Unique Food & Beverage Themes of 2016

Complimenting your wedding inspiration with food and beverages that fit your theme will set you apart from the rest. Check out these ideas to get you started!

In 2016 we are going to be seeing more weddings that are inspired by a theme. Theme inspired weddings give couples a way to express their unique style and personalities while also making the wedding more intimate and personal for them.

There will soon be a lot of blogs about décor for your theme popping up, but the food and beverages are often overlooked.  Complimenting your wedding inspiration with food and beverages that fit your theme will set you apart from the rest.  It is no secret everyone loves to share pictures of their amazing meals and treats, the unique and delicious themed bites and sips at your wedding are sure to be talked about and shared!  Below are some ideas to get the ball rolling and get you thinking.

  1. The Vintage Carnival, Circus or Retro Styles – This is for the casual, fun and quirky couple. You don’t have to pick an outdoor venue to pull off this vibe. You can turn any open spaced reception venue into a playful space as long as it is versatile. Any little nooks can be turned into a kissing booth or game area. You can hire a magician, stilt walker or entertainer to get this feel. Hire a caterer that will customize some menu items for you.  This theme is especially good for appetizers and late night snacks such as a Snow Cone Bar, Mini Corn Dogs, Cotton Candy Bar, Popcorn Bar, Candy Apples, Funnel Cakes, Homemade Graham Crackers, Buckets of peanuts in the shell on tables, Homemade Pretzels, or Roasted Peanuts or Caramel Corn in cones.
  1. Farmer’s Market, Fresh or Foodie Themes – With everyone gradually leaning towards healthier lifestyles, it’s no surprise more requests for local and fresh ingredients are being made by many couples. Foodies are starting to incorporate their love of food into their weddings. Spring and summer weddings can be very charming with beautiful fruit and vegetable displays alone. Some more ideas to compliment this are homemade breads and jams or meat and cheese stations. The right caterer can customize some of these things for you. You can even go so far as to set up stations as “booths” like an actual Farmer’s Market. More ideas include olive oil tasting stations, summer pasta salads with fresh herbs, and baked pies and goods.
  1. Travel Theme – We have all seen the weddings decked out completely in a love for Paris. The updated and more modern idea would be an around the world theme. This is for those with a passion for travel or foodies that want to offer food from all different cultures to throw a stand out event. Stations can be from Italy, Argentina, Cuba, Vietnam, and the Caribbean to name a few. This is a way to showcase really great menu items if you have a love of food. From unique and unheard of to favorites such as a risotto station, rustic pizza station, mini Cuban sandwiches for hors d’oeuvres or Caribbean skewers and bites. Don’t forget the bar on this one! This theme can be paired with refreshing spring and summer cocktails such as a Mojito bar, Caribbean rum drinks, or endless signature drink ideas.
  1. Old Hollywood, 20’s, and Gatsby Themes – Classy, Timeless, Gorgeous and Glam. This can be in a ballroom or your rich friend’s mansion.  The attire and décor are very much a part of this wedding theme, but to stand apart from the rest, this can be a really cool theme as far as food and beverages as well. While food is important, this event deserves lots of attention turned towards the bar. Champagne, champagne, champagne. Did I mention champagne?  Have your guests be greeted at the door with it, toast with it, keep it flowing all night. Sugar rimmed glasses, a rock candy or strawberry garnish also add a little something.  Other drink ideas could be a Gin fizz, Mint Julep, Moonshine, Aviation or French 75. Popular bites to fit the time include oysters, deviled eggs, shrimp cocktails, and olive and nuts bars. These all make great hors d’oeuvres and add-ons. Main courses are flexible. You can have a sit-down dinner with this type of event or stations and snacks to keep people up and moving.

If you decide to have a themed wedding, the most important thing to keep in mind is choosing something that inspires you or personally speaks to you. Once you get that idea the rest falls into place. Happy 2016 wedding planning!

8 Ingredients For The Perfect Wedding Day

Let’s talk about the 8 ingredients that make perfect wedding day food and beverage experience.

Do you want your friends and family to remember and talk about your wedding day for years and years?  I know the answer to that question is yes which is why there are a few things you need to know about the most important part of the most important day of your life.  By most important I mean the food and drinks, of course!

Wedding reception food doesn’t always just have to be about the cocktail hour and dinner.  Be creative!  Think about how to work the food and drinks into more parts of your wedding day.  If you keep your guests eating and drinking, you will have happy guests and happy guests like to share their experiences.  Haven’t you heard the saying, “the key to the heart is through the stomach”?  Well, it’s true and that’s how you will get your guests to remember your wedding day for years to come.

I broke your wedding ceremony and reception down into 8 parts that I like to call “the ingredients”.  Let’s talk about the ingredients that make perfect wedding day food and beverage experience.  Enjoy!

THE FIRST INGREDIENT:  Ceremony Sips and Nibbles
Let me be brutally honest, there are a very small amount of people who are excited about watching your actual ceremony.  Surprised?  Are you really surprised?  I’m sure your parents, grandparents, sisters and maybe a best friend or two on the bride’s side are going to enjoy this part of the day, but, unfortunately, that’s probably about it.  If an average wedding has around 150 people attending, less than 5% of guests that are actually excited about the ceremony portion of the day. Don’t be sad, this blog is about solutions!  If I wanted to make you sad I would write a blog about what happens 5 years after the wedding. I’m just kidding.  That’s not why we’re here.  But really, why should the majority of your guests be excited or interested?  Wedding ceremonies are traditionally boring and uncomfortable.  There is never any food, never any drinks and there’s not a whole lot happening in the way of excitement.  It’s just the thing you have to do before the real fun starts.  It’s kind of like sitting on an airplane on your way to Vegas.  Sure you’re excited about getting there, but that doesn’t make flying on an uncomfortable airplane something that you look forward too.  So what do you do?  You start drinking the minute you get on the plane to get the party started.  You see what I’m getting at here.  Your wedding day is a celebration; it’s a party.  So let’s get the party started right away!  Don’t be afraid to break tradition and let your guests have some fun.  I know what you’re thinking, your fiancé’s best friend from college drinks too much and gets out of control.  Relax, even your drunkest friend won’t be intoxicated and unruly before the ceremony even finishes, and if you strongly feel someone will need to be completely intoxicated before 6:30 pm, you might want to consider some new friends.  So what am I telling you to do with your guests here?  Hit them with a half glass of champagne or a shot of a specialty cocktail on the way to sit down.  Maybe even pass a little teaser bite around to get them excited.  Getting dressed up and going out is fun and your guests will be excited, be sure to keep their excitement alive!

THE MAKE OR BREAK INGREDIENT:  Picture Time
Everyone underestimates how long the pictures will take.  Let me tell you something right now, whatever amount of time you have in your head… it will take a few minutes longer than that.  You have two things to think about here.  Think about your bridal party who is taking pictures with you and your guests who are doing something else while they are waiting for you.   The last thing you want is your guests starving while they wait even longer for you to take your pictures.  Here’s another scenario for you: Let’s say you are meeting a group of old high school or college friends for dinner at a nice restaurant.  Everyone is excited to see each other and the anticipation of a fun and exciting evening is in the air.  The mood is overwhelmingly positive and the stage is set for an amazing experience.  The night will include food, drinks, good friends and a celebratory occasion to get together.  Sound familiar?  What could go wrong?  Now let’s say you sit and you immediately order drinks and some appetizers for the table to share.  What if it takes 30 minutes for your drinks to come and an hour for you to get your appetizers?  It’s a given that everyone is a little unhappy and it likely has affected the mood and the focus of the conversation.  Suddenly the rest of the experience is not so good. The ambiance is suddenly not as enjoyable, the drinks are nitpicked with intense scrutiny and tons of other minute details of the food and service are brought to the forefront and dominate the conversation.  Had those drinks and appetizers arrived quickly, the same experience would have been completely different.  The swing would be from average to extraordinary and nothing about the actual experience after the drinks and appetizers would be different.  The experience was lost at the start and there was almost nothing they could do to recover.  Don’t make this mistake.  Get your guests some food and drinks and make them happy.  Make sure while you are taking pictures that you have food and drinks planned for both your wedding party and your guests.

THE EXPECTED INGREDIENT: The Cocktail Hour
Cocktail hour is a portion of the event that is usually automatic and everyone knows is coming.  Therefore, because it is a staple in almost all wedding events, there are so many options here.  We are going to dedicate pages and pages of options for the cocktail hour.  Your options range from simple and classic to off the wall crazy and fun.  In my opinion, this is really the part of the night that you can take some chances with.  So, take them!  Make it memorable.  Make it fun.

THE MAIN INGREDIENT: The Reception
This is the focus and the main part of the evening.  Like I said before, the food and beverages are the most important part of the most important day of your life.  I mean that!  Your options here are endless; buffet, stations, plated, family style, semi-plated, and so many more.  I could go on but I’m sure you don’t have the time to be here all day and after all, this is only an intro!  Don’t worry, I will be breaking these options down into detail in future blogs to come.

THE IMPORTANT INGREDIENT:  Beverage and Bar
You have a lot of ways to get creative here and just like the reception, there are several options.  This is another ingredient I am going to dedicate more posts to in order to really go over all of the possibilities.  The best advice to give right now would be, you have to have some fun with the beverages.  Do his and her specialty drinks, craft beers, mini cocktails, and even some fun non-alcoholic drinks.  Check out our blog on the different types of wedding reception bars to learn more.
5 Wedding Reception Bar Options

THE SWEET INGREDIENT: Dessert
Of course, you’re having cake.  Wedding cake is a given and another piece of the day that is expected.  It is also typically expected to be, well, not that great.  Don’t take it to heart, even great wedding cake is still pretty boring.  Don’t worry, there are lots of cool cakes and great bakeries out there, do a cake and have fun with it.  What’s really important here is, what are you going to do besides the cake?  These options can range from traditional to super cool and fun.  It depends on what part of the country you are in and what kinds of things you like.  The sky is the limit here.  If it’s good, then the guest will love it, remember it and talk about it.   You could accessorize your cake with mini cupcakes, chocolate truffle lollipops, marshmallow treats, cake balls or something along those lines.  You could also go a different route and drop mini cookie jars on each of the tables or do apple or pecan pies on each of the tables.   Don’t worry, I’ll be talking a lot more about dessert options too.
Check Out 5 Cute Dessert Ideas Here

THE UNEXPECTED INGREDIENT: The Treat
The food is gone, the toast is made and the dancing is underway.  The party is in full swing and all of the nonsense is out of the way.  Now is a perfect time to hit them with the little extra fun stuff when they least expect it.  You have a couple of options here depending on what you did up to this point with food and dessert.  You can go sweet or savory.  Pass around some fun stuff or maybe a couple of little things.  Mini sliders, breakfast tacos, and fried chicken lollipops are just a few options.  It’s inexpensive and a great touch, not to mention a very pleasant surprise for your guests.

THE FINAL INGREDIENT: The Takeaway
The night is over and you made your exit as husband and wife, congratulations!  Your guests start to head to their cars and cabs to get home.   Now is when you put the icing on the cake, hand them the grand finale.  Perhaps you hand them warm donuts, a package of warm mini cookies or a slider and fry bag with a mini apple pie.   Wow, how good does that sound? After a long night of drinking, dancing and celebrating who doesn’t want a late night snack to indulge in on the drive home.  Finish strong!

Now you have the outline for the perfect wedding day food and beverage experience.  Once again, this is the most important part of the most important day of your life and if you didn’t believe me when I said before, I’m sure you do now!  Remember to check back for examples and some ideas for each of the ingredients to your perfect wedding day.  Happy wedding planning!

5 Cute Dessert Ideas For Your Wedding

Take a look at 5 cute dessert ideas that can allow you to veer away from the norm and add even more originality to your wedding day!

Don’t forget dessert!  Although, who would, right?

Everyone knows a wedding cake is part of the process when you’re planning your big day.  For some, the cake tasting is one of the things they look forward to the most.  Wedding cakes are great, traditional, and an easy way to make sure everyone gets some dessert, especially if your venue cuts and serves it.  But, what if you wanted to do something other than a traditional wedding cake and groom’s cake?  Take a look below at 5 cute dessert ideas that can allow you to veer away from the norm and add even more originality to your wedding day!

  1. S’mores Bar: these are super fun and super cute, especially for outdoor weddings and the fall season!  Sure, most venues have some restrictions on open flames but you don’t necessarily have to do it where your guests toast the marshmallows themselves.  See if your caterer is able to offer a S’mores Bar and an attendant for it as well, that way you won’t have to worry about open flames and it’ll be much safer for your guests and your wedding overall!
  2. Cupcakes: this one is pretty obvious, you can do cupcakes instead of cake.  The most fun part about this option is the freedom it gives you to give some personality to your dessert.  If you do one big cake, it’s all the same design and most of time the same flavor.  With cupcakes, you can do as many flavors as you want and decorate them to your liking!  Or, have you ever thought of build your own cupcakes?  I didn’t think so.  Have the basic cupcakes there in different flavors and then have all the makings there for them as well!  Your guests get to pick the flavor cupcake, different icing, whether or not they want sprinkles, if they want M&M’s or any other toppings, or even little mini cupcake toppers that go along with your wedding theme!  This way, your guests have something to do, as well as, get to pick their own dessert.  I’m sure they’d appreciate it as much as you would, and the effect it has on both your wallet or your sanity is another plus!
  3. Popcorn Bar: popcorn isn’t a very popular dessert item at weddings, so if you’re looking for something different but still delicious, try this one!  There are tons of different flavors of popcorn you can offer to cover everyone’s preference and it’s something your guests don’t have to eat all in one sitting.  This also gives you the freedom to use it as a part of your wedding decorations if you wanted.  You can get all kinds of different vases to put the popcorn in and arrange it to your liking.  I’m sure you could even get popcorn in your wedding colors!  Check with your caterer to see if they can do it, chances are, they can!
  4. Milk & Cookies: this is always fun because everyone loves milk and cookies so you can’t go wrong!  Once again, this is an option that allows you to offer a ton of different flavors and will allow you to please all of your guests no matter what their preference.  If you wanted to decorate cookies with icing you can do different designs, but be sure to keep your wedding colors involved!  The milk is a bit tricky, it is best to have an attendant at this station to assure the milk is kept cold and they can also pour for your guests, this will reduce spills and messes, as well as, your stress level!  Another way to customize this option would be to include specialized cups for the milk which could double as a take home favor!  Kill two birds with one stone which is always a plus when planning a wedding!
  5. Assortment of Desserts: this is great and can either relieve some stress or cause more depending on how extravagant you’re going with it.  This is ideal for someone who wants to give their guests a lot of options for dessert and doesn’t mind going against tradition.  With this, there are so many possibilities you are able to cater to exactly what your favorite types of desserts are.  Brownies, mini pies, cake balls, truffle lollipops, tarts, cookies, cupcakes, anything your heart desires, throw it on the dessert table!

Your wedding dessert can be a wonderful way to get creative and be different while also getting your guests more involved, if that’s what you’re after.  Wedding cakes are great and give you the opportunity to get that ever-so-memorable picture of you and your love cutting the cake together, so you don’t have to get rid of it completely.  Do a cake in addition to other desserts if you still want to have those traditional moments and photos.  Feel free to surround your wedding cake with cupcakes, brownies or cookies, or do a separate s’mores bar or dessert station as well, choose whatever you please as long as you are happy with it.  Don’t fear creativity, not just when it comes to desserts but in all aspects of your wedding planning, originality often leads to the best memories!

Four Common Catering Misconceptions

Get the most out of your caterer with these four tips. Learn what will actually save you money and what only sounds like it will.

Choosing a caterer for your big day is one of the major decisions you will have to make.  It is no secret that wedding costs add up quickly and with there being so many options within your catering decisions, this may seem like a good place to cut down on some of your budget.  There is no harm in trying to trim some costs, but not everything you think is going to save you money will actually do so.  I am here to explain some misconceptions when it comes to catering and ways to save.  Get the most out of your caterer with these four tips, learn what will actually save you money and what only sounds like it will.

  1. Thinking an all vegetarian event will save you money
    It makes sense when you initially get the idea, but when it comes time to crunch the numbers, you may be surprised. While steak can be pricey, it doesn’t mean that vegetarian options would save you much money. Instead of looking at meat vs no meat, consider the products. Mushroom ravioli with truffle oil can cost just as much, if not more, than some meat entrees. Take into consideration the products used with each dish when you are choosing your menu items. If something is imported or out of season, it may add a few extra bucks per person.
  2. Assuming action stations are cheaper
    Actions stations are a great addition to a wedding! They engage your guests, allow them to pick how they want their food, and they can catch up with family and friends while they wait their turn. However, with each action station comes an additional attendant or two to help serve guests – and that means extra staffing cost for you. When considering action stations, don’t look at just the price per person for the station. Ask your caterer how many staff members are required to work each station you are interested in. If having solely actions stations breaks the wedding bank, choose one action station that is a must-have, and ask your caterer to help you find the right buffet to compliment it.
  3. Ordering less hors d’oeuvres than your anticipated head count
    It may sound crazy, but it happens more often than you’d think. If you have 200 guests attending, and only have the budget to feed hors d’oeuvres to 60 of them, it’s time to come up with a new plan. Think of it from the guest’s perspective – if you attended a wedding and heard people rave about an hors d’oeuvre, you’d want to try it, wouldn’t you? To avoid this, choose lesser priced hors d’oeuvres that you can order more of, or ask your caterer about their display selection. You want to make sure whatever is available to guests is available to all guests.
  4. Paying for an open bar for half of your guests
    This is not a reality. Even if his side doesn’t drink at all, how will the bartender know if they are part of the groom’s side? And how will they regulate it? If you have 250 guests and think only 100 will drink, look into other bar options. Venues and caterers offer a variety of options. If you don’t like the idea of a cash bar, consider drink tickets or a consumption bar. Both are paid by you, but they can be more affordable alternatives in this case. With drink tickets, there are different tiers of pricing depending on the type of bar available. You can purchase as many drink tickets as you wish, and then distribute them amongst the guests you know will drink. An easy way to do this is including it with their place card. Once their tickets run out, they can have the option of purchasing drinks. A consumption bar means every drink has a set price (which also depends on which tier bar you have available) each drink ordered gets tallied throughout the event. You will then get billed after the event for those drinks served. You can set limits to this as well. If your bar budget caps at $2,500, the bar can turn into a cash bar at that point. Most caterers and venues are great about allowing you to extend the cap as the night goes on as well.

It is easy to see why Brides and Grooms may see some of the above options as smart money saving ideas before they are really looked into.  It is important to make sure you evaluate and compare your options before actually making a decision.  Don’t cheat your guests out of something delicious by thinking you are saving a few bucks when in reality, you may not be.  Don’t stress, caterers are well aware that there is always a budget to aim within when planning a wedding.  A good caterer will work with you and be able to make suggestions so that you will be happy with your food choices and your spending!