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Hospitality: The Wedding Plus

Hospitality: The Wedding Plus

Professor of Service Ian Maksik's next few 'Hospitality' columns will be devoted to engagements and weddings, including info on the industries and vendors who can assist with and complement the wedding experience. With a little context, you'll come to understand why bridal magazines are the thickest periodicals on the shelf.


The months of May and June are the Number One season for weddings, with September and October lagging close behind. Here in The Land of Enchantment, with around 300 days of sunshine each year, engaged couples can easily plan to get married and celebrate with an outdoor ceremony and reception.

Engagements tend to happen during the same season as weddings (one year prior), so rest assured that love is in the air. Couples are shopping now for their dream wedding location. My next few columns will be solely devoted to engagements and weddings, including info on the industries and vendors who can assist with and complement the wedding experience.

With a little context, you’ll come to understand why bridal magazines are the thickest periodicals on the shelf. We’ll discuss how the engagement and wedding is complemented by a slew of wedding professionals: event planners; bridal consultants; bridal shows; wedding guides and magazines; romantic off-premise (OP) locations; on-site catering venues; off-premise caterers; staffing; tent rental; officiants; jewelers; invitations; live music or DJs; flowers; bakers; photographers; videographers; travel agents; hairstylists and makeup artists; spas and massage therapists; realtors; insurance; gifts and guest favors; gift registries; wines and liquors; bridal gowns and formal wear like tuxedos and suits; clothing alterations; candy; religious items; dance instruction; lingerie; fitness and weight loss programs; and photo booth rental.

Listed above are 36 possible wedding-related “Hospitality” topics. Rest assured that there are more where that came from, and I will cover the 18 types of service and catering formats that readers should be aware of when planning and booking special occasion events as knowledgeable consumers. Will your nuptials feature a cocktail party; a candlelit champagne brunch; a straight-up, rolling or semi-buffet; a sit-down luncheon or dinner; a “football wedding”; or a “P&P” party?   

I booked my first wedding planner gig at age 16. To look older, I grew a mustache and always dressed in a tie and jacket or tux. That 1950s wedding package was $450 for 30 guests and included a chicken dinner, a champagne toast, wedding cake, coffee and punch. As a professional opener of over a dozen hospitality facilities and a GM, DOC, DOO and DOM at several hotels, restaurants and clubs, I’ve had the privilege of being responsible for almost 20,000 weddings.  

In the 1950s and 1960s, our Brooklyn nightclub The Town & Country Club hosted at least 26 weddings every Sunday. I was the GM there for nine years, and I always knew when we had over 26 onsite weddings because we numbered the parties from A to Z and always had a Z-1, Z-2 and/or Z-3. That averages out to around 12,000 weddings during my managerial tenure. Most New York caterers had a minimum of 100 guests, so we catered to weddings with a guest list under 100 in semi-private spaces in our club.  

Each party had its own dais, cake table and table linens in their choice of colors. Celebrants danced to a 12-to-16 piece orchestra or six-piece Latin band and were sometimes entertained by a variety of big-name artists like Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin and Harry Belafonte.

We also hosted the March of the Wedding Cakes, featuring the announcement of the names of more than 26 couples, followed by a collective first dance with all the brides and grooms waltzing together on one dance floor.

We were a “wedding factory,” and everyone had a fantastic time. In my next column, I’ll enlighten readers about “The Country Club Wedding.” For now, that’s an “86” aka “I’m out” from Ian Maksik aka the Professor of Service. 

Prof. of Service pro-tip: When visiting a potential wedding venue, dress up to make a great first impression. When entering the space, immediately check the restrooms. If they’re spotlessly clean and smell nice, stay for your appointment. If not, go ahead and turn right around and leave.

Ian Maksik is a Cornell Hotel School graduate and a former Hilton general manager and catering editor for New York-based magazine CUE. Known as “America’s Service Guru,” Maksik has keynoted, lectured and trained owners, management and staff of hospitality facilities in 21 countries and at notable industry conferences. Contact him at ian@usawaiter.com or (954) 804-5413.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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