Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Botched Wedding Saves Big Bucks

Blame It On Us
Catering Company Making Big Bucks During Economic Downturn By Flubbing the Wedding Reception

by Winsip Custer CPW News Service

When John Jacobson's daughter Rebecca announced her wedding, John had mixed emotions.  He loved Sam Havermeyer, Rebecca's fiance, but John had just been laid off from his $150,000 a year public relations job with Wilson, Headington & Palmer and he had tapped out his savings for Rebecca's $50,000/year college tuition at Columbia.

"Rebecca's wedding would have cost us a minimum of thirty to forty thousand dollars....maybe even more.  As it turned out it cost us just under $3800, not counting the bride's maid dresses.  The dress was the most expensive part of the whole affair at $800. The three hundred guests cost only $10 each.  Half of that was for wine. We relabeled all the $3.99 wine bottles with an Italian name no one's ever heard of before. The wedding cake and food never make it to the event.  Instead the caterers arrived at the reception to announce that they had been in a horrible accident and that their van turned over  spreading cake, shrimp cocktail, roast beef and fried chicken strips in a drainage ditch.  A police officer arrives just after the caterers with photographs of the disaster to ask the caterers why they left the scene of the accident and soon the drama spreads through the wedding party like a California canyon fire in June," said Jacobson who saw in Rebecca's wedding the answer to many a  parent's dilemma and the makings of his new business and career. 
Photo of accident scene
"Nobody wants to have to admit that they can't afford to throw a big wedding for their daughter, but desperate times call for desperate measures," said Jacobson.

"The key to the whole thing is the referral and the wedding planner," said Jacobson.  "The referral must come from someone very, very important.  In my case it came from Jill Von Furstenberg a non-existent member of the fashion family.  Then the wedding planner has to be totally believable and provide unwavering confidence for the bride and mother on the first visit. In my case it was Beth Harvard, who had also been laid off from Wilson, Headington & Palmer and who has incredible public relations skills.  Her father was a Dale Carnegie instructor.  The bride and mother trust after the initial and subsequent meetings with Beth that every detail will come off without a hitch at the reception. My business plan called for wedding insurance which is actually the $30,000 I would have paid for the wedding less the $3000 cost.  After the wedding reception flops the bride and mother are so happy that the event was insured that they never realize that the 10% deductible was part of the coverage anyway and represents the whole cost of the wedding less my fee.  The guests are totally sympathetic, some even increasing their gifts to the bride and groom out of compassion for their botched wedding.  Dad gets $27,000 back, sends the kids on a really nice honeymoon and the wedding guests throw themselves into heavy drinking, some running out to buy Twinkies, Snowballs and Kentucky Fried Chicken to make up for the lost food, and everyone's happy.  Those that knew that I was out of work wonder if the exclusive caterer will cover the cost of the food, whether the accident was their fault or someone else's and wonder what's poor John going to do now and the whole gathering turns into an 'oh my God, bless their hearts' moment," said Jacobson. 

"Once in Albany a local policeman, also a wedding guest, wondered why he missed the accident on his scanner, but we tell people it happened as the van was leaving New York City," said Jacobson with a smile.

When asked if there were any drawbacks to his new business, Jacobson said that the toughest aspect was constantly changing the company name so that people didn't catch on.  Among Jacobson's company names has been Fleur de Lis Catering, Extrava Catering, Exclusive Catering, Von Buehlow Catering, Ritz Catering, Elite Catering, Touch of Elegance Catering, Ravissante Catering, Impeccable Catering and Reliable Catering. "That's a good one, huh?" asked Jacobson.  "In addition, you can only do this in large cities or in smaller cities beyond about a 100 mile radius of each other.   Plus we carefully cull the wedding invitation list to make sure there's no guests from previous weddings who might blow our cover.  We're working on other methods to help people save face, but those are trade secrets," said Jacobson whose fee is $3500 per wedding.  With 53 weekends per year and an average of two weddings per weekend that's $371,000 per year with Beth Harvard making $100,000 per year and John $271,000 per year as the company owner, but $75,000 of that goes to Jerry Ferguson, Harry Williamson and Wilma Williamson, the fake policeman and caterers who were also laid off from their public relations jobs last year.  "Harry and Wilma's son, Josh, is also a wedding singer who offers to sing an hour extra for free after the reception falls apart," said Jacobson.

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