vendor spotlight: catering works

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Name: Bridget Brandt
Business Name: Catering Works
Wedding Specialty: Catering

What are some common mistakes you see couples make while preparing for their wedding?
Budgeting is a challenge for any wedding, and often we find couples do not allot enough of their budget for catering. Food, beverage and service typically make up the largest slice of the pie. It's important to take a look at the overall picture related to your own budget and determine what the priorities are. There are always ways to have a beautiful and delicious wedding on a budget; it just means keeping an open mind and managing your expectations.

If you could give couples one piece of advice, what would it be?
Buy a boat instead of a reception; it is about the same price and will be easier in the long run... just kidding. Enjoy the process of planning, especially in reception details: there are tastings and cake design appointments, table design sessions and menu planning. Enjoy creating the experience for your guests and family, and leave the stress behind. Realize that it is your day and attempting to please everyone else in the process can be counterproductive.

What don't couples know about your business category that they need to know?
Food, beverage and service are vital to the success of the wedding reception and other wedding related events. Catering Works has been serving up amazing weddings for 27 years, and we pride ourselves on creative menus and imaginative decor and setup. While we have catered literally thousands of weddings, we know every wedding is special and unique, and we are able to customize a plan that suits the personality and style of the couple.

What is one question a couple should be asking that they don't know to ask (specific to you or in the general planning sense)?
How many waitstaff are going to be required to properly service my event? We find many other catering companies do not provide this information up front, and it is important to understand. Service requirements vary based on the style of your reception, whether you have a plated meal, a buffet or station style offerings will dictate the needs. If there is not a sufficient amount of staff, the food and beverage service can be compromised, guests can become frustrated and feel ignored or unimportant, and after making an investment in your event you don't want to skimp on this area. In some cases there can be as many as 1 server to every 4 guests, many factors must be taken into consideration when evaluating service needs.

What sets you apart from other vendors in your field?
Catering Works is a full service off and on-premise catering and special event planning company. We have an in-house floral division — Bloom Works — and an on-site bakeshop division — Pastry Works. We find the one-stop shop experience is something that our brides really love the convenience and cohesiveness of the planning experience. Catering Works has developed its own software program that enables us to perform real time costing analysis and provide the best value for your money —the systematic approach we take to preparing proposals and processing contracts.

Tell us about your favorite wedding that you've been a part of.
One of the most memorable weddings we were involved in was for Kate Edwards. She had envisioned a very grand day, beginning with an extended cocktail hour on the lawn of her family home in Chapel Hill. In addition to some amazing passed hors d'ouevres, we featured 3 manned action stations with small plate appetizer creations. We created a specialty cocktail that incorporated a variety of liquors and exotic juices, garnished with gold flake and white orchids. The dinner was served under a large tent, and we were able to butler 400 plates in approximately 16 minutes. There were many moving parts to the wedding reception, beautiful decor and our team was really on point. We have been fortunate to be involved in many different events and weddings, for large and small guest counts, and in a variety of circumstances, places and conditions. It is hard to zero in on one favorite because they all are so different and memorable in many ways.

Another that comes to mind was held the day after Hurricane Fran. The couple and bridal party were nearly defeated prior to the festivities even starting, some trips to the wedding were cancelled, there was water damage at the venue and many logistics concerns which made the day a challenge. We were without power at our facility, but we rigged up some work lights and shifted the entire menu to grill. A change of venue meant her custom decor and lighting package converted to globe lanterns, tea lights and extra candles, and then of course the night sky. It ended up being one of the most beautiful weddings we were ever involved in.

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how to invite everyone to your wedding and stick to a budget


I’ve met lots of couples that face a huge challenge when planning their wedding: how to include all friends and family members while staying in the budget they are comfortable with. Generally, the sad truth to this is that you can’t do both. Either you go over your budget, or you exclude some people you’d like to include. Even for the craftiest of couples, this is not easy to do.

However, there is an option that can allow you to stick to a budget and invite all your important people. A great solution is to have an open ceremony and closed reception.

What does that mean, you ask.

Invite all the people you want to your ceremony. It allows all those you care about to be part of the most important and sacred part of the day — the vows and commitment element. And then have an invite-only reception. Logistically, this means you’ll need to send a separate invitation to your reception guests.

A tactic that can make this type of wedding successful is having a greeting reception directly following your ceremony. Often this happens in a church fellowship hall or area at the ceremony venue. You can have sheet cake and drinks or some minimal snacks that don’t break the bank for all those that attended the ceremony to enjoy. You can spend some time going around the space and greeting your guests. After you receive your guests, you and your wedding party can relocate to the next location for the invite-only reception.

In these types of situations, most people recognize your effort to include everyone and they appreciate that. Having a receiving time to interact with your guests is important, so they know that you care about them too.

By the end of your big day, you’ll have included everyone you want as well as stayed within your budget (hopefully)!

Happy planning!