Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wedding, the food

So, this is the part I've sort of been dreading telling you about.
We looked at so many catering options. The food was very important to us. We had hoped that a restaurant wedding might be cheaper, but our group size was awkward – too big for any of the regular group rooms and not quite big enough to justify the cost of a Saturday night buy out. It came down to a close race between my favorite local barbecue place and our beloved Border Grill in truck form. We did a tasting at the truck and it was amazing. They are so responsive and pleasant to work with and we made the call easily. Throughout all the sucky parts of wedding planning, we kept reminding ourselves of how excited we were about the food choice. It felt like it was us, something from our lives in LA that we would be able to share with our families and friends. And it was affordable!

BG truck

{BG truck - photo by melissa of happy confetti photography}
And this is the sad part, the part of our wedding that still kills me. The BG truck didn’t come through for us. It was just a perfect storm - they had a couple of staffing issues on a single day and it ended up making them late and short staffed. As in, half the staff we were supposed to have. The food was amazing, but it was painfully slow. People were waiting for well over one hour once they decided to brave the line. My dad didn’t even eat until close to 10 pm. As we walked through the reception, greeting people and smiling and chatting, I kept seeing all those people waiting for food and it was incredibly stressful. We pushed the schedule back and then eventually ended up just doing the toasts and first dance while people were still waiting in line for food, because it became clear that it wasn’t going to get any better.
This was hard – I love the Border Grill and I’d made it clear in all our emails that my top priority was to have really great tasting food, plenty of it, and quickly. I paid for 160 people instead of the 140 + vendors that we actually expected, just to be absolutely sure that we would be fully staffed and not run out of food. We went over time estimates of how long it would take for orders to get out and D designed check off menus specifically to make the food service run more smoothly.

check off menu!
{check off menu! - photo by melissa of happy confetti photography}
I didn’t sleep the night of the wedding and it was mostly because of the food situation. Extreme? Maybe, but for me, food is a huge part of every gathering. As a hostess, I always worry about having enough food and usually end up with twice as much as I need. Providing an ample and timely meal is a sign of respect and appreciation for people that have traveled to be with you. I was ready for things to go wrong at the wedding and I was ready to shrug them off. But this was something I couldn’t let go of and there wasn’t any way to fix it. I’m still upset by it when I think about it, although I no longer feel like I’m going to start crying if I talk about it.
I thought for a long time about posting this, because the BG staff have always been wonderful to us and they were genuinely dismayed with the staffing situation at our wedding. I don’t want to slam them. Becca used them for her wedding and it was wonderful. I think they got hit with more staffing issues than they could handle and this wouldn’t normally happen. But I can’t do my wedding over again and I can’t apologize adequately to all the guests who had to wait in line for food instead of dancing. And this was a huge part of my wedding. So there it is. A big thing that went wrong that I probably won’t ever be over entirely.
I should note that our guests were almost universally awesome about the situation. They used the line as a social area and took early advantage of the cookie buffet and reassured me that they were fine. But I’ll just say it – I would not have been fine waiting for hours for food when I expected to have it at 7 pm. So either our guests are more patient (or less prone to low blood sugar) than I, or they are just incredibly nice. I’m going with the later.

Oh, and a side note - Our wedding had all disposable plates and glassware. Yes, this killed me a little, both aesthetically and environmentally. I probably would have been willing to suck up the cost of the rentals, but I didn't want to have to handle the logistics. When you rent plates, everything has to get rinsed off and then re-packed at the end of the night. This would have meant hiring a lot more staff, at which point it would have made sense to consider just hiring a more expensive caterer and renting plates directly from them. It ended up being a spiral of costs and decisions and we went the easy route – figuring out how many plates and cups we needed (the truck supplied the food trays for their food) and buying them (and later returning the unused ones). AND IT WAS FINE.

26 comments:

  1. Wow, that sounds stressful. I'm stressed out just reading about it! Hopefully though, in hindsight, this whole debacle will just be a small blip in the memory of your wedding day... the day is all about you, people traveling and coming together to celebrate you! Not the food = )

    -meesch
    http://www.aperfectkindofday.com

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  2. Oh man, I would have stressed too. Sorry that happened on your wedding day! I had some stressors on our big day too and over time, I've been able to forget most of it and really remember the good things from the day itself. Hopefully, you will too :)

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  3. Rachel -

    I hear stories about the food not living up to expectations at weddings all the time. Long lines, doesn't taste as good as it did at the initial tasting, etc. I'm sure your guests will never remember it when they think of your wedding. They will remember the happy couple!

    www.lindsaywidle.blogspot.com

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  4. I was wondering what your thing was. Almost all brides have "a thing" that goes horribly awry. I know I did, and 12 years later it still bugs me.

    That said, most people realize there is a wedding snafu and are much more tolerant of them because they know the bride is annoyed enough for them.

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  5. I am loving all your bit by bit wedding posts. You can tell that you are now refreshed and sharing these out of the love of it-different than a lot of wedding recaps I've read.

    And, what an unfortunate mess up on their part. I have to say that for a work event we had a large party at their restaurant downtown and after eating less than half of the portobello mushroom I had the worst case of food poisoning I've ever had, landed in the ER the next day and everything. I want to love them, but....

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  6. First of all, what a COOL idea! LOVE the truck! But I completely understand you annoyance about the whole situation. There is always something that goes wrong.

    At my wedding, we were at a beautiful 5 star hotel, and the air conditioning where my reception was held decided to break! This is in Florida mind you! So I have people dressed to the nines (tuxes galore) sweating their butts off! Let's face it. No one wants to be HOT! Also never good for the hair situation! ( : But to this day, people tell me it was one of the best weddings that they ever attended. I DID manage to get compensated a bit of my $$$$.

    I mean. I am sure 80% of the time that food truck runs smoothly. But they have to remember that 100% of the time it didn't for YOU! Regardless, your wedding looks BEAUTIFUL and FUN! I am sure no one was as bothered about it as you were. Especially if they had a few cocktails!

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  7. i am so, so sorry to hear that, rachel - i know how important food is to you, and what a wonderful, thoughtful host you are. i'm certain your guests knew how much it meant to you that they gathered for the wedding, and, as other folks have mentioned above, every wedding does have "a thing" - think of it as sprezzatura, or a release valve on an otherwise perfectly-executed evening.

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  8. I am SO enjoying all of your wedding posts!! Thank you for sharing! I feel for you over the food situation. We all want things to be perfect and food is a big part of it. I hope you can focus on the wonderful parts of your wedding and not worry about this part but I know it's hard!

    At my wedding, I had forgotten to tell my hubby he was to give a little speech after the toast to the bride. So he was caught OFF GUARD and I was mortified! I wish I had just said, ooops, nope, skipping over that part. Ugh, It still makes me cringe and it's been 13 years!
    Ok, i'm probably not making you feel better with that tidbit. haha...It was still a wonderful day. Your details were absolutely stunning, as were you!
    xo

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  9. when i think back to the food at your wedding, my mouth waters at the thought of those corn cake tamales. i don't even remember waiting that long! it gave me a chance to mingle and catch up, so i felt like i was killing two birds. yours' was one of the most delightful weddings i've ever been to!

    but i totally understand your frustration. to this day, i'm so pissed that the air condition didn't work inside the mansion. i specifically chose an indoor venue so we could keep everyone cool in august. oh, and those horrific paintings they had on the wall that they wouldn't let me take down. the one of jane goodall and the apes just KILLED me! at least now it's hilarious that in our cake cutting picture, madeline albright is staring down at us disapprovingly. haha

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  10. Hi Rachel
    I've only been reading your blog a few months and I found it through Emily's. I came across it this summer when you were deep in planning mode for the wedding and figured out that we were getting married on the same day. I was very interested in seeing what you were planning as I LOVE your taste. And I've been loving reading all about your wedding now that's it's over.
    First off, I am so impressed that you kept your costs to about $20K. In LA. We worked VERY hard to keep our costs down and ended up at $30K even in Pittsburgh! Your wedding looked stunning!
    I've noticed a lot of parallels in our weddings but this food thing was worth commenting on. I'm sorry that you ended up disappointed! I would have felt the same way but I'm sure that your guests were fine. We also had a snag with our caterer. We splurged on the highest recommended caterer around and were way over our original budget because of it. They fell so short. I have a laundry list I could rant about. So spending the extra money isn't always worth it either. I wish we would have gotten a food truck!

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  11. You guys, thank you. Part of me feels silly for still caring about this so much and part of me feels like it will always bother me.

    @ Kris - Thank you! And I'm laughing a bit, because I don't remember the air conditioning going out or the horrific paintings. I do remember how crazy good your food was and how gorgeous the tables were!

    @ Nicole - Date twins! Sorry your catering was not as expected either - I guess even shelling out for it doesn't guarantee you'll get what you want!

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  12. Rachel - It sounds like you handled this situation with such grace. I would've flipped my sh*t. And my dad would've been (as he puts it) "chewing somebody's a** out." Bravo for being so understanding! and for still loving your BG! I've SO enjoyed wedding week 'round here. Congrats again! xo.

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  13. aw i'm so sorry for you. i'm the same when it comes to dwelling on things that didn't turn out as perfectly as you had expected/planned them to. i'm sure your guests had a great time despite everything, and if they're anything like my friends and family, as long as the alcohol was flowing, everything was just fine ;)

    http://www.crosbybeach.blogspot.com

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  14. I am loving these wedding posts, but I ache for you a bit on this one. As someone who also provides twice as much food as needed for most parties, I would have had a hard time with this too, just because I tend to worry so much about these things to begin with. But it sounds like the food was amazing even with the wait and, as everyone above has already said, I am sure people were blown away by the celebration and any minor inconvenience over food was overshadowed by the night. Everything looks amazing, what a beautiful day.

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  15. Man. Why is it always the food? I know how you love to entertain & how important food is to you, so this just made my heart sink.

    We had food issues, too. Mostly that our caterer was a d*ck (my aunt called me from the venue while I was getting ready just to tell me this) & was completely unprofessional. The food was great, but I would never recommend him to anyone. I don't even remember the name of his company now, to be honest, but it still makes me grumble, 2 years later.

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  16. I'm so sorry the food situation didn't work out - that would've upset me, too, so I don't blame you for not feeling like you can get over it. Hell, I've been married over 4 years and how crappy our wedding photos were still gets stuck in my craw.

    I hope the small silver lining was that even though the service was interminably slow, the food was still delicious when it arrived, right? Plus I love the idea of a food truck for a wedding, such a great idea!

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  17. Your wedding posts are amazing - I am getting married next year and they are so enlightening to read. So much respect to you for being brutally honest! Some dear friends had a food truck at their Malibu wedding this year and it was a similar situation. It all worked out but I can imagine the frustration!

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  18. So sorry to hear that, thanks for posting about it though! I know that must have been so stressful but I'm sure no one else is still dwelling on it, they are just thinking about what a happy occasion it was!

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  19. Dear Rachel,
    I have been reading your blog for months and never commented, but I finally want to tell you a little something. Things never go perfect and your wedding and mainly the love between you and D is the most important thing that matters. Don't let this bother you anymore, it happens to all of us brides if not most of us....something always has to go a little wrong but that is Ok. I wanna let you know that after reading your posts this week, you inpired me, and actually lead me to make an important decision. When I read that you had pizza for your rehearsal dinner, that you did your own make up, that you spend hours baking your cookies, that you put together your flower arrangments, and much more I decided to cancel my ridiculous $3000 rehearsal dinner in Malibu and have something more intimate and personal at half the cost of that in the gorgeous rooftop of my new building. This way not only bridal party and families can come but any out of town friends can stop by and enjoy a drink and small bite with us if they feel like it before the big day. You really put things into perspective for me when it came to saving money and making things more meaningful. Thank you so much.

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  20. Oh Rachel. I am so so so sorry. You know I had a great experience with BG and would never have recommended them if not. But we also had a horrid experience with our shuttles that still tears me up inside, so I know how a bit about you feel. Even though something will always go wrong, it's especially awful when it's something that matters so much and should have gone smoothly.

    But I also know that your guests weren't lying when they said they didn't mind. I think the genuine love and beauty shines through every single photo you shared this week. And I've learned that the love matters more in making your family and friends feel welcomed and taken care of at a wedding. And it's so clear you did all of that and more.

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  21. @ Pia - This makes my heart happy. It is really okay to ditch the parts of the wedding you just aren't that into (other than being polite and sending your thank you notes - those are mandatory!). Your rooftop rehearsal dinner sounds FABULOUS.

    @ Becca - Thanks, dear! I know they worked out wonderfully for you, and I wanted to make sure people knew that. Everyone has an off day, but when it happens at a wedding it's hard to brush it off. And it was particularly bad for me because the food just happened to be MY THING. Sigh. They did kindly give us a substantial credit at the restaurant, but I've had a hard time even going because it just reminds me of how stressed I was at our wedding. Working on getting over that so I can love them again.

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  22. @ Pia - Oh, also I meant to note that while we did put together the table arrangements with the succulents, I DID NOT make my own bouquet or my sister's. All the personal flowers were a generous gift from my lovely friend Kris, who is a trained florist. I couldn't have put something that professional together, at all.

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  23. Great article, Its really a very informative posting indeed. Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I expect more and more article like this from you in the future as well.
    Wedding Reception Hall Rental in Los Angeles

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  24. Good food brings people together. Finger food is best suited for all occasions, it is light and people love eating it.Thank for sharing!

    zonia

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  25. I wish you didn’t beat yourself up over this. I thought you were such a gracious host, and it wasn’t your fault that the catering you chose was slow with their service. I’m sure your guests were understanding about the situation. After all, they came to witness your wedding and not for the food.

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