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Susan Ties the Knot, Part XI: Food and Beverage

Since I work for a family of restaurants, the food for my wedding was really important to me. And being social people in our early 30s,  FH (Future Husband) and I  have been to our share of weddings.  Nine times out of ten, the food was just not impressive, and sometimes it was  not very good.  That’s not the way I want people to remember my wedding. The food and drink (alcohol) are to be highlights!

We knew we didn't want a sit down plated dinner reception. Most of our guests are from out of town and FH and I want to make the most of our time and really get to hang out with everyone that night. We also wanted our families and friends to mingle with each other and meet each other.  So we decided on food stations with informal seating. For us, informal seating means no one would be assigned a seat or a table but between tables with chairs, soft seating and cocktail tables everyone would have a place to eat.

For the food itself we definitely wanted to highlight Casa del Barco's food but we knew we didn't really want to serve tacos. We wanted an upscale Mexican inspired dinner. Zach Wingold, Executive Chef at Casa del Barco, worked with me to create the perfect menu.

When you are choosing the menu for your event, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Diversify proteins.  I think that when you're choosing appetizers for your cocktail hour and the items for the rest of your meal you want to make sure you have a good mix of different proteins so there is something for everyone. You don't want to only serve seafood and then find out that five of your guests have seafood allergies.

Cultural preferences. FH’s mom’s family  is Jewish.  So we needed to be aware of some of the items they couldn't eat.

Dietary restrictions. You should definitely make sure your caterer can accommodate vegetarians and ask whether or not they charge extra for the special meal. Also be specific about whether you need a vegetarian or a vegan meal.  

Children. Does the caterer have an option for kids’ meals? Providing child-friendly food for kids can really help parents relax and enjoy your reception.

After you decide on your food menu, it’s time to think about the beverages.

Whenever we go to Casa del Barco I order the jalapeño margarita so I knew that had to be my signature drink. Plus what goes better with Mexican food? Casa’s bar package was so large and diverse I knew that it was the perfect fit and I never felt like I had to compromise anywhere.

Having the reception at a venue that already has their own ABC license made the alcohol service easier for us. If your event is going to be at a venue in Virginia that does not provide the alcohol, you might need to get a special one-day banquet license from VA ABC.  Be sure to do your homework and check on alcohol service licenses and regulations early in the planning process.

Our families definitely like to throw back a few drinks so having an open bar was pretty important.  If your family is anything like ours, be sure to ask if the bartenders are trained in proper service to prevent over-serving your guests. If you are not providing transportation for your guests, you might also want to have some phone numbers for taxi companies, or someone to help guests arrange for rides from  a service like uber or Lyft.

Don’t forget about the people who choose not to drink alcohol. You will want to have a variety of non-alcoholic beverages available. In addition to soft drinks, offer a mocktail (cocktail with no alcohol), lemonade, or a flavored water.

If you focus on your personal priorities while keeping in mind the vibe, personality and dietary restrictions of your friends and family, this part of your wedding will be a guaranteed success.  A year after my wedding, I want everyone to still be raving about the great food and drinks, and [spoiler alert!] the raw bar!

Tags: wedding event planning bride reception

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