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Engagement Party in the South Street Seaport

Planning an Engagement Party on the Wavertree Ship

At any given moment throughout the year, the team at Deborah Miller Catering will receive a requestto cater a personal event, which may take place at a private residence or another unique location. We recently planned an event exactly like this for a client who was gathering her family on the historic Wavertree ship, a cargo ship from the 1880s docked at the South Street Seaport.The client’s family was involved with bringing the Wavertree to New York permanently, where it is now the main landmark of the South Street Seaport Museum.
Our client was on a budget, so the DMC team was mindful of what catering package would work for them. We originally left bar pricing out of the equation, since the client would be bringing their own beer and wine and leaving out a bar would cut costs significantly. However, the client still needed our liquor permit to serve their own alcohol on the ship,so we determined that having us provide the hard liquor and having the client’s wine and beer complement our bar would be the best solution.This way, they had the ability to use our liquor permit but also source their preferred alcohol as well.

Another decision we had to make was whether an hors d’ouevres package or a stationary package would be best for the food. Passed hors d’ouevres always give a more elevated feel but also require extra kitchen staff to assemble them onsite. Stationary bites require less staff, but on a large ship where guests are wandering and leaving trash in unexpected places,we will always advise clients to have additional staff to man the areas with food and maintain guests in general. We’ll share more about this later.

About two weeks before the event, the DMC team scheduled a site visit with the client to see the actual ship and finalize some logistics. What kind of event rentals would be needed? What was the best way for our delivery team to board the ship with all of our equipment? Where would the bar be set up? These are some of the preliminary questions we will typically ask while seeing a space in person.During this particular site visit, we found out that the event was not just an ordinary family gathering or reunion. It was actually an engagement party for the client and her fiancée who would be getting married overseas one year from now. Talk about a significant detail!

Of course, an engagement party has a completely different vibe and a different set of expectations from an ordinary family party on a Saturday night. The events team at Deborah Miller Catering has seamlessly planned and executed entire weddings before, so there was no doubt that we could make this engagement a fabulous celebration as well. It just required a different mindset for planning and a bit more pressure to make it great.

Going back to the debate about having stationary vs. passed food – we instantly knew that serving everything on our elegant passing trays was the way to go. Our client needed the extra staff anyway, so why not have the servers pass whatever items would have normally been stationary? We skipped on doing a full on hors d’ouevres package with chefs on-site to assemble them, but passing food items such as the Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickel Points, Deviled Eggs, and Mini Lobster Rolls, to name a few, would give the passed hors d’ouevres feel without the extra cost. We kept an Antipasto Platter and Skewer Assortment stationary, so guests could casually pick at those throughout the night.

Another thing we wanted to upgrade were all of the rentals. The satin tablecloth we chose was more elegant than basic cotton; the bars tools we picked had a ballroom aesthetic and were much classier and more polished than standard black stools without a back. The bride did not have any specific colors in mind for these items, so we decided to keep everything gold and ivory, which would complement the brown, ivory, and pale pink interior of the ship. She did not want any additional accents like votives or flowers, so we kept those off the list entirely.

We arrived a few hours before the event that Saturday evening to set up the rentals and arrange everything in the right place. Staff arrived around 5pm to put together the main components of the bar, chill the beverages, and start organizing all of the food. The event kicked off at 7pm with servers passing and bartenders pouring. There was no cake or any dessert items that needed to be served at a certain time, so the regular menu items were passed freely until the event ended at 10pm, and everything was super smooth. The DMC team put together what is fitting for an engagement celebration that both the bride and groom would be proud of, while being mindful of certain budgets and making modifications that would suit the unique factors at hand. The result was an event that the client and their guests thoroughly enjoyed. Cheers to that!

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