A place for help, advice, and ideas

Monday, August 30, 2010

Food- Part III Desert

Lately desert has become so much more than wedding cake. I'm going to focus on desert hours (yes, you read the right an hour of desert).

If you want to learn more about wedding cakes, go read this post by F.

To desert we go! There are so many great options out there right now for desert hours.

Candy Bars are a pretty great trend! They can be done pretty inexpensively and can leave a big impact. Candy bars can be done in your wedding colors and the canisters can be picked up from major retailers like Target. Think outside of the box for canisters, try using pillar candle holders. Buying candy at wholesale is also key. In addition, most candy has a long shelf life so consider buying at the end of different holiday seasons when candy goes on sale. Bonus if you pick colors coordinate with a holiday, red (Christmas & Valentine's Day), green (Christmas), blue (Hanukkah), pastels (Easter), pink & red (Valentine's Day).

Most sources suggest 3-8 ounces per guest, but even with that figure you want to make sure that your candy buffet has a presence. If you are placing it on a large table you don't want it to look slim. So it's important not only to consider the amount of candy per guest but also the size table you are using.

Make sure to include bags or boxes so that guests have someplace to put their candy goods! Also consider making fun labels for the candy which will not only make it easier for guests to pick what they want, but is an inexpensive way to spruce the table up.

Tip: Candy Bars are great for showers too!

Another option for desert hours are cookie bars. Similar to the candy bar idea cookie bars are arrangements of cookies. In addition you would be shocked about how many major grocery chains have great cookies. Cookie bars also can include homemade cookies by moms, grandmothers, aunts, and friends! Try combining both the cookie and candy bars for little something extra. I recently heard that cookie bars are very famous in some areas of Pennsylvania.

Simple plated desserts can't be forgotten about either. I always feel they are the most formal of all the options and usually include your wedding cake and another desert.

Recently, I attended a wedding where their was passed deserts. Treats were passed (by the waitstaff) around the venue for an hour. They had ice cream, cupcakes, sorbet, cookies, and so much more! It was delicious.

I'm curious what are you doing for desert?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crazy Week!

It's been a crazy week over in our house. We returned form our belated honeymoon in Costa Rica and it's been such a struggle to get back into the swing of things! I left my food posts hanging without any desert. I'm hoping to finish that I'm this week.

P.S. Belated honeymoons are amazing and Costa Rica was such a perfect choice.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Floral Inspiration

I am a big fan of simple bouquets consisting of one type of flower, especially for bridesmaids and I found these white anemones to be so unbelievably beautiful, especially with the bright pink dresses that I was inspired to share them with you this morning.

(Image via Style me pretty)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Perfect Moments XX

No Words Needed. Perfection. Happy Almost Friday.

A special thanks to Meghan Sorel Photography for this inspiration

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


While weddings tend to be filled with happy emotions, they also seem to highlight the sad reality that people gone before us will not be able to attend and be part of the celebration as we wish they could. While we always miss those who have passed, on celebrations like weddings it becomes harder to ignore the fact that certain very special individuals are missing. For some it is a good friend, a parent, close grandparent, mentor, aunt, uncle, etc., but whoever it may be, the void cannot be filled. Rather then attempt to fill or ignore it, I suggest commemorating those individuals in a way that allows them to be close to your heart.

This is something I had to give much thought to when planning my own wedding as my husband unfortunately lost his father when he was 19 years old. It came to mind recently as I tearfully (and proudly) watched this now man escort his sister down the aisle 9 years later. 2 years ago I watched him give away his other sister's hand in marriage. With the planning of all three of our weddings within 3 years, each of the children commemorated their father in different ways, all of which were touching and in celebration of his life and all that he contributed to each of them. It was clear that He watched proudly from above on each of these days.

Along the years of attending weddings, I have seen many people pay tribute to those who have gone too soon in different ways and after this weekend, thought I would share some ideas with our readers. Some choose to make their memory something public, others more private,but however it is done, the important piece is to know that they are in your hearts and watching over your big day every step of the way.

-A memory candle: We chose to have a candle made and lit throughout the reception. As guests entered, they would find the memory candle lit, surrounded by flowers and a framed list of the names of those who gone before us whom we wanted to pay tribute to. Some choose to add poems, quotes, song lyrics or pictures surrounding the memory candle.

-A piece of clothing: A dear friend of ours lost her mother and on her wedding day, she had a piece of her mother's wedding dress sewn into the bottom of her own. It was a simple gesture that I found incredibly beautiful and touching. This can be done with any important article of clothing or something that was significant to that person (hankerchief, pocket scarf, etc)

-Jewelery/Other Significant Articles: Wearing significant jewelery is a way to keep them close in your heart, as is other things that were important to them. For instance, rosary beads around a bride's bouqet or something symbolic that the individual adored at the bride and groom's table.

-Pictures: Too many pictures of the deceased can be morbid, but one or two with the bride/groom can be a wonderful tribute. My sister in law wore a beautiful locket with her father's picture enclosed in it which brought tears to my eyes everytime I saw it

-A moment of Silence/prayer/reading:whether it be quietly amongst family prior to the hoopla of the big day, during the ceremony, or during a best man/maid of honor speech-it is an excellent, brief way to give rememberance to someone who cannot physically be part of the celebration.Using music, like their favorite song, is another idea that can be used.

-Programs: Many individuals who choose to have programs at the ceremony include brief dedication to someone who has passed

While these are only a few of our favorite general suggestions, there are many more ideas that we have seen other bride and grooms use that are individualized for the person who is so deeply loved. Making sure that the focus isn't on the saddness, but rather as a dedication and rememberance is key in order to continue on with the celebration of your marriage.

What other suggestions have others used, planned to use, or seen that helps to keep those who have gone before us close during the actualy wedding day ? We would love to hear.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Food- Part II The Dinner

After cocktail hour comes dinner. There are two main ways to do dinner at a wedding, sit down dinner and a buffet. There is also a third option while less common is still very practical. Let's break each one down.

Buffet: They are more casual and usually less expensive. They require far less wait staff for the guests which is key if you are staffing your own event. Buffets are great for early weddings because brunch items usually are very adaptable to buffets. Buffets should always offer at least two different types of entree. One of the best parts of a buffet is that you can offer more than one or two entrees. If you are only doing two types of meat I would stick with chicken and beef. However, I've seen fish substitute the beef and it works as well. The buffet should also include a choice between two vegetable and two starches. Think about it this way it's just like dinner at your house you want to cover at least three food groups. You also want to coordinate foods. If you are doing a filet, rosemary roasted potatoes would work well. You don't want to do beef tenderloin and Jasmine rice. The image below is an amazing buffet display. Notice the coordination and the table decor. I love the chalkboard menu too!

image via studio foto

As far as a salad or first course there are two ways to do this. You could have a plated salad. A waiter or waitress would bring each of your guests a salad or the salad would be placed at the seat while your guests are at cocktail hour. Below is a great example of what a simple plated salad would look like when the guests enter the room. Pretty right?

image via Mary McHenry

You could also include a salad in your buffet. Placing a salad bowl before the other food works well. I think it's best (if budget allows) to have a waiter or waitress at least manning the meat portions. Here is a great example of the salad portion of the buffet table.

image via Anna Kuperberg

Setting up your buffet is crucial. I love when buffets are accessible on both sides. I also think it's easier if silverware is at the end of the buffet. At least make sure that the buffet is off the dance floor you don't want food spilling and people falling and make sure that it's easy to access. If you have a wedding over 100 people having two buffet stations may be necessary (over 175 you may want to avoid a buffet all together). Creating risers is also really helpful and it adds depth to the food presentation.

Waitstaff or a DJ or can direct which table to go by either having the DJ announce it or a waitress or waiter stand at the table when it's their turn. You really don't want all your guests jumping up at once to grab dinner.In the image below you'll see a great example of a buffet that can be accessed from two sides.

image via Natalie Watson

One last tip on buffets they have a shelf life of about 2- 2 1/2 hours for both health and taste reasons.

Sit down: The more formal of the two options and usually (but not always) more expensive. You usually give your guests at least two options or serve a main dish that has two main components. If giving your guests an option try to include at least one menu on the table as it is often hard to hear servers over the other guests and music. As far as a salad or first course often times there is not an option and every guests gets the same plate. The image below shows a typical beef presentation at a sit down dinner.

image via Style Me Pretty

Some caters will request a rough estimate of how many people will want beef, chicken, or fish at your wedding. This can be done rather simply by including the three choices on the RSVP card. Again, guests can usually change their mind the day of the wedding as it's just an estimate.

Sit down dinners usually take more time than buffets so if you are both large party animals and don't want to spend time enjoying a full meal you may want to skip the buffet.

Family Style: In my experience this is the least common of the three dinner services, but offers some definite benefits. Cost wise this falls in between buffet service and sit down. It gives you a bit more formality (but still on the casual side) than a buffet service, but keeps the cost lower than a sit down meal. Family style basically means that two to three different dishes are presented on each table and divided between the guests at the table. Guests will either serve themselves or waiters and waitresses can serve the table. The salad could be plated individually or could also be added to the table. There are a few things you want to be aware of here, make sure your table arrangements are minimal as the food will take up a large portion of the table and you don't want things to get to stuffy. For the very same reason I'd also suggest keeping the amount of people at each table to a minimum as well. You also want to be careful with the foods you pick to serve. Typically Italian food is a great family style. Greek food and cornish hens also work out great. You want to avoid foods that require carving.

In both buffet and sit down dinners food during the dinner should not be crazy. You want something that most people will eat. Even if you and your fiance are big foodies Grandma Ann may not want to try foie gras at your wedding. Also, try to be somewhat respectful of dietary restraints and if possible offer vegaterian options.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Food- Part I The Cocktail Hour

This is going to be a series of three posts covering the three basic "food" parts of your reception, Cocktail Hour, Dinner, Desert.

Up first is Cocktail Hour.

Now, who doesn't love a good cocktail hour. Seriously, I think I do most of my eating during this part of the wedding. What can I say I'm a really big appetizer girl which means that cocktail hours are right up my alley.

Food: Most likely your caterer or venue will suggest items in which case head their advice, but ask for a tasting before the event. Go with things you love and that taste great. Often times people will say pick foods that compliment each other, but I'm going out on a limb and saying pick foods that are fun (and delicious). The cocktail hour is the time to pick foods that are fun!

Likely you will have either stations of food manned with wait staff, food on tables, passed appetizers, or some combination of all three.

If you are having manned stations you can include things that are made right in front of guests (great presentation). Items that work well on manned stations are pasta with different sauces, made to order sliders, quesadillas, mashed potato bars, sushi, and carved meat. Below is a great example of what a manned pasta station would like like.

image via Carla Ten Eyck

Unmanned tables should include easy self serve good. Items that are great simply placed on tables crudites, seafood, antipasto, cheeses, and fruit. Below are images of a simple tables with appetizers that are very easy to self serve great for tables. Notice the use of height in the first image (such a good way to add something to a simple table).

image via Carla Ten Eyck

Passed items that usually are fan favorites include pigs in blankets, mini potato puffs, sliders, bruschetta, and dumplings. The images below are creative and fun passed appetizers (I bet they taste good too!)
image via Laura Novak

You want to make sure all of your food can be eaten fairly easy, avoid very messy items and try to include at least one or two meat free options.

You may want to think about including regional foods that are special to you or your fiance. Marrying someone from New Orleans, Southern style grits, mini shrimp po-boys, etc. Love Mexican food think about including mini tacos or a quesadilla station.

Let's not forget the drinks!

Beverages & Alcohol: Each wedding and each couple is different. In general if you are going to do an open bar then guests will help themselves to what they choose. You could also have a few drinks to show off like a blushing bride or your grooms favorite beer, but please try to avoid beer can wedding pictures.

If you are not doing an open bar, but rather a few signature drinks this is a great time to show them off. Think about having a little fun. Infused vodka, margaritas, or spiked tea. Great presentation goes a long way think about large glass containers are always pretty and could be self serve. I'm not going really discuss cash bars. In my opinion if you are inviting people to a wedding you really can't do a cash bar. If you feel like you must then I would at least two beer and wine and then cash for only hard liquor, but really even then I think it's a no go.

Weddings without alcohol don't necessarily mean you can't have fun with your beverages too. Think about flavored lemonade, sweet tea, or cider. Again presentation goes a very long way. Below is a picture of a great non-alcoholic beverage presentation.

image via Ashley Garmon

Weddings are all about personalization. There are so many options when it comes to cocktail hour including having it before the ceremony.

What kind of cocktail hour are you planning?