Momma Don’t Give Me No Mac N’ Cheese

by admin on March 30, 2010

This story happened to my parents, so you will have to allow me some missing details.

My cousin returned home from his time in the service and proposed to his high school sweetheart. We all received nice invitations to the wedding and reception. I was unable to attend, but my parents relayed the fun.

The wedding was fine, despite the minister’s 20-minute long tirade on the “evils of fournication.” While I can respect those who hold that view, we all thought a message about love or committment might be more appropriate, especially since the couple were about to get married. He also couldn’t remember the names of the couple, even though this was the bride’s lifelong minister.

The real bomb was dropped at the reception. When the reception was first planned, the HC picked out their menu, and the MOB agreed to split the cost of the reception 50-50 with the FOG and MOG. They had picked out a menu of roast beef, potatoes, wild rice, and steamed mixed vegetables. They caterer was to provide table service and wait staff for the sit-down luncheon.

About a week before the wedding, the MOB left a message for the FOG saying that she couldn’t afford to pay her share and that the caterer was asking for payment. The FOG reluctantly paid for the entire thing.

Well, when everyone made it to the hall, there was nothing. No table service, no wait staff, nothing. And the MOB was nowhere to be seen. The MOG went into the kitchen area and saw some trays of chicken and mac & cheese. She called the caterer, who informed her that the MOB had cancelled the table service and wait staff and changed the order to fried chicken and mac & cheese.

Imagine the gall of someone to bail on their financial commitment to the reception, but who still feels they have the right to change the menu at the last minute! We can only hope that the reason she didn’t go to her daughter’s wedding reception was because she felt some guilt for her actions. We were later told that she was too “proud” to admit that she never could have afforded it in the first place. It’s also worth noting that the change didn’t save any money; fortunately the caterer chose not to enforce the clause in his contract that allowed him to charge extra for changes within a week of the event.

Fortunately my resilient family sprung into action and managed to cobble together some odd sets of plates and utensils (acquired from nearby churches and homes) and were able to serve the other guests, although the sight of my aunt slogging lukewarm mac & cheese in her Sunday best wasn’t exactly the highlight photo of the day.

So to all out there – it’s no shame to be of limited financial means, but “pride” is a stupid reason to set the stage for a near-wedding-fiasco. Fortunately the bride stayed composed throughout, and within a month we had all received nice, handwritten thank you notes. 0813-08

What I cannot figure out is how the caterer got full payment for what was originally contracted yet the catering service was changed to a less expensive alternative without his knowledge.  Did MOB pocket the difference?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

jenna March 30, 2010 at 5:54 am

THIS is why, if you have even remotely difficult parents or relatives (even siblings!) or other meddlers, that you should ALWAYS take the precaution of telling your vendors that they may take no such requests from anyone but you (and anyone else you care to “authorize”).

I heard another similar story about a mother who told the photographers to “do whatever it took to get the shots” – directly against the couple’s wishes that photographers remain inconspicuous during the ceremony. The photographers listed to the mother, did not consult the couple, and had an angry couple on their hands.

Why the vendor thought it would be OK to change at the last minute, without calling the bride, groom or whoever paid for the meal in the first place, is beyond me. That’s not only horrible of the MOB, but very unprofessional of the vendor.

You can’t change annoying relatives but vendors, you CAN be more professional.

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hyacinth March 30, 2010 at 6:21 am

Oh yes, I call shenanigans on the part of the MOB. Can the writer tell us if the bride and her mother speak anymore?

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Jen March 30, 2010 at 6:39 am

Sure sounds like it to me!

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ferretrick March 30, 2010 at 8:06 am

It sounds more to me like the caterer pocketed the difference…and I don’t entirely disagree with his right to. The caterer booked the party expecting to make a certain amount of money for a complete banquet service, and possibly turned other couples away who had the desire and means to pay for that service. I think it would have been nice to refund SOME of the difference between what was originally ordered and what it became, but I don’t think the caterer is obligated to do so.

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Jolie_kitten March 30, 2010 at 8:08 am

How heinous of the priest!!!!!! He was supposed to officiate a ceremony for those people, not give his 2 cents about when they should start their intimate life (which is, really, none of his business.)

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Ruth March 30, 2010 at 8:25 am

I had a friend who had to talk with all the vendors before her wedding letting them know that any changes could ONLY come from her. Both her mom & the MOG were going back & forth about their ideas without even consulting her. Fortunately, it ended well.

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Mommaknowsbest March 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

Why does every wedding party have to be the same? Why do we HAVE to have a meal, especially when one is not afforded? We knew we did not have the money for a big meal so we had a nice cake and punch reception. And we were actually thanked by people –one lady said she was so glad we did not have a meal. When you a have a meal she said, she always feels highjacked for most of the day, whereas with a reception, you can pay your respects and still get home with plenty of time in the day to still do something.

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Jae March 30, 2010 at 11:27 am

As others have said, brides need to talk to their vendors and explain that any and all changes come from them and no one else. It is also nice when the parents give a check to the bride and groom and let them pay these vendors.

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Kay March 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I see nothing wrong with the vendor having this clause, and exercising it. They probably had to incur charges to order the original menu items, PLUS scramble to order the food for the revised menu. Absolutely they are entitled to extra compensation for dealing with this last-minute change and still coming through. For all we know they are stuck with a freezer full of food from the original order. That’s just not fair. Dealing with a caterer is not like shopping. You can’t just expect to get your money back because you changed your mind at the last minute.

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June Bride March 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm

When I got engaged, a friend found a lovely site, a bed and breakfast, for the rehearsal dinner, and for the wedding party to stay. Since I was out-of-state, all my dealings with the caterer were over the phone until the week before the actual wedding.
My MIL had special dietary needs so I was careful that the menu would be yummy and still ok for her.

When I checked in at the B and B, they were excited to see me, as they had several questions concerning “all the changes.”
What changes?!?
My mother had taken it upon herself to change just about evey item on the menu, several times.
I asked the caterer to go back to her notes from my very first conversation with her, several months ago, and said, “see what we agreed on back then? Stick exactly to that menu. My in-laws are paying, not my mom, so do not let her change anything.”

The dinner was a huge success, and the wedding was happy, so is the marriage. i live WAY away form meddling mom!

Do not ask about how mom tried to change the invitations and the wedding announcement in the paper…and the wedding favors, and the flowers, etc…

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Sensible Shopper March 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Here’s an idea – never tell the meddlers the NAMES of the vendors you’re using. “So, I got the catering order all set up.”
“Oh, with whom?” asks meddlesome relative.
“With the caterer. So, what do you think of THIS?” Whip out completely unrelated bridal planning brochure, and never discuss catering again, since you’re DONE with it.

If the relatives bugs you for details, stick to your guns, and say, “That aspect of the planning is finished, and I don’t have the time or energy to rehash it. I’m busy working on these other aspects of the wedding now.”

Also, giving your vendors a code-word, that they must verify before accepting any changes to the orders, is a good idea. After all, you may need to add to the headcount, for the five single guests who eloped with with their internet buddies, and now need couple’s invitations, instead of single’s.

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jenna March 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Ferretrick and Kay –

While I agree if the change had been legit, the caterer would not be obligated to return the difference, I still fundamentally disagree – because the caterer had no business changing the order on the whim of the mother of the bride! A good vendor knows that you always check with the couple FIRST. A vendor who does not do that is unprofessional and, frankly, deserves a report to the BBB. (Especially if the person making changes to the meal is not someone who’s paying and not someone whose name is on any contract).

So bad on the MOB, but also, I call shenanigans on the horrible caterer.

Mommaknowsbest: not every wedding needs to be a meal. But I am not sure this is the correct post for going on about it – there is nothing wrong with a cake and punch reception, but this is not what that couple chose, and not what that couple was under the impression everyone could afford (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that this parental help was offered, not requested or expected). So what’s wrong with that?

Also, you seem to assume that all weddings happen early, so no meal meals you come in, say thanks, and go do something else. Our wedding is going to start at 5pm so it wouldn’t be very courteous of us not to feed our guests dinner *at dinnertime*. If it were an afternoon or morning deal, then maybe not. One would also hope that guests would want to stay longer than “hey, congrats – thanks for the cake – bye!” – what a sadly short reception! Unless that’s what you want, of course. We’re kind of hoping that our reception will be fun enough that people won’t regret losing the chance to go do something else – it’d make me sad as a soon-to-be “bride” (whatever that means) if my guests thought my reception wouldn’t be as fun as whatever other plans they could make, and just wanted to leave. I wouldn’t want to invite such guests if I knew.

But that still doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with cake and punch. Just that it’s not for everybody.

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SHOEGAL April 2, 2010 at 10:45 am

I can’t account for WHY the MOB would change the menu to fried chicken and mac & cheese and eliminate the wait staff and table service if it didn’t benefit her to do so??? I mean, what did she stand to gain from a stunt like that unless the caterer gave her some money back? I think she pocketed the money . I would think she ruined her relationship with her daughter’s in laws not to mention her daughter for doing something like that. I can only assume that she cares nothing for her daughter to ruin her day. The caterer obviously delivered the food as promised & went on his way – he did as instructed. I can’t blame him for thinking he could trust the mother or the bride to give accurate instructions – what mother would do this to their daughter?

As for me – I assume every wedding will be an “event” and that it will take all day. I agree, absolutely nothing wrong with a cake and punch reception but if I am going to wish a couple well I don’t want to do it in a hurry and run out of there because I have something to do afterwards. I was actually a little upset that some of my guests left early – especially my sister in law. I thought – hey it’s your brother’s wedding – you couldn’t have made a night out of it – enjoyed the party – what was so important that she needed to run home?? But I digress.

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mommaknowsbest April 3, 2010 at 10:02 am

Of course it would make sense to serve a meal if you plan a wedding right around a meal time. But I go to many weddings that take place at 2:00 in the afternoon, it’s over by 2:30, we then have to wait over an hour for pics to be done, then there’s a meal at 3:30 in the afternoon. More and more girls today feel they have to have a wedding exactly like everyone else’s, and consequently end up spending money that could have been spent better elsewhere. A meal is not a pre-requisite to a wonderful and beautiful ceremony – which is the point of the wedding. If you want a party/meal/whatever, fine. Just make sure you have the money to do it, and if you don’t, it’s okay. You can have a nice reception or something else instead (oh horrors, of horrors, maybe just a ceremony would be fine too!!!) and it will be just fine. No one even remembers much of anyone else’s wedding a year or two or five down the road anyway.

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JenAnn April 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm

To mommaknowsbest…..a lot of people genuinely enjoy weddings along with the dinner and reception afterwards. Obviously you do not, so you can choose to attend just the wedding and send a card and/or gift to the couple. It seems a bit mean-spirited to suggest people are just lemmings for following this tradition, when no doubt they are doing so because they genuinely want to celebrate in this way, and most of their guests will be happy to attend such an event. I’m sure you wouldn’t want everyone to alter their wishes simply because you do not personally like it.

And….most people are probably fuzzy on most details of ANY sort of party two or five years down the road, but is that a reason to not bother with celebrations at all? Again, I suggest you send best wishes and skip the dinner/reception altogether!

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Dina April 5, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Mommaknowsbest, I think it’s telling that you says “More and more girls today…” Where are the grooms in this equation? Aren’t they getting married too?

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Xtina April 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

The caterer probably took the change order from the MOB because when this thing started, she was helping to foot the bill; maybe the couple or the other family members who were paying forgot to tell the caterer that she was out and not to work with her anymore. Either way, this could have been avoided by the couple being precise in telling the caterer not to change anything without their approval.

Now as to WHY the MOB made such unnessary, drastic changes without anyone’s knowledge is beyond me other than, as others have suggested, she must have had some kind of monetary interest in doing so. If the caterer thought she was still paying and she cut the total bill at the last minute, she may have instructed the caterer to refund her the difference. That is beyond sad, tacky, and dishonest on the MOB’s part. I hope the couple got to the bottom of it and hashed it out!!

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Nightibis April 6, 2010 at 5:13 pm

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I don’t think the MOB made anything on this, no reputable caterer on the planet is going to refund money to someone who didn’t pay him a dime. They’re under no obligation to cut a refund check immediately; there would have been plenty of time to determine to whom such a check should be made. Unless it was a very small wedding, I’m amazed the caterer even took a menu change with less then a week’s notice (remember she would have had to contact the caterer after the FOG had paid the bill) and without getting confirmation from his client – the person who paid the bill. I suspect there’s something else in play here.

Catering is an incredibly tough field (at least it is here in the US) and caterers can not afford to irritate the folks that pay them. The ones that “cater” to weddings have seen all the tricks and then some. If there’s one rule everyone in the wedding industry follows it’s the Golden Rule – “The one who has the gold makes the rules.” MOB didn’t have the gold and probably didn’t get the gold.

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Here’s more proof there was no refund involved, if the caterer communicated that he wouldn’t charge extra for a complete menu change, he would surely have mentioned any refund he had already tendered.

Just my two cents,
Nightibis

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Nightibis April 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm

There were some quotes up there? Any idea what happened to them?

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jenna April 10, 2010 at 11:36 pm

And by the way, I do think the reception is just as important as the ceremony (feel free to flame me for this).

Why? Well, we are not religious. So there’s no sacred element to our upcoming marriage – it’s a legal thing because we travel a lot and we want to be each others’ next of kin, and have decision-making power for the other. But even if we didn’t get married we’d still feel and be permanently bound to each other, because we’re already life partners in our hearts. A piece of paper just makes it legal.

We also happen to love a good party, and want to create those memories and bring family together, and a wedding is a good way to do that. As the eldest grandchild on both sides (and the only one in a marriage-ready relationship), it’s something I’d like to do, and my fiance agrees.

So it would not be a lie, mommaknowsbest, to say that for us, the reception is the key. If it weren’t, we’d elope.

I know many people disagree, but it’s the honest truth for us.

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BeenThereDoneThat May 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm

For some of us, a wedding is a time of JOY and CELEBRATION and expressing our happiness through DANCING and SINGING and LAUGHTER. To the degree each can afford it, of course.

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Lenera August 16, 2010 at 10:17 am

Jolie_kitten> Just FYI, in most religions premarital sex is a sin, which means it *is* the priest’s business. Very much so, in fact. In fact, in some religions, premarital sex can often lead to the priest asking the couple to postpone the wedding so they can repent. Yes, even today. It happened to a friend of mine just last year.
And a healthy warning about fornication is common enough in any religious wedding ceremony, and nothing to be upset about.
That being said, I do agree that 20 minutes is very excessive and, IMHO, lecturing someone for long periods of time is not the way to persuade them of anything. Best to state what you wish to say once and move on.

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Yellow.Zinnias May 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm

momma,

Your presumptuous statement that women (and I agree that you completely forget about the grooms) only want a certain type of wedding because everyone is doing it really burns me up. I hate generalizations. Do you know EVERY bride in the world? No way, not possible. So how, then, do you know their reasons for having a certain type of wedding and reception? You don’t. You aren’t crediting anyone who disagrees with your preferences as having a mind of their own. It’s similar to an argument I heard from a professor in college who told me that no stay-at-home mother really WANTS to stay at home. She’s just “too stupid” (verbatim) to realize that she has been “brainwashed” by a male-dominated, patriarchal society. Really?

When did people become so arrogant that they truly believe they know the minds and motivations of others better than those others themselves?

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