Our weekly interview series continues today, as we sit down to chat with Amanda Phommachanh of Windows Catering! We've done a lot of weddings with Amanda over the years, and she's always been a great partner with our DJ team. Amanda, here come the questions - get ready!
How did you get started in the wedding business? I have a degree in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University and I started out in the hotel industry. When I began planning my wedding, I remember interviewing caterers in Baltimore and realized that it seemed like a fun job and something I would really enjoy.
What do you do when you are not working? I spend every spare second with my husband and new baby, Sofie.
How would you describe your approach to weddings? I think I'm confident and laid back when it comes to weddings, I'm also a really good listener. Brides instill the utmost trust in you to put together all of the aspects of catering for their wedding so you have to show them that you are reliable, responsive, knowledgeable and trustworthy. I've found that being responsive and patient is really key to making a bride feel comfortable. Also, being flexible and willing to explore the bride's ideas or their vision is important as well.
What inspires you in your work? The final product, the big day. Seeing it all come together and knowing that you played a huge role in that is an incredible feeling. Seeing someone's vision come to fruition and watching the couple, their families and guests enjoying what you've created is really rewarding.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job? It's really nice when brides/families are appreciative. Just hearing "thank you" goes a long way. We all know that planning a wedding can be very overwhelming, but letting your vendors know that you trust them and appreciate what you're doing makes you want to really step it up! I still have parents and couples that keep in touch from weddings I did almost two years ago and it's nice to catch up with them every now and then.
What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business? That we do this ALL the time. We know what works and what doesn't. We know how much staff is necessary, how much food to order, how much time we need for set up etc. We are on your side, we want your event to a success just as much as you do!
What do you think sets your company apart from other caterers? Although Windows is among the largest caterers in the DC area, we are very much a family run business. The owners are very involved and that makes a difference both in the office and on site. We also have an award winning pastry chef who makes the most incredible AND delicious wedding cakes which can really add a great deal to your wedding.
What do you love about weddings? I love that every wedding is different. The options are really endless as far as the decor, food and style of each wedding and that really makes them fun and keeps it interesting.
What do you hate about weddings? I hate that they are on weekends! It's really tough working Monday-Friday and then getting up again on Saturday for another full day of work. The most difficult is when you have Saturday AND Sunday weddings in the same weekend, it makes for a really long week!
What is the coolest thing you've ever seen at a wedding? I can't think of any one thing that has really blown me away but there are lots of great components that I've seen that are lots of fun... I did a Krispy Kreme Wedding Cake one summer, that was lots of fun. I literally bought 40 dozen doughnuts and took them to the wedding. We stacked 1/2 of the doughnuts on a metal tiered stand that stood about 3 feet tall which was decorated very simply with loose flowers and we saved the other 1/2 to actually serve to the guests. Another one that comes to mind is a wedding I did at Nationals Stadium, they ended the evening with fireworks which was pretty spectacular.
One style of service that is lots of fun and is a great surprise to guests is the "Small Plates" reception. Essentially it is not a seated OR a buffet meal. The bride and groom select several small plates that they'd like served and the waiters pass the variety to guests throughout the evening. It's a great way to allow your guests to mingle and have fun while offering a wide selection of food and presentations.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? Enjoy the planning process as much as you can. This is supposed to be a fun time, not stressful. If you get to the point where you're disagreeing about which napkin or glassware to pick, you need to take a step back and ask yourselves if it's really worth bickering over, I promise that a year later, you won't even remember which one you ended up selecting anyway!
Also, hire good vendors. If you hire good vendors, you can trust that you will have a successful event! Remember that you get what you pay for, that rule truly applies across the board in the wedding industry.
Who is your favorite artist or band? I've been a big Dave Matthews Band fan since before he made it big. I also really like Goo Goo Dolls, Bon Jovi, U2....
What is the worst song of all time? The Macarena, any of those choreographed numbers are really awful!
[EVAN] I'll second the thoughts about the Macarena... what in god's name were we thinking? Amanda, thank you so much for your time and your thoughtful answers. Best of luck to you, we'll see you at a wedding soon!