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
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