Kid-Friendly Wedding Ideas

If you and your fiancé do not have children, the decision whether or not to have kids attend your wedding can be a delicate one. It’s best to be clear on the save-the-dates or actual invites if children are invited or not.  Addressing the envelope to the whole family, for example, The Smith Family, versus addressing it to Mr. and Mrs. Smith helps clear up some confusion and is the most polite and subtle way to approach the issue.  Since today’s blog is about those who do wish for kids to take part in the festivities I will leave out the best ways to say “No Children Please” and continue on to how to make kids a sweet and fun addition to your celebration!

If you don’t want restless children at your event you will need to provide some entertainment options for them.  Here are 3 helpful trends I have been seeing:

  1. Ceremonies
    Unfortunately, during the time the children are expected to sit still and be quiet is when they seem to experience the most restlessness.  Ask your caterer to make the kid’s small individual bags of popcorn, or something similar, to keep them occupied during this time.
  1. Kid’s Meal Options
     Don’t be afraid to ask your caterer for kid’s meals. Young children don’t typically like the adult food served at receptions and a group of cranky, hungry little ones is the opposite of what you want. Most caterers are happy to provide a kid’s buffet or boxed meal option, this can even save you a couple bucks!
  1. The Tot’s Table
    If the children are old enough to be at their own table (think kindergarten and up), a Kids Only Table is the best way to keep them entertained throughout dinner and can be really fun. Don’t shy away from asking one of your closest mommy or daddy friends to help you get creative with this and even help you decorate it on the big day. Close friends, for the most part, like to be involved in the wedding planning in some shape or form so now is your chance to make them feel included, it’s a win-win!
    Some ideas for the kids table include bubbles, glow sticks, crayons, coloring books, and play dough.  The Crayola website, along with quite of few other free websites, provides downloadable coloring printables. I have even seen wedding themed coloring printables at receptions before. Don’t forget snacks and possibly juice boxes.  Centerpieces should be interactive, so swap that floral arrangement for pinwheels for example.  Stay away from glitter, paint, or confetti to avoid any venue restrictions and possible clean up fees if it gets all over.  Also, be sure to put signage on the kid’s area so parents can easily find it.

In the end, parents will also bring the items needed to help entertain their children so don’t feel too much pressure. However, providing a few kid-friendly options definitely doesn’t hurt. If all else fails, hire a babysitter to watch the children in the Kids Only Space at your wedding. This is an especially good option if your venue has a space that can be used as a kid’s lounge.  I hope these kid-friendly wedding ideas come in handy, happy wedding planning!

4 Details You Need to Know Before Meeting Wedding Caterers

Wedding planning can be made into a bigger beast than it needs to be, but if you come prepared to vendor meetings it will tame things quite a bit.

Wedding planning can be made into a bigger beast than it needs to be, but if you come prepared to vendor meetings it will tame things quite a bit.  Vendors don’t expect you to walk into the meeting knowing the ins and outs of the wedding world … that’s their job! However, in order to successfully find the right vendors for your big day, you do need to know what you want to a certain extent. Here are four key things you need to know, or at least have some idea of before starting your search for the perfect wedding caterer:

  1. Your Budget
    This topic always feels so taboo to couples which is why I bring it up first.  Your budget really dictates what can be made possible.  There is nothing wrong with saying your budget, it actually helps in many ways and makes planning much easier. Stating your desired budget helps your prospective caterer choose the best menu for you. Don’t fixate on whether your budget is too high or low for what you want.  Tell your caterer what you want and what you are willing to pay for it. If your budget truly is unrealistic, caterers will help bring you to reality.  There isn’t a caterer out there that could pull off serving surf and turf for $8 per person.  However, if you are willing to work with the caterer and be open-minded to their suggestions, you may be able to get closer to your ideal wedding menu without completely hurting your wallet. Trust the pros! Tell them what you want. Be honest and open, and they will do the same.
  2. Your Desired Theme/Style
    Whether you want traditional or quirky, you need to have an idea of which road you want to take. Some caterers specialize in very elegant, traditional plated meals while others are known for breaking the mold. Then, of course, there are the caterers in the middle who do a little bit of everything. It’s not a matter of talent, but your preference.  Knowing earlier on what type of meal you want to have at your wedding helps save you time and stress. Choosing your vendors is like dating all over again, you find the one you click with, and the rest is history.
  3. Guest Count
    By no means do you need a final headcount before meeting with caterers, but having an idea of how many guests will be attending will help your prospective caterer choose menus that are more realistic for you. This goes side by side with your budget like we just talked about above, 250 people versus 50 people can mean a completely different menu for your desired budget. If you really don’t have any idea how many guests you plan on having, you need to step back and sort that out first.
  4. Event Hours
    This detail gets overlooked a lot, but it affects your caterer just as much as the menu or rentals. Most caterers include an hourly rate for their staff, so you need to have an idea of how long you want your event to be. If you already have your venue booked, this should be an easy answer. If you are still looking for your venue, just having an idea of the type of event you want is enough for your prospective caterer. Some couples choose to only have a light cocktail reception that wraps up within two hours while others want a six-hour reception. You don’t need to know your exact event start and end time, you just need to know what kind of event you have in mind.

So there you have it, the 4 details of your wedding that you should know the answer to before starting your search for the perfect caterer.  The more information you can provide your prospective caterer with, the better off you will be and the more they will be able to help you.  Planning your special day is never anything short of stressful, embrace the help when it is available and allow your caterer to make your ideas work the best they can.  You will be surprised at what is possible when you let down your wedding planning guard a little and leave some aspects to the pros.  Happy wedding planning!

Refreshing Spring Wedding Ideas

Spring is upon us and with the change in weather, we are seeing couples opt for some less formal options, as well as, lighter menu selections to add to the big day.

Spring is upon us and with the change in weather, we are seeing couples opt for some less formal options, as well as, lighter menu selections to add to the big day.  Below are some fresh and cool ideas for the warmer months of 2016:

Grown up Popsicles:
“Poptails”, or frozen cocktails are a playful idea for the spring or summer and the options are endless. These can go with your wedding theme or be a take on your favorite cocktail. Great with champagne or prosecco, examples include champagne and raspberry, margarita, wine soaked, bourbon peach and many more. Also, feel free to leave out the alcohol in some for a kid-friendly version!

Mix and Matched Décor:
From stemware to plates to chairs not everything has to match anymore. If you are going for a slightly more casual and lively look, this is a new trend in the wedding world. You can also apply the same concept to bridesmaid dresses and color palates. Don’t be afraid to get eclectic!

Fruit and Veggie Bar:
This is a great cocktail hour idea for a lighter fare. For the veggies, this is all about the dips, be sure to have a few different dip options! To change up the traditional veggie and fruit display idea, you could offer individual veggie cups with dip or yogurt and fruit parfaits.

Dessert Shooters:
For a late night snack or appealing display, these are a standout dessert option. Wedding cake is often left untouched, but mini desserts seem to fly off the tray! Some ideas include Strawberry Shortcake, Key Lime, Lemon Meringue, Boston  Crème Pie, Banana Cream, and Lemon Cheesecake

Low-Key Ceremonies:
If you are a more private couple, you can choose to keep your wedding ceremony simple. I am seeing this more and more with couples who want to get to the celebrating while still having a meaningful intimate moment with one another. Another way to keep things relaxed is by offering pre-ceremony cocktails because, well, it’s never a bad time for a cocktail!

Spring weddings are great and super enjoyable.  Not only is the weather beautiful, but this time of year allows for a lot of fun food and drink options.  Whether you want a low-key wedding or to go above and beyond, these ideas can help make your special day complete.  Happy wedding planning!

4 Must Have Spring Wedding Cocktails

There are so many ways to tie a spring theme to your wedding beyond just your bouquet. I compiled a few of my favorite floral inspired drink recipes for you to try.

Who doesn’t love a spring wedding? Everyone will be looking forward to the great weather and beautiful blooms on your special day, but there’s no reason to stop there!  There are so many ways to tie a spring theme to your wedding beyond just your bouquet.  I compiled a few of my favorite floral inspired drink recipes for you to try. Looks like this spring will be a gin-lovers dream!

Lemon and Lavender Collins
2oz gin
1oz lavender simple syrup
1oz lemon juice
Seltzer Water
Sprig of lavender or lemon wheel for garnish

Lavender Simple Syrup Recipe
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 Tbsp Lavender Extract

Part 1 – Making the Lavender Simple Syrup
– In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the water and sugar
– Stir to combine, then bring to a boil
– When all of the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes
– Turn the heat off, add in the Lavender Extract, stir
– Allow to cool completely before using
Part 2 – Mixology
– In a cocktail glass, add in a good handful of ice followed by the gin, lavender simple syrup, and lemon juice.
– Stir, then top off with seltzer water.
– Garnish with a sprig of lavender or thinly sliced lemon wheel and enjoy!

Cardamom Rose Cocktail
1.5oz of Hendrick’s gin (this is a rose & cucumber infused gin)
.75oz of Rose syrup
.25oz of Fresh lemon juice
.75oz of Fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
2 dashes of Peychauds bitters
1 Cardamom Pod

Rose Syrup Recipe
2.5 cups water
4 cups sugar
.25 cup fresh lime juice
.5 cup rose water

Part 1 – Making the Rose Syrup
– Bring water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan
– Simmer for 10 minutes
– Add the lime juice and rose water and cook 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally
– Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool
– Pour the syrup into a clean, dry bottle
Part 2 – Mixology
– Lightly muddle 1 cardamom pod at the bottom of shaker
(not too much muddling or it will overpower the drink)
– Add the rest of the ingredients and ice; Shake for 20 seconds
– Strain over fresh ice to remove the cardamom pod
– Add a splash of seltzer water
– Garnish with rose petals or fresh lemon wedge

Jasmine Cocktail
1.5oz gin
.75oz fresh lemon juice
.25oz Campari
.25oz Cointreau

Mixology
– Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to chill.
– Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist

Chamomile Honey and Whiskey Cocktail
6 chamomile tea bags
4 cups water
4 tbsp honey
3oz whiskey or bourbon
2 orange slices
3 lemon slices
Fresh chamomile flowers (optional)

Mixology
– Heat water to a boil, pour hot water over tea bags in a large, heat-safe pitcher/container
– Add honey and bourbon and let steep for 5 – 10 minutes
– Pour mixture into a shaker, add ice and shake for 15 seconds.
– Pour over ice cubes into a rocks glass, and garnish with chamomile flowersI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having a signature cocktail at your wedding is a great idea!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, having a signature cocktail at your wedding is a great idea!  Leave your guests with the memory of something they had only exclusively at your wedding and will talk about for long after the day is over.  Give one or two, or maybe even all, of these cocktails a try and you will be glad you did!  Enjoy! And as always, happy wedding planning.

How to Plan Your Wedding Catering Menu

Picking out your wedding menu should be one of the less stressful parts of planning a wedding. It’s a huge part of the wedding, yes, but if you have the right caterer, they’ll make it easy for you.

Picking out your wedding menu should be one of the less stressful parts of planning a wedding.  It’s a huge part of the wedding, yes, but if you have the right caterer, they’ll make it easy for you.  Often times the hardest part about planning is knowing where to start, which is why I broke down how to plan your wedding catering menu into 3 simple steps to get you started on creating the menu of your dreams for the most memorable day of your life.

1. Choose Your Menu Style
The first thing you need to decide is what style you’d like the dinner to be.  There are benefits to all of them, so figure out what kind of a feel you want to have at your wedding.  Plated meals are wonderful because they seem more elegant and make everyone feel extra special being served a course by course dinner, but they can be more costly and take longer to get through.  Buffets can be very cost effective and quick, and give you a lot for a little, but can be a little tricky with it being self-serve.  Maybe the idea of a self-serve buffet just isn’t in your vision for the day at all.  In that case, stations are always cute and fun and a great way to get your guests interacting and mingling, but then you have to think about extra service fees that come with having served stations.  And of course, there’s always family-style which has a very comfortable feel and makes sure anyone sitting in close proximity gets to know each other.  There are positives and negatives that can be found with almost any serving style option so decide what fits best with your vision of the evening and run with it!

2. Be Accommodating, But Only When Necessary 
Once you’ve figured out the style you want, then you have to actually pick what you want to serve and that opens up a whole other can of worms, doesn’t it?  Well, it shouldn’t.  Your guests are going to enjoy whatever food you provide and hopefully they are there more for the celebration of the union as opposed to the free food.  Making sure your food items are something the guests will be comfortable eating is definitely something to keep in mind when choosing your menu, but to a certain degree, you shouldn’t base every choice on a handful of guests, one in particular, or making sure everyone will love everything you pick.  Everyone has different tastes, opinions, diet restrictions, etc. so there is bound to be someone that doesn’t like something, and that’s okay!  It’s important to be accommodating to anyone that needs accommodation, but to simply attempt that for your entire wedding by going off of everyone else’s tastes and opinions, is almost impossible to accomplish.  Of course, you want everyone to be happy and feel like they’ve been thought of.  I mean, no one should be left out!  Everyone should get to eat and enjoy what they’re having, so there’s one, very easy solution to this predicament; find a caterer that can accommodate any diet restrictions you need.  Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, halal, does everyone involved in making and preparing the food need to use powderless or non-latex gloves to avoid setting off Aunt Petunia’s allergy?   Anyone who is making your wedding meal should have no problem accommodating any guests’ needs you ask.  Certain requests or requirements could come with additional costs, so keep that in mind, but if it’s important to you, make sure you do your research and ask questions before you choose your caterer.

3. Choose Your Type of Cuisine 
What about if you don’t necessarily have anyone with specific diet restrictions you’re trying to accommodate but you wanted all of your food to be a certain cuisine, or multiple cuisines?  Maybe you’re from Ethiopia and want to have all Ethiopian food but you don’t want to make grandma cook at your wedding?  Maybe you’re from China and want all traditional Chinese, wedding catering?  Maybe you and your honey love to travel and want to have all different types of cuisines in mini bites?  Foods from Africa, Mexico, India, Spain, Nigeria, Ireland, etc., the list can go on.  Finding a caterer that can accommodate a specific cuisine can be very difficult and ultimately, pricey.  Instead, look for a caterer that can build all kinds of styles, flavors, and menus, not necessarily just what you specifically want to have served.  Any caterer that has great reviews, especially if they’ve been reviewed for specialized menus, is definitely a caterer to consider.  Flexibility is crucial at this point because it’ll get you exactly what you want and hopefully for the price you’d like to spend.

An experienced caterer can create, duplicate, and specialize almost any menu for you.  Specific cuisines, diet restrictions, allergies, specialized menus, personalized hors d’oeuvres, mini bites, desserts, you name it.  It’s your day and therefore, anyone you hire should want you to have everything exactly as you’ve always hoped!  Of course, you should always make sure your caterer offers a tasting, paid or free with booking, so you can be comfortable with their cooking style and most, if not all, should.  As always, a good caterer will make it easy for you, and they are definitely out there, so do a little research and find a caterer capable of creating your perfect menu!

4 Ways To Personalize Your Wedding Catering

There aren’t many things wedding guests look forward to more than the food you will serve. Since this will catch their attention the most, it’s a great time to make it your own! Here are a few ways you can customize your menu.

There aren’t many things wedding guests look forward to more than the food you will serve. Since this will catch their attention the most, it’s a great time to make it your own! Here are a few ways you can customize your menu.

1. Adding a Personal Theme
There are so many ways to make your meal personal, and it can go beyond including meals from your cultural background. Recreating your first dinner date, incorporating a signature food item from your college years, or serving up some menu selections from your upcoming honeymoon destination are creative ways to let your guests know a little more about you as a couple! Couples with a love for travel may have stations with food from around the world. Dodger fans could serve Dodger Dogs and peanuts – or if the couple roots for rival teams, they could have a little bit from both! The possibilities are endless.

2. Signature Cocktails/Favorite Beverages
Providing guests the chance to try your favorite drink is not only the easiest way to personalize your wedding, it guarantees you will have your favorite drink in your hand all night! Whether it’s a classic like an old-fashioned or something delicious you accidentally created one night, it’s always a hit for guests. Some couples even brew and serve their own cider or beer! But make sure to check with your caterer and venue first. If they don’t allow outside alcohol, you may not be able to serve it to guests.
Bonus Tip: Creating a bar sign with unique and personalized drink names will help your guests know about the signature or favorite drinks, and they will be more likely to try them.  Luckily, since it is your wedding, you have creative freedom to call the drinks whatever you want, whether you made them up or not! This works with non-alcoholic drinks too. Serving your favorite bottled root beer or your grandma’s famous homemade lemonade is just as personal. Whatever your favorites may be, your guests will want to try them!

3. Send Off/Late Night Food
After a night of drinking and dancing, your guests could use a little snack! This is a great opportunity to incorporate something small and fun, especially if you opted for a more traditional dinner earlier in the evening. Popcorn for movie lovers, fresh pretzels to recreate your first date at the fair, or mini street tacos just because they are your absolute favorite… whatever you want! The possibilities are endless for personalized small bites, and they are easy for guests to grab on their way out. Ask your caterer how they can make your send off a little more delicious.

4. Favors
Similar to the send off snack, favors can be small bites that can be an easy personal touch. Mini jars filled with honey from your hometown, or small pastries or donut holes from your college late night coffee shop are fun and unique ways to bring personal touches to your wedding. Favors don’t have to be food! But people will be more likely to be interested in them if they are. Non-food items can be fun and personal, but you may have a lot more left behind. No donuts would be spared at the end of the night!

Remember, the key to your guest’s hearts is through their stomachs!  Your wedding will be remembered for years to come if you have a specialized or personal treat that you guests have never enjoyed before!

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!