Jeremy Wachalter, Proprietor and Chef of Cobblestone Catering & Events
What do most couples want for their wedding?
A glorified cocktail party. I’m more traditional. I like sitting down and eating a plated meal. But people are shying away from the sit-down affair. They really like a tapas-station feel. It is, however, more expensive because more food needs to be produced.
What do you wish they did instead?
I have fifteen years of experience working in restaurants like Town and The Modern. So coming from a fine-dining background, I’d say smaller courses but more of them. If you take an extra half-hour for dinner, it becomes an experience, not just an opportunity to feed your guests.
Culinarily speaking, what drives you crazy at a wedding?
Anything on a skewer. When you’re wearing a tux, where do you put the stick? I like my hors d’oeuvres to be petite bites full of flavor. They should be manageable with drinks, too. When you have a skewer, a drink, and a napkin in your hand, what do you do?
How can couples personalize the menu?
Many are inspired by their travels. If they’ve been to Italy and loved the branzino there, we’ll try to incorporate that into their menu.
What should couples ask caterers right off the bat?
Many people assume the rentals—tables, chairs, linens—are included in the price. It’s a huge expense. They’re not included in our price, so we give a detailed overview of all of our services and really break down everything so there are no surprises.
Any other red flags to look for?
Be wary of caterers who don’t offer full tastings. You don’t really know what you’re getting. Another huge thing is attentiveness during the planning process. If your caterer takes a few days to get back to you, then it’s going to be like that during the entire process. If it starts from the beginning, you’re in trouble.
What should couples consider spending more on?
Staff. Food costs what it costs. But for ease of service and bussing, staff is the number one priority that most people forget about. Especially if you’re having nice wines. You want someone who knows about wine to pour them.
And when cutbacks have to be made?
Go simple with your rentals. Then look at beverages—lots of couples will bring in their own booze and wine to save money.
Where do you stand on wedding cakes?
I like the tradition of wedding cakes, but I also like doughnut stations and dessert tables. You just have to make it chic. Don’t get too crazy with the candy.
“If your grandma always made pappardelle with mushrooms, incorporate it into the menu. It’s personal, and it’s a nice nod to your family.”
Photo: Illustration by Gillian Blease