I would not like fries with that

By Mir
April 24, 2007

Operation Plan A Little Wedding That’s Not A Big Hairy Deal has officially failed, I think.

Today I made a phone call to Ireland, trying to keep the desperation out of my voice, and recited my name and order number and politely pointed out that I ordered Otto’s wedding ring three weeks ago and could they perhaps tell me when it might be arriving, or maybe just send me some valium in the meantime? But it was all good, because it turns out that Otto’s ring had just come up from the workshop (where it was presumably forged by dozens of underpaid leprechauns) this morning, and will be shipping out tomorrow. No worries there.

No, the ring won’t be a problem. The problem is that—as it stands at this moment—I think we’re all going to have to drive through Wendy’s for chicken nuggets after the ceremony. Frostys for everyone!

Look, I don’t need anything super-fancy. We’re just a small group of family who will happen to be wearing some pretty clothing and wanting to sit down to a nice dinner in a couple of weeks. And I’ve been pretty busy with, I don’t know, buying shoes, and boobs, and working, and having my credit card stolen, and dealing with the realtor suggesting that we drop the price on the house, and asking the goats children if they were raised in a barn and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CLOSE THE DOOR ALREADY, and well, how hard could it be to get a restaurant to feed a dozen people on a Friday night, really?

Hahahaha. Silly me! You see, it turns out that restaurants do not exist to actually feed people in medium-sized groups. Seek ye sustenance elsewhere, Goldilocks! They will happily take in a normal table’s worth of folks, or rent out a room to a large group. One local restaurant I had stupidly set my heart on because it has good food for reasonable prices and is cute and lovely and has all that cultured ambiance stuff that involves candles and crème brûlée. (Any dessert that requires a blowtorch and multiple accent marks gets a thumbs-up from me. Because I am fancy.) That would be perfect, don’t you think? Yes!

Except that they refuse to seat such a large party in the main restaurant, and there’s a thousand dollar minimum in the party room. And party all you want, but a grand to feed a dozen people is a bit overmuch even if you order a stupid amount of alcohol. (And wouldn’t THAT be a great idea, after making everyone drive forever to get here, and then ducking out immediately after dinner and leaving them all to their own devices. “Well! Sorry you’re so drunk! But we have to leave now, so, um, hey, if you start walking now, you might be home before we get back from the honeymoon. Okay, bye!”)

I talked to a sweet young thing on the phone there last week, and today in desperation I dropped in, hoping to make sad puppy eyes at the manager. For my trouble I got to talk to the OWNER, who stifled his urge to laugh at me while trying to communicate as tactfully as possible that they will have plenty of business without us. I found this irritating. I mean, we’re unlikely to go somewhere that we CAN’T have a separate room, because there will be small children and also it would be nice to have a bit of privacy, but for someone to basically say “we will not accommodate you in any form, don’t come to our restaurant” just makes me want to tell them what they can do with their crème brûlée.

Of course, I’d been through a similar scenario (minus the dropping by to be told to go away part) with several other places, as well, so we went ahead and stopped at the ONE local restaurant that had been more than happy to allow me to book their function room. The manager was friendly and there was a basket of lollipops at the hostess stand, so I was able to secure the children’s compliance. Lollipops firmly clamped in their jaws, I guided them up the stairs so we could check out The Room.

It was perfect. If I want to spend dinner after my wedding feeling like I got all dressed up to eat in somebody’s attic. Somebody’s dimly-lit, depressing, 1970’s-furnished attic.

Aaaaaand then I spent the rest of the afternoon on the phone, and on the computer, and feeling like PERHAPS I should’ve gotten this figured out a little bit sooner, but WHO KNEW that dinner for a group this small was going to be SO FREAKING COMPLICATED? (Okay, maybe YOU knew. I did not. Because when is the last time I took a dozen people out for dinner? Oh, that’s right. Never.)

I am awaiting a return phone call from a place that is perfect and is likely to take us on, but is more expensive than what I wanted and also a town over from the church (which is already a town over from HERE). Because when I said the wedding would be no big deal I meant that everyone would have to drive forever to get there and THEN head out in rush hour traffic to drive another 30-40 minutes to get to dinner while I spend the entire time apologizing for the bother.

So, um, when Otto’s ring gets here, I’ve decided to have it engraved with “If you’re wearing this ring, hopefully you don’t care where we’re having dinner.” I hope they can fit all that in.


  1. Holly

    This wedding is YOUR day! Stop worrying about it being an inconvience because sweetheart, ALL weddings are inconviences, so don’t apologize! And remember, your guests are coming because they love you, driving a few extra minutes is worth it, because to them, you are wonderful.

  2. Lady M

    Yesterday, Pendullum wrote about attending a wedding reception held at a mall food court. That’s always an option, and no one would ever forget it.


  3. rudolf

    Well, it looks like you’re just going to have to increase the size of your party. I recommend starting by inviting me and a companion :-)

  4. Melissa

    It will all work out, and at the end, you’ll be married! So who cares about the rest? Even if you have to go to the brulee place and pretend to be two parties of six who want to sit somewhat near each other.

    What about a favorite hotel? Or a lovely inn that serves dinner? Or… have it catered at someone’s house? You know, because why not try to pull THAT off in a couple of weeks.

  5. Melanie

    That’s so stupid- what is 12 people? Restaurants should have space for small parties like that, c’mon! Why can’t they just accommodate you? I would be so pissed. Though, Wendy’s is a pretty good second choice, right?

  6. InterstellarLass

    Wow. The fact that they won’t accommodate you in any way is surprising. My restaurant managers used to jump all over the ‘extra mile customer service’ thingy. Seems that has gone the way of the dodo these days too though.

  7. becky

    damn. so sorry that the food thing isn’t working out. it’s tough to plan stuff like that. we were lucky, because a friend of ours is partial owner in a pub and they let us use part of the place (food AND pool). it was mellow and fun. but we definitely had more than 12 people.

    i wish i had ideas to pass along.

  8. Rachel May

    I’m sorry you’re having such a time of it, Mir. Wish I had good suggestions — Melissa’s ideas sound pretty cool, though.

  9. Kimberly

    I’m with Holly: All weddings are a pain in the ass. Those 12 people will be there because they love you, not because they think it would be a convenient way to spend a Friday night. So, really, whatever works, will work.

    And really? Why should the wedding be any different from anything else about this relationship? None of it’s been convenient, but it’s all been pretty magical.

  10. Sara

    Frosties for everyone?!? I’m in!!

  11. LadyBug Crossing

    LOL!! You are too funny! What about an Inn? We had our reception at the Andover Inn (on the campus of Phillips Andover) and it was terrific. The food was great and the atmosphere was wonderful. Anything like that close to you?

  12. MomCat

    Holly said it.

    I’d have shared some creative ideas on the disposition of the crème brûlée, too.

  13. Amy

    Hmmmm…. I would love to know which restaurant is the offending “creme brule'” restaurant since I think I’m familiar with any restaurants you’ve tried. Email me and maybe I can give you more suggestions of places you might not have considered yet. Fratello’s maybe? That’s where our rehearsal dinner was. Hopefully your last option will come through. But if not, let me know. Good luck! :)

  14. Otto

    Mmmmm … spicy chicken sandwiches … do they have a playground, too?

    (who will gladly bbq if The Pretty One wants to go that route)

  15. Brigitte

    Maybe White Castle will run another special like they did for Valentine’s Day, har har.

    I’m among those surprised at the lack of accomodation in your area, we go out to dinners with a bunch of neighbors several times a year, always 8-14 people, with only a few days notice to the restaurant, with no problem (well, maybe at two or three adjoining tables rather than one big table, but still). Oh sure, they’re pubs and rib joints and the like, but STILL. It’s not like we’re in a heavily urban area with tons of restaurants, either.

    Maybe DON’T tell them it’s a wedding party, the alarms go off and they’re probably hiking their prices and rules just at the word “wedding”. I also like the “catered at a friend’s house” idea . .

  16. Juliness

    That part about bad customer service just makes me cringe. I think, whatever the existing ‘rules,’ there are always exceptions to be made for significant events. And umm, yeah, a reception dinner DOES count as significant. They should be happy you choose their dumb restaurant in the first place. Idiots.

  17. Kerry

    When we got married we had NO MONEY. The original plan was to have it at our house, but the numbers were too high. What we did was rent a hall. Then I called the number one caterer in town and told them that we needed to feed a hundered people and had very little money. They offered us family style pasta, meatballs, and salad for $3.99 per person. Then they even included dessert and coffee. Several people came to us later and said it was the best food they had ever had at a wedding.

    Maybe the church has a reception hall that you could use and have food brought in. Heck, if you had the church hall you could throw meatballs into some slow cookers and have someone set water to boil for pasta before the wedding ends. That sounds like fun to me.

    And I love the back yard barbecue option. I think low key receptions are so much more fun.

    But Frostys are good too.


  18. cce

    I’ve heard leprechauns can engrave in the tiniest of fonts…they’ll have little problem fitting it all on.
    As for the Andover Inn, a nice idea if you’re up in the Merrimac Valley OR, if you’re in these parts, you could come by my place. My dining rooms seats twelve, I’ve got one of those blow torch kitchen gadgets for creme brulee (I refuse to use accents) and I’d love to serve you all take out Frostys and french pudding in my shabby chic living room with the cat hair covered chairs and peeling wallpaper on your wedding day. Now that dimly lit attic is sounding kind of nice isn’t it?

  19. Karen

    So um, how do you feel about flights to Canada? Because I know this PERFECT place. Think your guests might be okay with boarding a plane?
    *ducks and runs*

  20. JayMonster

    “(who will gladly bbq if The Pretty One wants to go that route)”

    Good Grief, find a place quick before Otto goes out and gets a chef’s hat with “Groom” embroidered on it and you are having “Bride Burgers and Groom Burgers” on the grill

    (Doesn’t that just conjure up memories from “Father of the Bride?”)

  21. Jon

    hey, don’t underestimate the goodness of a Wendy’s Frosty…esp. now that they have vanilla…womp womp.

    – Jon
    – Daddy Detective

  22. mar

    Can you have it at your house (or at a friend’s house which is larger than yours) – and have it catered, w/a waitress and/or bartender? They bring it all in , set up, break down, and you and your guests can linger as long as you like. We did that for a friend of ours – it was kinda fun having a waitress at home – made me want one all the time though ….

  23. Bob

    I understand that most baseball stadiums have picnic areas now.

    Otto can grill and the kids get autographs. what more can you ask for?

  24. Beth

    When my mom and step-dad married, we had the reception at a local pizza and ice cream joint. It worked great, and everyone enjoyed the company and fun. I have great memories (I was 6) of it, and held their 25th anniversary party at the same restaurant.

  25. Aimee

    Well, “Father of the Bride” memories notwithstanding, I think otto-who-will-gladly-bbq-if-The-Pretty-One-wants-to-go-that-route is really sweet to say that. I don’t know what’s wrong with these restaurants. A party of 12 is not that big. I like somebody’s suggestion, above, of an inn. Have you tried that?

  26. sue

    This is why if I should ever have to get married again I will elope. Thankfully that’s not going to happen, (21 years and going strong). But take this advice, even an old barn (or attic) looks romantic and inviting if you take strings of clear christmas lights, wrap them in tulle and drape them around the room. Ambiance unlimited!

  27. rachel

    How about a pretty picnic?

    Yeesh. Maybe a B&B could accommodate you? Or an in/hotel – we got married in a hotel (really, it was much nicer than that sounds!), and had a lovely meal in a lovely room.

    We had about the same number of people and didn’t have a problem. But then we were in Austin.

  28. jenn2

    Okay. That’s it. I want the name of this owner and directions. I am set to kick some creme brulee.

    I promise it will work out. I know you know this, and it helps nothing to say it, but I am too far away to cater your wedding, though I would love to. I vote for the BBQ idea.

  29. Woman with Kids

    It’ll make a great story for later on. You know, when the valium has kicked in and you can laugh about it. At my wedding, we had a (surprise!) snow storm, the car I was using to get to the chapel simply stopped working, and my soon to be mother in law rearranged the decorations for me. Because tasteful pine boughs for a January wedding? Must not be. Huge paper bells for everyone!

    Ahem. It will be fine.

  30. Jenni

    I belong to a ladies group that meets once a month at a different restaurant here in Austin. There are usually between 12 and 18 of us AND we require seperate checks. We almost never have a problem! What is wrong with the restaurants where you are? Come to Austin for your wedding! It’s a little bit of a drive, but it’ll be worth it! LOL

  31. Kate

    I had 16 people at my wedding reception, so we ran into a similar sort of problem. In the end, we used a small dining room at a country club. We didn’t have to belong to the country club, and they didn’t charge us any sort of room rental fee. We did a fixed menu (three courses and cake, although we provided the cake), drank well, tipped well, and got out for about $550 for everyone.

  32. Erin

    We’re having our rehearsal dinner at a local pizza place in their downstairs “extra” room they only open up late on weekend nights. Might there be a similar option for you guys?

  33. Alice

    That blows – when we eat out, my family is 9-14-20 people (depending on how many steps and grands come along) and while we always have to call ahead, we haven’t been turned away from anywhere.

    Although I don’t know if you’re looking for ideas, here are some in case you are:
    – if you have a Hibachi or other place near you, they’ll have multiple rooms for that size that you could book ahead – no restaurant owner worried about using their precious grand room for ‘just’ a dozen people.
    – if you don’t mind doing things buffet-style, you can do what we did – get to-go orders from the restaurant(s) you like, rent chafing dishes and set up in either a rented room or someone’s house. It’s definitely a bigger hassle than just going to a restaurant, and you’d have to have a family member who would deal with the rented stuff while you and Otto are honeymooning, but it can be really fun.

    And ditto to what someone said above – don’t worry about making people drive – you’re not in some urban center where people will be coming without a car, so it won’t be a big deal for folks to drive a bit longer of a ways.

  34. Liise

    They freaking automatically add 18% gratuity if you are a group of 6 or more WTF is up with that!

    Anyway, you only get married twice so Pay the Extra for the Perfect Place. :) Orrrrr, make them pay for their own meal!

    oooh I am not helpful this morning am I?

  35. BOSSY

    Bossy has lost her appetite in solidarity.

  36. Laura

    When I got married, we were very broke. We didn’t register for gifts (how many blenders do you really need?) but instead asked everyone to bring a dish. Yes, potluck reception. It was summer, and we’d reserved a park with a gazebo. But a church or a friend’s house would work well, too. It was easy – no worry about food, and it was guaranteed that everyone would have at least one dish they could/would eat.

    It was probably better than if we’d had it catered. Those who cooked brought their favorite dish. Those who didn’t brought nice things from bakeries (and in one memorable case, the local barbeque joint. Yum!)

    No fuss, no cost, and our friends were thrilled to contribute to the day.

    Whatever you do, good luck!

    Oh, and often Chinese restaurants will seat a medium-sized group. And their dishes lend themselves to sharing.

  37. Terri

    I don’t know if you’re going to have people in the night before for rehearsal — with such a small group, I’m doubting you’ll be having a big rehearsal dinner. Nonetheless, my aunt had a fairly small 3rd wedding and she hired a caterer to handle both the rehearsal dinner and the reception at her house. The house is tiny, but she has a decent sized garden, and we strung up those twinkle lights all over the place to dress it up a bit. It was lovely, and it was really nice to have the caterer to deal with all the food and cleanup.

    When my daughter was baptized we took her godparents and their spouses (and some extraneous family) out to dinner. All told, we had a group of 10 and I had made reservations at our favorite Italian restaurant. Wouldn’t you know that 3 hours before dinner the entire area lost power so I had to scramble around to find a new restaurant (Saturday night, homecoming weekend). We ended up at Macaroni Grill, and they put us in this nice alcove area where it was a bit more private. It wasn’t quite the same experience, but it was still very nice, and the most important part was being with some of our closest friends the night before the baptism. Plus, they’ll serenade you in Italian ;)

    If you were getting married in GA, you could just head to the trusty old Mellow Mushroom! :) Good luck — it will all work out, even if you have to settle for a dessert less classy than creme brulee.

  38. Amy

    We had our wedding dinner at the local haunted pizza pub. We had about 15 people, and they were able to rope off half of the upper floor for us, so it was semi-private. The entire bill for pizza, salads, desserts & beers was about $200 – which was pretty cool.

    The food was awesome, everyone was happy, and we made the reservations only a couple of weeks ahead of time. If only you were in Portland…..or maybe you have a fun place like that near you?

  39. Shanna

    I will volunteer to come help you get that dingy attic place up to date for a 2007 wedding, if you want. When we got married, we did the totally cheapest route, but it is amazing what a few colored Christmas lights, some streamers and some butcher paper can do to a place.

    Just let me know.

  40. Janis

    Mir, check out your local Elk’s lodge! I belong to one that is gorgeous and has it’s own chef. It has banquet facilities and a dining room with a private area. Even if yours is in a small town, they might have a suitable menu. Hey, it’s worth a shot just for the antler jokes alone. Also, I’m totally down with helping you increase your party size. You can invite me and Mr. Wonderful and we’ll come along to help fill those seats.

  41. mcewen

    I don’t wish to speak out of turn, but I understand that ‘pot lucks’ are quite a feature of American life. If your guests are all close relatives and friends, one dish each and you’d be laughing [translation = much better off] and I’d bet you that the quality of the food, made with love, would be infinitely superior to anything you’d find in a restaurant.
    Best wishes

  42. Shalee

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I LIKE Wendy’s chicken nuggets…

    Do you have a culinary school anywhere near you? You might be able to secure some chefs and give them a teachable setting too.

    If not, I say go for Chinese. I’ve found most places to be friendly, fun and memorable. And those people that you’re worried about and the driving? It will be nothing just to see you in wedded peace again – well, until Chickadee pulls another fast one again…

  43. jennster

    i think you should book a big room and just invite random strangers to attend and then halfway through scream and cry at the managers askign them “IS THIS WHAT YOU WANTED? FOR ME TO HAVE STRANGERS AT MY RECEPTION?!?!!”

  44. daring one

    Okay so would it work to pick some other sort of venue and have it catered in there? Too expensive?

  45. Rache

    It’s a shame when you don’t get good customer service anymore. They probably thought you’d barge in with a huge wedding cake, gifts from family and friends and who knows what else and make a mess of their place. But seriously, is that restaurant even that good? I like the potluck idea, that should save you the worry of what food will be served. And I know cleaning after a party sucks, but wouldn’t you just want it at home where everyone can stay as long(or short) as they liked? This one you have the option of locking the bedroom door and telling everyone to clean after themselves ;p Don’t stress out too much, you have to enjoy this day. Chinese restaurants always seem to have a small hall or something… you deserve a hug from everyone!

  46. liz

    I didn’t read all of the comments, but if it’s really a dozen people, how about a Chinese restaurant? That’s where we had about a dozen people for our rehearsal dinner (ironically, those dozen people were HALF of the wedding guests). They did have a back room that accommodated us and we ordered several entrees, etc., and it worked out great.
    No matter, all will be WONDERFUL for you, Otto, Chickadee, Monkey and the rest of your group. :)

  47. ChristieNY

    Oh Mir, what a hassle! I’m sorry you’re having a rough time.

    I too second the Chinese restaurant in a pinch, we ALWAYS have family get togethers of 12-15 people at our local Chinese place because they can always fit us in without a problem or even a wait.

    BUT, I had to plan my brother & sister-in-law’s wedding a few years back on a teeny budget in an itty-bitty amount of time. We called a restaurant near the church and had it catered in the church’s gymnasium. We threw my Mom on decorating duty and she had the place lit with candles, white tuelle, flowers & ivory balloons, it was picture perfect, quaint & memorable.

    Everything was rented right down to the linens & silverware, but the restaurant had the stuff picked up afterwards (no drop off), and my Mom & bridal party cleaned up while the bride & groom dashed to the airport.

    Everything WILL work out, just you wait & see! And it will NOT be an inconvenience, it will be WONDERFUL! :)

  48. Michelle

    Just in case this could be helpful, here’s my experience. Everything about my wedding, which fortunately turned out to be beautiful, was done with the least expensive methods. We had the reception at the church with food provided by a church ladies group. Since the church was in the middle of nowhere we also had the rehersal dinner at the church. We had lasagna and trimmings. Basically anything that could be made ahead of time and set out. It was wonderful because we had good food that was easy and satisfying and the feeling of an extended family dinner. Which it was. The set up and clean up were easy since there are some lovely plastic dishes and utensils available now. Okay, I couldn’t even type that without snorting! But! Let’s just say that family is love and also the commitment to clean up a mess while you’re honeymooning. It will all work out. And really, best bet is to choose the option that involves the least work and stress. And those Frosties release endorphins like crazy.

  49. Crisanne

    Someone may have said this already, but I don’t have time to read all the comments-I was rocking the baby around 3am and thought you should order out from a restaurant. Italian would be easy-a couple of trays of lasagna, some spaghetti, something chicken-and bring it to the church. The kids could run around and no body would care! I don’t know how big your church is, but they may even have a “Hospitality” person that would help you out. I’d come make the food myself if I could! I was the hospitality person at our last church in TX and cooking for 12 would be so easy compared to the big church dinners. BBQ would work too. I’d say Mexican if you were in the South. That’s all I got right now.

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