In search of the perfect wedding
This weekend is Wedding Fest weekend on the Island. Loving couples will be wandering the neighborhood in search of the ingredients for the perfect wedding.
That perfect wedding is often the most difficult type of project for the food professional.
Too many weddings resemble the Middle East peace process. There are pockets of people who have hated each other for generations for crimes long forgotten, but they still have to be invited to the party.
The bride's mom can't stand the new mother-in-law, who can't be in the same room as her ex-husband's new, younger second wife. To add to the madness, Uncle Joe has been loaded for three days, and grandma snarls at everybody, whether she can remember who they are or not.
And too often, the bride's expectations range beyond the achievable.
When asked to meet with a prospective wedding couple I always tender my grandmother's sage advice. "The success of the marriage is inversely proportional to the amount of money spent on the reception."
It was a kiss that started all of this wedding stuff. Remember KISS as a principle – Keep it simple, stupid. There is less to screw up.
Food operators divide wedding receptions into two categories. There is catering and there are banquets.
Catering is when you bring the food to the party. Banquets is when the party comes to you.
Catering has circus-like characteristics. The bringing to the site is like a circus parade. There is a motley assemblage of vehicles, tents, trailers, and equipment in varying degrees of repair. It is like the Ringing Brothers, only all of the animals are cooked.
My election to end my catering career was the result of a divine intervention. It was a dark and stormy night. We were paid a vast but inadequate sum to feed 600 people a six-course meal in an open air museum courtyard.
The storm was one of those monstrous freaks from Canada that drops a foot of rain driven by winds gusting to 80, all punctuated by huge chards of lightning.
That evening the wind blew at a steady 30 out of the north and the temperature dropped to the low 40s.
Everyone that wasn't soaked was cold. The ladies' moods were foul. They were shivering in little black dresses they had just bought in Atlanta.
It was an epiphany. Sister Alice the Assassin had once told me, "God bless you Sean Murphy, because no one else ever will." She was there in spirit that night. No one was blessing me. I swore never to cook in the open again.
Banquets are better. With banquets, there is a hall with a roof and a heating and cooling system and a kitchen. The guests are dry.
For the happy couple, some tips:
Weddings on the beach are beautiful and memorable. For the reception, get the banquet hall.
Delegate everything. Put someone in charge of grandma and the new mother-in-law and Uncle Joe and the AC and the music.
It isn't about the pictures. If you want to stage something for "Better Huts and Jungles" take the pictures before the ceremony. An hour of photo-shoot between the ceremony and reception means that all your guests are drunk and hungry by the time you get there, or you missed the party.
Just invite people you like. Keep shrinking the guest list until the politics is out.
It's a big day – remember to have fun.