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A Wedding in a Week?
With Suzanne James anything is possible!



Suzanne says......

I love fate. About three months ago I bumped into a very old friend who I met when I was 15; we worked together in a shop in Dulwich Village as Saturday girls. We were young, we had fun, but eventually our careers started and we lost touch. It is always great to see an old friend, so we exchanged numbers and emails but didn't get a chance to catch up properly.



On Thursday 27th April I took a call from Chloe who told me she was getting married at a local venue soon and had just been to her tasting but was disappointed, all plans had changed and could I help?

When do you need me I asked?

Next Saturday, 6th May was her reply!

"Impossible!!" I hear you say......not with Suzanne James on the case, but don't just take my word for it, read on to hear about the day from the Brides own point of view....

Chloe says.......

Dylan and I had been talking about getting married for years but life and children have kept us busy and the idea had grown dusty on the shelf.

However last September my mother had a major stroke and my father’s mild dementia significantly progressed. When my brother told me he was coming from Australia in a few weeks to see them, I realised there were going to be very few chances left to have my family together again let alone all be there to celebrate my wedding.

So whilst I wouldn’t wish my circumstances on anyone , I can honestly say there’s nothing like a 3 1/2 week deadline to get things moving! No time for pondering over the tone of tablecloth or tea light. In fact , how to make sure everyone could come and where to put them were our only concerns.

Initially we found a local venue set in a park and breathed a sigh of relief. However after I discovered that there would also be a party downstairs of 70 people - eek! I started to worry. So we decided to have the “Breakfast Reception “at the venue and then come home for a party in a tipi in the garden . Dyl and I were delighted - we had always wanted a relaxed wedding and when we first bought our derelict vicarage, we had romantically said amidst the 9 ft high brambles , smashed glass and crumbling brick, that it would be nice to get married in the garden. So tipi hired - check , cool band hired - check ,I was doing the flowers check and rings were in the process of being made - check. “This is easy , what’s all the fuss about ?” we exclaimed rather smugly….

The last thing to do was the tasting so we could send out some menu choices.I hadn’t liked the menu offered to us so had been asked to come up with a menu. I chose simple , seasonal dishes. Easy peasy …..or so I thought. The truth is that when a dish relies on quality of produce, the skill of the chef and an artistic eye , there is nowhere to hide. Unfortunately our tasting could not have been worse .Clearly we wanted to enjoy every morsel but that was impossible. The venue told us we were not allowed to bring in our own chef so it was theirs or no-one. Panic set in. Both of us tossed and turned in bed.  A week to go…..Bad food….No invitations sent out ….. The appalled looks of judgmental family members circled in my mind like vultures .…

And like many moments in life , that was when a bright idea popped into my desperate, anxiety addled mind…. Suzanne James!

A few months before, I had bumped into this old friend who I had not seen for years.When we knew each other she had been at catering college. She had always been passionate , determined, hard working and full of life. I didn’t need to taste her food because I know who she is. Temperamentally she is exacting, strives for the best out of everyone around her and is a grafter. I phoned Suzanne James Catering the next morning and spoke to the lovely Maria who, with one week to go, listened calmly and cheerfully and promised Suzanne would contact me that day in between a zillion meetings. So when I got a message saying “Fret not , we can do this, I’m here to help” I understandably exhaled an elephant sigh of relief.

Suzanne came over on a Bank Holiday Monday and went through everything with me. When she asked about the cake I took a breath and said I would make it. Suzanne looked doubtful - "You've got a lot to organise .... (I had and was already feeling stressed), seconds later she said, "Right then, don't worry. Ollie will do your cake" Ollie is one of Suzanne's apprentice chefs and at seventeen had been brave enough to agree to do my cake!

Magically I felt that our wedding day could truly reflect us after all. We could have the ceremony and fizz at the venue and go back to our teepee and woodland wonderland for food and merriment and to top it off, have a trusted friend do the catering.

And that is what we did.I have never felt so looked after or in such good hands.The large numbers of staff , all of whom were happy and friendly whilst professional and courteous was astounding. No problem was a problem. A hot water bottle for my mum, flowers I had forgotten to unwrap were artistically popped into vases without fuss, candles were lit , extra touches were everywhere and no -one was ever left wanting for anything. The food was delicious, super fresh, tasty and beautiful to look at. I admit to smiling, probably a bit too gleefully, at the doubters who were now singing the praises of the whole affair!

As for the wedding cake , it was a many tiered, beautiful sponge with lemon curd adorned in berries, flowers and little heart meringues. Wow! Suzanne and gang , I cannot thank you enough.It’s been a tough year and you made our wedding such a happy, delicious and stress free day. We salute you!!

Suzanne says.....

After that first call, knowing I couldn't meet Chloe until Bank Holiday Monday I reassured her that all would be well and that she was in safe (fingers crossed) hands. I made a few calls right away to advise our suppliers to be on standby. If it was my mission, then it would be theirs too! Everyone was tickled with the excitement of a dramatic last minute event, which was soon to be known as the 'Wedding in a Week'

Monday came...4 hours, 3 coffees, 2 patient young children and 1 wedding was planned! I should play poker! Ok. Here we go....

Chloe still being the Chloe that I remembered meant she wanted to please everyone and so requested a choice of 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts from her home kitchen - a large and lovely home kitchen but a home kitchen none-the-less.

TeePee already planned, now it was rentals (thank you to Adams, our go to hire company for being even more accommodating than usual), bar staff, waiting staff, drinks, table plan, floor plan, florals (that Chloe wanted to do herself), music  all to be discussed and agreed, band, plus magician, tarot reader & children's entertainer to co-ordinate and keep fed and watered throughout.

Oh and a wedding cake to factor in. Now, I'm not sure how many of you know that we have a 17 year old apprentice chef with us, Ollie, who is desperate to be a pastry chef. A call was made and before he knew it there he was making a 4 tier lemon drizzle, summer berry, lemon curd wedding cake for Saturday - his only comment was 'you do know I'm 17 don't you!'

Two days before - by Thursday at 2pm we had final decisions and all dietary requirements to the kitchen (Head Chef Natalia held her head high while she wore her worried heart on her sleeve - you can see every thought on Nats face, and we were more or less 7 days late in getting final details to her) but we just knew all would be ok.

Two of our team - Claire and Kay went in on Friday and spent the day at the house sorting, moving, shaking, placing, supporting and generally bending the world to our will, whilst remaining cool, calm and collected, which in turn allowed our bride and groom to do their thing and both mentally and physically prepare for their big day.

Saturday arrived and with feathers in her hair and shoes to die for our bride left the house and got married! There was a moment when we thought the SJ van might have to be a wedding car - which would have been a first - but it all worked out ok in the end.

As soon as she left the SJ catering fairies came out of the woodwork and the magic really began!

* The kitchen was built
* The tables were set
* The cake was displayed
* The drinks were chilled
* The cushions were puffed
* The roses were pruned

* The team, and associated performers were briefed............. And the Wedding Reception began!