4pm – grab 2 glasses of bubbly and go to wait by the entrance for the bride and groom. No idea who they are but hopefully the outfits will give me a clue!
4:10pm – car pulls up and a girl in a beautiful lacy white dress steps out – must be them then! Hand them each a glass of bubbly, point them in the direction of the garden where all the guests are and then rush to the kitchen to get the 2 home-made cup-cakes which were made for them.
Right, let’s see if there’s something I can do to help in the kitchen. Nope, the girls and Josh seem to have everything under control so I wander out into the garden to check on the guests.
At 4:30, we decide to put the starters out and I go along the tables unscrewing the tops of the red wine bottles. I’ve never seen so much wine on the tables – there’s a bottle of red and a bottle of white between every 4 guests!!
The usher who is acting as MC is supposed to start seating the guests at 4:40, but Debs asks me to delay it as the oven is not hot enough and the food is taking a bit longer than planned. I have a word with the usher and tell him I’ll check in with him again at 4:50.
Go back to find the usher at 4:50 but some numpty has already started seating the guests so we can’t hold them back any longer! Hey ho, the best laid plans…….
I manage to move the table plan in to position just before the rest of the guests start going in for the wedding breakfast.
While they’re going in, I clear away the basket of home-made shortbread biscuits – wouldn’t want them going stale, would we? The bride’s mother tells me that we can finish them off and we don’t need telling twice!
The groom comes to find me in the kitchen to tell me that a lady guest is a vegetarian. It’s really frustrating – we knew there was 1 vegetarian and I know where he is sitting, but why oh why do people not say anything until the last possible moment! I check with Debs that the vegetarian meal will stretch to 2 and it will, so that’s okay.
The groom comes to find me in the kitchen again to tell me that the harpist, who is sitting down to eat with them, is also a vegetarian. Well, let’s hope that the 3 vegetarians aren’t too hungry then!
We do a fantastic job of clearing the starters and serving the main courses between us! We also manage to top up a few water jugs and I have swapped a few bottles of wine around where people are drinking more white than red and vice versa.
While the main courses are being eaten, the girls and Josh are plating up the dessert. I busy myself taking food out to the bar staff and getting drinks for the kitchen staff, topping up more water jugs and swapping more wine bottles around.
Plates cleared and desserts served so it’s time to hand round the champagne. Josh helps me – I carry the tray and reverse down the length of the table while he hands the glasses out 2 at a time. Each time we get to the end of a tray, Charlotte appears with a full one – what a team! We’re on the final row but this time I’m following Josh and there isn’t much space as we’re right against the wall. We get half way down the row and I’ve got 7 glasses on the tray when Josh suddenly backs into the tray! 1 glass goes flying in my direction, hits a 2nd glass which pours itself all over the back of a guest who fortunately is wearing a dark suit jacket! How the other 5 glasses stayed intact I have no idea, but thank goodness the damage is minimal. I have done this hundreds of times and never spilt a drop, so I’m mortified. (I take the blame as I didn’t want Josh to feel bad)
I speak to the guest and his wife, but they’re fine about it. They tell me the suit needs cleaning anyway! Phew, it could have been so much worse but I still feel bad about it.
We leave them to get on with the speeches and carry on clearing up the kitchen and taking turns to eat. I have 3 bread rolls (cooked!) and butter with a bowl of fruit salad – lovely!
At 7:30, the best man is still in full swing- he’s been speaking for about 20 minutes now! I have to go and stand by the entrance door to usher the evening guests through to the bar.
The evening guests aren’t too happy to be sent out to the bar, but the best man is still waffling on! Every now and again someone comes out of the dining room. I ask if the best man is still talking and they just nod and look bored!
Finally, at 7:45, the best man finishes and there’s a mad dash for the loos! We fight our way up and down the rows to clear the tables as quickly as possible. I get a few ushers to help remove some tables and we move the remaining tables and chairs around for the evening do.
The bride’s parents keep saying how well everything is going and thanking me. One of the guests says that it’s the best wedding meal she’s ever had. I pass on all the comments to the guys in the kitchen, but I can’t help wondering how this would have worked without me being there. I know caterers usually have a ‘front of house’ person, but I know that I’m doing a lot more than I ever did when I worked as front of house for other caterers.
I have double checked, and they definitely want the evening buffet at 8pm, so as soon as we have cleared the tables, the evening buffet food comes out! Even more unbelievably, some of the day guests are getting stuck in to it already!
I spend about an hour wandering from one end of the place to the other collecting up dirty cups and saucers, finding odd napkins on the floor and clearing empty glasses. Some of the kitchen staff have now gone and we’re really just waiting for the bride and groom to cut the cake.
9pm, I manage to persuade Lisa and Matt to come and cut the cake, so I get the band to do the announcement. Once they have done that and everyone has taken photos, I whisk the bottom tier off to the kitchen to be cut up for the buffet.
I go back and get the middle tier which is met with groans in the kitchen as this one is also to be cut for the buffet! It sounds easy, but each trip to collect cups, linens and cake is a major challenge as I have to negotiate my way round loads of guests for the full length of the building.
Debs cuts the cake and I arrange it on the platters. Finally it’s all done and everything has been cleared away into the van, my car or into the boxes to be collected by the hire company tomorrow.
I take Josh with me and introduce him to the bride’s mum who thanks us both and tells us how fantastic their day has been. Josh then disappears and I say goodbye to the bride, groom, the bride’s father and the bar staff.
Josh is going to come round tomorrow to collect the stuff that’s in my car as I can’t face unloading tonight. I’m half-way home when I realise that we’ve left the tables in the marquee! I try to ring Josh and then Debs, but neither of them answer. There’s no point in me going back as i know they won’t fit in my car.
As always, I cry most of the way home. I’m often asked if I cry at weddings and people are always a bit surprised when I say yes, I cry on the way home! I think it’s the relief after the adrenaline buzz of the day.
When I get home, all I want to do is talk about it but my husband doesn’t really want to hear about it. Never mind, I’ll tell the cats all about it tomorrow!