HOW TO POSTPONE OR CANCEL YOUR WEDDING

Thinking of calling off or postponing your wedding?  With Coronavirus or COVID-19 looming over us all, The Center for Disease Control advises all weddings should be postponed through mid-May. (Read more )  You might just want to cancel your wedding reception altogether and elope, at the daunting thought of re-arranging all of your plans, contacting all of your vendors, and considering all of your guests’ schedules.  But do not despair, it can be done.   Here is a checklist for postponing or even cancelling your wedding.                        

1. CONTACT YOUR WEDDING VENUE

Before you start calling your bridal party or family guests, make sure your venue has alternate dates available.  If you are cancelling rather than postponing your wedding, see if the venue will refund part of your deposit.  Check your contract.   If you have wedding insurance, get in touch with your insurance broker immediately. The deposit may be covered by the insurance policy.   

If you prefer a postponement rather than cancelling your wedding, the dates the venue has available will dictate how you proceed.  Consider a Friday, a Sunday or even a Wednesday, which was the customary wedding day in old England, thus the name.  If the wedding venue has no possible dates later on in the year, either ask that they hold your deposit until you’re in a better position to set a new date, or as the case of one of our couples, select the same week-end exactly a year later.

If you cannot find a date that works with the venue, as was the case with one of our clients, we made some phone calls to other wedding venues in the same area and found a great spot that had the new date available.  While the original location was, at first, unwilling to refund the deposit because of the cancellation, with a little gentle prodding and reminders that “we are all in this together”, they did refund half the deposit to our client.       

photo credit: kathilittwinphotography.com   

2. CHECK VENDOR CANCELLATION POLICIES

Every vendor, from the photographer to the caterer, will have different wedding cancellation policies, so review all your contracts to see where you stand and how to proceed. Deposits are typically non-refundable, but given the seriousness of a situation like a pandemic or hurricane, many of your vendors will be flexible and understanding. They want you to have a perfect wedding day and should be as helpful as possible to move their date along with yours. 

3. HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER (IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE ONE) 

Seriously, the stress of moving your wedding date, after months of painstaking planning, on top of dealing with a pandemic like Coronavirus, requires a fortitude you might be better off delegating.

Give your planner a list of everyone she needs to contact – from your vendors to your guest list.  You probably already have an Excel spreadsheet of guests’ names and contact info, but if not put this together for your planner.  You could also enlist a friend to do all this with you, asking her over a glass of wine or two (or three given the circumstances), but be mindful that this is a BIG ask and could jeopardize your friendship. 

4. INFORM YOUR WEDDING VENDORS

As soon as the venue has a few alternate dates, or you have decided to cancel the wedding completely, you or your planner MUST inform all of your vendors immediately.  You want to keep everyone in the loop and as informed as possible knowing that they want to be helpful and accommodating.   The community of wedding suppliers is a very tightknit one, and we really are a “let’s make it work” bunch of optimists. If you are cancelling don’t expect a refund, but under the circumstances the more honest and caring you are with each vendor, the more positively each will respond. 

Be sure any date changes or cancellations are made in writing, with a follow-up call to discuss.  Speaking to each vendor personally can make a huge difference how they respond to the crisis.  Keep in mind that these are mostly small businesses who are dealing with many clients in the same situation.    

PHOTO CREDIT: kathilittwinphotography.com and oystersxo.com

5. MORE ABOUT A CANCELLATION

In an ‘Act of God‘ like the Coronavirus, a hurricane or earthquake, vendors will try to find new date that works with you and your venue, or offer a partial or full refund. Some have an ‘Act of God’ clause in their contracts that means no payment is required in the case of a fire, flooding or extreme weather.

If it’s a death or a severe illness, vendors will generally be as understanding as possible; we immediately refunded a bride who had to cancel due to the sudden death of her fiancé. If you are cancelling your wedding because of a change of heart or break-up, that is when vendors will be less understanding and stick to the legal terms of their contract. 

Remember that your vendors agreed to your original date and turned down other jobs to work with you, so cancelling or postponing your wedding is a financial hardship for them as well.    

PHOTO CREDIT:  maggiemarguerite.com  

 6. LET YOUR GUESTS KNOW

Once you’ve settled on a new date, first contact your most important family members and bridal party to be sure they are in fact on board. Then contact all of your guests, via email and a new Save the Date reminder card or evite.  If the rescheduled date is pretty close to the original date,  do make phone calls to make sure the majority of the guests can still  come, though my younger staff tell me an email is just fine (I think about grandpa who doesn’t check his email but twice a year). 

Update your wedding website as well.  If you have decided to cancel your wedding, please do not feel obliged to explain or go into detail.  It is your duty to inform – that is all.  

Regarding wedding gifts – in the case where you have postponed your wedding no worries.  In the case of a calling off your wedding, but you are still getting married, also ok to keep the gifts.  However, if it’s truly a breakup, etiquette is this: RETURN THE GIFTS! 

How To Pick A Corporate Caterer

Whether you need breakfast and lunch for an upcoming market week or you’ve been assigned to find a new caterer the CEO will actually like, here is a guide to find the right fit for your company.

1. IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE

Feeding a crowd of people you don’t know is very different from organizing a dinner for the corporate board of directors. You want to determine if the group is from your region or from other parts of the country. Tastes differ significantly for a group from the Napa Valley or a group of educators from Texas.

Once you know your audience better, think about the kind of menu you want to provide. Some options to consider: Classic American, Southern Cuisine, Fusion Cooking, Italian, Tex-Mex or Mexican, Mediterranean to name a few. Some of our fashion clients are now asking for Clean Food, which means no gloopy grey sauces, simple ingredients and preparations, like grilling or searing. Contemporary “clean food” is also pretty in presentation, like this baby beet and goat cheese mouse salad.

2. HAVE A CLEAR BUDGET

Before you contact caterers, have a clear idea of your budget so you can convey this to the potential caterer. If your boss gave you a budget of $12 per person for lunch, you don’t need to spend a lot of time searching top caterers. You will be better off using www.catercow.com or www.seamless.com, which aggregates menus from restaurants that can also do catering for your next event. Local delis and some chains like Panera and Pret-a- Manger also do this sort of simple drop-off catering.

If you have a good budget and are going for a highly professional experience, you must engage a caterer that works on a higher level, where the food will be handmade, beautifully presented and expertly served. When working at this level, asking a colleague or friend for a recommendation is a good start, but a Google search for “high-end corporate catering your city” or “best caterers your city” will lead you to the most popular caterers in your town. Don’t forget to put your city in the search. I cannot tell you how many times we have gotten calls from a potential client, only to learn half way through the conversation that the company is based in Seattle or Chicago. 

Once you find a few catering companies that meet your budget, then what?

3. REQUEST A PROPOSAL

Our rule of thumb when selecting a vendor—get three proposals. This will give you a good idea of the range of pricing and also just enough variety of menus to make a decision We have met clients (brides especially!) who get 10 or more quotes. Trust me here, please. That is too much information to slog through.

A good proposal should have all of the following elements:

  • Straight forward pricing
  • An interesting selection of menu choices
  • Beautiful pictures
  • Terms of the contract such as payment, deposit requirements and cancellation policy
  • Explanation of “staff charges”, “service fees”, “administration fees” or “gratuity”

4. NEGOTIATE

to get an idea of how eager the catering company really is to work with you (believe me, you want a company that is eager for your business), ask about reducing or eliminating that “service fee” or “administration fee”. In most cases these charges are arbitrary and unless they also include the staff charges, they are pure profit margin for the caterer. We don’t add these fees, but instead include a small delivery | production fee which helps cover transportation, the driver’s wages, insurance and travel time to and from the event, which is explained on our invoice. All charges should be clearly explained and if they aren’t, always ask. Then ask to have them reduced. 

5. SCHEDULE A TASTING

to make your final decision, schedule a tasting with your top candidates. Here are the questions to ask regarding the tasting: 

Will they hold the tasting in your offices? That will tell you how accommodating they are.

Is there a charge for the tasting? This will also tell you a lot about the company. We believe this should be the cost of gaining your business. Some caterers don’t want to carry this cost. To be sure, tastings are expensive for the caterer. Those of us who have been around for 20 + years can tell you that in the “good old days” no one ever requested a tasting. Clients based their decision on personality and reputation. But hey, times change! This has become a part of running a successful business.

What if the caterer won’t do a tasting until you sign the contract? That’s simple. Find another caterer.

6. CHOOSE YOUR NEW CATERER

let’s say all three caterers were accommodating, flexible with their pricing and served delicious food. How do you decide? Here is our formula when we have to make a vendor selection — our three Ps:

Personality – will you actually enjoy working with these folks?

Passion – did the team seem genuinely excited about their food and service? If they were just going through the motions, no matter how good the food at the tasting, this catering company won’t go the extra mile for you. 

Position – this is our own recipe: one part reputation, one part reviews and three dashes of experience in the industry = position 

With these easy tips, we hope you’ll find the perfect corporate caterer! 

Office Holiday Party Ideas

Ok, let’s be honest, holiday theme parties kinda suck, especially when you are expected to dress up as a 70s disco dude or queen and you weren’t even alive in the 70s. Save those ideas for your next home party, where your closest friends don’t mind making fools of themselves. Rather than give you a long list of ideas, most of which are just so theme-y and not all that appreciated, I am going to give you just five ideas that your fellow employees will be darn excited about. So, for the best holiday Christmas party ideas, let’s focus on things people love: good food, strong drinks, art, pampering, and great music. The goal here is minimal forced interaction with that weirdo guy in the corner cubicle.

MEET THE FARMERS

Have a local farm-to-table caterer hire some of the farmers they work with to talk about their products (bringing a cow may be challenging unless you take the party out of the office to a barn). Do a cheese and charcuterie table, so the local cheese monger can talk about the process of making a cheese, while a local hog farmer can talk about his charcuterie. Another table could serve roasted organic turkey and the farmer can talk about how they raise their turkeys and what heritage breeds are all about. Creating some interactive cooking classes around this can be team-building without being obnoxious and the results are getting to eat tasty food. Find the right caterer to plan the entire menu and cooking lessons around this idea and have them make festive holiday desserts at the end of the party.

office holiday party ideas - farmer

GET ARTISTIC AT THE COMPANY HOLIDAY PARTY

A fun corporate Christmas party theme that doesn’t skew tacky: hire a company like Drawing Booth www.drawingbooth.com who send extremely talented artists on site with I Pads and portable printers, roaming the party sketching guests, then printing the results. The guests also get a PDF of the drawing emailed to them, and the results are truly frameable. We had our assistant try it out at the Event Planners Expo this month, and his portrait was remarkable. A keepsake. This idea elevates the caricature artist into something hipper and modern. In conjunction with the roaming artists, you could have one or two of the drawing company’s staff training your office mates to give it a go with a fellow employee. Then laugh at the results.

Office holiday party ideas - artistic

MIXOLOGY LESSONS

An updated variant of the wine tasting, hire a few professional mixologists who will craft specialty cocktails for employees, based on their tastes and personality. A fiery Cherry Bomb for the office siren, a Sazerac for the CFO. The mixologists will show them how to concoct the cocktail for themselves and hand out the recipe on a beautifully printed card. Lessons could include how to balance flavors, how to make an orange peel, how to infuse simple syrups, all intoxicating fun for a holiday party. Some mixology companies also use dry ice and other concoctions to create visual excitement around the bar. As a giveaway, the company may provide bottles of hand-crafted bitters or herbal infusions.

office holiday party ideas - mixology lessons

A SPA PARTY

Great for an afternoon office party and a way to get groomed for the fun holiday party you are going to that evening with your best friend from college. Don’t you love the idea of seeing your boss in a plush white bathrobe? Or maybe not. SParty ⦁ www.spa-party.com and other companies with similar services offer everything from branded events to in-office parties with massage, nail stations, brow bars, make-up application, a cat-eye station and for the gentlemen, a shave bar, shoe shine and nail grooming. Some companies bring in the cocktails and food or you could work with your local caterer to create light, spa food such as finger sandwiches and petites four.

Office holiday party ideas - spa

LIVE KARAOKE

How is this less tacky than recorded music Karaoke you ask? Well, for one, if you have any self-proclaimed musicians among your staff this is their chance to be Keith Richards or Rivers Cuomo for an evening. Not only can guests get up and sing a requested song, but the wannabe guitarists, drummers and horn players in your company can get up there too. The live musicians will add elements of surprise that recorded music just cannot. Plus, good deed factor, you are supporting artists who play around town and do this as a side gig, so feel good about hiring them to keep them from being “starving artists”. All good!

If you are indeed in charge of your company holiday party this year, I have just two words for you: INSPIRE FUN. These tips will win friends and influence your superiors, so I hope you take my advice.  Need a catering service for your office holiday party?