Wedding Wednesday – Volunteer Vendoring Rarely Appreciated

by admin on October 4, 2017

Several years ago, my then-boyfriend and I agreed to cater the bridal shower for his childhood best friend’s girlfriend’s sister (yes, in retrospect this already sounds like a bad idea – and yes, the sister of the bride was hosting the shower, a big faux pas). However, we both worked in the food service industry and enjoyed cooking together, so it seemed like it could be fun. We agreed to provide food for a small fee plus the cost of ingredients since they were on a limited budget. We met with the sister to come up with a simple menu a month before the shower. She informed us that several people were allergic to dairy and gluten, and we made an appropriate menu to meet these needs.

About two weeks later my then-boyfriend received a call from her saying that the shower was over-budget, and would we be willing to cater for only the cost of the ingredients? He agreed. I was nervous, but it seemed too late to back out. There were only twenty people invited to the shower, so it was not too much work.

The morning of the shower, after we had already spent several hours prepping food from the pre-approved menu the sister called and informed us that the mother of the bride – her own mother! – was deathly allergic to nuts, and could we make sure that there were food options available that were uncontaminated by nuts. It was very unclear why this had not been stated when we asked about food allergies of guests when planning the menu. As those of you who bake know, nut flours are common substitutes for desserts that are gluten-free, so the entire kitchen was contaminated by multiple varieties of nuts. I almost gave up then, but we cleaned and sanitized the kitchen and continued cooking.

At the venue, things went as smoothly as could be expected. The venue itself was odd, as it was a gym space that could have easily held fifty or more people and only twenty were invited, and five or six people did not show up. However, the bride and her fiance seemed happy (the bride seemed incredibly easygoing, and was incredibly sweet during the whole shower).

After the shower, the sister comes up to us and asks us if, because a quarter of the guests didn’t show up, she could pay us only three quarters of the cost of ingredients. Keep in mind that we had already forgone any fee for our actual services, and we had already purchased ingredients for twenty guests. I insisted that we be reimbursed for the cost of ingredients, and she very very grudgingly agreed, with lots of grumbling and snide comments. We escaped as quickly as we could (with leftovers). The sister had several other moments worthy of Etiquette Hell (the outfit she wore to her sister’s shower was towards the far side of inappropriate), but this was the most prolonged and painful. 0612-16

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Just4kicks October 4, 2017 at 4:55 am

You are a better person than I am, after the first call about how the event
was “over budget already”, I would’ve thrown in the oven mitt.
How do you fail to mention a severe nut allergy?
I was called to pick up my son at school yesterday because he was running
a fever and noticed a huge sign on the main door stating “SEVERE peanut allergy,
please do not enter this building with nuts of ANY kind.”

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UKHelen October 4, 2017 at 7:12 am

If the organiser had already agreed a price with the OP, then surely she should’ve been cutting the price of later items and services, when she realised it was going over budget?

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Kay_L October 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I’ve noticed that when faced with needing “favors” people go to the person they think will be the softest mark.

Not quite the same, but I once booked a house show with a professional touring band. The manager accidentally doubled booked my date and instead of going to the club he doublebooked with, he tried sweet-talking me into changing my date!

Not only did I say no, I was really offended that he would even try that. Just because I was more likely to budge because my connection to the band was personal and not business.

I don’t think people realize that when they impose on people who would be doing you a favor they are using up personal capital. A business person might give you a break or come up with solutions that are mutually beneficial, but a friend will usually be willing to expend more of themselves because of the personal connection. Taking advantage of that is really ugly.

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NoviceGardener October 5, 2017 at 9:27 am

I don’t think people realize that when they impose on people who would be doing you a favor they are using up personal capital.

I just wanted to say that I think this is a brilliant piece of phrasing, Kay_L. I’ve had plenty of experiences in the past that have involved this concept, but “Personal capital” is such a clear way to think of it. I’m adding it to my mental phrasebook straight away!

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saucymarla October 11, 2017 at 10:36 am

Ditto!

o_gal October 4, 2017 at 6:38 am

So you made her pay for all the ingredients, but did not give her the leftovers? She paid for them, she’s entitled to them. While I’m sure that it seemed like a good idea at the time, that was a huge faux pas on your part. But you were young and everyone does stuff they regret (like sticking with this job in the first place after multiple diversions), so I’m not going to throw you into e-Hell.

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Vic October 4, 2017 at 7:52 am

She’s entitled to the leftovers if she has containers to put them in. I’ve never seen a caterer bring their food in disposable containers. I’ve seen guests take some of the food home (usually something that can be wrapped in a napkin). But, I’ve never seen a caterer transfer all of the leftovers to other containers to be left behind. I think most people who hire a caterer wouldn’t want all of the leftovers. It’s usually a special event that they want to enjoy and then be done with.

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Ryo'S Girl October 4, 2017 at 9:46 am

Actually my wedding caterer always did this for events. They would bring large take away containers to the venue with them that they would full with the leftovers and send home with the immediate family. They specialized in ethnic food so maybe they only did this for those “in the community” though.

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staceyizme October 4, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Caterers sometimes charge “per plate” or “per person”. Granted, they have usually confirmed the count in advance, but while they are obligated to serve all those they have agreed to, they aren’t obligated to transfer the leftovers to the client, unless the contract or agreement specifies otherwise. When I purchase food for events, I prefer to deal in amounts by weight and volume. I avoid vendors who charge by the plate because better values (in my opinion) can be had by purchasing items at the most favorable price points and either preparing and serving them or having them prepped followed by service. Breaking down the food items to be purchased by this method also lets me know how many servings of each item I have on hand and the leftovers are definitely mine to give away, freeze or keep for personal use. (Provided that the food was properly prepared, stored, held and presented appropriately with heat or cold to maintain temperatures, it shouldn’t be a problem to retrieve items from the kitchen and store them for later use.)

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Vic October 4, 2017 at 3:33 pm

That was nice of them. Im guessing the cost of those containers was built into the price. In the OP’s case, they were only getting paid for the cost of the food. So, in her place, I absolutely wouldn’t have provide any freebies, even if it was just a few dollars for disposable containers.

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Ebeth October 4, 2017 at 11:57 am

We had a buffet at my wedding and the caterer had containers to take home leftovers. I actually hadn’t even thought about it until they were handing them to us. Luckily we have a big freezer.

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Cleosia October 4, 2017 at 7:54 am

You can consider it the fee that the sister scammed them out of because “the shower was over-budget, and would we be willing to cater for only the cost of the ingredients”.

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Marie October 4, 2017 at 8:06 am

I have to disagree there. It’s quite possible that some of the food was in containers/on platters owned by OP. If the event was in a gym and there was no possible way to transfer the food to the house of the host and/or bride without giving them the containers – I wouldn’t do it either. If the host is giving so much trouble beforehand, I wouldn’t trust that she would give me back my stuff in a timely fashion.

Also note that OP mentions having worked in the food service industry. I’m not sure how it is in the States, but where I’m from there are very firm rules regarding hygene, and professional caterers are not allowed to give leftovers because they have been “out” too long and they would indirectly be serving food that is no longer up to the hygene standards and contain too much bacteria.
Since OP was actually hired to serve food as opposed to bringing something as a friend, I’m pretty sure she wanted to keep a standard, and giving leftovers that might cause food poisoning due to expired shelf life would not fit in those standards.

I don’t quite understand why it had to be mentioned though, but I don’t want to say it’s a faux pas without knowing the reason. For all we know the host told her to take them!

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Rattus October 4, 2017 at 9:01 am

Ordinarily I would say that the person who paid for the food should get the leftovers, but this person refused to pay for time and labour, therefore I think that the leftovers should have rightfully gone to OP.

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PJ October 4, 2017 at 9:56 am

That sounds standard to me for onsite caterers. I don’t recall ever seeing leftovers going home with the customer.

On top of that, I think OP and her/his then-boyfriend were more than reasonable to get tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch out of the arrangement!

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Kay_L October 4, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Oh heck no!
At that point she was not “entitled” to anything. She got more than what the original agreement called for. There is no faux pas–it’s a business agreement.

I would guess that even when caterers leave you the leftovers there is a fee for packaging it up and the materials required to do this.

She made an agreement to pay for ingredients to get finished food for the shower and that’s exactly what she got!

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JJ October 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm

I would agree with you normally but the family was very rude and cheap from the begining and had the audacity to continually talk the op and her boyfriend of the time into making the bill cheaper for them at every single turn. Then comes up with last minute demands that day asking for nut free stuff just expecting it to happen which I think Op was very nice to even do that for them. I think op was justified in taking all the leftover and her containers/plates etc with her after the family member rudely tried to talk the bill down even lower and whined/rolled her eyes and said comments the whole time when the op and boyfriend would not back down to her last request. At that point those left overs would be mine along with all my supplies I brought.

Now if the family had been very nice from the get go and paid what the op really should have been owed in the first place then 100 percent they should have gotten all the left overs. But they were very ungrateful, demanding and rude so they don’t deserve left overs if they are going to cheap on the bill the entire time.

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Angie October 4, 2017 at 5:33 pm

I highly disagree, NOT a faux pas on the OPs part. The only thing they should have done different was was back out when she wanted to only pay for ingredients. Since they did go ahead, they should have asked for money up front BEFORE they went any further.

She barely paid them for the cost of the food, had already stiffed them on the fee she agreed to up front. No, she didn’t deserve the leftovers, especially as several have mentioned, I doubt they had the food in containers that they wanted to GIVE to the sister. Because you know it would have been like pulling teeth to get their containers back.

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NostalgicGal October 4, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Considering the original agreement was cost of materials and something for labor, then they backed out to materials, then didn’t want to pay for the materials… leftovers go to OP.

I used to make high end costume jewelry, often to order. I would quote, give a date when it would be done. I did a bracelet and showed with it on schedule and the fellow refused to pay the balance, and the deposit had literally just covered the materials. I refused to turn it over and he demanded his money back. By my contract, non refundable. I went back to the studio, measured and counted out enough material to make another item, bagged it carefully and wrote an invoice for what was in there and the amount each bit cost. And returned to his office and presented him with what he’d paid for so far. He put it in his briefcase, went home, and his wife found the pearls, semi precious wire, aquamarine beads, and wanted to know what THIS was? Next morning he called me. In silence we traded ‘DIY kit’ and finished product and the rest owed. I made up another one and sold it so the kit didn’t go to waste.

OP had the rights to the leftovers.

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Harry October 5, 2017 at 10:04 am

I disagree…. the woman paid for the ingredients, yes, but not the labor. The cooks should get some sort of compensation, even if it’s in the form of leftover food.

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flora October 5, 2017 at 10:20 am

I disagree. The OP gave up her time and energy to cater this event for free, after originally agreeing to the small fee. At the very least the OP should be entitled to those leftovers as “payment”.

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NoviceGardener October 5, 2017 at 10:49 am

If OP and her boyfriend had been guests at the shower rather than paid vendors (who, as it turned out, weren’t actually paid) it would have been rude for them to take all the leftovers. But in this case:

a) The host didn’t pay for the ingredients, the OP and her boyfriend did. All they got was (grudging) reimbursement, and the host even tried to rip them off for 25% of that, as if it was OP’s fault that some of the guests didn’t show up.
b) As they’d agreed (at short notice, and after the initial arrangement) to take no labour fee, and do the whole thing for the cost of the ingredients, technically they were taking a loss on the value of their time, skill, and labour.
c) They’d been forced to put in a huge amount of extra effort, at very short notice, because the host “forgot” to inform them that her own mother was allergic to nuts (despite restrictions and allergies having been discussed beforehand).
d) We don’t actually know what the situation was with the leftovers. The OP only says they escaped ASAP with leftovers. For all we know they may not have taken all of them, or the host or someone else may have asked them to take them. And in most situations, a caterer would be expected to deal with leftovers anyway, especially as most bridal shower guests dont attend with spare tupperware in their bags.

I agree that, in general, whoever paid for the food should get first dibs on the leftovers, but in this case the people who paid were the OP and her then-boyfriend, and then some! Hope they can laugh about it now ๐Ÿ˜€

And as a side-note, I’m glad at least that the bride-to-be sounds like a lovely person ๐Ÿ™‚

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kgg October 4, 2017 at 7:07 am

Good for you for sticking up for yourself and not letting her talk you into taking 3/4 the pay.

If you don’t have the budget for a catered affair, don’t have a catered affair. The expectation of showers in general has gone overboard over the years – my family included. The last person in my family to have a shower thrown for them at someone’s house was my aunt – 20 years ago! It’s gotten more elaborate as the years have gone by, and, though I was a little kid at those home showers, I always enjoyed them so much! One of my childhood friends recently got married, and I swear they tried to recreate the bridal shower from the movie “Bridesmaids” – minus the puppies in berets. It was gorgeous, but it was basically nicer than most weddings.

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Not A Mandy October 4, 2017 at 8:18 am

Yes! to showers going overboard. I recently attended my niece’s baby shower (thrown by the grandma’s to be – his mom and her stepmom – but that’s another story). Over 100 people were invited; a hall was rented; the meal was catered.

We spent the lead up to the shower hearing how much everything cost and how much work it was. I managed to bite my tongue and not respond with “Showers aren’t this much work. Tacky gift grabs* are.”

*And any event with a separate card enclosed in the invitation that instructs people to bring a book for the baby and an package of diapers and a gift from the registry and then wants your extra change for the baby’s piggy bank when you show up is a tacky gift grab. To everyone’s shock I’m sure, I’ve yet to receive a thank you note for my gift but have received an invitation to the baby’s 1st birthday party…

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ladyv21454 October 4, 2017 at 11:48 am

Well, this was my jaw-dropper for the day. You have to have an amazing sense of entitlement to expect your guests to bring multiple gifts for the baby. I would totally ignore the instructions and bring ONE of the items listed.

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Daniotra October 4, 2017 at 11:58 am

ugh. A book is more than sufficient for a gift, especially if you aren’t that close to the recipient. You don’t expect your guests to bring a book and diapers on top of a gift. For that matter, I just expect my guests to show up and give me a hug and warm congratulations.

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Lindsey October 5, 2017 at 2:52 am

Fantastic!! I did have a good chuckle at the unashamed greed you described!

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JJ October 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm

I feel old fashioned because what happened to normal, middle class baby showers I grew up going to where the family throwing it just had fruit trays from the grocery store, a home made cake or store bought cake and some simple but nice cheese and cracker platters made up on the table ? Maybe some small sandwiches made as well with some fruit punch or choice of drinks. But that was relatively it. Simple, yummy but affordable for a short afternoon get together. I don’t get all these over the top catered showers unless you are a Kardashian or a super wealthy person throwing an all day get together. It’s not even just baby showers it all showers now wedding, baby, gender announcements etc. Keep it down to earth and light. Especially given that in ops story only 20 people were invited and a few didn’t show up. Why on earth would they need a catered affair for that? You could have gone to a grocery store or made the stuff up yourself for way cheaper and held the event at someone’s house for free for that small amount of people showing up. Worse come to worse if someone really wants a catered affair for a small party I say rent a room out at a restaurant, cover the food costs and reservation fee and you got yourself a nice little party that you don’t even have to clean up and it has a set time when it begins and ends. That is if people don’t want to do a nice backyard/house party shower instead.

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Angela October 8, 2017 at 8:56 pm

“hat happened to normal, middle class baby showers I grew up going to where the family throwing it just had fruit trays from the grocery store, a home made cake or store bought cake and some simple but nice cheese and cracker platters made up on the table ? ”
I’m guessing Pinterest is what happened to them.

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UKHelen October 4, 2017 at 7:10 am

Ugh! I’ve suffered this with weddings, where I get asked to do one thing which seems reasonable and even pleasant, and then it changes and changes, always causing me trouble and the person who asked/the lazy ones who are leaving it up to me, no trouble at all.

It’s like the old analogy of the frog being put in a pot of cold water which is then heated to boiling point. When do you jump out? The problems and changes always seem minimal at first, and then after a while you’ve put in so much time, money and effort that it may be hard to back out. Often, I had a vested interest in getting the thing right, and that kept me doing it. Trying to involve the lazy ones, to take the pressure off, didn’t seem to work either. They never had any intention of being reasonable, or of putting themselves out.

I was going to give examples, as they’re entertaining in a gruesome sort of way, but honestly, I can’t face it. I think if anyone asked me to do anything for a wedding these days, I’d run a mile.

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Shoegal October 4, 2017 at 7:24 am

I don’t consider it a huge faux pas for the bride’s sister to host her wedding shower. If family members would like to host the shower – I think it’s fine. Am I wrong about this?

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ladyv21454 October 4, 2017 at 8:36 am

Traditionally, family members were not supposed to host the shower because it made it seem like too much of a gift grab. Per Emily Post: “It had long been considered a breach of etiquette for the brideโ€™s family members to host showers. Why? Because the main point of a shower is to give gifts to the bride and it could seem as if her family were asking for gifts. ” It’s one of those rules that seems to be pretty much ignored nowadays. Many years ago, when people tended to spend their whole lives close to where they grew up, it was traditional for the maid of honor and/or bridesmaids to host the shower; but now that the members of the wedding party might be located in a number of different places, that’s not as common.

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Dee October 4, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Traditionally, showers were meant to set up a household for a woman still living at home. That meant simple gifts such as kitchen towels and tools, cheap linens, and so on. It was seen as the responsibility of the family to provide those items but most were unable to do so (what we would think of as extreme poverty today but was fairly middle class two generations ago) so it was perfectly polite for a friend to throw a shower to ask others to contribute for the well-being of the bride.

Now that most brides have been living away from home for a period of time already (some/most with their fiancees) it is no longer necessary to throw a shower and it’s more of a symbolic gesture. It is more important than ever for the shower hostess to not be family; if it was considered family’s responsibility to provide for the bride before, and now she has everything she needs, then their hosting it is even more irrelevant, and can only be justified as a luxury gift grab. Of course, that has now morphed to the bride herself organizing/dictating her OWN shower, which is the tackiest of all.

There is no necessity for a shower anymore. At all. Really, they should be abandoned in favour of a tea, organized to gather the women of the two families and friends, without saying the word “shower” or hinting at gifts. To continue to have showers when the brides are clearly abundant in goods is to tread very carefully. Having family host an increasingly gratuitous gift grab is anything but polite.

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Kate 2 October 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm

Precisely! Instead of a Mom and Dad trying to fund the necessary household purchases (linens, silverware, plates, etc) it was spread out among family and friends. Not only that, you knew these people, and you knew that when your turn came they would do the same thing. As Ladyv21454 mentions, neither of you were likely to move away, and even if you did move people tended to get married in a smaller span of time then, the bride’s friends probably got married not long (with a year or two) after she did.

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Agania October 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm

That’s exactly what I had. Hubby and I had each lived independently for a couple of years and had enough stuff between us to set up house. I had a Recipe Tea, where people were to bring their favourite recipe which I then put into a book. Recipes I still use to this day!

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Dee October 6, 2017 at 1:10 pm

A Recipe Tea sounds fantastic! A great excuse to have a party. I also like baby showers where the guests are asked to bring their best advice for what worked for them when they were raising their own children (or nieces and nephews, etc.). That works really well when it’s a second or third baby and people are itching for a shower but not for a gift grab. The best parties are the ones where the focus is on the guests, not the presents. I love going to parties like that.

lkb October 4, 2017 at 12:56 pm

In my area (Midwest U.S.), while we’ve long known the rule that family members are not supposed to host showers, I’ve yet to hear of one that hasn’t been. At the very least, it’s hosted “by the bridesmaids,” at least one of whom is a sister of either the bride or the groom. I agree with you ladyv21454, that society has changed so much that the tradition seems to be obsolete.

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Aleko October 5, 2017 at 2:31 am

Yes, you are. Friends may legitimately get together and say ‘let’s all give a gift to our friend X!’, but for anyone to hold an event whose avowed purpose is to acquire household goods for their own daughter/sister counts as family gift-grabbing. The principle is, essentially, that if the family want their daughter/sister to have a garlic press and sandwich maker, they should club together and give her these things.

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ladyv21454 October 4, 2017 at 8:28 am

This is one of those situations where a combination of a written contract and a polite spine would have been in order. The contract would specify exactly what services were to be provided, and what the expected payment was to be. (It could also have included specific information on guest allergies – that might have avoided the whole nut question.) Then if the bride’s sister wanted to pay less, OP and her boyfriend could have simply stated, “I’m sorry, that’s not what we agreed to in the contract. If you can’t pay the original amount, I’m afraid you’ll have to find someone else to do the job.”

Side note: I would have been furious if my boyfriend, without consulting me, changed the terms of the arrangement in a manner so unfavorable to both of us. I might well have said, “Fine, you can do the cooking by yourself.”

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Dee October 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm

I agree, ladyv, the whole thing could have been avoided had it been handled professionally. The shower hostess would not have been eager to see it all in writing, and probably would have kiboshed the idea completely at that point. My initial confusion with this scenario is why OP wanted to work for a pittance in the first place? And then why did she let the boyfriend off for HIS decision to have her work for free?

It’s a good rule of thumb to keep ‘charity’ deeds and ‘non-essential’ deeds separate. If someone needs something and can’t afford it then it can be helpful to provide a service/good free of charge. For all else, there is nothing to be gained by giving freebies. In this case, a shower is absolutely non-essential; a fancy, catered shower even less so. Someone who tries to gain luxuries by using others is not someone who will appreciate the free labour and gifts. Don’t waste them on someone like that, especially when there are so many others who need the charity.

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JD October 4, 2017 at 11:46 am

I know of one caterer who was specifically requested in the contract to leave the wedding reception leftovers for the parents of the bride, who were hosting a lot of family. He not only immediately packed them up at the end of the reception and took them before anyone realized he was gone, but he SOLD them the next day at a work cafeteria he owned at a manufacturing plant. Best part — the groom worked at that plant, and when he got back from the honeymoon, his co-workers told him how much they had enjoyed his wedding food leftovers, those that the bride and groom had already paid for and the parents never received.
Sorry, got off on a tangent. I think the OP was in the right here to take the leftovers — OP and boyfriend were deprived of their full price and an attempt was made to cheat them even more. This shower hostess sounds like a piece of work all round.

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staceyizme October 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm

“I’m sorry. That will not be possible.” “No.” “I cannot charge less.” “It is far too late to accommodate a peanut allergy that you failed to mention.” I get that you did this “gig” believing that the people involved would treat you fairly (or at least decently). As soon as it became evident that they would NOT, however, that was your cue to advocate for yourselves. Omitting the value of your labor encouraged the hostess to demand more and more. It almost sounds as if she is trying to see how far she can push you. The crazy was indeed strong with this one (your client). As with all things wedding, there is no limit how far some people will go in their sense of self-importance and entitlement. Hope you don’t have another such experience, ever!

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Daquiri40 October 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I would have taken the leftovers and ran.

I have a sister-in-law like this. I ordered a full meal but I only ate 1/2 of it, so I will put in 1/2 of my meal cost. Restaurants do not work like that, neither do caterers. If you order food for 20, food is prepared for 20. So what if it doesn’t all get eaten? The food was purchased and prepared. Can’t take it back!

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JJ October 4, 2017 at 3:34 pm

If you can’t afford a catered event to the point that you have to constantly bargain with all vendors to make it cheaper the whole time simple tip: don’t have one. Throw your own event, buy some fruit trays, cheese trays etc from a local store or grocer and make your own deserts. Have the event at someone’s house for free or find a super cheap vendor to have it at. I’m not even sure why the family in op’s situation even had a catered event since they sound to cheap to even want to pay for any of it. If it wasn’t for op standing up for herself in the end and saying no I won’t take the total any lower they would have just likely tried to get her down to free for her services. Then asked for some pity party or charity because you know less then 15 people showed up so it doesn’t even count as a party so won’t you please just let us completely off the hook and say you did it for us as a friend of the family. I can’t even with people buying things they can’t afford and then expecting the price to be lowered for them. Can’t afford it don’t have it. Tons of other options available for showers be they wedding, baby etc that dont’ invovle catering or wasting a servers time when you don’t feel like paying full price because why can’t they just be nice to us and cut us a break. That is how business’s fail in the first place because they are to nice to people and cut to many breaks. Reminds me of the friends episode where they catered the funeral and Monica couldn’t get the money from the widow because she kept playing the sad card everytime Monica asked. But Phoebe kept seeing the same widow singing, dancing etc and smiling till she finally went with Monica I think and made the woman pay up for her service time and food. I could totally picture some brides or their family trying to pull the stunt only claiming “wedding planning stress” as an excuse for why they can’t pay right now.

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mark October 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm

No good deed goes unpunished.

I might of been tempted to have gotten a happy meal for the mother-in-law. I’m somewhat surprised the OP was paid at all. Based on what went down. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the sister didn’t make some noise about paying later, then never pay.

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Mindblown October 4, 2017 at 5:44 pm

I’ve always wondered with It is hard to state the obvious–it can be done nicely. Simply saying “shoot, wish you had mentioned the nut allergy earlier, we’re way past that point in the preparations” and “yes, this is the total price for what you asked us to prepare today, do you want the leftovers?”. It doesn’t even take growing a spine, it’s just simple logistics. All that aside, it’s not really all that hard to make a nice meal for 20, so all this and the snarky comments (too big of room, inappropriate clothes) seems odd?

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Aleko October 5, 2017 at 2:22 am

I agree with UKHelen that this was a case of ‘boiling the frog’, with incremental annoyances making it hard to know where to dig one’s heels in. But for my money the time to do it would have been with the demand – on the day! – for nut-free food for the ‘client’s’ mother. OP could simply have said ‘I’m sorry: it is now simply too late for us to decontaminate our kitchen adequately to guarantee that anything we make today is nut-free. For your dear mother’s own safety you will either have to provide food for her yourself or tell her to bring her own.’ Simples!

As for not wanting to pay in full because not all the guests turned up so not everything got eaten: of course that’s a contemptible argument – even if they hadn’t already reneged on the agreed fee. They knew OP couldn’t sell the leftovers to another customer, and at best that would leave them eating tuna salad for a week.

But many people do have this curious conviction that when people are already providing a service at a special low rate on account of some personal relationship, it’s OK to pay even less than was agreed, or simply fail to pay at all. My DH used to be a member of a UK uniformed public service that had better remain nameless, and became curator of its in-house museum. As we were both active in ‘living history’, and he had a lifelong interest in uniforms in general, he had put together several reasonable replicas of the service’s uniform at various periods in history; this was in his own time and using our own money, so they were 100% our personal property, but he had used them at a couple of the museum’s events. One of the regions was putting on an event for the public and contacted him asking to hire three of these uniforms, offering a modest hire fee which would have not much more than covered the cost of dry-cleaning them all. He agreed: we bought two sturdy boxes large enough for the things to fit in with enough packing material that nothing should get crushed, and sent them off. Three months later we got back only one of the boxes, with no packing material and everything jammed into it so tightly that the peaked caps were bent out of shape. One was a complete write-off; nothing could make it look like a smart service cap again. One of a pair of replica 18th-century stockings had a tear in it three inches long. With it was a note saying that in the event none of the costume had actually been used, so they weren’t going to pay the hire fee! We were outraged, and the desire to reply saying ‘Not only are you going to pay the agreed hire fee for this stuff you have had the use of for three months: you are also going to compensate us for the cost of one box, one wrecked cap and one pair of torn stockings, or we’ll see you in the Small Claims Court, mush’. But, what would you? He was a serving officer, and picking a fight with one of the regions, however justified, simply wouldn’t have been a smart move: so we had to suck it up. It was decades ago, and he left the service a couple of years later, but the sheer barefaced ‘Here, have your junk back, we don’t feel like paying and you can’t make us’ attitude still makes me snarl even now.

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Mechtilde October 5, 2017 at 11:31 am

I’ve heard the same thing from re-enactors who have hired or lent clothing to theatres/tv companies.

These days I don’t know anyone who will hire or lend it out- if you want the historical clothes, you need to have the re-enactor too.

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NostalgicGal October 13, 2017 at 10:53 pm

I’ve done stage costuming. That stuff can get really rough treatment. Hiring out, NO. I did borrow an outfit once, but only to use as a guideline to build a stage version that could handle it. (sometimes with dressing/time restrictions there are literally ‘dressers’ that the actor/actress steps off scene, and a couple of people will strip them and peg the new outfit on in a few minutes tops for them to step back on for the next scene. Clothes/costumes have to be built around that!)

Even for a photoshoot, I’d be hesitant to ‘borrow’ or ‘rent’ someone’s personal garb as things can happen. In that case hire the person IN the clothes they own, to do the shoot.

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