‘I think they’re too drunk to care’: What it’s like to work as a caterer at weddings

Please don’t hand me your used cocktail stick

Everyone loves weddings, because they provide a great opportunity to get pissed for free. However, when you work at weddings, you come to learn that there are some things that happen at every single one. These things are by turns good, bad and ugly.

You are fascinated by the family tensions unfolding

When you have an entire day to observe the family dynamics of a group of people you’ve never met before, you can learn some pretty interesting things.

Why are none of the bride and groom’s family sitting with them on the top table?  Because they hate each other after the bride’s dad slept with one of the groom’s sisters at the engagement party. Solving these mysteries provides hours of entertainment.

You cringe at the debauched behaviour of people old enough to be your parents

They will be hammering the bar from the minute they arrive.  This is their one night out of the year and they’re going to make the most of it by getting as drunk as possible and behaving like a teenager. When they are finally so drunk they can’t speak, they will be dragged home by a very angry spouse.


Someone always chunders

It might be outside the marquee, it might be in the fancy portaloos they’ve hired or it might be on the dancefloor, but it will happen at some point.  Just pray you don’t have to clean it up and feel reassured that no one ever really grows out of being a messy drunk.

You decide you never want a big wedding while simultaneously putting together a ‘Wedding Inspo’ Pinterest board in your head

Working at weddings is almost enough to put you off having one yourself: they’re stressful, something always goes wrong and you can never please everyone. The key word here is “almost”, because as dreadful as they can be, once you’ve worked at enough weddings you can’t help but daydream about your own and feel certain that it would be flawless.

One for the Pinterest

One for the Pinterest

You will be amazed by how good an average venue can be made to look

To the uninitiated, marquees are just very large tents with no sides.  But once you’ve worked a couple of weddings you learn the awe-inspiring potential of marquees to look pretty much any way you can imagine.

Shame they’re always absolutely freezing.

Someone will be unhappy about the food, and this person will most likely be over 60

I’m not being ageist, but culinary trends have evolved.  You can be serving the most delicious wedding food you’ve ever seen in your life and someone will always be pissed off – and they’ll want to talk to you about it before you’ve finished serving the other 150 people in attendance.

So you have to pretend to give a shit that Roger doesn’t think the very artistic looking salad you’ve just served him will be filling enough and nod reassuringly when he asks if he can get some bread.

Roger will never get any bread. There probably isn’t any bread.

The table layout will be awkward

You probably won’t have much space to move between the tables, which will cause some serious problems for food service – especially when you accidentally put your bum in someone’s soup.

You will run out of something essential

This is particularly true if you’re working at weddings in temporary structures, but happens everywhere.  You can just never predict what obscure thing people are going to want in excessive quantities and chances are you probably won’t have enough of it.

It could be Jäger, it could be potatoes.  Whatever it is, you probably won’t have it.  Just hope they’re too pissed to care.

Your mantra will become ‘I think they’re too pissed to care’

Run out of limes to make cocktails?  I think they’re too pissed to care.

Just stolen some of their wedding cake?  I think they’re too pissed to care.

Just smashed some of the expensive vases they’ve hired?  I think they’re too pissed to care.

Or at least that’s what you’re telling yourself, while really hoping they still don’t care when they sober up in the morning.

Unless it’s served as pudding, no-one will ever eat the wedding cake

By the time it gets to cutting the cake most people genuinely are too pissed to care and too full to eat any more food.  On the upside, this means you probably get to eat some cake.

It looks great, but no-one will eat this

It looks great, but no-one will eat this

You will be horrified by what’s going on on the dancefloor

Weddings provide a whole spectrum of dancing styles. From the awkward first dance to the terrible dad dancing to the grandparents tottering so precariously you’re considering calling an ambulance as a precautionary measure. But they all have one thing in common: they’re all terrible dancers.

You will see a couple arguing

Unhappy in your relationship? Don’t go to a wedding because other people’s happiness will make you feel worse.

Unhappy couples can usually be found glaring at each other from opposite sides of the dancefloor for the majority of the night, before having an explosive row at 1am.

You won’t have a clue what food you’re serving

The menu changes every time you work, so who knows exactly what it is you’re handing them.  If in doubt, just lie.  They’ll probably never notice.

You will be harassed by an inappropriate single, drunk, older man

Every wedding has one.  He will be drunk from pretty much the moment the wedding starts, he probably has some dodgy facial hair and may well be wearing a cardigan under his shitty old suit.

He will spend the night harassing you and you will spend the night trying to avoid his groping hands.  Everyone will tolerate him initially, but by the end of the night he will be covered in red wine, incapable of standing up and receiving very hateful looks.

Someone will fondly tell you that they used to work in catering

Evidently these people have got their rose-tinted glasses on and the cloudy mists of time are obscuring their memories.  At least they’ll probably be a bit nicer to you than everyone else and if you’re lucky they might even tip you.

Someone, probably a drunk middle-aged woman, will think it’s hilarious to get behind the bar and pretend to serve people

It’s not funny, Sharon.  Take your glass of white wine and go and sit back down.  I’m busy and you look like an idiot.

You will be asked to make a cocktail requiring obscure ingredients

No, sorry, I can’t make you a White Russian.  Do I look like I have any cream to hand right now in this teepee in the middle of a field?

Pretty, but not well stocked

Pretty, but not well stocked

Someone will drop a tray of champagne flutes

Trays of flutes are notoriously tricky to carry and unfortunately weddings are one of the few occasions when you will almost definitely be called upon to circulate with one. It might be your fault, you might just be clumsy.  Or, some idiot that’s already hammered may bump into you.

If you’re lucky, it might not even be you that does it. But someone will drop a tray of flutes and blush shamefully while the wedding guests look on in disdain.

Someone will try to hand you a dirty napkin or a cocktail stick they’ve just taken out of their mouth

Most weddings involve canapes, and unfortunately they are often served on sticks or with napkins.  Sadly, people are never sure what to do with these things.  This means they will attempt to hand them to you or, equally awfully, put them on your fresh tray.

Just put it in a bin.  Or on a table.  Do not hand me that cocktail stick or I will be forced to poke you in the eyeball with it. I don’t care if it’s your wedding day.