We are so excited the first episode of Wedding Secrets Unveiled! is live! Each episode will give you, our amazing couples, some insight into what you actually need to know to plan your dream wedding day. We’re chatting with Rhode Island wedding vendors who know their stuff and want to help you have a relaxing wedding planning experience. Our first guest is Karen Tungett, the owner of Blackstone Caterers here in Newport, RI. We’ve been working with Blackstone for 18 years and just LOVE them. We’re so excited for Karen and her husband, the newest owners of the company – we love family owned businesses! Let’s dive in!
Blackstone Caterers has been around since 1945. And I have been with Blackstone 14 years coming up this April! My husband and I purchased the company in June of 2019, not long before the pandemic hit. We worked our way up through the company but always dreamed of owning Blackstone Caterers one day!
As things open back up, can you tell us some pros and cons of the new restrictions for your business?
One thing we had to change was bar service! It was deemed unsafe for guests to congregate at the bar, so now we’ve shifted to complete service at your table. We are still able to offer the fun personalized cocktails and standard drinks, guests just order them now! But, in some ways it’s better. Although we need a bigger event staff to do this, the guests feel like they’re taken care of better. It all definitely took our service to the next level!
It sounds like you do a lot with each couple. Do you offer planning services at all for couples?
If you mean like a wedding planner, no! But, we do pretty much work with our couples from the beginning. A caterer like us will work with you from the minute you book. Things we do:
- Planning the menu and then also actually being at the event.
- At least one event manager of our team will actually be at the event in person.
- We handle the food, the bar, linens, China, glass and silver.
- We’ll always work with your other vendors to help coordinate the timeline!
Do you have any venues you work with exclusively in Rhode Island?
- Blithewold Mansion in Bristol RI (exclusive)
- Shepard’s Run in South Kingstown RI (exclusive)
- Glen Manor House
- RoseCliff Mansion
How many events can you do a night or per weekend?
On a good weekend, we’re looking at 4 events Friday, 5 events Saturday and 3 on Sunday. We take the guest count into consideration, obviously, but we’re easily serving 1,000 people a night, which feels amazing!
It’s definitely part of why I got into this. We want to help people have fun. At the end of the day, another couple is married and it’s amazing! This last year has been tough, but we’re a strong industry and we’re going to keep fighting through it. I really think 2021 is going to be awesome!
With all of the allergies and special needs of couples, can your kitchen accommodate special requests, like gluten-free meals or children’s meals?
- We can!
- Most of our meals are gluten-free to begin with. It’s something we’ve just tried to always create.
- We don’t typically we don’t use any nut oils, and we’re pretty much nut free unless it’s has a salad where they have some nuts on it. But for that prep, we use a completely different workstation to keep it separate!
I was wondering… when should couples start doing their tastings and planning their menus with you?
Our tasting season is pretty much November all the way through March, April depending on how busy it is. You can do it other times of the year, but we’re often busier with weddings so it can be a bit more challenging!
I get asked a lot if I’ve worked at a particular venue. Should couples ask if a caterer if they’ve worked at their venue before?
Definitely ask! Let’s be honest, you want someone who knows the venue and can take some of that stress off of you! We know where things go, where they’re stored, the loading dock… all the logistics. And it makes it way less stressful for the soon-to-be newlyweds!
What other advice do you have for couples planning their weddings?
For so many couples, when they choose a venue, they’re the only wedding there that day. So really make it your home. Take your time, bring your dog, have your grandmother in the photo. Bring your personality and love to that space for the day! And also trust your vendors: we’re the professionals. Relax and enjoy your special day.
Wrap Up Question
What should couples ask a catering company to ensure that they have a perfect wedding?
Make sure you connect with the person you’re talking to. My team is great at making our potential couples feel more at ease and it’s just magical! The questions I would ask are:
- Is the food cooked on site?
- Are your employees trained and hired by the company?
- How many events do you do per night?
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