Catering Staff

February 23rd, 2015
Servers make all the difference to your guests.  Photo by Happy Buddy PhotoArt.

Servers make all the difference to your guests. Photo by Happy Buddy PhotoArt.

This is not the first thing you think about when you are planning a wedding or other large event where you are hiring a caterer, but it is surprisingly important in how well your event runs:  How much staff has your caterer hired?

Caterers tend to fall into two categories with regard to staffing issues.  On one side, you have caterers who reduce the number of staff in order to give you a bid with a lower price.  On the other side, you have those who won’t compromise their level of customer service and charge accordingly.

Why does this matter to you and how can you tell the difference?

The service staff at your party or event are the people who have the most direct contact with your guests.  Really, the quality of the service staff determines the quality of the experience for your guests.  The unfortunate things that guests remember are that no one offered them wine or they got the wrong entree or they could never find a server to refill their glass or bring a fork when they needed one. Inadequate numbers of servers can contribute to all of these types of incidents that leave a bad taste in the mouth.

For restaurant service, it’s pretty standard to have one server for every 40 guests.  For exceptional service, such as at a wedding, a higher number of servers is needed.  The best wedding caterers hire about one server for every 10 guests.  This ensures the best service.  When you get a quote from a catering company, divide the total number of guests by the number of servers and see what you get.   If it’s around 10, the price will certainly be higher than if it’s 40.  The service is also likely to be much better.

It’s a trade-off:  If you pay less for service, you are paying for a less-than-exceptional experience for your guests.  I think it’s worthwhile to pay more to ensure that your guests are enjoying themselves.  There are places to cut corners at a wedding or a party, but this isn’t one of them.

A Most Fun Wedding Show!

February 16th, 2015

committed_sthed-updated_2015If you would never consider going to a wedding show (I don’t care for most of them), there is one show in Chicago that should catch your eye:  Committed 2015.  And it’s this Sunday, February 22, noon to 4:00, at Greenhouse Loft, 2545 West Diversey Ave., 2nd Floor.

Committed is Chicago’s only eco-conscious wedding event and also includes a Rumpus Room where you can try out some ideas (a popcorn bar? make your own cake topper?) and take them home with you.

Committed is the brain-child of the Green Wedding Alliance, and all the vendors showcased at the event are members of the Alliance.  This is your one-stop shop for meeting cool, fun wedding vendors who can help you green your wedding.  Buy tickets now.

Success Story: Coordinator vs. Concert Traffic

February 9th, 2015
Even renting a bus didn't solve all the problems.  Photo by Light on Life Images.

Even renting a bus didn't solve all the problems. Photo by Light on Life Images.

We knew it could be a big issue for the wedding:  The ceremony at the Adler Planetarium was scheduled for the same time as a monster pop concert at Soldier Field.  In case you’re not familiar with the geography, there are exactly two roads that lead to the stadium off of Lake Shore Drive.  They converge just before you reach the planetarium, to which there is, then, a single road.

I had helped the bride and groom to charter a bus to bring their guests to the wedding so they could avoid the worst of the traffic and parking hassles, because 60,000 fans were expected for the concert.  I had even accounted for traffic by tripling the usual travel time from the hotel in the schedule.  That did not mean it was all smooth sailing, though.

Half an hour before the ceremony was scheduled to start, the bride’s uncle received a call from a family member who was on the bus.  He said the bus wasn’t allowed on the main road to the planetarium.  Well, I knew that and had carefully instructed the driver to use the secondary road.  I asked the uncle to relay the message again just to be sure the driver knew.  Sure enough, 15 minutes later, the bus arrived, unloaded, and went back for stragglers.

We started the ceremony a bit late because it took a while for everyone else to arrive, but I kept the caterer informed, and we were back on track in no time.

Then, at the end of the night, there was more fun.  The bus arrived for its early pick-up at the appointed time.  The driver asked when he should leave.  I told him that as soon as he had the grandparents on board, he should take them to the hotel.  He did that, and got out of there just before the concert ended.  That was good timing!

Then, my assistant and I watched lines and lines of slow-moving traffic go by while the concert-goers left the area.  And we waited for the bus to return.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.

The wedding was over.  The guests were out front waiting for transport.  I had called the driver but didn’t get him on the phone.  Suddenly, the bus appeared, right on schedule.  I was able to alert the guests that they would be able to leave as expected.  And all the traffic was gone.

It was a combination of good planning and good luck, and it all worked out, with a little patience.

New Photos!

February 2nd, 2015

I had so much fun doing full planning on this wedding last August at the Cheney Mansion in Oak Park.  Click on the photo below to go to the full gallery and get a taste of this unique small wedding.

Here's one small taste of this wedding.  Click here to see all thephotos.

Here's one small taste of this wedding. Click here to see all the photos.