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catering client expectation too high!!

I have been contacted by a wedding party to be. Initially they requested a salmon dinner, around $10 - 15 a head - including tables and chairs, possibly a tent in an offsite location. I wrote back that Salmon has been quite high, and its closer to 35.00- 40 a head for a simple salmon bake type menu. I get back an email that says maybe I can do pork, or chicken, pasta, salads and bread on site again including tables chairs etc. THis time I send a link to the local rental place and try and show, without tent - just tables and chairs not setup fees that they have already used up $ 4.00, which would leave me 11.00 for food. I then pointed out local buffet prices in a restaurant. I always feel bad for the young couple though, so I suggested they pick up the hot sides from me, throw a freind or 2 on the gril and I told them I would let them borrow my chafing dishes and stuff with a refundable deposit.
No, they would like a full catered affair.....what can I do..I want to scream " nothing are you crazy - I've already spent too much time on this"!!! However, I can't and they are quite seroius. I get this client a few times a year in one form or another...
without insulting them, I would love some ideas on how to let them know - its just way too far from reality. They are not hearing polite, rational - I don't want mean - but boy its bubbling up.
I tried to pawn them off on someone else....they want me. Suggestions???

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  1. It sounds like you have likely already spent too much time on this, but if you feel you must respond further - create an actual proposal. People planning weddings have a hard time understanding the problem scale creates sometimes.

    Send them a final proposal, maybe with a variety of menus, that show realistic prices. Do not try to soften the edges, and enclose with it a letter that explains that this is your final proposal, and that if they are unable to create a contract at those prices you apologize but they will have to seek another catering service.

    Good luck. They sound like they have no idea how much catering costs!

    1 Reply
    1. re: jnstarla

      As a longtime realtor I face a similar problem and I finally learned sometimes you just have to walk away. I just say I am so sorry but I am not going to be able to help you.

    2. Coastie, you write, "........ I told them I would let them borrow my chafing dishes and stuff with a refundable deposit ......"
      Whaaaat? Is catering a hobby for you? You offer to give a prospective client some of your goods for nothing then wonder why they balk at paying your fees?

      What am I missing?

      You also write that you feel sorry for them, that they want a full catered affair, etc......... Think Unrealistic Expectations.

      Imagine what these people would be like as actual clients? OMG - they are poster children (!) for The Client(s) From Hell.

      Walk Away. Nothing you do will make them happy.
      Edit: RUN, do not walk away. Everything else stands. My grandfather used to tell us "The people in Hell want ice water too" r-u-n, far and fast.

      1. mrs jfood has had clients like this. Send them a contract with your prices and insist on payment in full before the event. Or just walk-away and thank them for thinking of you. These are not a couple you wish to work for

        3 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          That is correct - just respond with a real estimate based on their requests - say thank you and let them make a decision. It's taken me a while not to take offense when a potential client expects me to give them food for free! And one of the most important lessons in business - learn when to say No!

          1. re: harryharry

            I wouldn't even invest too much time in a preparing a proposal. Just give them a number, maybe a range, that is higher than they want. Tell them that this doesn't include everything, and that they need to anticipate that the actualy cost will be up to 50% higher. THEY will run away.

          2. re: jfood

            ditto. It should not be your responsibitily to explain why the price will be more than $15 per person, nor to suggest ways for them to meet their budget. Just give them your prices and let them decide.

            Also, asking them to prepay the full amount does seem like an excellent move with this couple.

          3. Sometimes you have to be blunt, if diplomatic.

            "I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm going to be able to satisfy you on your important day. I wish I could have helped, but I really can't deliver what you want. Thank you for considering me, and best wishes on your joyous occasion."

            2 Replies
            1. re: wayne keyser

              jfood likes this approach very much. Better than his

              1. re: wayne keyser

                >>I don't think I'm going to be able to satisfy you ...
                >jfood likes this approach very much. Better than his
                >
                never underestimate the POWER of "it's not you, it's me" :-)

                i feel it is reasonable for the client to ask "what is price for A and what is price
                for B" and your offer to provide various things "a la carte" rather than bundled
                is generous, but to ask for a breakdown of your costs, returns to capital vs labor,
                cost of inputs etc is pretty ridiculous.

                given:
                1. the "bid-ask spread" is large, not within a couple of points at the margin
                2. there doesnt seem to be any complicated entanglements ["client is
                my spouse's boss's daughter", friend of the family, relative in-law etc]

                this seems easy enough to deal with.

                given the "spread", i suppose it is academically interesting whether they
                are deluded or this is some kind of negotiating technique ... although
                again given the size of the spread, it seem like a case of delusion, rather
                than under pricing what "quality" costs [i.e. it doesnt seem like even a
                "low quality caterer" would be in their budget].

              2. they need to go to costco!

                btw, i like the diplo approach to saying a firm "no". if you tried to satisfy them with a lesser menu from their unrealistic expectations, they'd complain, screw you on the bill, etc. clients from hell are not worth it. (for any client, i'd require payment in full up front -- and in advance. "because i'm worth it," as the l'oreal commercial goes....)

                24 Replies
                1. re: alkapal

                  Thats the bottom line...its your job , not a hobby...I bet they don't ask this of the florist or the bridal dress store.

                  1. re: LaLa

                    I bet they do. People who make requests like this often have no clue what goes into the services a professional vendor provides.

                    coastie, have you heard from them again since your OP?

                    1. re: jnstarla

                      There are just some people out there who have the mind set that they shouldn't have to pay for anything. I know someone like this - and he would be a client from hell. His typical MO is to chisel the price as low as he can in the first place. Then after he has received the service/bought an item, etc. he manages to find a million ways to say that the business he was dealing with screwed him over. And he is very persistent and aggressive about it. It really is amazing (and sickening) how many times this works for him. I also know that he and his wife have been banned from a lot of establishments because of this sort of behavior...

                    2. re: LaLa

                      They do, I used to work at a high end florist, they always tried to beat down the price of the flowers because we grew our own orchids.

                      To the OP -- "I'm sorry but I just couldn't provide a dining experience up to my standards for that price, I'm sure you understand."

                      1. re: Scrapironchef

                        You know, I read a couple of bridal sites when I was getting married. It seemed that they advocated negotiating fees with caterers/florists, etc. as a way to save money.

                        Personally, I hate bargaining. Makes me ill. Some people treat it like a game and have a lot of fun with it. I only do it (reluctantly) when I have to -- i.e. buying something from a culture where bargaining is expected, and if you don't do it, it just means that you're a fool.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          I don't think negotiating is that uncommon. I have a friend who negotiated a lower rate for her catering, but she was realistic about what she could get for the price she was asking. I don't think it hurts to try, especially when weddings are averaging more than $25K these days. The key is that a person needs to be open about the options instead of demanding a $40 meal at $15. Some places do have a few set meal selections that can probably be negotiated.

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            People do feel there is a "wedding mark-up" for some services. I only have respect for those who try to negotiate, as it's not a skill I have. However I agree this couple would be better to approach it as, "Here's our budget, can you work with it?" The OP already tried to work with them by making some suggestions and should just let this one go with one of the polite "no can do" responses suggested here. They'll eventually figure it out but it doesn't have to be on her time.

                            1. re: julesrules

                              I am sure any service provider with a "wedding mark-up" finds they earn every cent.

                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                I think that's unfair stereotyping. And that brides & grooms have the same rights to negotiate as anyone else. I've only seen one episode of "Bridezilla" but they clearly baited a vendor to complain that the bride tried to negotiate a better price for something "even though she is having such a huge expensive wedding!". It's a business transaction with money changing hands and both sides have the right to negotiate the best deal. Of course vendors who feel bridal couples are too much work have the right to negotiate accordingly too (or just refuse to do weddings... which I don't hear of too often. It's lucrative business.)

                                1. re: julesrules

                                  Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. Not always pc, but true. Especially in certain demographic groups and in certain communities brides (and sometimes groom) are statistically high maintenance. It is what it is. And as far as the "right" to negotiate...that is between the customer and business (regardless of trace). And it's not that weddings are "too much" work...it is that they are higher maintenance, take more time, etc. than Acme Widgets Christmas Party, and therefore may be priced accordingly.

                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                    If weddings truly do involve more time and work, then it seems absolutely appropriate for the vendor to charge more in accord with the extra work involved. Though it does then seem odd for a vendor to then go on to complain about that extra work (which presumably they are charging for).

                                    Moreover, it doesn't really seem that racial, class or any other sort of profiling is an appropriate way to gauge pricing. Indeed, it strikes me that it probably would be illegal.

                                    1. re: Cachetes

                                      I wasn't stating to make the price higher based on race or class, but that certain demographic groups (not necessarily race, but I would use urban vs. rural or big city and mid-sized town) are going to have different "expectations" of their day from menu to execution.

                                      And I think many of us (myself included) have complained about extra work or high maintenance customers (regardless of business) even if we're being compenstated accordingly.

                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                        on the concept of "wedding markup"-- in most cases if you look around the wedding, you can see from whence the difference in price between wedding vs. other event with comparable menu comes-- i.e. for a wedding, you have it out in some field far away from any cooking facility, necessitating lots of rentals, as in the op; or you might have extra people on staff for clearing, serving, bartending, cake cutting etc. whom you wouldn't have working at a comparable business dinner; or the wedding party may want specific, expensive and/or labour intensive items: 500 piping filled peapods atop the individual salad servings, 3 cases of hulled sliced organic strawberries, macerated in champagne (in january), itsy bitsy cute widdow mini cuppie cakes with edible flower garnishes, 3 per guest, one of each flavor: meyer lemon, lavender-ginger with candied ginger and edible johnny jump-up garnish, double german chocolate with chocolate dipped strawberry. guess what-- these so-called "little special touches" are actually very expensive in terms of ingredients and labour, & the more of them the couple wants, the more *staffing* the wedding caterer requires to get everything served at the same time-- which is what you're paying for-- you're *not* paying for 75 lbs of salmon, you're paying for the *services* of the caterers to obtain, store, transport, cook, sauce, plate and serve your 300 guests the 75 lbs salmon simultaneously, then clear and serve the next course, clear/clean up afterward. . .

                            2. re: Miss Needle

                              Negotiating fees is one thing, that usually implies some sort of give and take. All too often what I saw was "we want the $500 package but we'll only pay you $150" not "how can we change things to make this work in our budget".

                              The real disssonance in the situation is that the wedding is a once or twice in a lifetime event for the bride, but an everyday event for the service provider.

                              1. re: Scrapironchef

                                Yes, I agree with you about what negotiation is. I fully support that notion if it makes sense -- ie. "I can't afford $50 a head for salmon. What can you provide for us for $40/head" kind of deal. I actually negotiated my wedding -- I don't consider it bargaining or haggling. They quoted me a price with open bar and unlimited wine. DH was not happy with the wine choices. So we negotiated a deal where we had the open bar and paid for the wine by the bottle. I had to negotiate a price decrease from the original quote -- they didn't just automatically offer it. And we came down to a figure that was fair to all parties involved.

                                The issue is I've seen advice where they advocate saying something on the lines of, "Well, XYZ caterer can do the same thing for $50 instead of $70. Can you match it?" Not quite the "we want to the 500 package but will pay you only 150" and not "how can we change things to make this work within our budget." It's somewhere in the middle, kind of like what you would do at a flea market. And I kind of find that a bit insulting to the caterer or whatever vendor.

                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  To be fair though there are times when vendors do a "try for" or price according to zip code. For example the town that jfood lives in is New XXX, with another town 1.5 hours north of him named North XXX. When jfood was pricing the removal of his oil tank from the yard one vendor thought jfood stated North XXX instead of New XXX and the price was $1500. Jfood asked for a fax of the contract and noticed the incorrect town. He corrected and sent the signed contract and the deposit. Call came a couple of days later and jfood was told that the price would be $2500, not $1500 and when asked why he was told the the town was New XXX, not North XXX. Asked why the price difference he was told because it was a different town. When Jfood pointed out that New XXX was 1.5 hours closer and the BBB would like that concept, the vendor backed down and $1500 was the agreed price.

                                  Long story short that certain vendors have "try fors" and there is no harm in asking. If the vendor says no, then its no and customer can choose to move forward or go elsewhere.

                                  Mrs jfood has priced certain assignments so she would loose the business because there was no PITA surcharge that would cover this qualitative nightmare.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Of course things will differ according to situation, and there is definitely no harm in asking, but I think it should be under the right circumstances. Your oil tank situation doesn't sound like you were haggling but were inquiring (and rightfully so) about the price differential. It definitely sounds like the company was overcharging you guys due to zip code -- similar to how some places double fees when they find out with a wedding. In some cases the extra fees are legit (as in the example that Janet of Richmond gave about how a vendor may charge more for a wedding versus Acme's Christmas party due to the extra work that a wedding usually takes). And in other cases the extra fees are uncalled for (as in your oil tank situation).

                                    Negotiation/bargaining is an art. There are no hard and set rules about it. There are instances where it's appropriate (or even expected as I stated above). And there are times where you've got to be saying to yourself, "Is that person out of his mind?" I remember looking for a roomate years ago. I wrote an ad specifically looking for one female to rent a BR in a 3 BR house, sharing all utilities three ways. Rent was explicitly stated. Somebody answered my ad and started haggling, saying that she would be willing to pay $150 less than what I wrote in the ad. When I said no, she said (not asked), but said, that she'll bring in a friend to share the bedroom with her and will pay my asking price. I again refused. She then said that she'll pay the asking price but won't pay for the utilities as she won't be in the house all the time. Oh, it gave me such a headache! Even though I was in my early 20s and not as experienced, I knew better than to get involved with somebody like that. I just said that it wasn't going to work out and this would not be the most appropriate arrangement for her.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      Miss Needle....I definitely agree that there are times when negotiating simply verifies that you don't want/need to conduct business with that person. There is appropriate bargaining and then there is trying to hoo-do someone.

                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                        Correct. As many have stated here it is how you ask. Jfood routinely asks at the check out at Circuit City, "Any chance you can do better on the price?" Volia they throw in a 3 year warranty. And if the product holds up, no problem and if it breaks they replace. A very happy and returning customer and no cash out of the store's pocket.

                                  2. re: Miss Needle

                                    I hear you, but usually precious little snowflake gets all whiney when you suggest that XYZ is really giving them a good deal and they should go with it. If they really wanted XYZ they'd have already done the deal, why bother trying to get you to meet the price if everything else is the same (it isn't, they're coming to you because they don't want XYZ).

                                    Never expect anyone else to be as invested in your wedding as you are.

                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                  Yes, I don't think that reasonable negotiations are the same thing as what this couple is trying to do. I hate negotiating too, but sometimes you just have to.

                                  1. re: thew

                                    That's always been my experience too. And yet, I get the idea from others who posted here that they would be very offended if a prospective client asked them if that was the best they could do price wise.

                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                      I think the key is "reasonable negotiations " ...that is not the case in OP.

                            3. re: alkapal

                              Agreed. You'd end up on Judge Judy for sure!

                            4. I am in a service business (not food related) but am sometimes floored at what some customer will perceive as a reasonable request. We give our prices..and that's it. Take it or leave it. But it's not unheard of for a customer to say "I want you all to do the work, but another company quoted $500 less." And want us to match it.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                janet, my response to that person, with a big smile: "good for you! i'm certain they're worth every penny!"

                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                    the perplexed look, like, "was i just dissed?" is priceless.

                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                  "Wow, they're that much less? I'd jump on that deal right away! Thanks for thinking of us though."

                                  Really, if it was actually the same they wouldn't even bother negotiating.

                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                    I love that line, we use it at my job. "That's a great price! You should get two!"

                                    1. re: manraysky

                                      I did two years on the phone for a major Unnamed Air Line, you learned a bunch of phrases that come in handy.

                                    2. re: Scrapironchef

                                      I don't know about that. It entirely depends on what you're talking about here. All Janet said was that she was in a service business. We have no idea what kind of service business. And in my area at least, it seems like almost everyone routinely builds wiggle room into their quotes just to make people feel like they got a deal. So if you don't ask "Is there any wiggle room here?" you probably just over paid. Again, it all depends on what the quote is for...

                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                        I am in the heating & air conditioning business. And there is no wiggle room. We're a small company and the owner (who hold the contractor's license, has 20+ years experience, will be the one servicing the units, etc.) does all the work. His price is his price...he gives his best price upfront and typically if someone gets three prices we are either the highest or the middle.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          I wish all service providers operated that way. I really don't like haggling.

                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                            Janet,

                                            I'm with you in the commercial photography business. I get the details, and then give the best price possible. Some folk assume that most quotes contain room to negotiate. My prices do not. If we cannot meet the budget, then the project needs to change - fewer images, smaller format camera/capture, etc.

                                            All of the caterers, with whom I've worked always give me, what I assume to be a firm quote. I always tell them, should I be shopping. If their quote is beyond my budget, then I will ask them what can be done to scale back on some area, should I really want to use them. Along those lines, I would not ask for a quote, if I really did not want to use them. I rely on their expertise and experience to instruct me on ways that I can alter my event with the least impact. They always help me out, pointing to the compromises, and how they see them affecting the event.

                                            To me, that's the way professionals should do it.

                                            Hunt

                                        2. re: Scrapironchef

                                          No doubt true in many cases, but that's how we got our mortgage rate lowered. We wanted to go with Broker A, but Bank B offered a better deal by X amount. In order to get the same deal from Broker A we told them B beat them by 2X. Suddenly the broker could easily match the Bank's actual offer.
                                          Our culture and personalities made it so, so hard for us to lie (or haggle or whatever you want to call it) but the results were so hard and clear... the system cheats those who don't negotiate. But we could see that lenders were falling all over themselves to give us that mortgage (back in 2004).

                                      2. a wise old caterer told me why he doesn't do weddings anymore: "because you only have one chance to get it right." i would add that right isn't good enough, it's gotta be *perfect.*

                                        they are not treating you like a pro caterer because you are not acting like one. real caterers base their per head prices on not just the cost of food & rentals, but on overhead costs and labor as well. by sending them the link to the rental place, you have told these people that the tables & chairs will cost them $4/head, not that they will actually cost more like $7-$8/head, once your personnel are paid to set them up, table linens etc. they are applying this concept across the board in this case with the assumption that you, and all of your people, are working for free, that any other costs other than the main costs of food do not exist, that they do not have to pay for any overhead costs, serving pieces, dressings/sauces, fuel, equipment, etc, that you'll wash, fold & iron the table linens at the end of the gig just out of the goodness of your heart. . . read your own post, where you suggest that the wedding party pick up food from you, that their friends assume the grill station for the wedding. . . you are acting like someone's aunt millie donating her time and a sack of groceries in the church basement, and not as a professional caterer who expects to be properly compensated for her work.

                                        if these people were really good friends, you could be very blunt and open their eyes to the scary situation. if they are not really good friends i wonder how you got yourself in this position. if you let this situation continue i can promise that you will wind up feeling over-worked & under-appreciated while probably personally carrying a hefty financial debt for the costs that the couple are not recognizing. you need to get paid properly for food & operating (even if you are personally donating your time), or walk away. if you feel like the relationship is getting strained while this wedding banquet is all theoretical, imagine how it's gonna be when the chips are down and it's all happening. i also worry about unlicensed and uninsured caterers getting in over their heads with outdoor weddings, where food safety is a real issue-- but that's for another thread.

                                        17 Replies
                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          You said it much better than I did, soupkitten. Your answer is dead-on target. ".....someone's Aunt Millie" is the perfect analogy because the OP had nothing whatsoever to do with professional catering.

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            Very wise words, soupkitten. I'm in the service industry (health-related) and have had people try to bargain with me. It doesn't happen too often but I see it once in a while. I'm in total shock when somebody tries to negotiate. Usually, the bargaining people tend to be not American, and I guess this type of stuff may be common from where they come from. So I try to be understanding but remain firm with my fee schedule as it diminishes my professionalism by playing into it.

                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                              Probably didn't explain myself well...in my actual letter to them, that was my point - if I touch that stuff - add to the cost. THey totally have no idea of the real costs involved - that was my weak attempt at what are you freakin crazy - half of your budget is table and chairs - forget linen and a tent , and then what do you serve p-nuts? We are in a weird remote area and it common knowledge that is the only place to rent wedding stuff - or at least I thought it was - they are literally the only game in town. I would never work for these people - handwritting is on the wall - day from hell and then some. You always look bad because the guests don't know why the service sucks and the food is hot dogs lol.
                                              They just keep emailing back - This last email(from me) was so blunt and final if I hear from them again I'll crack up....
                                              Someone further back in the chain suggested the phrase - I don't think I will be able to fulfill your expectations which I used.
                                              I just read down and" nothing to do with professional catering" is a bit harsh.....I live in a town of 2,500 everyone talks if I just shut these people down - . However we are a resort town, we have lots of weddings, commercials shoots, One contract I had required me to serve 40 - 80 ppl a day on a mountain hot food and it was high end and had to hold for 3 hours. Ive cooked for The govenor of Cali -and Mama Shriver. Worked for the former Govenor of Alaska. Backstage for Ween , P- funk. I do lots of catering/craft sevices because so much stuff is shot locally - and they hire only the best - they have the budget to do so...sorry no one needs my resume but sherri struck a nerve its not that I'm a hack it that I'm nice and its a small town.
                                              I own a restaurant and can make money off them if they pick up pasta from me - at this point I'll take my money where I can get it - I can pull almost $6 net a head if they take pasta and bread from me -

                                              1. re: coastie

                                                I think there are more than a few people on these boards who have an irritating tendency to jump to smug conclusions about people and/or situations without the benefit of really knowing very much about the person they assume they know so well...

                                                1. re: coastie

                                                  thanks for the clarification Coastie-- makes a lot more sense to me, that you'd have this type of situation in a smaller town where everybody knows each other. on the other hand i think that these folks are being so unrealistic and pushy with you because they feel that they can get away with it (because they *know* you, they think they can get their party for pennies on the dollar). i agree with you that my post was a little harsh. i do apologize to you for my bluntness, but i wasn't trying to be a big meanie-- i'm coming from a position where i also have had to deal with a lot of whiny, entitled PITA customers who have *no idea* what food in general, and catered food/special menus in particular, cost. i've often wondered where they come from! it's great when you have someone sitting across the table from you whose culinary skills = nuking a lean cuisine who is telling you that there is *absolutely no reason* why your establishment should not match sam's club prices for platters. *duh*--wtf do you even say-- it's a waste of your time to explain--all you can do is give your fair quote based on what the items *actually* cost in terms of ingredients, overhead and staffing, not what the customer would ideally like to spend. wouldn't it be nice to be able to buy a new car for $10 or a plane ticket for $5? sometimes the price on an item is actually what it costs-- you wonder if they walk into an armani store and pick out a nice suit, then ask to pay for the cost of fabric & buttons. . .

                                                  some non-food pros have weighed in on this thread to commiserate about customers attempting to negotiate in inappropriate ways. it's true that on one level, everybody's trying to get the most bang for their buck, i get that, to an extent. i think a lot of people have unrealistic ideas about catering (& restaurant work) in particular because they think it's basically the same as cooking a family dinner, only on a larger scale. they don't think about how long it takes a team of people to set up 40 tables w tablecloths, 200 chairs, obtain hundreds of pounds of special ingredients, make/plate 150 salads, make 2 gallons of sauce, peel 50 lbs of potatoes, clear & clean the *dishes* afterward, and that's just part of the sidework, we're just getting started! they don't see how any of this has anything to do with their event, and they decide they can "negotiate" a lower price based on "well i don't think we need to pay for a dishwasher, that's not my problem. i want to pay for just the salmon, not the dill or the olive oil or the sauce or the lemon slices or the veggies or the garnish or the charcoal for the grill or the prep cook or the grill chef. the price shouldn't matter if you deliver or not. i should be able to get out of season ingredients for cheap because i've always wanted strawberries at my wedding and to get married on new year's eve. what do you mean you have special events booked for all the rooms on new year's eve? let's cut the serving staff from 8 to 2 so we can get our event for cheaper, but if all 200 people aren't served & cleared at the same time, that's not acceptable. can't you just throw in coffee/tea service and cake cutting for free?" the caterer's job is to know when these maniacs' ideas are not possible, or not a good idea. giving these people soft, wishy-washy cost estimates sort of reinforces that these basic costs aren't real, that restaurant workers are servants that work for free, and that good food in elegant surroundings doesn't/shouldn't cost any more than applebee's to go.

                                                  Coastie, i bet your bridal couple think that they should get their outdoor wedding more cheaply than in a restaurant or hall because it's "just like a picnic"-- you know, except for the 5000 lbs of tables, chairs, rented dishes, food, grills, charcoal, hot-carriers, cold-carriers, steam tables, chafers, refrigerated trucks, generators, ice, platters, wines, beers, liquors, potable water, handwashing stations, linens, portable bar, wedding cake, bus tubs, backup equipment, hampers, tents, portable effing dance floor *ack*. . . all hauled in, set up, and broken down and hauled off three hours later by people the lovely bride and groom don't feel they gotta pay. stop the madness!-- Coastie, *puhleeze* don't cave to these clueless a-holes who don't want to pay you for your hard work. maybe if more people saw firsthand what $11/head *actually* gets them (and what they have to do without, like *food*), caterers would start getting a little respect, for the love of mike!

                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                    OMG - they called again - and we had to talk about prices again - at one point the bride had the "ahha" moment and said I get it. I wish they were trying to be pushy and rude and get something for nothing - its so much easier to brusha butthead off. They were very much of the its just a big salmon bake ( ie. picnic, like u said)CLUELESS My last email - the one I thought would do them in - 2 lines , sorry can't meet expectations...thanks for thinking of us ....she told my husband she thought I was avoiding them. Classic - LMAO

                                                    1. re: coastie

                                                      I, too, would like to soften my harsh response, coastie. I'll say it a bit milder but will not change my stance one iota. As a retired caterer and veteran of the pricing wars, I know what goes in to creating an offsite wedding -- it is an enormous amount of virtually unseen work. Food costs, per se are the very least of it. A picnic it ain't. soupkitten wrote an eloguent post enumerating all that goes in to making the "Salmon Bake" so special. Generally, the clueless clients are the ones who expect the most and are disappointed, on site, when they ask you for the platter for Aunt Martha's special cookies and you don't produce one. They'll tell you the wholesale price of salmon or chicken and not understand why you aren't charging them that price. "Safeway has it on sale for 59 cents a pound so why is this $25 per head?" No matter how I say it, my response is that this is a No-Win job and no matter what you do, you'll take flak. No one will be happy.

                                                      "I can't meet your expectations" is kinder than "It's not possible" and both are true. If you cave to these clients, you will shoot yourself in the foot because everyone in your small town will know that you don't mean what you say. That doesn't work with young children and it won't work with these clients, who are acting like young children.

                                                      I apologize for offending you. Good luck on whatever you decide to do.

                                                      1. re: Sherri

                                                        The "edit" function is not working, so I would like to add my thanks (to my post above) for providing the additional information.that goes a long way toward clarifying your difficult situation re: small town, etc.

                                                        1. re: Sherri

                                                          THanks Sherri - my question was never what to do? But how to get rid of them - I thought that would do it - they are sooooo thickheaded - had to explain I don't even think of doing anything for less than about $35.00 a head and that they can't afford me.....weddings have to be in the $45 - $70+ range - because it all falls on you in the end. Never done a wedding when I wasn't a frazzeled freak by the end - Whoever said it has to be perfect was so right - and your gonna have to pay me for the pressure. My favorites jobs are photo shoots , sets... they are picky too, who isn't , but they just want quality foods, creativity - it keeps the set moving and provides motivation - really rewarding as a chef . Craft services kind of sucks but money is good - and I just staff and stock it.
                                                          Anyways - final call back to these people - they left me yet another message - assuming it isn't "our parents decided to come up with some more money" I'm going to have to get BLUNT.

                                                          1. re: coastie

                                                            The answer is: "It's not possible" repeated as often as necessary, followed by "I'm sorry this isn't going to work out".

                                                            If you open doors with additional information, such as pricing or trying to explain what actually goes into the job itself, you'll only be giving them additional wiggle room and information to further harass you. "It's not possible" and "I'm sorry this isn't going to work out" are argue-proof. No additional information. Period or you'll be on the phone forever trying to explain to someone who doesn't want to hear anything except your complete capitulation.

                                                            Weddings often come with unexpected unrealistic expectations of absolute perfection. This one is starting out that way. Yoicks!

                                                            1. re: coastie

                                                              Coastie! Good luck! When you are blunt, I'm sure you will do so, but continue to be nice. It is tough in a small town where people talk. I think they will talk anyway, so all you can do is try to remain as professional as you can, and as nice as you can, while saying "It is not possible, I'm sorry this can't work out" over and over and over again as Sherri suggests.

                                                              Heh! If they do say they've come up with more money, I think you still need to get out of this job! Something like "Oops, prices have gone up because of gas prices and rising food costs" These people have such unrealistic expectations that if they pay you $40/person for a "picnic" salmon meal, they are constantly going to be thinking "It is crazy we are paying so much for something so simple". AVOID THIS GIG! It is no-win for you! Let them do it themselves for $11/person (They won't be able to, and they will be running around like chickens with their heads cut off.)

                                                              1. re: moh

                                                                maybe Coastie should go to every effort to double-book herself for the wedding date. aw shucks we already have another party for that day, & they already gave us a deposit. we couldn't *possibly* cover both events. . . the bridal couple doesn't need to know the "other party" is a tray of sandwiches for the local library volunteers and the deposit was a nickel. . .

                                                              2. re: coastie

                                                                Dang coastie! You must be really good for them to be begging you to cater their wedding, but stand firm! Yes, you need to be nice about it, but put your foot down. Even if they come up with more money it seems as if this is a no win situation. I had a client like that who harassed me for a couple weeks wanting this enormous project done, in a format that I do not work in, for next to nothing, and needed it NOW! I heard his tale of woe, lost job, down on luck, needs this job to survive, and so on. I expressed my deepest sympathy, but assured him that I was not the answer to his problems, I could not produce what he wanted, and if he were to keep calling I would have to start charging a consultation fee. I gave him someone else's number, wished him lots of luck, and he finally got it. It's tough to be nice! But you have to be firm with folks like this. I wish you the wisdom of finding the right words to say to end this soon.

                                                            2. re: coastie

                                                              what lame-os. Coastie i'm seriously sorry i came off harshly in my above post. you have my sympathies. i am so sorry that they are still wasting your time. sucks that no matter how politely you try to brush them off they will probably still talk some trash around town. i just hope that *everybody* knows that you are the reasonable, professional one, and that they are the clueless losers. *shrug* whaddayagonnado?

                                                            3. re: soupkitten

                                                              Soupkitten,

                                                              You make many great points, which apply to the OP. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

                                                              I'm one of the "other trades," who chimed in, but I am one who also hosts many catered events during the normal year. These often range from a sit-down for 12 with stellar wines from my cellar to events for 500 of my wife's closest friends, with guest chefs flown in from New Orleans, and a full jazz band, often from there, as well.

                                                              I learned a long time ago, to not try and cut corners. If the suggestion is for four servers, I usually add one more, just to pour the wines, so I can spend more time with my guests. I am not one of the "entitled," but I have experienced the down-side of trying to do it with and for less. I have learned to not shop for price, but to go with the folk, who will not let me down. If the price is more than I can afford, I work to see what can safely be eliminated. Do we need TWO ice sculptues? Maybe not, and my plans were too grandiose to begin with. I offer the same for my clients. "Do we need four versions of each shot, when two, well-thoughtout versions will do?"

                                                              As to ingredients, I've had clients, who ask about providing their own film, purchased at Wal-Mart. I usually point out that Wal-Mart does not carry 4x5 Kodak Ektachrome SW, and if they did, the emulsion would have to be tested, beforehand, so I'd know it characteristics. Once I point out how much extra film would be required, and how much they'd have to pay me for the work and the lab, they realize that their idea sucked - big time! It's the same with a catered event. "How about we bring our own salt, so you do not have to charge us for it?" Yeah, right!

                                                              Not sure how everyone got on the "bargain for a better price" bandwagon (maybe those ads in the in-flight magazines for the seminars on this), but everyone wants to waste a lot of time niggling over a few $. They do not know that that time is actually $, and has to come from someplace.

                                                              As with caterers getting the respect, that they deserve, you are "preaching to the choir" with me. I've tried to do it myself (not to save money, but to do it for smaller dinners), and I will not do it again. If I can get more time with my guests, I'm ahead. Nothing is worse than doing lamb chops on the grille, and I get the call down, that so-n-so needs a Martini, and that two additional guest have arrived, unexpectedly. The lamb chops flared up, the Martini was not up to par, and by the time that I'd accommodated the two surprise guests, all was in shambles! Never, never again.

                                                              Good thread, even if some of us, non-food folk, do weigh in.

                                                              Hunt

                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                good to hear, Bill Hunt. thanks for your hosting perspective as well. it's so nice to deal with experienced hosts who put the quality of the experience first. indeed, sometimes just having that one extra staff member to pour wine, cut cake, get the coffee brewing on time can just make the whole party go so much more smoothly for the guests and the hosts!

                                                                industry people so often come off as money grubbers in these pricing threads, but, as with your (wal-mart vs. professional) film example, caterers generally want to give the best quality product to the customer, and it's terribly hard to do that when you aren't given enough budget for proper staffing and ingredients. it is smarter for the caterer to bow out rather than have their reputation attached to a subpar final product--esp a party which is supposed to be a memorable celebration!

                                                                agree it's a great thread. i wonder what the bridal couple ends up doing!

                                                                cheers, --sk

                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                  Thanks for the kind words. To me, it's about my pleasure, and that of my guests. Hey, it's the event!

                                                                  As to the bridal party, I wonder, as well. If I get "anal" about a dinner party, and want them to be the best that any of my guests have ever attended, were it my wedding, I'd go overboard, as it would be the "ultimate" event more me, and for my wife. OTOH, maybe I am just a romantic and cannot be cured.

                                                                  Hunt

                                                        2. When my daughter got married about 3 years ago, the reception hall provided the tables, chairs and tablecloths. The food was from a local restaurant. She had fajitas, beef and chicken, with all the trimmings, including iced tea. They brought the food, set it on the tables, buffet style, and left us some containers for leftovers. They also brought the paper goods. That was a pretty casual affair and it cost around $15 - $20 per head. These people did not serve us, and left as soon as they set up. Any bride thinking she can get what she was asking you for for $10-$15 per head is very unrealistic. She needs a dose of reality. You will be glad not to cater this event! But what a sweet person you are to go to so much trouble to try and accommodate her. I am in a service industry where they want me to give out quotes, make deals, cut costs, and I have learned to say "Sorry, I don't think this is going to work for either of us, but I appreciate you calling me."

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: danhole

                                                            dani, a very kind response ... and much kinder than i would be. i agree that the op was very kind in trying to educate the client. some clientes, however, are not *worth* educating. you do your best, and hope for the future. that is the nature of business.

                                                          2. Wow. That's tough. I've been in this situation, where someone wanted me to cater an event, and their total budget was barely over what I would hope to *profit*, not spend on the event. I had to say no.

                                                            I think the best way to handle it is to present a sample menu or two with prices, and that's it. If it is more than they want to spend, they will need to find another caterer.

                                                            You have to value your time and skills, and not undersell yourself. If someone wants to spend less, you can tell them what you can give them for that money, but you don't have to make your higher end menu fit their budget. And just be firm with them. You are not obligated to give them bargain basement prices just because they are asking for them. Simply put, they can't afford your service.

                                                            1. Be happy you know their expectations now, not after you sign a contract and then the extra demands come.

                                                              Walk away. Sorry can't help you.

                                                              1. I feel your pain, but from another venue. I get these same queries from commercial photography clients. They want my "style," but they have no concept of reality. As per jnstarla's suggestion, I give them a formal proposal of how the assignment will be done, what it will cost and how payment will be made. They usually go with a student, who just purchased a Nikon N60 and will give the work away for a credit line, or a bit to pad their portfolio. Still, they come back to me for their next ad, telling tales of woe on the previous project. Same thing, all over again, and once more, they go elsewhere. As a professional, I treat them as I would any client, but do not alter my quote to accommodate their unrealistic expectations. It's all part of the business, regardless of that business being catering, or advertising photography.

                                                                Good luck,

                                                                Hunt

                                                                1. Heard back from them - they again asked for it all......said no way of course . refered them to some other caterers - they have since come back( everyone is so exepensive ....well duh lol) - and asked for food to be picked up - I broke that down a la carte for them - if they choose the cheapest stuff, they are still up to 17.00 a head - with no service . They have had this menu for a day - they're event is the 23rd.......I'll keep you posted

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: coastie

                                                                    By the Power invested in me by No-one in Particular, I hereby pronounce thee "Saint Coastie."

                                                                    1. re: coastie

                                                                      I just have to add (great thread by the way) ... the event is on the 23rd and they still haven't figured out what they are doing for food? This is a wedding right? In the Bay Area if you haven't figured it out and paid your deposit in advance you'd be out of luck by now!

                                                                      And everyone is right Coastie, you are a saint!

                                                                      1. re: Missmoo

                                                                        you know, eloping doesn't look like such a bad idea for these people. they'd probably save a *ton* of money if they didn't have to feed a single guest.

                                                                        i think that the whole thing is getting down to the wire (Coastie-- is that the 23rd of JULY, 3 days from now?! i guess they missed getting their deposit in so you can order the dang food. . . they probably don't understand that either, food happens when the caterer waves a magic wand. . .)

                                                                        they may have the briefest marriage in history if they can't figure out what the heck they're doing, seriously! like watching a train steam merrily toward the collapsed canyon bridge. . . :(

                                                                      2. re: coastie

                                                                        Saint Coastie indeed. If we don't see you around here in the next few days we'll know why. OMG I couldn't leave the food to three/four days before my WEDDING! Yikes I'd be sooooo stressed if I were that bride.

                                                                        Best wishes coastie(thankfully it'll all be over soon) :)

                                                                      3. Update - they haven't contacted me after getting prices and contract. They had 10 - 15 a head to spend......I gave them a la carte pricing for pick up food in chafing dishes. $9 for pasta a head add $1.00 a head and we would do 2 types of pasta, 10 pastas from pad thai - to pasta alfredo on list , $4 - $6 for salad, - $3.00 for assorted fresh handmade breads, with butter and olive oil dip. So yes, I blew their budget - but who wouldn't. Thanks for the saint coastie stuff - but I actually feel like I did these guys a disservice. THey are 3 days before their wedding and must be scrambling at costco - I think I'll let the fact they didn't call or email me after everything be my bandaid for that ... I don't have set menus because I cater really highend stuff and odd jobs, like lunch at a fish processing plant ( restaurant is main stay) every cater job gets its own menu - after consult. Menus would have solved this from get go.....thanks to everyone for all the advice and support

                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                        1. re: coastie

                                                                          Coastie,

                                                                          You did not do the a disservice at all. They did it to themselves. They are a very stubborn client, who thought that if they kept stamping their feet like an unruly child, then you would eventually give in. And you didn't, and you shouldn't have. This has been a very good learning experience for you. Maybe you should have a few set menus, for these type of situations, then you can say "This is it, 3 price ranges, these choices, and very limited substitutions." You have a good handle on most of the events you cater, but this will prepare you for those out of the ordinary clients that want the moon but can only afford some water. Good job, and best wishes to you and to them.

                                                                          1. re: coastie

                                                                            NOTE: my previous reply disappeared, so I'll try again in an abbreviated version.

                                                                            First off, congratulations on sticking to your guns. As many have already said (me included), these are the clients from Hell and who needs 'em?

                                                                            Adults make choices and take the consequences. It is not your problem that these clients (?) made some very poor choices. I wish them well and hope they live a long, happy life together, but educating them isn't your job.

                                                                            It sounds like you are very happy with the way you do business - restaurant, high-end catering, etc - and there is no need to change your business model to serve people you don't want as clients in the first place.

                                                                            Having a set menu can bite you in the tush as you well know. How do you set the price for a fruit plate six months hence without knowing the consequences of bad weather, poor crop yields, etc. As a small business, doing what you're already doing - meeting clients for an initial consultation and presenting a proposal - makes the most sense. Why change for the yahoos? St. Coastie it is!

                                                                            1. re: coastie

                                                                              If there was a way for jfood to placce an audio of clapping noises, and rah-rahs he would place here.

                                                                              You handled this entire "affair to remember" with class, dignity and tried at every instance to do your best.

                                                                              Congrats on how you handled this and hopefully the couple will have a wonderful marriage as well.

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                This thread was more exciting than most Summer Blockbuster Movies!!
                                                                                Thanx for the entertainment @ no cost. (other than time, of course...) Please update us if you can. (Think "Wedding Crashers"-if ever an event needed to be crashed, this is The One!)

                                                                                1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                  oh I am so doing a drive by - LOL....
                                                                                  OH it is so worth updating - last night at 4:43 pm they e-mailed me saying they had got caught up with family and would look over the menu choices that night .....the wedding is wednesday - these people are so wack. I refuse to work hard for them. My food order by luck for them( twice a week), gets ordered today and comes tommorow... I emailed them back and told them I thought they had made other decisions, and that 12 noon today would have to be the cut off - as we all know thats more generous than needed but I am so over them. I won't work any harder than I would have for pasta - if their order is in in tmie to get and prep food. Arguing with them would have taken more time and energy. Should have set a deadline, ussually do along with deposit schedule and final payment, but they were in such hot pursuit and I didn't want them. SO noon it is, they have 3.5 hours - I'm hoping they sleep in and don't read their email - there is no budging on this point - I will not scramble.

                                                                                  1. re: coastie

                                                                                    Wow! As somebody who has put together my own wedding last minute (I was printing out my invitations 1 hour before the wedding, chose our IPOD music list and just got my wedding dress the day before), I understand that not everybody plans their wedding 1 year out. But I don't think I've ever seen anything like the couple you describe. You've been really kind and generous with your time with them. I don't think many people in your situation would have done the same. As you have stated before, they're not assholes, but sound a bit clueless. I hope when they get a bit more savvy as the years pass by, they'll understand how wonderful you were with them. Please keep us updated.

                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                      Huh? Did I read that right? Printing invitations 1 hour before the wedding? Seems like a really good way to keep it a small affair.

                                                                                      1. re: lgphil

                                                                                        Ha! Yes, that would have been definitely a great way to keep it small. : )

                                                                                        I meant to say programs.

                                                                                        Even though we were pretty lax about the other components of the wedding (flowers, dress, vows, shoes, etc.), I did spend some major time thinking about the food part. I put a lot of time and effort researching venues and putting together the menu. I was trying to find the best balance that would please us and our guests, and trying to make sure we had a good choice of hot, cold, vegetarian, seafood and meat in our menu. I also gave a lot of thought to how I wanted the whole beverage thing handled as there were a few recovering alcoholics in the bunch. So I guess that's where my priorities were.

                                                                                    2. re: coastie

                                                                                      I've been reading this thread and checking in to see what the latest is. Can't wait for this update!!

                                                                                      1. re: coastie

                                                                                        WOW! I wish this couple was on some kind of a wedding reality show! I would watch with morbid fascination!

                                                                                        You know, for $10 per person, they could get Big Mac Combos and McDonald land cookies for dinner! Wouldn't be so bad I think...

                                                                                        I suspect if they left it to the last minute like this, they probably don't care so much about food.

                                                                                        1. re: moh

                                                                                          How about Happy Meals? That could cover the meal AND the wedding favor, all for well under $10 a person. It's a win-win situation!

                                                                                          1. re: queencru

                                                                                            They do have some very fun toys with those Happy Meals! I'd be ok with it...

                                                                                            1. re: moh

                                                                                              I like the happy meals u get the favor - nice ! We were thinking maybe the new pizza hut pastas - they are "restaurant quality"
                                                                                              They called the restaurant and tried to put in an order after dealing with me by cell phone and email.....they were told sorry too late for an order . They then called restaurant again and tried again - like they thought they would get somone else to answer and take order. They were told same thing, they then called my cell - I was on another line - they left their food order at 1:24 pm. It truly was a hard call back, made within 4 minutes of their call. She said "ok" a lot. I'm sure I sounded a bit direct on the phone because I felt bad - but not that bad. Not really something you can sugar coat you have no food for your wedding , sorry. I just brought up the deadline and my food ordering deadline and said sorry they had passed. I felt like a total ass when I closed with - I hope you have a wonderful wedding. I'm pretty sure she was about to cry so I felt really bad...until I drove by the house they rented. I expected to see a few junker subarus - a few rental cars. No, it was lexus and and new toyotas, big new trucks - The guests were well dressed - decent suits - so true lack of money wasn't the issue - choices were.
                                                                                              If I get anything juicy , like what was actually served at this event - I'll post again - otherwise, thanks everyone -

                                                                                              1. re: coastie

                                                                                                OMG they had the nerve to call the same afternoon for an order for how many people for what 5-6pm - she must think you have a magic wand that can make food appear *poof!* Coastie don't feel even a little bit bad, you were specific about the deadline and explained the whole deal in far more detail than they deserved. I don't think anyone in their right mind would leave food for their wedding til THE day. I don't think you could have said anything else in closing that would have sounded any better under the circumstances.

                                                                                                I hope they don't have the audacity to turn this into some ugly "the ___ caterer didn't deliver" rumor which would be a total lie but I worry about small town gossip nonetheless.

                                                                                                Thanks for the update :)

                                                                                                1. re: coastie

                                                                                                  Clearly this was a situation where this couple had little value for your time or expertise. You behaved professionally and they did not. These 2 think the world revolves around them alone, and they are completely clueless. Stupidity is the word that comes to mind.
                                                                                                  You have absolutely no reason to feel bad about this at all. You sound like a very nice person, far more accommodating than most of us would be in a similar situation.
                                                                                                  Good luck to you in your future endeavors.

                                                                                                  1. re: coastie

                                                                                                    At this point, it is Safeway Deli time. You hope that you can move the platters from the black plastic dudes to a serving platter. Also, you serve wine - lots of good wine and start that service early.

                                                                                                    Too many people read the ads in the in-flight magazines, about negotiating your way to great wealth. Forget his name.

                                                                                                    In the end, it's about great food, great service and a fair price. As a purveyor of these, you are under no obligation to go beyond those three. Some clients will never get it. They are too atune to the MFSP and the "real price." All of life is NOT like that. They need to get over it.

                                                                                                    Hope they had a good wedding.

                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                    1. re: coastie

                                                                                                      Coastie,

                                                                                                      What a shocker! Good grief. I have to ask 2 questions; they rented a house for the wedding? That must have cost a bundle. How old are these people . . . teenagers? Or just the mentality of teens? (not to dis all teens, most are smarter than this)

                                                                                                      1. re: coastie

                                                                                                        Thank you for updating us. They certainly have digged themselves in their hole, and you've been more than kind dealing with them.

                                                                                                        I would like to mention that just because it appeared that the guests had some money doesn't necessarily mean the bride and groom had money.

                                                                                                        1. re: coastie

                                                                                                          Phew - SO glad to see they didn't call back before noon. I cannot believe these people. The word "entitlement" comes to mind with these people - they have the money - people are going to do what THEY want them to do, without any thought as to how it affects anyone else. Pieces of work. ::::shaking my head::::

                                                                                                  2. re: coastie

                                                                                                    I'm just reading this thread right now, and Saint Coastie you ARE! I cannot believe you gave them another 3.5 hours to make a choice on the pasta! I would have told them the deadline for ordering food had passed, and been done with them. I agree - this couple is completely whacked out of their minds!

                                                                                                    Off to read the rest of the thread (hoping you didn't get another callback from them and were done with them as of noon on July 22nd!)

                                                                                            2. oh, i canNOT believe these people! i'm waiting with bated breath... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tXaau...

                                                                                              1. OK, Coastie, some few days have now passed. There has to be word on the "street," regarding the event. Normally, I do not get caught up in this sort of exposé, but curiosity has gotten the better of me. How did their event go?

                                                                                                Enquiring minds [SIC], want to know,

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                  Ditto Bill. I used to own a small food biz, and was amazed at what people wanted- wholesale pricing, HUGE orders immediately with no concept of ordering in advance. I'm hoping that you dodged this bullet......

                                                                                                  SO- What happened?

                                                                                                2. I'm reminded of the time a friend and I encountered an obnoxious salesclerk in a store. When we left, my friend said to me, "Well, I sure told him," then went on to worry that maybe she had been too nasty. And I thought, told him what?! Even knowing her, I hadn't noticed her being at all less than polite, and I'm sure the clerk didn't notice a thing.

                                                                                                  So I'm thinking the OP may think she's been giving this clueless couple a lot of clues, but they clearly were not been picking up on them. I fear being nice enough to keep talking to them instead of giving them a firm answer and no options may have backfired on her. I hope there's no bad repercussions, but this does sound like a perfect set-up for them to wail and moan to everyone about how OP let them down at the last minute, because they clearly have no clue that they were responsible for the position they put themselves in (and I doubt they would acknowledge it even if they did understand).

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                    You may be right - they sound as though they have no concept of how any of this works. Although with the number of wedding planning publications out there providing "count-downs" it is hard to understand this!

                                                                                                    Sometimes the only way to really get this to register is to consult a few times, then let them know future consults will cost X$, with the paid fees being deducted from the jobs bill...While you are willing to put in a certain amount of time on speculation, there is a certain point where they need to commit or move on.

                                                                                                  2. Wow. I just came across this post and it was better than a soap opera. I'm glad you didn't end up with the gig and sorry it took so much time and psychic toll. Saint Coastie indeed! And like others would be curious to know if there is any epilogue.

                                                                                                    I noticed that in one of your posts you said that you were generally reluctant to take a job (or maybe it was specifically a wedding) for less than about $35/head. (If I got that slightly wrong I'm sorry.) I wondered if maybe that is not your solution next time? Just say you don't take jobs at less than $35 (or $40 or whatever) per person but thank you for thinking of me. Then you are not arguing what they can get for what they want to spend but just saying that their $15 per head is not in the realm of business that you do. Just another thought.

                                                                                                    1. Too bad the couple didn't have family or friends to guide them through. When I got married friends & family helped us at every turn; including catering and with all we had on our minds to make our wedding a great day for all we welcomed the help.

                                                                                                      I feel for coastie but I feel equally sad for a couple that might have just been to overwhelmed by the details.

                                                                                                      1. Not much to add. They didn't use anyone else here. Unless they got some home cook/caterer that I don't know. They were seen shuffling tables from the church to the site - I suspect they went to costco - borrowed the tables when they figured out that was half their budget and hopefuly had a nice affair.