When it came to serving meals, we assumed that our venue would follow the protocol we’ve seen in use at every wedding we’ve attended in the area. Guests would pick up escort cards, and their meal selection would be indicated by a jewel on their card. I realized that some couples assign specific seats for their guests, but we could only remember escort cards and figured that was the way things went in Charlottesville. I created our fabric-covered escort card board to put a slight twist on the practice and bought ribbon to match the fabric for hanging the cards and colored jewels to attach to them once we knew what meals our guests wanted.
Out tasting came and went and invitations went out. Once we had all of our replies, we met with the venue to give a final head count and numbers for the different kinds of meals that would be served. This is when things came to a halt.
Eighteen days before our wedding, we were told that the venue required us to assign seats and provide a diagram showing what meal was being sent to each seat. Here’s a snippet of the example we were given:
I don’t know if I was more upset about their practice or about the fact that they were telling me about it with such short notice. At that point, a totally different Miss Mink emerged. We’re talking total metamorphosis, my friends. I looked at the venue representative, the same one we met with 16 months prior, and told her it just wouldn’t be possible to change our seating plans.
It was a surreal moment for me. When brides in the Weddingbee forum seek advice for dealing with people who want to change plans they’ve already made, I often tell them to say, “I’m sorry, but it just isn’t possible.” I never imagined that I’d be saying those words myself.
I understood that the venue had trained their staff to serve in a certain manner. I imagine they established their practices soon after they opened. Had that information been shared with us or our planner early on, we could have made adjustments.
From that meeting, the idea of using ribbon to indicate meal preferences arose. The venue was worried about the speed of serving, so they asked that we tell our guests to hang their cards on their chairs so staff could tell what meal was going to each guest as they approached a table. We just needed to make sure guests would hang their cards on their chairs.
As we drove away from the venue, I mentally designed a sign that might make the escort cards work. I looked up a picture of a Chiavari chair and sketched one as soon as we got back to the office and tucked it away to look at again when I got home. Once home, I worked on the wording for the sign and tried to copy the sketch I made at work. It wasn’t going well.
Photo by Mrs. Mink
I remembered when Mrs. Hawk used a pencil-transfer method to get letters onto her chair signs and did the same with the chair picture.
Photos by Mrs. Mink
I colored it in and made a mini escort card to “hang” on the picture of the chair. I thought it was a cute way to explain something that might seem a little strange to our guests.
Photo by Mrs. Mink
After mounting the sign on a scrap of fabric that Michelle Duncan had left over from making bridesmaid clutches, it was ready to be framed. I made a sign for our favor table at the time time.
Photo by Mrs. Mink
The situation wasn’t ideal, but I think we handled it well. Meal service wasn’t entirely smooth. We had to switch two plates at our head table, and I noticed that my parents’ table was not the second table served, which had been our instruction. With so many great hors d’oeuvres and a great selection of beer and wine being served, no one should have felt desperately hungry and therefore gotten upset about a slightly slow service.
Photo by Amanda Gray of Ashley Baber Weddings / Used with permission
Did you have any last-minute surprises that you had to handle? Did you have a creative solution for a problem at the 11th hour of your wedding planning?