Caterers Dish On The Sad Parties They Worked That Should Have Been Canceled

Caterers Dish On The Sad Parties They Worked That Should Have Been Canceled

Caterers have seen it all. The bride and groom fighting at a wedding, the unwanted guest showing up and embarrassing everybody, the boss passing out under the table at the office party. They have tales to tell, and lucky for us, they're telling them right here! We asked caterers, DJs, and entertainers to tell us the saddest parties they've ever been to. For once, we're glad that we weren't invited.

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40. Heed this advice.

I catered at a wedding where one of the male guests thought it to be just the right moment to propose to his girlfriend. The girlfriend started to cry and yelled out apologies to the bride as she bolted out of there.

Protip: Never propose during a wedding, it's supposed to be the bride & groom's day.

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39. A heartrending reunion.

I'm not a caterer anymore but this was back in 2001. It was early October and I live in the Boston area. Of course this means that many of the people on the planes that crashed into the WTC on 9/11 were from here. So on this particular day I had to work a memorial service at someone's house. No big deal as this happens all the time. As I start working I learn that the woman of the house was on Flight 11 and it was her first business trip back after going back to work from maternity leave.

It was then that I realize that 2 years earlier I had worked at this couple's wedding. It was truly a horrible situation to be in. Here I was trying to set up food in a house where a recently widowed man lived with his infant daughter. This guy was amazingly nice and was more controlled than some of the guests. I guess this isn't really the greatest story but my god it was devastatingly sad.

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38. So much for monogamy.

A friend of mine was working as a server for a wedding. He said that it was a great wedding and reception but there was always some sort of tension among the head table. After the dinner was served and music/dancing was going on so the bride got up to use the washroom - but she was really meeting up with one of the groomsmen. My friend said that they would have gotten away with it but decided to use an employee washroom in the back. The music in the front would have masked the noises they were making.

The kitchen manager caught them, thinking it was two employees going at it. Chased them out of there and everyone went nuts. There was yelling going on (from the groomsman) about things like "how dare you barge in on us," and people from the hall could hear this going on so a few of them stumbled back to see why the bride and groomsmen were yelling. They were not fully clothed at this point. Eventually the groom made the bride and that groomsman leave the reception, saying he wanted to spend his wedding day with people he cared about. My friend never heard what ended up happening to that couple.

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37. Didn't anybody RSVP?

We catered a graduation party for some girl once. All the food was set out, all the decorations were set, it was looking pretty great. Except nobody came. The girl and her parents hung around for the full four hours, hoping in vain that at least somebody would show up, but no one did. It was awkward for us, but it must have been devastatingly uncomfortable for the family. Needless to say, there was a lot of food left over.

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36. Nothing wrong with a little Nelly.

Not the saddest but definitely one of the most awkward. It was a bar mitzvah with all white people, the dj was playing Black Eyed Peas, Bieber, One Direction, etc. all day. Then one of the cousins arrived late with her black boyfriend. The dj, visibly flustered, fumbled around for a hip hop record. The best he could come up with was a dusty Nelly album from 2002. It got hot in there.

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35. Party at the old folks' home.

My father used to DJ weddings, parties, etc. Well I used to help him out with the equipment load-in and out, and there was this one party that took place in a nursing home. One of the workers there was insisting he go around with his wireless mic and take song requests from some of the residents. He starts going around the circle of old folks and when he gets to this one woman, she grabs the mic from him and yells: "GET ME OUT OF HERE."

He didn't take any more requests.


34. Sloppy singles.

I don't know if it's the saddest party I've ever catered, but this one party thrown by an internet dating site remains very vividly burned on my retina. It was basically a bunch of 40+ singles getting plastered and publicly falling all over each other.

Now don't get me wrong, that sort of behavior is fine when you're 16. But I sure hope that by the time I'm 40 I'm not going to a singles only party to put my hand down some woman's pants next to a 16 year old cater-waiter trying to ask if you want another drink.

On the other hand, everybody seemed to have a good time, I guess the sadness was mostly felt by those watching.

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33. Brides these days are so dramatic.

My mom is a wedding coordinator. A friend of hers in a nearby town coordinated a beautiful wedding at a hotel for a lovely young couple. Everything was perfect, until the couple ascended the central staircase to leave the party and start their life together. The bride dropped dead.

It turned out to be a previously undiagnosed heart condition. She was in her mid-20s. Saddest thing I ever heard.

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32. Consolation appetizers.

I was cocktail-ing a beer release party from a couple local brewers at the restaurant I work at. I had a guaranteed $300 from the brewers for them taking over my section.

Before I went in, I checked the Facebook event page and some 300 people were invited. The event lasted four hours and three people showed up. I felt so bad for the poor guys, I bought their food with my discount.

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31. That'll show her.

Worked a private party one time as a server (long time ago, 15+ years maybe) and apparently it was some super-rich lady that was "finally" leaving her job and retiring. Some executive or something. She rented an entire restaurant for a single evening. It was a Planet Hollywood, and we had a full staff that night for this, she said there were hundreds of people coming.

Only three people showed up. The cooks laughed their butts off that night, they only made three meals and the lady had a total meltdown at the end of the night, apparently it was some kind of "conspiracy" against her. But no... She was just a huge jerk and her co-workers didn't want to come to her party.

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30. Grow up already.

Not a caterer, but a DJ for an awkward party. I was running live music for this rich girl's sweet 16. She was the type of person that refused to grow up so the party was almost like a 10 year olds party. Everything was in pink and yellow, even the food. There were kiddish party games like twister and a trampoline. Not to mention half the songs she requested were old Hannah Montana songs. Even her friends seemed uncomfortable.

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29. All that fuss for nothing.

I saw this girl have a total breakdown at a graduation party I worked. She threw the biggest tantrums all day as they were setting up the hall because it had to be perfect, had a very expensive DJ, and 10 pizzas ordered for her friends who were supposed to show up at 7 after the family ate what we had catered. No one showed up. Not a single friend.

I felt awful for her.

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28. A tearful tribute.

Literally, the saddest was one where I catered a party/memorial service/life celebration of a couple I knew for their mentally disabled son (whom I had served previously) who had passed away at around 40. It was this elderly couple, their other children and grandchildren all sharing stories about his life and choking back tears, remembering what his life was like and how he brightened up their life, even though he was completely dependent on the family. Imagine how hard it is to awkwardly clear away dishes and bring out dessert while everyone, including yourself, is in tears.

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27. Dry as a desert.

I was a server at a baptist banquet center with no liquor license so every party was at least a little bit sad. The really hardcore baptists didn't even have dancing....which didn't exactly make for a festive wedding.

The worst was probably a wedding where the groom was ex-Amish and over half the attendants were Mennonites. Since the groom had been excommunicated he had almost no family at the wedding and had to do the mother-son dance with his new wife's aunt. Later the groom did a strip tease before the garter toss and immediately after all the Mennonites left. There were about 3 hours before the reception ended, leaving like 30 people to awkwardly stand around and attempt the Cupid Shuffle.

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26. A truly bubbly birthday.

Not a caterer, but a Mad Scientist entertainer! I was pretty pumped about this party, because the parents ordered two add-ons (a dry ice demo and a rocket launch), which meant I was going to probably get a good tip and have the extra pay from the add-ons.

Not one kid showed up. I delayed for as long as I could, but it was pushing almost 45 minutes.

Well, I gave that kid the best time anyway. We made a bubble machine with the dry ice, had a full out water war in his front yard, and set off triple the amount of rockets. I was there for more than three hours.

So, I guess it wasn't the saddest party in the end.

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25. Being 15 is hard enough.

I once hosted a quinceañera as a banquet guy. The 15 year old girl was so excited and the place was decorated so beautifully, live band, fully stocked bar and food for at least 100 people. Only about 20 people showed up and the young girl and family were soooo sad.

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24. Gotta eat.

My mom runs a small catering business and she was planning on doing a party for a 50th birthday. The wife planned it all as a surprise party with all of his favorites but then, surprise, the husband dies of a heart attack a few days before the event. The wife called and asked if my mom could cater the wake instead. She used most of the same menu in his honor.

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23. What a nice thing to celebrate.

I once worked at a "celebration of life" that was planned and hosted by the honoree. The woman who hosted the party was terminally ill and wanted to have one last hurrah before moving out of state to live with her daughter. She planned a fabulous, fun cocktail party for her nearest & dearest but there were very few dry eyes that night.


22. Icing on the lonely cake.

Not a caterer, but a chef. We do functions and all that stuff. Once night a girl booked the place for her birthday and for 25 people. It is starting at 7, she arrives promptly at 6:50pm with her boyfriend. 7 comes, then 8, then 9. Finally she realizes no one is coming, her boyfriend takes her outside and proceeds to dump her for being a loser with no friends. She came back and sat there by herself crying for 2 more hours.

It was sad.

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21. Goody bag severance package.

Not a full service catering but a drop off. I work for a barbeque restaurant and we had an order for Comcast. When we got there, it looked like a summer party, with beach towels, a dj, etc. as we were almost done setting up, my coworker asked what the party was for. Our client, without hesitation, said, "Oh it's for the people we are laying off!"

I am sure we had the most dumbfounded look on our faces. Comcast was laying off several employees and had spent well over $1,000 on a party to try and make them happy about it. The kicker for all of it was that I am not 100% sure the employees knew they were being laid off yet.

Ever since that, I will refuse to do business with Comcast, because that was truly messed up.

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20. After the fact.

I worked a wedding one Saturday night, I was a banquet manager in a hotel so almost every Saturday night we had a wedding or something going on. The wedding went fine, no problems. The bride and groom were really nice and the bride was already 6 months pregnant. Fast forward to Monday, (I was off Sunday) I come into work and the first thing I hear from my coworker was the bride from Saturday night had a miscarriage on Sunday right after their wedding instead of going off on their honeymoon like they planned. It felt so bad...

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19. Not on the tablecloth.

I worked a party for this woman who booked an annual brunch for a bunch of local psychologists, at which they would all gather and discuss their work. She was expecting around 40 people, but only four showed up. She was so disappointed and I felt super bad. She was the sweetest lady ever. Gave me a really generous tip at the end of the day, even though I did hardly any work.

And then there was the gay wedding I worked where only half of the expected guests showed up, and the mother of one of the grooms threw up all over her table and the floor. It wasn't from drinking, as it was a dry wedding. Everything was very quiet for the rest of the night. No dancing, not much talking. Totally uncomfortable and totally sad.

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18. Not the guests you ordered.

A friend made me go to a birthday party once for a girl he was trying to hook up with. It was in a sweet mansion on the river in Perth and her parents had catering and free booze...except that we were the only two people who showed up. She reckoned she had about 30 people confirm that they were coming so it's pretty dirty not showing up.

It was pretty awkward for a few hours, but we rang up all our friends and managed to get about 20 people there in the end, even though she didn't know any of them. My mate didn't score either, though the birthday girl did meet her future husband there after all.

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17. One of us.

I once catered a 20-year school reunion, meaning all the people there were around 38. All the women were pregnant and complaining about the food, the cold, the heat, being pregnant, etc. This one guy had his gorgeous girlfriend who looked no older than 25. All of the other women were murdering her with their eyes. One of the pregnant women was talking to her and started crying and said she didn't want to be pregnant, she wanted to wear high heels and drink wine and feel pretty. She ended up storming out of the reunion without her shoes on and left. Eh...More cringe worthy than sad looking back.

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16. Conspicuously absent.

One of the first weddings I ever catered the groom was feeling a bit nervous, so he took a bit of his buddies medication to calm the nerves. Immediately after the ceremony, cue shots with the groomsmen, then another round, and another... Fast forward half an hour into the reception, the best man stumbles into the restroom to find the groom passed out on the floor, soaked in his own vomit. He's taken away in an ambulance, along with his parents and the bride, but the brides parents refused to end the party that they paid for, so the remaining 2 and a half hours go on without the bride and groom.


15. No one called shotgun.

I was a banquet manager at a kind of run down country club while I was in college. We didn't have the classiest clientele. One wedding I worked had a pregnant bride that didn't even look 18. Her mom kept saying over and over that the rooms had to be cool because the bride was pregnant and would faint if she got too hot. So the entire staff is aware that this bride is pregnant. The bride then continues to drink wine for 2 hours before the ceremony (our bartender was going to try to not serve her by carding her but the mom kept getting her drinks and it was very awkward. When it came time for the toasts I give her cider and refused her champagne.) Then only 12 of the expected 25 guests show up. Some didn't even stay for the meal. None of the groom's family was there. They played music from an iPod and it would have long stints of silence. The bride's stepfather kept going outside and smoking. It was just sad how no one cared about this wedding and the bride was careless with her unborn child. The groom clearly was in college and the bride did not have higher education in her future. Shotgun weddings are just awkward.

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14. Table for one.

A lifetime ago I worked for a restaurant that did catering for small to mid-sized events. We had a graduation party to deliver food and set up for. It was one of those with a tent in the driveway and a dozen or so long tables set up. The graduate was a rich girl, the family had money out the wazoo, everyone was having a great time.

Except for one kid who was sitting by himself at a table. For the full three hours. In the brief time I interacted with him when he came to the buffet table to get chicken and ziti, I quickly understood he was mentally underdeveloped. And pretty sad. Everyone was having a great time except him. He took his food to the table and sat there. For three hours. By himself.

We packed up and were leaving. It was only then I found out that young man was the graduate's brother. For hours the family left him sitting there by himself while his sister was celebrated for graduating. Almost twenty years later and I still remember seeing the disappointment and sadness on his face.

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13. That new car smell.

The restaurant I work at caters to a Canada Day music festival every year, and I'm always one of the ones working sales at the main booth, because I'm one of the few employees without an Indian accent.

One man bought some curry, and then minutes later stormed back, furious at us because it had come open when he tossed it (literally, tossed) into the back seat of his fancy new car, which resulted in a bright yellow curry spilled all over expensive leather seats. Initially he was angry, shouting, swearing, and informing me how his lawyers would ensure that I (a 20-something student) would personally be buying him a new car.

My boss took him aside and very calmly, in spite of all the shouting, asked if he was actually angry at the young woman who'd served him curry, or if he was venting his frustration on others because he was angry at himself for making a bad decision by throwing a container of curry into his expensive car.

The man literally broke down crying and ran back towards the parking lot. We never saw him again, and while it didn't make the whole festival sad, it did awkward-up the next hour or so, as every single bystander who'd witnessed the incident wanted to chat about it while ordering their food.

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12. Holier than thou.

Back in my catering days probably the worst event I ever catered was a regional Penticostal convention. Despite the fact that all the food was paid for, there were still tons of people smuggling around buns and macaroni in their purses.

The meetings themselves were something else though. We were specifically instructed beforehand to not react to anything happening in any of the meeting rooms. It was a damn difficult thing to do though.

Going into rooms to replace water and seeing people rolling around moaning on the floor or speaking gibberish was mind breaking, but I had to act as if it was something I saw every day.

The presentations were no better. The conference was attended 95% by women, and some of the presentations were on topics like "How to be a good woman" and "how to serve your husband faithfully" it was some of the most misogynistic crap I've ever heard.

I'm not typically the type to judge others by their religious preferences, but I seriously could not comprehend anything that happened at that conference.

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11. Two cringey to bear.

My bar got hired for an eighteenth birthday a couple of years ago. This is England bear in mind, so that's the drinking age. We don't usually let the bar be rented for them because of the hassle involving underage friends and sneaking in bottles but this girl offered way over the asking price, so we decide we'll cope.

The capacity for the bar is 140. Two hours later, the girl's family were still the only ones there. She was crying in the corner with mum whilst dad did shots of tequila and visibly cringed at the bar. It was truly and epically painful to witness. They gave me permission to open the to the public at about 11.00

The kicker? Pretty much everyone the girl knew were out celebrating the end of school and wandered in once we'd opened up, not one of them even pretending to be there for her.

Yeah, we've still not done another 18th yet.

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10. Seasoned by the bride's tears.

All through college, every summer I worked catering for high class catering companies. I worked a party for a far-too-young woman getting married who swore up and down she needed 125 place settings, even though she only had 80 total guests coming including some people who were only listed as probable. She told us there's a good chance some more friends are coming from out of town, and the people coming might bring dates. She wouldn't listen to our planners when they gave a realistic number of how many people will probably show. A half hour after guests are supposed to arrive, only around 35 people in a hall set for 125. Hors d'oeuvres come out, we top out at 40 people.

The bride comes into the kitchen and demands that we push food service and hour later because the rest of her guests are on their way, wiping tears from her eyes. We do. An hour goes by of me setting out drinks and hors d'oeuvres to people making awkward conversation. 10-15 guests suddenly have to take care of something and leave in a group. She comes in back and tries telling us to push food service another hour because people are on their way. We explain that a lot of the food is prepared and can't sit around. Tears welling in her eyes, I had to stand there and listen to the head chef tell her that we need to start sending food out, and that nobody else is probably coming to her wedding. She sits down in a chair in the kitchen and starts crying. I go to get her family, she refuses to come back out and spends the next hour sobbing in the kitchen while we sidestep around her, bringing food out to an empty party house..

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9. Guest list fail.

Did a wedding where the bride was convinced she was friends with all the "society" people she'd ever met. She spent an obscene amount of money on the food for her "simple" reception. Instead of the usual pre-made heat and eat finger foods she had each one specially made by an executive chef. She could have easily done a sit down dinner for half of what she spent. She rented a large reception hall. The bride invited 300 people, there were less than 40 there and most of them were family or the few people she worked with.

The reception was horrible...a giant space with tons of food and we had more tables than people. The bride was noticeably embarrassed. The wedding planner made everyone crowd around four tables in one corner and literally coached people into posing so they could take pictures that didn't look like the place was empty. Same thing with the dance floor. Everyone was on the floor whether they were dancing or not just so it would look good in the pictures. The planned 2 hour reception was over in 30 minutes.

The couple left for their honeymoon, we threw rice, most people left for their cars. Those of us who had to go back in for whatever reason got handed empty to-go boxes by the caterers and were told to fill them and take them, whatever we left was going in the trash. I ended up with 10 pounds of bacon wrapped ribeye bites and more boiled shrimp than I could eat in a week. There was still enough food to feed an army so they were taking it to one of the local charity kitchens to see if they wanted it.

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8. Every party's a rollercoaster ride.

Been working as a caterer for a few years now.

The saddest thing I can remember was at a wedding. The wife and groom were a young couple - early 20s. They were the party type of crowd. The ceremony went off without a problem and the after party was just as fun. But near the end of the night, the music had turned off. The caterer (me and some others) were cleaning up trash, stacking chairs, rolling away tables, etc. when we noticed an argument has broken out between the intoxicated groom and a VERY intoxicated man. They were in each others faces flexing fists. The bride was screaming and crying at this point for them to just stop. The day that was supposed to be hers was about to be ruined by some schoolyard drama. A fight didn't happen. We had to call security and have them escorted to their car/limo before they left the grounds.

Let's do the flip side tho. A happy story. I catered a wedding where an older man and woman were getting married, both in their 50s. They had been engaged to each other once before. Years before in fact. But he had gotten cold feet and called it off at the last minute. They broke up and drifted apart. ~10-15 years later they run into each other and hit it off really well. They started dating again and got engaged and that was the wedding that I catered. Well it turns out that neither one of them had gotten serious with anyone else in between their dating sprees. It is the whole "if you love something set it free and if it comes back it's yours" saying.

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7. On a happier note.

Not a caterer, but I worked as a DJ, and this was a sad party.

I was DJing an event for a small charity that helps mothers of stillborn children and sudden infant mortality victims. Already a great, happy start. Having worked with them a few times though, they are an excellent charity that does good work. It's just a fairly uncomfortable subject matter, and very sad to think about.

Anyway, I get there, and the banquet room has about 20 people in it, far less than previous years. I find out that, due to recent weather, one major family involved with the charity lost someone in a car accident. The other major family lost someone to a suicide. All within the week leading up to the event. At that point, the hall was paid for, vendors were paid, and there wasn't any backing out.

My instructions were to play upbeat music, because we were supposed to celebrate life. I had to run this event, alone, for 4 hours. It was arduous. I felt so bad for the people who were trying to enjoy themselves, and support their friends/family, while hurting so much. I saw the pain on their faces, and heard it in their voices. I hope that I was able to brighten their day, at least for a few hours.

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6. Can't really call it a birthday.

Worked at an event hall, we had instructions to set up for a birthday. Colors were really dark and we had put pictures of one man on every table. Everyone shows up, but no one seemed to happy. No one was drinking (cash bar). They had purchased a cake from our kitchen and we had made an assumption that they wanted candles. Big mistake. We take out the cake fully lit and start singing. We keep singing, waiting for someone to blow them out. Everyone's staring at us like we're complete morons. We finish and take the cake back to the kitchen. A women comes through our kitchen and begins to scream at us. Find out it's a birthday party for that women's dead husband. Think she would have told us something that important when she booked the event.

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5. Love like a hurricane.

A couple years ago I catered a wedding that happened during the biggest hurricane of the summer, and ended up as one of the worst we had in years. The entire week we were all waiting for it to get cancelled, but they never shut it down. Fast forward to the wedding day. The ceremony was held in a church down the street. Things are starting to get bad outside. We need to pack up and leave before it's too late, they won't really carry through with the reception today, will they?

Well, come 4 pm 150 people pour into the reception area. Right as the power goes out. Within half an hour the whole building is 90 degrees, dark, and water is spilling in from the front door. Somehow someone calls up a friend who drives a generator to the party. So we have electricty but just in time for us to legally be required to throw out all the (probably 30 lb) of crab dip, lobster, etc. that couldn't be refrigerated. Well, these crazy people decide to carry on and dance to the music from someone's boombox, in the light of halogen work lamps, while we attempt to serve dinner in the dark.

By the end of the night, I have managed to slip on the river streaming onto the linoleum entrance hallway with a giant tray of glasses. The storm knocked over a tree that blocked off the only road to get out, resulting in 150 people in formalwear (many of whom didn't live in the city) trapped in what might as well have been a furnace. I got yelled at by several guests and the mother of the bride for not serving the crab dip. And she made my boss cry, which led to the rest of the crew crying and begging the gods for mercy as well. Needless to say, it was a great night for all of us, especially the part where we had to drive through someone's front yard to get out of the cursed place.


4. Real heartbreaker right here.

Sister's work catered a party at a swanky manor house. Lots of people showed up, there was good conversation and plenty of smiles. It seemed like it was going well. So my sister goes to get something out of one of the trucks or something like that, and she sees a girl sitting near the back. Hidden away where no one can see her from the house. She's maybe five, the only kid there and is dressed to the nines. Being a natural kid magnet and overall compassionate person, my sister strikes up a bit of conversation. Turns out it was the little girl's birthday. Her parents had invited all of THEIR friends and coworkers. They'd ordered all that fancy food to throw a party for 'her', when all she wanted was to try macaroni and cheese from a box and celebrate with her parents. The kid had been outside for an hour on top of that, and her parents hadn't even noticed she was there. The thing that tore my heart out though? When my sister told me the little girl started crying and asked my sister if she could go home with her.

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3. That party was a riot, literally.

I don't cater, but I have worked with caterers, and my wife had a catering business for a while. Saddest was a wedding reception where something happened where the wedding was called off. I can't recall why, but it had to do with the exposure of infidelity on the part of one of the couple exposed during the ceremony, and the whole thing called off. But the father of the bride said the reception was already paid for, so why not just go show up and eat? Only about half the party showed up, and ate mostly in silence.

Another friend of mine was part of a quartet hired for a reception. She said sometimes the Greek weddings got a little out of hand (they got referrals from a Greek reception hall). One of them she said was a family who had obviously started drinking before they got there. The groom's side was Irish/Greek, and the bride's side was all Greek. There had been some kind of fight before the wedding, and during the ceremony, more scuffles. By the time the reception started, those who arrived early started fighting with other people who arrived early on both sides of the family. It seems there was a "who are the true Greeks" kind of war, and the groom's side accused the bride's side of being gypsy thieves. At some point, the police got involved, but no arrests were made, and everyone calmed down.

Then the father of the bride gave a speech about racial purity, and this started another brawl that pretty much was a free-for-all: chairs thrown, tables flipped, wedding cake destroyed, both bars robbed clean of liquor, and the entire quartet were in the kitchen, hiding with the catering staff. She said that the owner wouldn't call the police again, because he feared losing his liquor license, but both parties were just tearing the pace apart to find things to throw at one another. Plaster details and wall mirrors were smashed, the carpet was being torn up, and it was chaos. At one point, the mother of the bride and the owner of the reception hall came back with them, and said, "we don't think you'll be needed tonight," paid in full, and the quartet left. Weeks later, they were asked to perform for another wedding, and she said, "as bad as that riot was, you couldn't even tell when we returned. The entire place had been repainted, carpeting redone, plaster recast, the mirrors on the wall replaced."

table-with-plates-and-flowers-filed-neatly-selective-focus-169190-300x199.jpgPhoto by Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels

2. Sad serenade.

I was part of an orchestra people could rent for parties. Showed up at this fancy pants restaurant where a company had rented out the entire building for a dinner party. Our orchestra was there for twenty minutes and no one had shown up. This guy walks in the door alone and starts talking to the manager. He doesn't know why no one is there either, and is visibly upset. Ten minutes go by and some lady comes in the front door, absolutely baffled. At the same time the guy gets a phone call from his boss. The party had been cancelled. It was too late for them to cancel reservations though, and since it was already paid for, the guy and lady figure hey, why the hell not? and decide they will have dinner.

So a half hour goes by and we get called out into the dining hall. Our orchestra wasn't a traditional one, and we always made it a point to walk between and around the tables during our performances while we were playing, even get down on our knees and sing directly to the eating audience members. Normally this is really cool because you get all these violin, viola, and cello players dispersing through the room while playing, and it brings the music directly to the listeners. But when we walked in, we saw that there was only one table set up (thus why we had to wait a half hour) with candles and everything (the manager really went out of his way to make this nice), along with the amenities of the party (chocolate fountain, little bar in the corner, all that.

So we come in in two lines, split up, and encircle this one lonely table with a guy and a girl, whom we were told was his girlfriend, and begin playing. Everyone looked super awkward during the whole thing, and we all felt terrible for these guys.

Anyway, about 6 songs in, after we had done our whole "down on one knee and sing to the person" bit, the guy stands up and asks us to stop. Everyone is confused, until the guy starts talking to his girlfriend. He drops some romantic words, and as his passionate speech gets to about minute 3, the staff start coming out of the woodwork and watching from a distance (behind us). Eventually, he gets down on his knee and proposes to her, and there are tears in the corners of our violists' eyes, contented smiles on the faces of the violinists and bass players, and a dumbfounded look on our young cellists' faces.

She said yes, and everyone started clapping like mad. We then pulled out our happiest most high octane song and played for the couple, and played our hearts out, before playing our exit tune and leaving.

I presume he was going to do this in front of coworkers and friends at the party... or else this guy was the smoothest dude alive.

ring-2571761_1920-300x200.jpgImage by Ina Hoekstra from Pixabay

1. Tell it to the bartender.

I bartended a post reception party at a hotel I worked at, coincidentally, my friend (who was one of our best regulars) also got married that night. We gave them (the friend) a suite for the night, so they show up after the reception. They're hanging out at the bar, and the wedding party shows up. The bride walks in, sees another girl in a wedding dress, slams her flowers on the ground and storms out. My friend, being the nice girl she is, makes a hasty exit, and, after some coaxing, the other bride comes back. The entire group proceeds to be complete douchebags for the rest of the night. Just as bar close hits, the bride catches the groom making out with her maid of honor in the lobby (who I later found out was her sister) she proceeds to punch him in the face, launch the ring into the river behind our place, and get the groomsmen (mostly her friends/brothers) to kick the crap out of the groom. It was mostly sad how trashy this entire group of people were.

Another time I was serving a party for a nearby amusement park, who were promoting their new ride in our town. They'd been spending a lot of money on radio ads and stuff, and did a promotional dinner for all the locals involved in the ad campaign. They spent a couple thousand dollars on a huge app buffet, spent hours setting up all their stuff, and literally nobody showed up. The radio companies who they'd been pumping money into for months couldn't even bother to send an intern over for a free meal. After about an hour of standing around they told us to invite all the staff up for a free meal, and gave us all the free loot they were supposed to hand out to the guests. We offered to pack up the food, but they had like a three hour trip home, so couldn't transport it. It was sweet for me, I got my nice auto-grat, and a bunch of free food and swag, but I felt so bad for these energetic marketing kids who were all pumped to give their big presentation.

The most recent, and probably the worst, was a group I was bartending for. I didn't know there was a party that night, but as I was opening up my bar, some guys I'd served about a week before show up and start setting up flowers and stuff. They were nice, but solemn. Long story short, the guy who was missing from the group had killed himself, and my bar was the last place they had all been together. It was a huge party (seriously, that guy must have been pretty cool, hundreds of people showed up), and a despite the circumstances, everyone was in pretty good spirits. The really sad part was one of my best friends was the one who found the guy.