Category Archives: Food & Drink

The Very Last Project…

Our Favors!

So, I was a bad blogger and in the crazy week leading up to the wedding, I must have misplaced the photos I took of our favor-filling process.  If you’ll remember, we decided to give popcorn favors!  Lucky you, though, I was smart enough to take a video, so you get to hear my voice and see me looking less than stellar (Dudes, I was tired.  Forgive me.).  So, here’s a quick peek at us putting together our favors!  Shout out to my sister and my bridesmaid Beezus for helping me with these. 

And here’s what they looked like on the tables:

DSCN0734
Our guests loved them and they were a huge hit.  It only took about 3 hours to get everything put together, so it was definitely worth the effort!

Did you or are you DIYing your favors?

(All photo/video by me, friends, or family).

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Filed under Food & Drink, Gifts

What’s for Dinner?

Or, the post about our menu cards!

I love the way these turned out.  Here’s a quick tutorial!

DIY Menu Cards
Materials:
Cardstock or decorative paper for the actual menus (I used the same shimmery gold cardstock as our table numbers and other paper products) 
Cardstock for the backing
Paper Cutter
Double-sided Tape
Rhinestones or other decorative element

First up, you’ll want to design your menu in Microsoft Word.  I sized mine to be just under the 5×7 size, so that when they were backed with cardstock, the menus were about 5×7 total.  Print two to a sheet (or more if you are doing skinny menus!)

Menus, etc 001

Next, you’ll need to cut your menus out.  When designing, I used a light gray line to give me the boundaries of each menu, so I would know where to cut and they would all be the same size!

Cut

Cut, cut, cut some more, until you have a pile of menus (240 to be exact) that look like these…

Menu Stacks

…and a piles of scraps that look like these!

Scraps

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a helper to help you cut:

Helper(Mom, seriously.  Aren’t you done with this wedding crap yet?) 

Next, you’ll need to mount your menu to your cardstock backing.  I used basic black.  Using double-sided tape or the adhesive method of your choice, again mount two menus to each sheet.

Tape

Cardstock

Then, you’ll cut, cut, cut those, until you have a stack of completed menus.  Now it’s time to embellish!  I bought this pack of rhinestones at JoAnn Fabrics.  We will also be using it for our escort cards…there were 700 rhinestones on this one sheet! 

Rhinestones

Place a rhinestone just under the “Menu” designation on each menu…

Up close

And voila!  A completed dinner menu.  I love the way they look!  The fonts I used were Chopin Script and Copperplate Gothic Light, which were both used throughout our paper products.

Finished

And here’s what guests will see when they pull them out of their napkins:

Full Menu

So, what is for dinner?

First Course:
Bibb Salad – Boston Bibb lettuce, roasted roma tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese, served with Italian herbs vinaigrette

Entree:
Tuscan Chicken – one-half chicken, crisply roasted in the traditional Tuscan style with rosemary & garlic, served with French green beans & roasted potatoes

OR

Shrimp Cavattapi – gulf shrimp tossed in light pesto cream sauce, with zucchini squash & cherry tomatoes

Dessert:
Wedding Cake – Spice cake with vanilla bean pastry cream & cream cheese-white chocolate buttercream

YUM.  Can’t wait!

Did you do menus for your wedding?  Are you planning to?

*All photos by me!

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Filed under Decor, Food & Drink

Let Me Eat Cake (Again!)

Over the holiday weekend, Brad and I attended a second cake tasting.  If you’ll remember, he did not attend the first one, and I really wanted him to have the chance to experience a cake tasting for himself.

This time around, we went to Simma’s, a local bakery with a lot of history.  They’ve been named one of the top 25 bakeries in the United States, and they are definitely a staple in the wedding cake industry here.

001

Whereas the first baker I visited with is strictly a cake baker, open by appointment only, Simma’s is a full-service bakery, complete with coffee shop.  We walked in and surveyed the scene:

002 Nice and clean with some beautiful display cases housing delicious treats!

We helped ourselves to some coffee and awaited our cake samples.  When they were brought out, we were shocked at how much cake there really was:

003
(Starting from the top left and going clockwise:  Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and buttercream frosting, genoise cake with raspberry chambord mouse and white chocolate ganache frosting, Simma’s signature cheesecake with chocolate ganache frosting, red velvet with cream cheese mousse and buttercream frosting)

Pretty much two full pieces of each kind of cake, one for each of us (except the cheesecake—I think that’s way too rich to give two pieces of!).  It was A LOT of cake and we took a huge box of the leftovers home with us.

The wedding coordinator came out to meet with us, and was able to quote us right away.  I liked that we got to see how the cake would actually look when served to our guests, but I gotta be honest and say that I was a bit put off with how they did things.  It’s sort of impersonal and not really the customer service I was expecting after my first go-round…but I guess that’s what you get when you go from “cake baker only” to full-service bakery. 

All in all, the cakes were really delicious and we will have a big decision to make!

And because you rarely ever see him on the blog, here’s the Dr. enjoying his post-cake coffee:

004 As he says, “I don’t smile for the blog, HA!”

Cake tasting round two, complete.  How many cake tastings did you go on?

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Favoring Our Guests

I follow a lot of great peeps (tweeps?!) on Twitter.  One of them is the fabulous Liz Coopersmith.  If you don’t know who she is, check out her website & blog—basically, she’s a super awesome wedding planner based out in California.  She also contributes regularly to The Broke-Ass Bride, which is a hilarious wedding-planning-on-a-budget blog created by Dana (some of you may know her as Mrs. Meatball!). 

Anyways, yesterday Liz tweeted this:

Tweet

This is SO TRUE, guys.  Think about it!  I immediately tweeted back at Liz, saying this:

Tweet 2

So what’s the point of me sharing with you our Twitter conversation?  Well, if you read my guest post on Burning River Bride yesterday (or if you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time!), you’ll know that my wedding planning mantra has been “Stay Ahead of the Game.”  Liz’s tweet was so timely, as we are starting to think about favors!

Now,  a lot of things have been said about favors.  Some people think they’re not necessary…while others?  They’re a must.  Some people like to give food, some people like to give donations to charity, and other people like to give little tchotchkes.  I’ll be honest—I know that favors are often the first things to get cut when brides are working on a budget, but I get so disappointed when I attend a wedding with no favor.  It might sound dumb, but I just love them—I think they are a nice way to thank guests for coming, and I miss them if they’re not there!  So, let’s get real for a second about them.  Those tchotchkes are cute, but guess what?!  Likely, they’re going to end up in the junk drawer…and THAT is the point of Liz’s tweet yesterday. 

Food is definitely my most favorite favor to receive—and the ones that your guests will appreciate the most, too, me thinks.  Some of the most memorable favors I’ve gotten have been beautifully wrapped and equally delicious cookies & candies. Naturally, we’re leaning towards food as a favor, since we’re such big foodies as it is.  I like charity donations as well, but to me, no matter how noble the cause, they’re not as tangible as giving your guests a sweet treat to eat on their way home. 

Here’s some ideas I’ve found lately that I absolutely LOVE:

popcorn
(Source)

Popcorn!  One of mine and Dr. Groomy’s favorite foods.  I am HEAVILY leaning towards doing cellophane bags of popcorn tied with a bow as our favor.  We LOVE this stuff and eat it at least three times a week.

truffles  (Source)

Truffles.  Always a great idea, and there are so many cute ways to package them!

local products
(Source)

Local or homemade products…think jams and jellies, honeys, homemade dill pickles, and other local favorites. 

If you want to do a charity donation, that’s an incredible and giving idea.  Let me be clear: I think charitable donations are AWESOME.  That being said, not everyone on your guest list is going to be so into them.  May I suggest tying a tag with information about the donation to a sweet treat your guests can also enjoy?  For example, these Truffles for a Cause are adorable!

truffles 2 
(Source, via TrufflesforaCause.com)

So…those are my thoughts on favors.  Thanks to Liz for sparking a great blog topic!  I’ll keep you posted as to what we decide to do, but in the meantime:

What are your thoughts on favors?

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Filed under Food & Drink, Gifts

Let Me Eat Cake!

So, I just got back from my first cake tasting, and aside from the fact that I have a giant sugar hangover, I had an awesome time!

Little known secret about Dr. Groomy:  He hates him some sweets.  Yes people, the man does not like chocolate.  Or cake.  Or ANY of that. 

Not-so-secret secret about me:  I love me some sweets.  And my taste buds have a special affinity  for wedding cake.  People, I have run the gamut of wedding cakes at various weddings and I’m just going to go ahead and say it:  I will judge a wedding by its cake.*  Not the way it looks, necessarily,  but definitely the way it tastes.  In order to win me over and have me say your wedding was awesome-sauce, the cake must be DELISH, peeps…DE. LISH. 

[As an additional side note:  This is dumb, but I get really annoyed when I see couples cutting the cake “incorrectly.”  Take note, brides:  YOUR hand should not be separated from the knife.  According to various cake traditions and superstitions, this is very bad luck.  The bride should always hold the knife, with the groom’s hand over hers.  When I see the groom cutting the cake, me no likey!  I ALWAYS notice this in wedding photos.  What can I say?  I told you I am serious about this wedding cake business!]

All that being said, now that it’s come to the time where we need to nail down a baker, I am MORE than happy to take the reigns on this task.  And take those reigns I did!  I made an appointment with a local bakery that caters pretty strictly to just the wedding crowd.  My bridesmaid KDoc accompanied me, and we had a blast! We met with the baker, Karen of The Cake Lady, discussed options, looked through photographs, laughed, drank coffee, and of course, ate cake!  Karen was very knowledgeable and I felt right at home with her.  And with cakes like these, I knew we were in good hands!

Cake 2    Cake 3

Cake 4   Cake 5
(Source for all cake photos)

We tried the following:

001  (Photo by me)
From left to right, top row:  chocolate ganache, chocolate cake, raspberry preserves, lavender cake, lemon curd
From left to right, bottom row:  red velvet cake, white chocolate cream cheese buttercream, spice cake, vanilla bean pastry cream, vanilla cake
And that white blob in the middle is The Cake Lady’s signature vanilla buttercream

All I have to say is:  TO. DIE. FOR.  The cakes were so good and the fillings and frostings?  Fantastic!  I am very particular about my buttercream, and I am happy to say that this stuff was delightful.  The perfect amount of sweetness and buttery goodness.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

My favorite combinations were the spice cake (bottom row, middle) paired with the vanilla bean pastry cream, and the lavender cake (top row, right) paired with the lemon curd.  As The Bowie Bride would say, it was AMAZEballs in my mouth. 

In terms of cake styles, I found myself consistently drawn to cakes that had elements like this one:

Cake 1
(Source)

I love the mostly plain cake paired with the fondant ribbon and the gumpaste bows.  Classic and elegant, me thinks.  Karen sketched out an idea for our cake, which I will reveal to you all if we end up booking her.  She also sent me home with the rest of our samples, so that Dr. Groomy could have a taste of them too!  She’ll be sending me a quote in the next few days, so let’s all cross our fingers that the price is right.

And for those of you who were worried (ha, right):  I’ve got another cake tasting with a different baker  lined up for Dr. Groomy to attend.  I think he has to experience that at least one time, right?

Are you a big wedding cake fan?  Tell me about your bakers and cakes!

*Ok seriously, I am not really going to get all judgey judgey about your wedding if you have a not-s0-good cake.  But I DO love wedding cake and it’s the weddings that had fab cake that I always remember!

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Showering Jill with Love

First, my apologies on the lack of posting thus far this week.  Normally, I like to write and schedule my posts on my lunch hour, but this week I have barely taken a lunch hour due to some stressful situations at work.  Things have slowed down a bit now, thankfully!! 

This weekend, Dr. Groomy and I headed to Chicago to visit some friends of ours who are also getting married this year.  The reason for our trip was two-fold, however—Jill, one half of the couple we went to visit, was having her bridal shower!  It was really fun to attend and so I thought I would share some pics (with her permission, of course!).

The shower was held at Marcello’s Father & Son, in Lincoln Park, and was hosted by the groom’s sisters, mother, and aunt.  It was a great location—we were in a little sunroom that was perfectly appointed for a party like this, with grapevines and white Christmas lights tastefully decorating the room.  The set-up was gorgeous as well, with white tablecloths and napkins, and beautiful centerpieces that were hand-made by the groom’s sister!

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We started the shower with some mingling and a glass of wine, and then sat down to lunch.

006  Place setting.  Our favor was candied nuts in a little bag, with tag that had our names on it to act as a placecard.

Lunch was an absolutely delicious family-style Italian meal. 

012  Minestrone soup to start…

013
Salad and asparagus as sides…

014  And a chicken dish as the main course.

Everything was delicious…and then, there was cake!

007  Yum!

After we had cake and coffee, it was time for gifts.

005

Jill got some really cool items, and I got some great ideas for our own registry!  After that, the shower wrapped up while we all sat around and visited some more.  All in all, it was a very fun time.  Here I am with the bride:

010  Jill on the left, me on the right (duh).

Congratulations, Jill and Noah!  Dr. Groomy and I are so excited to celebrate with you at your wedding in June. 

Have you had the pleasure of attending any bridal showers lately?

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Filed under Decor, Food & Drink, Just For Fun, Shower

Rehearsal Dinner: Fiesta!

If you’re here for a Fitness Friday post, I am sorry to disappoint!  Unfortunately, the person who does my fit evals no longer works at my gym—something I just found out last night.  So, I have to make an appointment with a new guy to do an eval and I won’t be able to get in until next week.  In the meantime, however,  I wanted to talk a little more about our rehearsal dinner.

As a reminder, my “goal” for wedding planning is to have absolutely nothing to do during wedding week, ala Miss Star on Weddingbee.  As such, I have been trying to tackle everything and anything I can ahead of time, to continue to stay ahead of the game.  Since we booked our rehearsal dinner last week, I decided why not go ahead and plan the food, decor, and invitations right away, so that it’s all out of the way and done…so this week, I’ve been doing just that!

When we were exploring different options for our dinner, one idea we tossed around was to hold the dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  Dr. Groomy is WELL KNOWN among our friends and family for his love of insanely spicy foods (I swear, he has no taste buds), so Mexican is one of his favorite meals to eat out.  We ended up nixing the idea, as we were afraid that authentic Mexican would not bode well for some of our guests.  When we booked our dinner at Flannery’s, though, we were delighted to see that they had an option for a taco bar!  Perfect…everybody loves tacos, and guests can customize them how they like.  Once we decided that, it was very easy to pick out a “theme” for the dinner:  we’re having a fiesta!

I was very inspired by this rehearsal dinner seen on Style Me Pretty.  Here in Milwaukee, we are very lucky to have Broadway Paper, a lovely paper and stationery store in town.  I immediately hopped over there to get my creative juices flowing, and ended up picking a color palette we both really love!  Then, I set about designing invites and other stationery to go with the theme.  Let’s start with the invites first, shall we?

I fell in love with long envelopes and decided they would be perfect for these invites:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 006
(Front)

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 008
(Back)

I created a wrap around label thanks to some help via Twitter from these lovely ladies.  Em is even going to send me some of her labels to use—thanks girl!  Close-up:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 007

Let’s open it up!

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 010 I am seriously in love with this color combo—it’s like an aqua and a deep red.  Perfect for a Mexican fiesta, I think!  And here’s the actual invite:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 012

You may notice the wording is a bit different from most rehearsal dinner invites.  Well, we did this on purpose.  Since we are hosting the dinner, it felt funny to have the invite read as though we were honoring ourselves (Example of more traditional wording:  “Please join us at a rehearsal dinner honoring Bride & Groom.”).  Instead, we decided we wanted to use this opportunity to really thank—and honor—our family and friends.  We are keeping the guest list small for this party on purpose—just our immediate families & wedding party (and anyone else who is involved with the wedding, like readers and gift attendants)—because  we really want to take this time to celebrate and appreciate THEM.

You may also recognize the monogram and fonts I used:  yep, they’re from our Save-the-Date!  What can I say, I love the motif!

[Random side note:  I am thinking about rounding the corners of the invites.  What do you guys think?  Can anyone give a recommendation for a good corner-rounder?]

Because we will be giving out our gifts to the wedding party and family at this event, I decided to make a banner for the gift table.  I still need to string it with ribbon, but the letters look like this:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 003 

Cute, no?  I also read somewhere that to make rehearsal run more smoothly, it’s a great idea to have nametags for everyone…so your officiant or coordinator knows who everyone is and can better run the rehearsal.  Most people at this event will know each other, but I still decided to make nametags so people like my grandparents can get to know our friends.  Here’s what they’ll look like (I just used my mom’s and dad’s for example!):

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 005

I still have to laminate them and attach a pin to the back, but at least you get the idea!

And here’s the whole shebang thus far, all together:

Rehearsal Dinner Invite Suite 013

I am so excited—this project has been really fun so far and it has brought a lot of joy back in to my wedding planning.  Not that I wasn’t enjoying it, of course, but I have been feeling really stressed about other parts—namely registering and our invites for the actual wedding.  These projects and planning this dinner have been a welcome change!  I have a lot more tricks up my sleeve for this party, including cute table decor (hot sauce bottles, anyone?!), menu tents for each table, and a super awesome idea for a cheap and easy—yet totally awesome—favor.  Stay tuned!

Are you having a themed rehearsal dinner?  What are you doing for invitations, decorations, and the like?

*All photos by me!

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Filed under Decor, Food & Drink, Rehearsal, Stationery

Rehearsal Dinner: Check!

As I mentioned on Friday, we booked our rehearsal dinner location!  It feels great to have another thing checked off our list.  When we started researching our options, we had a list of criteria we based it on.  Namely:

*Close proximity to the downtown area…extra bonus points if the location is close proximity to the church.

*Affordable and laid-back.  Listen…it’s no joke that our wedding is going to be costly AND pretty damn formal.  We wanted the rehearsal dinner to be more casual, and we didn’t want to blow a whole wad of extra cash on it.

*Private party area.  The rehearsal dinner guest list is pretty small in comparison to our actual wedding, but we still wanted a private space where we could entertain family and friends.

*Relating to us somehow.  We want to make sure that the rehearsal dinner really feels like “us,” since we’ll be celebrating with only immediate family and friends that evening.  We wanted a place that had a bit of history for us.

We physically looked at a lot of different places, and we probably researched at least a dozen more.  Dr. Groomy created a big spreadsheet on Excel for us to work off of—it was actually really great to have his involvement with this, as I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing.  Because our rehearsal dinner isn’t being hosted for us in the traditional sense (we are acting as the hosts), it was really on our shoulders to narrow things down and pick the place.

A top choice for me was our favorite restaurant in our neighborhood, Palms Bistro & Bar.

Palms(Source)

We love this restaurant, and it’s where we went for dinner the night we got engaged!  It’s not as close to the church as we would have liked, but it is in the general area we were looking.  Alas, their catering menu was too expensive for what we were looking to spend.  Onward!

Next we took a look at the Milwaukee Ale House. 

Ale House
(Source)

We love this place.  Great location—again, right in our neighborhood—and they have AWESOME beers made right there on site.  They also sport good food and a private party room downstairs.  We thought this would be the clear winner, but again, their catering menu was ridiculous—in some cases, the prices were nearly twice as expensive as their regular dinner menu.  Um, no thanks!

It was at this point that we decided to move our search closer to the church.  We really didn’t want everybody to have to worry about parking and there are plenty of restaurants right on the same block as the church, so everyone would only have to park once for the rehearsal and then could walk to the dinner.   We started our search at Taylor’s, which is a martini bar right on Cathedral Square in Milwaukee.

Taylors  (Source)

Admittedly, this is not my favorite place to frequent.  They have good drinks but to be honest?  The clientele tends to be a bit pretentious.  It’s just not as laid-back as we are; however, on researching their options, they seemed to have a pretty great set-up:  no charge for party space and they’ll help you cater (as they don’t have a full kitchen).   It seems like they really want to help you throw a fun party.  I was all about it…until we walked in.  We hadn’t been there in awhile (see aforementioned pretentious-ness) and we neglected to remember that their “party space” is actually just a small bar area off to the entrance.  Albeit their great location, there was no way we’d be able to fit our party into that space.  Boo.  So, we sat and had a drink and pondered our next move…when Dr. Groomy suggested that we head around the corner and check out the bar next door.

Flannery's(Source)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!  Flannery’s Bar & Restaurant is caddy corner across the street from our church, so the location is perfect.  Everyone can park for the rehearsal and not have to move their cars again (as parking in downtown Milwaukee when you don’t want to pay for a ramp can be a bit hectic).  They have a huge party area we’ll be able to utilize, complete with three booths, a bunch of tables, and our own full-size bar (not to mention dart boards, too!) We will also have our own bartender and server.  The food prices are great and the alcohol prices are really good too—plus bar service is fully customizable, so we can tell them exactly what we’ll pay for—and what we won’t.  (Read:  I will not be forking over cash so our groomsmen can get Dr. Groomy drunk on whiskey shots, haha!).   But what about that last little detail we wanted—a place that relates to us as a couple?  Well, ironically enough, we actually ended up celebrating at Flannery’s the night we got engaged.  After we went to dinner at Palms, we met my bridesmaid B and some friends out at this bar to celebrate.  And then when B and her boyfriend Trav got engaged?  We celebrated here again too!  I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier.

So rehearsal dinner is checked off the list.  What a relief!

Have you booked your rehearsal dinner location yet?  What factors mattered to you?

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Filed under Food & Drink, Rehearsal

A “Taste” of Our Wedding

This past Friday, we had our tasting at the reception venue.  My parents, Dr. Groomy and I headed over around lunch time to sample some menu items and make selections for our reception!  We had such an enjoyable time and I am SOOOO excited for our reception…attending the tasting made it feel all the more real to me.  I was also excited to show my parents the reception space for the first time.  They’ve only seen pictures so far, so it was great to have them experience the space first hand.

We started off by discussing linen options and looking at some samples.

002

I asked them to have samples in both gold and red (our two main colors), so I could see how linens could dress up and dress down the tables.  After mulling over the choices for awhile, we decided to sit and eat first and discuss the linens and logistics afterwards.

We started off with the wines.  The house wine for our venue is Grand Cru, and we tried their Chardonnay and their Cabernet Sauvignon.  Both were fabulous.  Dr. Groomy and I love wine and we have started to develop a more discerning pallet—and I would definitely say that these were two great choices!  Unfortunately, Dr. Groomy couldn’t try any wine because he had to go to work afterwards, but I can vouch for how yummy they were.

011   012

Next, we tried the salad options.

003
Fresh Herb Salad:  mesclun spring mix and crisp romaine with sweet herbs, grape tomatoes, and rice wine vinaigrette

004
Spinach Salad:  spinach greens with a goat cheese crouton and oven dried tomatoes served with a balsamic vinaigrette and citrus garnish

005  Bibb Salad: Boston Bibb lettuce, roasted roma tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan cheese with Italian herbs vinaigrette

006
Caprese Salad:  sliced roma tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella with sweet basil, aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

All of the salads were really delicious, but we especially loved the Bibb Salad and the Caprese Salad.  The Spinach Salad was actually Dr. Groomy’s favorite, but we decided not to go with it because goat cheese is such an acquired taste—my dad actually said, “I think goat cheese tastes like a barn!”  In the end, we decided to go with the Bibb Salad over the Caprese, as the groom doesn’t like tomatoes.  The Bibb Salad was absolutely fantastic:  the lettuce was light and slightly buttery, the roasted tomatoes were TO DIE FOR and the whole salad was crisp and delicious. 

Next, we moved on to the entree selection.  The first two entrees we tried were the pasta dishes:

Shrimp Cavattapi:  gulf shrimp tossed in a light pesto cream sauce, zucchini squash, and cherry tomatoes

and

Wild Mushroom Ravioli:  ricotta ravioli with wild mushrooms, truffle cream sauce and a parmesan crisp

You’ll have to imagine what they look like, as we were so busy devouring them I forgot to take their picture!  Needless to say, when we were done eating, our plates looked like this:
008

Both of these menu items were so delicious.  The Shrimp Cavattapi, with its pesto cream sauce, was one of the lightest dishes I have ever tasted.  The pesto was simply perfect.  And the Wild Mushroom Ravioli?  Heaven on a plate.  The mushrooms were beautiful and the truffle cream sauce divine.  You would not miss meat in this dish as the mushrooms were perfect:  earthy, meaty, and cooked just right.

After the pasta dishes, we moved on to the meat dishes (meat on a Friday during Lent…bad Catholics!  Don’t worry, we all made it a point to abstain earlier in the week because we knew would be eating meat at the tasting):

009   Tuscan Chicken:  one-half chicken, crisply roasted in traditional Tuscan style with rosemary and garlic, served with caramelized Brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes

010
Hanger Steak:  marinated and grilled hanger steak, mushroom potato cake, glazed carrots, and red wine-shallot butter sauce

Both of these dishes were delicious as well, but we especially loved the Tuscan Chicken.  I am not a big steak eater, so that was not a big priority for me.  It was delicious, and the mushroom potato cake was divine, but in the end it was no match for the Tuscan Chicken.  The meat on the chicken was so tender and fell right off the bone when we cut it.  The flavors were divine and even the Brussels sprouts were delicious.  It was definitely not your average dry “wedding” chicken.

After we were done eating, we discussed the logistics of our event:  things like how many bars we’ll be having (answer: 3!),  tables needed, and the timing of the evening.  Then we went back to discussing linens and after asking our venue’s coordinator what would give us the most drama, cohesiveness, and bang for our buck, she suggested a great idea.

First, this is the traditional place setting (photo taken before we started eating).
001

But, with Maria’s suggestions, we’re going to up the ante a little and have our tables set like this:

013
Ivory floor length table cloth, with a light gold table runner (we compared to my swatches and the gold is almost an EXACT match with the bridesmaid dresses).  Each place setting will have a gold charger with an ivory napkin folded on top of it, and a menu card (designed by me, of course!) tucked inside.  Beautiful, no? (Note of clarification:  All of the place settings will still have the same silverware and set up as the previous picture, just with the added additions of the chargers and upgraded linens.)

We decided against doing chair covers, for several reasons: 
1) They are expensive, and no one really notices them.  We figure we’ll get more oomph with less money by opting to upgrade to floor length linens, use a table runner and add chargers to give the place settings some pizzazz instead. 
2) Truthfully, I’m not that big a fan of chair covers in the first place…if you have a lot of guests, and thus a lot of chairs, I feel like chair covers can really overwhelm a space.
3) Our venue’s banquet chairs are actually quite decent and fit with our color palette anyways!  Behold:

Wedding Venue 016

So, what menu choices did we choose?  Originally, we didn’t think we would offer a menu choice.  We thought, “We’ll just pick one entree, and if there are special dietary requests or needs from our guests, we will work around that on a case-by-case basis.”  In the end, though, after discussing it with our parents, we decided…we just couldn’t decide!  So we’re offering a menu choice to the guests, so they can pick exactly what the want.  Our preliminary menu is:

First Course:  Bibb Salad
Entree:  Choice of either Shrimp Cavattapi or Tuscan Chicken

We still have to decide on hors d’oeurves for the cocktail hour and make final selections for our children’s menu, but we are so excited about the adult food.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it! 

The reception hasn’t felt real to me, until we had this tasting.  Now that I have seen linens and tasted food and drink, I realize that all this is finally happening.  My ideas and plans are all coming to life—and they are going to look good together!  We are so excited about everything and can hardly wait to celebrate with family and friends. 

Did you do a tasting at your venue?  How did you choose your menu items?

*All photos in this post by me.

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Filed under Colors, Decor, Food & Drink, Venue