Wednesday, May 16, 2012

'Friendor Failure'...not fun!

Imagine yourself, seated at a great restaurant with family and friends.  You have eaten a great meal, and are now sitting, chatting, enjoying the ambiance and the company.  In front of you remains the debris of your meal - - - dirty plates, an empty water glass, used napkins.  You’ve sat now for over a half an hour; no service is in sight, and the table waste seems to be growing.

How likely are you to give that restaurant a positive review?  Has the pleasure of the evening been diminished by this lack of service?  I am sure that each of you would say a very strong and adamant, “YES!”

Well, just so you know, this doesn’t just happen at restaurants. Time and time again, we see this same occurrence at weddings and other special events.  Things have been planned to the “nth” detail, yet something this simple to prevent - guests sitting amongst dirty dishes - is overlooked, or the decision is made to use “friendors” and to not staff appropriately.  Remember, a 'friendor', is a friend you choose to use as a vendor...not a professionally trained vendor hired by you to perform a specific service.  And unfortunately, we tend to see couples fall short on wait staff and service people for their weddings time and time again.

The caterer below, 'Beth Sogaard Catering', is doing it right...notice her wait staff clearing the dirty dishes while guests enjoy their evening.

(Photo courtesy of 'Stellasweet Photography')

So first, some guidelines...

Buffet style:  This is your standard buffet table set-up and usually includes service staff.  You want to plan on one staff person per 20-30 guests with a minimum of 4 wait staff per 100 guests.

Modified buffet:  A buffet where the salad is plated.  This service requires more servers to get the salads to the tables, so plan on one staff person per 15-25 guests and a minimum 5 staff per 100 guests.

Family style:  Service where food is brought to your guests tables ready to be served, and guests pass the platters, plates or bowls and serve themselves.  Remember you have to plan on staff getting the food to all your tables, in addition to bussing,  so make sure you have one staff person per 15-20 guests, with no less than a minimum of 6 staff people per 100 guests.

Served meal:  A very labor intensive type of service...similar to eating in a nice restaurant.  You'll need one staff person per 10-15 guests, or two tables per server.

Drop and Go:  Here the caterer literally drops the food and leaves your venue.  No service...and certainly no clean-up.  So for 'Drop and Go', you want to plan on making sure you have enough wait staff to buss your tables after the meal is finished, so as with a buffet meal, plan on at least one staff person per 20-30 guests, and maybe more.  Here again, no less than 4 staff people per 100 guests.

(Photo courtesy of 'Stellasweet Photography')

Another important thing not to overlook - - - water on tables!  Either ensure water glasses are pre-filled and that staff is available to refill glasses, or put a water pitcher on each table - - - especially if you are outside and the day is warm!  Then make sure you have someone to walk around and monitor any water pitchers placed on guests tables.  Believe me, there is nothing worse than having a guest come to you to ask for more water.  Talk about embarrassing...yikes.

(Photo courtesy of 'Stellasweet Photography')

Another rule of thumb...

Hire professionals.  Please!  We know it is tempting to hire your friend’s teenaged children to help out, but our experience is that, for every good worker that comes with that course of action, there are 3-5 that just do not “get” it, and think they are there to look pretty or party themselves!  If you want to save money, then consider kids from a local FFA chapter or like group that is trying to raise money.  We saw this done recently, and it was highly successful.  Just ensure they come with supervision, and that there is complete understanding as to job responsibilities.

 (Coralee Barnes from 'A Taste To Dine For' catering)

Finally, have a back-up plan...   

The best planners will have discussed back-up plans in case of “friendor failure” well in advance to ensure your day is everything you want it to be.  Because trust me, planners would rather do what they were hired to do than 'buss' your guests tables.  I'm just sayin'!

Until next time...

Making YOUR wedding InnCredible!
'InnCredible Events'


  1. YES!! Wonderful article Carrell! We've actually made it a contract requirement for our clients that they hire Professional Full-Service Caterers because we have been forced to bus tables and cut cakes in the past. I hope all the brides that read this follow your advice!

    1. I completely understand why you now have this stipulation in your contract...and it makes sense. It is so challenging for us to do the job we are hired for when we are forced to do the job of others so that the Bride and Groom enjoy their day. And it breaks my heart when 'friendors' do not follow through with what they've agreed to do.

      Thank so much for your vote of support...I too hope brides read this and follow our lead.