Saturday, 27 June 2009

Catering to the masses

(Pictured above - the reception setup, halfway through yesterday)

Having taken on the responsibility and commitment many months ago of planning their wedding reception here in Hobart for some very dear friends residing in Queensland, this week, and, in particular, yesterday, has seen the culmination of a lifetime of experience in function coordination coming to the fore for Rita.

The wedding is this afternoon, but that act itself pales into insignificance for Rita as she continually mentally reviews the checklist of who needs to be doing what, and when, and following through to check that they actually did it!

Human nature being what it is, my hat goes off to wedding planners, event coordinators, function centre managers and generally all people in this line of work.

I have worked so many functions (and particularly weddings) over the course of my life. I think I have seen it all, and heard it all, but that doesn’t minimize the responsibility of the weight of the undertaking.

Everyone wants their event to be special, or noteworthy. You take that as a given. The hard part is translating that notion into guaranteeing everything promised is delivered.

At every single function or event I have ever attended in my life (and that number is huge, let me fast assure you) I have always analysed the calibre of the event and thought about what I myself could have done to improve it, had I been the planner.

There have been few that ran as had been intended. That fact mostly comes down to human nature. The old adage telling you that if you don’t do something yourself, then you can’t assume it will be done, runs so true in these circumstances.

Take yesterday’s grog delivery. Despite intense heckling and nagging (both yesterday and in the preceding weeks) to ensure delivery to two separate venues (the ceremony venue and the reception venue), it would appear that I would have been better off physically going to a bottle shop, buying what I wanted, loading it into the car, then taking it myself to both venues. As it was, such a simple request involved a full day of numerous phone calls, stress, then someone having to wait round for many hours at both venues awaiting a promised delivery of same.

I was obviously tied up at the reception venue setting up tables, checking on delivery of floral decorations, cutlery, crockery, staffing etc so not able to physically be in many places at once. The grog eventually did arrive – at 5.30. But it taught me a lesson, which I already well knew but needed reinforcing – you just have to hand over and try to trust sometimes because when push comes to shove, sometimes the universe actually does help out!

I’m on my way back to the reception venue now – to check that all those last-minute things are happening and have been accomplished; that best mate Kimbra is cooking her heart out in preparation for 115 hungry souls this afternoon; that the bar is set up and ready to receive 115 thirsty drinkers (make that 114 – Rita will not be drinking!!); to check that Mike has delivered the wedding cake; to check that the delivered 40 kgs of “fresh” chicken breasts were replaced with truly fresh ones which weren’t as slimy and smelly as the delivered ones; to set out the wedding lillies which had refused all week to open due to cold weather so had to be left “marinating” overnight in warm water and sugar in an effort to ensure opening buds; to ensure the two spit roasts do the job for us and don’t run out of gas before the lamb legs are slow cooked. And the list goes on.

I’d do it again – but geez it takes a lot out of a girl!

By the way, happy wedding Vicky and Roy! I love you both.

Posted on by Rita


Maggie said...

I feel working a wedding is no where near as enjoyable as going to them. There is a sense of accomplishment when a big event comes to a close. I hope you had a well earned drink or two as a reward to all your hard work.

steve said...

Good on you Rita, you'd give J-Lo a run for her money!

Tassiegal said...

Oh dear Rita! You sound like tomorrow should be spent tucked up in bed recuperating.

Rita said...

Maggie - that may well be the case for many, but in my own case, I feel much better on the other side of the fence! I'd take the organisation of a function any time above attending one. I suppose for me I could equate it (that is, organising a function) to successfully completing a crossword puzzle. Sometimes you can't find those 2 final answers in order to complete the crossword puzzle - and so it is with function organisation. Most things go to plan but there always seem to be a few things which are the sticking points.
Steve - I'm sorry but the J-Lo reference missed me - please explain!
TG - no, am up and ready to attend a brunch at 9.30 am.
You'll all be amazed to hear that normally teetotal Rita actually succumbed to a drink or 2. The wine of choice (not sure if GP would actually classify it as a wine worthy of mention) for the wedding by bride was a Moscato. I loved it, and actually had 3 glasses - a totally foreign reaction for Rita! I had a brief glimpse at the world of alcoholism last night, as I sternly rebuked myself after finishing my 3rd glass and feeling like another! I'm afraid that's as close as Rita will ever get to being drunk!

Anonymous said...

Having been a lucky guest at the aforementioned wedding, I can say that it was nothing less than perfect and I was totally oblivious to any little hiccups which had occured. It was an honour to be invited to such a grand occasion. Congratulations! to all concerned.


sir grumpy said...

God I hate weddings. Why do people need all this paraphernalia?
Just keep it simple.

Anonymous said...

To our wonderful Rita. As the newly weds, we would like to Thank you for all your tireless work. Honestly all the Wedding Planners throughout Hobart ought to be scared....... If you ever decided to go into Business doing Event Organising or Weddings then they will all be out of Business!!!!!! It honestly was the best day of our lives and to us everything was perfect and went seamlessly. we can't thank you enough. All our love the Love Birds.

P.s Are you sure it was only 3 Glasses???

ut si said...

Hey Sir G,
Did you and Lady G have quickie down at the registry office?

sir grumpy said...

No, but it was laid-back and humble. Just immediate family.
I'm not saying this is the case here, but so many weddings have become over the top and show-off. ``I'll beat yours'' sort of thing.
They spend a fortune. I'd rather they kept the dosh towards a home.
But the wedding and the honeymoon cost a small fortune.
What did you do Ut Si? If you can ask, so can I.

ut si said...

You are so going to be sorry you asked Sergie.

Wedding #1
My olds had a restaurant...very convenient & soo laid back I nearly fell asleep on top of the croque en bouche (true!)

Wedding #2 Japanese garden, Botanic Gardens, Hobart...then off to the restaurant at the former Woodbridge hotel with the 2 witnesses & empty 'cos it was AFL Grand Final Day...soo laid back we didn't even have a cake (when the chef discovered that we were there to celebrate our nups he baked us a mud cake...well, it was the 80's
...with a divine ganache dotted with violets)

Impending Wedding #3
Cuba...that's what I get for marrying a commie.

How about you Rita babes?

Rita said...

Ahhhh, Ut Si - such reminiscences! Well, where to start for mine?

Wedding No 1 was at the Registry Office here in Hobart, which at that time (April 1968) was situated in what is now Drysdale House in Collins St. My husband and I worked together in Geology Section at the Hydro, and took our lunch hour off to get married, then returned to work! You can see what scant regard I have for the process!

Wedding No 2 (1980) was at Runnymeade in New Town, with assembled friends and relatives present, then back to mother-in-laws just up the road to share a few vats of 'wet food' (which were probably Beef Strog and Chicken a la King or something 80's like that) served with rice!

Wedding No 3 in 1999(yes, yes, I really SHOULD have known better!!) was a return trip to the Registry Office which by then had moved down to the bottom of Murray St on the ground floor of the Executive Building.
The meal to celebrate (I hesitate to call it a reception) was held next day at home, catered principally by me with the hands-on assistance of many good friends, and was Thai food, with the good old Croquembouche for a wedding cake - which unfortunately I didn't get to taste, much as I would have loved to!

Rita II said...

And the one and only reason I have ever regretted not getting married was that I always wanted to have my "own" wedding, where I could get to do things the way I liked!! I do like organising functions (and helping them succeed), but I always have to do what the client wants! These confessions make me think perhaps I was fortunate in managing without after all... (and the current partner has lasted for 13 years now without the nups, so why bother?)

Rita said...

Hi Rita II. In my own way, I actually did get to have the weddings I had more on my terms than anyone elses. The fact that ideally I shouldn't have gone through the actual procedure is irrelevant (I can say this now after 40-odd years, but obviously it was different at the times). We didn't eat any special meal or have a reception or anything for Wedding 1 because neither of us wanted to, or believed in that stuff at that time in that Beatles-era! Wedding 2 food was also cooked by a chef friend, at my request, with the wedding cake baked by Drysdale. Wedding 3 was Thai food because I wanted it to be, and ditto for the Croquembouche.

So even though actually marrying obviously wasn't meant to be (for me), the circumstances were as good as I could get at any given time, and I enjoyed the food at my weddings very much. For someone who ultimately decided to start a food blog, that's pretty predictable and on track, wouldn't you say?

sir grumpy said...

The weddings I went to I liked (if such things CAN be liked) were the garden weddings with a celebrant. Not in fancy ``hired'' gardens but people's backyards or their parents'.
The stiff church ones with big reception were the worst.
Huge expense and many of them (marriages) lasted but a trice.
But each to their own. Just make sure it's what you want and not the influence of family, friends or the corporate dream to get your dough.

ut si said...

I have never really enjoyed a wedding. I find the speeches tiresome or crass...the food uninteresting & the plonk undrinkable. Prof & me have been invited to the wedding of a H'mong hill tribes woman in north Viet Nam which we definately attend however. No running water or electricity but they kill a pig! And, if the speeches are boring, we won't know.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like another Rita list coming on .... anybody with more than three weddings???


steve said...

Boy I feel like an complete capital L Loser with just the one wedding!
1992, Ours was at a lovely (it was back then)little country bistro in the Barossa Valley. Family, friends, amazing food. We were the last to leave, my best man & the Bridesmaid 'got on well' that night also! Next day we all met at the Grenock Creek hotel for a countery before we headed of to the Clare Valley for a few nights away amongst the vines.

Rita said...

Steve, don't feel like a looser - you have what we aspire to - a great marriage with someone you still have heaps in common with, share offspring with, plus love and respect. Your wedding sounds great. Good on your Best Man too!

ut si said...

Yep. I should have run off with the best man. Both times!

Anonymous said...

Steve .. alot of Barossa Valley stuff in your post
Local lad were you ??
Grew up there myself .. a loooong time ago :)

sir grumpy said...

He's the brother of Maggie beer anon. Older brother.

steve said...

No 7.15 Anon, I wasn't a local in the sense that I was born there. I worked as Maggie Beers head chef in the year I lived there, firstly living in Nurioopta then at Gawler.
Incidentally, my wifes family emigrated as Silesian Germans to the Barossa & settled in as the publicans of the Nurioopta Inn way back when history was documented.
I however, am just a city boy with a country heart who has found himself amongst the zeitgiest of the times. However that time living amongst the vines has had a profound influence on me & continues to make its mark to this day still.