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!

Why You Should Consider A Winter Wedding

Winter weddings are not nearly as popular as the spring and fall season. This makes them even more unique and with a few tips, very memorable.

Winter weddings are not nearly as popular as the spring and fall season. This makes them even more unique and with a few tips, very memorable.

An advantage of a wedding during the cold months is more availability at venues. More availability usually translates to less expensive, especially if you are open to a wedding at the beginning of the New Year. Of course, you need to take the weather into consideration and book an indoor or heated venue.  Winter weddings can also guarantee a great turn out as most people do their traveling during the summer months, and a winter celebration gives them something to look forward to and be excited about. Below are some ideas that make for a stunning and intimate wedding.

  1. Charming Hors d’oeuvres – These can be for a cocktail hour or late night snack, but offering something other than the actual dinner can add style to a wedding. Food as art is a trend we are starting to see. Hors d’oeuvres and displays need to look neat as well as appetizing. These are usually fairly inexpensive to add in the scheme of things and adds another element. Some winter examples are a shooter of tomato soup and grilled cheese bite, candy cane macaroons, bite size cookie with a bailey’s shooter, seasonal and artsy crostini, and bacon wrapped chestnuts.
  1. Lighting- With shorter days and darker nights, look for a venue with chandeliers to give a romantic glow. Or a venue that allows you to string café lights for a cozy, intimate ambiance. Otherwise, go crazy with candles, twinkle lights, or any special lighting to make for a romantic winter night.
  1. Main Dishes– You will want to feed your guests warm items in the winter. We have a tendency to order comfort food in the colder months. While bite-size appetizers or midnight snacks are great, you don’t want the main course to make them sluggish or sleepy. Opt for entrees high in protein like steak, chicken, and fish. Add veggies and stay away from fried foods or anything greasy. Soup and Salad are both great options for a first course when having a plated dinner.
  1. Hot Chocolate Bar– What better way to keep warm than a hot cocoa bar. It doesn’t need a lot of space and you can dress it up with DIY signs, fake snow, and cute mugs. Or keep is simple with your holiday or wedding colors and let the edible goodies speak for themselves. For a unique twist, add jumbo marshmallows with a text or graphic of your wedding date, names, or theme.  Make it an adult hot chocolate station by offering Grand Mariner, Peppermint schnapps, Kahlua, Rum, Crème de Mint, Amaretto and last but not least Bailey’s Irish Cream. Adding a hot toddy station is also something you rarely see if going for a unique treat.

So, don’t be scared of a winter wedding!  Your guests will be happy to get themselves out of the house to share your special day with you.  Pushing back your wedding date a few months and waiting for the winter could not only save you a few bucks but could also help you land the venue of your dreams.  If a month or two is all that stands between you and your top choice venue, wait it out and have the event you always imagined.  Your day will be special and memorable no matter what the weather.

5 Important Questions to Ask Your Venue Before Booking

If you don’t ask the right questions before booking your venue you could be facing thousands of dollars in additional charges that could have been avoided.

Planning a wedding can be extremely stressful and time-consuming, not to mention, very expensive! One of the biggest and costliest decisions, when it comes to your special day, will be choosing your venue. That is why it is important for you to know the right questions to ask when shopping for your venue. These questions can help ensure you are getting everything you want, and most importantly, they can save you a significant amount of money! So don’t stress, we are here to help, take a look below at the five questions to ask before booking your wedding venue!

  1. Does the Venue Supply Tables and Chairs?
    Believe it or not, there are several venues out there that may not supply tables and chairs for your event.  A question like this may be easy to overlook, but renting tables and chairs is no small expense and can add up very quickly!
    -Chiavari chairs are the most common and desirable for weddings, these chairs can run up to $10 per chair to rent.  White garden chairs are another common wedding chair, averaging at about $4 per chair.  120-inch tables seat 10 people and typically rent for about $10 each.  In the end, it will cost you about $11 per guest if you were to set up with chiavari chairs and round tables with seating for 10.  If you have 150 guests, that already an additional $1,650!
  2. Does the Venue have China, Glassware and Silverware?
    This information is not always presented at the beginning when getting a quote from a venue or caterer. Unfortunately, most independent venues do not supply china, glassware, and silverware and these necessities can end up being extremely expensive.
    -On average, china, glassware, and silverware can cost $5 to $10 per person, depending on what type of event you are having. If you have 150 guests, that can add up to an additional $750 to $1,000.
  3. Does the Venue have a Dance Floor?
    There is no better day to celebrate and dance than your wedding day, but your guests are going to want to join you!  Make sure there is room on the dance floor for both you and your guests to enjoy your special day.
    -A 20 by 20-foot dance floor can cost you about $1,000.
  4. Does the Venue Supply Table Linens and Linen Napkins?
    If the venue you are looking at does not supply tables and chairs, like we talked about previously, it is likely that it does not supply linens either.
    -Napkins start at around 75 cents each and liens, for the average 120-inch table, go for about $17 each.  You must also keep in mind, you are responsible for covering more than just the tables for your guests’ seating.  Buffet tables, cake tables, gift tables, registration tables, and whatever else you may have will also need to be covered and should be added into your cost.  A 150 guest wedding will consist of about 22 tables and 150 napkins, bringing the price for linens to around $486.50.
  5. Does the Venue Charge for Parking?
    If you are having your reception in or near a downtown area, there is a good chance your venue either charges for parking or requires valet service.
    -Parking could cost anywhere from $5 to $15 per car. If you calculate a 150 guest wedding by one car per two guests, you would have 75 cars, averaging an additional cost of $750.

We hope we didn’t scare you too much with all of these big numbers! As you can see, the necessary items for your wedding can add up fast! If you don’t ask the right questions you could be facing thousands of dollars in additional charges that possibly could have been avoided. Be informed, ask first and save money!

Wedding Bar 101

A walk through of the 5 types of beverage service options you can choose from for your wedding reception.

Wedding planning requires a lot of work and decision making.  It is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the vendors you are considering and proposals you are reviewing. No matter where you go for your wedding reception needs, a major question you are going to encounter is “What type of bar service would you like”? While the question is simple, the answer may not be, especially because alcoholic beverages can be one of the most expensive parts of your reception. Don’t stress, we are here to help! There are 5 types of beverage service options you can choose from and we are going to walk you through all of them in order to turn your difficult decision into a breeze.

  1. Non-Alcoholic Bar
    While choosing not to serve alcohol at your wedding is not for everyone, it is an option and believe it or not, there is a way to make it fun! You can serve “Mocktails”, offer a soda bar, flavored lemonades, and even ice cream shakes. Don’t be afraid to provide your guests with something unique or even create a signature non-alcoholic drink. Just because you aren’t going to have alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t have fun serving your guests!
  2. Cash Bar
    This is easy to understand, with a cash bar all of your guests will be paying for their own drinks. Even though the explanation is simple, there are still some important questions you need to be sure to ask your caterer when choosing this option. While you are choosing to have your guests pay for all of their alcoholic drinks, be sure that you are providing them with non-alcoholic beverages. You don’t want your guests to end up getting charged every time they order a soft drink or any kind of regular beverage. You may also want to consider the option of combining the cash bar with one of the fun non-alcoholic packages from above. Combining will allow you to provide your guests with a fun non-alcoholic drink station while still giving them the option to opt for alcohol on their own dime. Either way, everyone is sure to enjoy themselves no matter what their preference.
  3. Consumption Host Bar
    A consumption host bar is one of the options that allows you to host all of the drinks at no charge to your guests. This is where things get a little more complicated and a little more thinking has to be involved. We know you want to provide your guests with everything you can, but we also know everyone has a budget. The real catch with this option is that you don’t know what your final bill will be until the end of the evening, scary right? While this may not worry everyone, for those of us trying to make sure we stick to a budget, it could make you a little uneasy. Don’t worry, that’s why we are here, below is a way to figure out a rough estimate of how much this option will cost you in the end. Do the calculation below in order to determine whether or not you think this option will be right for you. Remember, if you have your heart set on fully hosting a bar for your guests, this is only one of two options, so even if after further investigation this is out of your price range, all hope is not lost!
    Consumption Host Bar Calculation (for a 4-hour event) Get the consumption drink price for beer, wine, and a mixed drink, add them together and divide by 3. This is your average drink price. Divide that number by the price for the 4 hours of bar time, that will give you the number of drinks per person. For example lets say beer is $5, wine is $6, and mixed drinks are $7, that gives you an average drink price of $6. If a 4-hour bar is $24 then we divide 24 by 6 and get an answer of 4 drinks per person.
    See, the calculation is simple! The only catch here is, only you know the drinking habits of your guests. If you think there is no way each person will drink more than 4 drinks, this might be the right choice for you budget wise. If you have a lot of heavy drinkers attending, this option is probably not your best choice and it might be time to scroll down and look at the open bar option.
  4. Open/Host Bar
    As mentioned previously, this is your alternative option when you plan on taking care of all your guests’ drinks for the evening. With the open bar option, you are paying a fixed price, which allows you to accurately calculate your budget and provide your guests with free alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for the night. Most venues and caterers will offer different levels of open bar, which are typically charged by the hour. The longer you purchase, the less expensive each drink becomes.
  5. Partial Cash Bar
    We’ve mentioned budget a lot, and for those of you stressing about it, this option is our gift to you. We know you want to offer your guests everything you can in order for them to have the best time possible at your wedding reception. If you have your heart set on providing your guests with drinks but your budget does not seem to be in agreement, there is a way to please both. There are a few different options when choosing a partial cash bar. One way is to use drink tickets, you can offer each guest 1 or 2 drink tickets to redeem at the bar. If your guests want additional drinks after they use their tickets, it would be cash. There is a way to make the ticket option fun, you can print nice tickets with your wedding logo, pictures, or fun quotes. If you choose this option you might as well go all the way, make the tickets something you are happy with, really incorporate them into your all around wedding theme. If the drink ticket method is not for you, you can go with the maximum bar spend option. The maximum bar spend option allows you to put a fixed amount towards the bar tab and once that tab is reached, it becomes a cash bar. None of these options sound like something you like? Luckily, we have one more for you. Our last option is to host an open bar for only a fixed amount of hours. Let’s say you’re having a 5-hour reception, you may choose to host the bar for the first 3 hours then let the bar switch to cash for the last 2. There are many different options when it comes to choosing a partial cash bar, the only thing left to decide is which will work best for you.

There you have it, the 5 types of beverage service options you can choose from for your wedding reception. So now, take a deep breath, decide what you really want to offer your guests, take a look at your budget, and make it work! It is possible to please your guests and your wallet. Wedding planning isn’t easy, but your wedding should be one of the greatest days of your life. Find an option that works best for you so that you are able to enjoy your special day to the very fullest!

6 Cool Wedding Food Ideas

6 fun and practical wedding reception food ideas that will help maximize your budget and your guests’ experience!

While a lot of hard work and planning goes into your wedding day, food is always a major part of every occasion and something your guests remember.  In order to ensure the menu of your special day gets rave reviews, here are a few fun and practical wedding reception food ideas that will help you maximize your budget, as well as, your guests’ experience.

  1. Mini is Still Big
    Small bites have a big impact!  Sliders, cones, tacos, savory lollipops, soup sips… we could go on all night. Going mini allows your guests to enjoy a variety of unique flavors without getting them so stuffed they can’t show off their dance moves.  Remember, it’s supposed to be fun, small food options allow your guests to keep it moving all night long!
  2. Family Style
    Plated dinners are always nice, but sometimes they can feel a bit too formal and hinder the fun of moving around and socializing.  If you are totally against a buffet or stations, family style is an option you may want to consider.  Going family style is a little more casual, but not quite the buffet line.  Your guests will be able to pick and choose the foods they like while also being encouraged to interact with one another.  If you are not fully convinced family style is the way to go, you can always do a semi-family style dinner.  A semi-family style dinner consists of having a plated entrée for each guest while having fun sides come out on platters, it’s the best of both worlds!
  3. Variety, Variety, Variety!
    Stations are a great way to offer your guests an interactive experience, get them up and moving, and give them a wide selection of food.  These are not your parent’s stations, it doesn’t have to be the same old carving and pasta stations.  Get a little crazy with an Avocado Martini Bar, Pulled Pork Tacos Station, Risotto Bar, Chicken and Waffle Station, you get the idea.  Be creative, there are no rules when it comes to the foods you choose for your special day!
  4. Comfort is Always Cool
    Comfort can be casual or upscale and it’s a fun way to get your guests to experiment a little bit.  Comfort food can be great, delicious, and memorable.  Take the classics and give them an unexpected twist.  Try Cajun Spiced Roasted Chicken, Greek Meatloaf, Loaded 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese, Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwich Station, Texas Chili Bar, Chicken and Waffles, Champagne and Fried Chicken, nothing is off limits.  Incorporating foods everyone loves into your wedding reception with a sophisticated twist is something all of your guests can enjoy, don’t be afraid!
  5. Cocktails
    These days, when it comes to events, the drinks are as important as the food.  It doesn’t matter if you are doing beer and wine or a super-premium open bar, it’s easy to make it fun!  Make an effort to do a custom cocktail or two, your guests will definitely want to try the drink they can only get exclusively at your wedding.  Also, offer local craft beers to make the bar a little more interesting.  Oh and by the way, did you know frozen cocktail popsicles are a thing now? YUP, who wouldn’t want to give that a try?!
  6. Finish Strong
    You’ve planned every detail up to this point, just when your guests think the night is done, hit them with your one final touch, DESSERT!  There are several ways to do this, depending on your preference, but here are a few of our favorite ideas.  Passed warm beignets or warm chocolate chip cookies, passed assorted chocolate truffle lollipops, mini milkshake shots, a chocolate fondue station, we could go on, but we think you get the idea.  Be sure to finish like you started, STRONG.  Nothing tops off a great night like satisfying your sweet tooth.

Always remember, be creative.  Any food can be made into a wedding food with the help of your caterer.  It’s your special day so if you like it, have it!  Don’t be fooled by classic weddings of the past, there are no rules to the type of food you have to serve at your wedding reception.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Caterer

A wedding caterer brings more to the table than just delicious food. Make sure you consider these 5 things before choosing a caterer for your special day!

The quality, presentation, and timeliness of the catering service you choose for your wedding day will have a significant impact on the experience of your guests. While everyone might not remember all the details of your special day, they will remember the amazing array of food they indulged in or the signature cocktail they enjoyed exclusively at your wedding.  Keep in mind, it’s not just the food and beverages that the caterer will impact. Items like linens, china, glassware, silverware, and other catering equipment are all aspects that also need to be considered when choosing your caterer. This is why choosing your caterer is such a crucial part of your wedding day preparation!

In order to make sure everything is taken care of and that you will not run into any surprises, here are 5 things you should consider before choosing a wedding caterer.

  1. Food and Beverage Flexibility
    The first thing to consider when choosing your caterer is FLEXIBILITY. It is important to make sure your caterer is flexible! You should have the ability to make changes to the menu and add your own special touches. The caterer should offer a nice variety of options but also be flexible about making changes or substitutions. Tell the staff what you like and have special hors d’oeuvres and cocktails offered just for your event.
  2. The Bar
    Next, THE BAR. Drinks are as important as food these days, especially at big events like a wedding. Whether you are offering beer and wine or a super-premium full bar, there are some easy ways to spice it up and make it fun. Offer local craft beers and some fun and interesting cocktails. Have your caterer put together a couple of specialty cocktails for you to taste. It is always fun to have a custom cocktail exclusively made for your special day, and yet another way to leave an impression on your guests. It is also important to make sure you think of those people who don’t drink! It’s always nice to have a fun non-alcoholic drink available, this way everyone can feel as though they are joining in on the celebration with their fancy glass in hand.
  3. China, Glassware, and Silverware
    Does the caterer provide china, glassware, and silverware, and is there a fee? When choosing a caterer for your wedding this is something that may not come to mind right away, and with the distraction of delicious food and drinks, who could blame you. Believe it or not, when it is itemized, china, glassware, and silverware can run $10 to $15 per person for a wedding! If you are not prepared for that expense, it could be quite a surprise. If the caterer you are considering does provide this, make sure that it includes all of the items you need and that there are no additional fees. The caterer knows exactly what food and beverages will be at your event, as well as, how much, which also means they know exactly what they need. It will be hard for your guests to eat if they don’t have enough forks. An experienced caterer will supply not only what is needed, but also, plenty of extra so you are sure not to have any shortages. Choosing a caterer who provides this service will offer you piece of mind and leave one less worry of any miscommunication.
  4. Linens
    Does the caterer offer or provide linens? This is yet another important aspect to consider that can be easily overlooked. Remember, all linens are not created equal! Make sure the linens offered or provided by the caterer are floor length linens. Nothing is worse than seeing the legs of the buffet or seating tables at a wedding. This is your wedding not a high school awards dinner, every detail matters and should be just as important to your caterer as it is to you. Again, it is better to get this through one source in order to eliminate any confusion. The less you have to deal with the better.
  5. Who is the Caterer?
    Lastly, who is your caterer? There is a BIG difference between a true catering company and a restaurant that offers catering. True catering companies cater every day and have the know-how and equipment to handle special events, and there is no event more special than your wedding! You want to make sure your caterer has the staff and equipment to take care of your event. Make sure the key people involved in the planning are going to be at your wedding to make sure it is executed properly. Sure it would be nice to have Emeril Lagasse or Rachel Ray cater your wedding, but I doubt either one of them will be in attendance to make sure your event goes without a hitch. When it comes to catering, think local and stay away from the giant chains. A true local company with catering as its main focus will dedicate the time and effort truly needed to make your special day as perfect as you imagined it.

Remember, no day is more memorable than your wedding day! A wedding caterer brings more to the table than just delicious food. Make sure you consider these 5 things before choosing a caterer for your special day!