Trouble in Paradise By: Mike Ryan

January 1, 2012 by Mike Ryan

THE WORST WEDDING VENUE STAFF EVER?

It’s safe to say that farming is, at best, a tough field to plow. It’s not surprising that some innovative ranchers have jumped on the wedding hay ride bank wagon by converting some of their acreage into outdoor wedding facilities. Recently I performed at one of these “farm venues,” where residents think tractors are sexy. I even got to spin 
some country music, a nice change from hip-hop. 

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At first glance, the site was like a fairy-tale secret garden, with beautifully maintained grass everywhere, and dozens of California pepper trees providing a canopy of refreshing shade in a county that regularly bakes in 100-degree-plus summers. White twinkle lights hung gracefully in the trees, giving the area a magical Disneyland Main Street feel.

I was told to set up my equipment on a covered cement slab that doubles as the dance floor. I was pleased to discover a convenient dual electrical outlet with each plug connected to its own individual circuit. There were also large double wooden doors that opened up to a back area where I could park my van for easy access. So far so good.

My understanding was that this converted ranch was one of the first to pursue the wedding market in the area and, as such, I expected the management to have their act together. Wrong.

The first brush with disaster came in the form of tiny pepper tree flowers, they were everywhere! They were on the dinner plates, in the glasses of water, on the silverware, literally, everywhere. The wait staff, made up mostly of inexperienced high school students, went around to each table and with paper fans in a futile attempt to remove them. 

With every wedding I expect two things: they never start on time and something (hopefully small) will go wrong; it?s just the nature of weddings. The first thing to go sour was a long delay in the food service nearly an hour. I’ve experienced 15-minute delays but never an hour. They knew the guest count up front so I was surprised at the slow service.

Here’s the real bone I had to pick with this facility: At one point I stuck my head into the so-called kitchen (actually a shed-like structure) to check on the meal and was shocked to see three dogs roaming around while the cook prepared the food. This made my hair bristle and really grossed me out, not to mention that it was a flagrant violation of health codes. Without even thinking I protested out loud: “You can’t have dogs in here!” at which the female “chef” flipped 
me the finger! The food finally arrived to the buffet line only to have the main course quickly run out, leaving twenty some guests waiting. This happened several time. So far, so bad!

But it got worse…With the food delay, the reception activities got pushed back. We decided to eliminate the anniversary dance which was acceptable although disappointing to the bride and groom. But when it came to the toasts, the newlyweds’ anger bubbled over. The staff failed to have enough champagne glasses for everyone. The food “captain” wanted to blow off the traditional elixir but after my protest she offered to use plastic glasses. Real 
classy…not!

The rest of the evening proceeded fairly smoothly and when the evening had run its course I started to pack up. It was then that one of the ranch dogs came up to me with its tail wagging. Now I love dogs (we have four) and I started to pet this old Yeller when I got a whiff of his rancid fur. He smelled awful, like he hadn’t had a bath in years. It was then that I realized this was one of the dogs that I saw in the kitchen! I wanted to VOMIT. 

This event was a study in how to take a beautiful wedding setting and ruin the experience with poor planning and 
execution. Plus, the only “hair of the dog” anyone should have to deal with in connection with a wedding reception should be for the next day’s hangover! MB

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Mike Ryan Mike Ryan (19 Posts)

Mike Ryan spins at the Corvette Diner in San Diego. He also invented the Air-Powered speaker stand the FRANKENSTAND. He is a 20-year veteran of radio, and served on ADJA and NACE boards.


Filed Under: Issue #147