set up our "staging area" in the garage of the house. As soon as we got there we hit the ground running setting things up. We first set up for the cocktail hour schedule for after the ceremony while the bride and groom were taking pictures. The whole front of the house was taken up by a huge porch where we set up a drink station consisting of lemonade and flavored water. We also set up a spread of several cheeses and deviled eggs for the guests to snack on in front of the porch. The porch itself housed a spread of fruit consisting of watermelon, blueberries, grapes, and raspberries. We also undertook the task of lighting all of the candles that had been set up in the tent and porch.
We had downtime while the ceremony was taking place, and we were able to watch part of the vows
being exchanged from the garage. As soon as the ceremony was done, we leapt into action. The servers grabbed trays of the hors d'oeuvres and began to pass them to the patrons. We also began to refill beverages, collect trash, and do everything else that needed to be done while the bride and groom were taking pictures.
Dinner followed soon afterwards. This is when the real work started for us. After the blessing for the food we plated meals for the bride and the groom while the tables were called individually to go through the buffet line. This is about the time it started to rain. Dinner consisted of a salad bar with several different dressing choices, a grilled basil chicken, green bean, and a pork tenderloin. We spend our time replacing the salad, salad dressing, rolls, plates, and anything else that was running low.
While the guests were eating we also checked in on the tables to clear any plates or trash. The rest of the night consisted of clearing the tables of all silverware, plates, and cups. It was very special because we were able to watch all of the festivities while they were happening. We were able to witness the first dance of the bride and groom, the groom and his mother share a dance, and the always emotional dance of the bride and her dad.
My first thought when we were done serving was that the work was very rewarding. You are actively involved in making the bride and grooms day special. Seeing the joy spread across their face was very much worth the hard work that we put in. This is one of the reasons that David, the owner of Simply Delicious, loves to cater weddings. I told David that I have a new found respect for what he and his staff do on a daily basis.