Archive for September, 2010

Fall Signature Cocktails

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

The fall weather is all about warm days and the cool nights, and if you are a lover of the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s at Starbucks you will love this signature cocktail perfect for those fall weddings.

Pumpkin Spice Martini

Ingredients

1/2 oz Sylk Cream Liqueur

2 oz vanilla vodka

1/2 oz pumpkin liqueur or pumpkin spice syrup

1 tsp whipped cream

cinnamon stick for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Pour the Sylk Liqueur and vodka into a martini shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Add the pumpkin liqueur or syrup.
  4. Shake again.
  5. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  6. Top with a teaspoon of whipped cream.
  7. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.  

Wish Upon a Wedding ~ Deb and Wally

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Yesterday Wish Upon a Wedding granted another wedding wish for Deb and Wally. They renewed their vows in front of their closest family and friends at the Loft on Lake.

This renewal of vows could not have been possible without our wish granters who have so generously donated their products, time and services. A special thank you for the Wish Granting Team Below

The beautiful venue, Loft on Lake

The wonderful dinner, service and bartenders by Jordans, Food of Distinction. Jordan’s has also provided the food and service at our launch event. We appreciate everything you do for Wish Upon a Wedding.

Rentals were donated by Halls Rental who have an amazing inventory in Chicago.

Wedding Planning by Lauren at Lola Event Productions

Ceremony by Rose Lifecycle Ceremonies who officiated a beautifully orchestrated ceremony.

Photography by Kevin Weinstein

Videography by Absa Weddings

DJ by Don Wilson at Fun Times DJ

Ceremony music by MFO Entertainment Group who sung a moving rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow accompanied by a ukulele

Flowers by Fleur Couture who just opened a storefront out in Downers Grove.

Linens by Windy City Linen

Invitations, placards and menu cards by Pulp and Ink

Cake by Bittersweet

Hair and Makeup by the uber talented Sonia Roselli

Sweet Mandy B’s Cupcakes are Wally’s favorite and we surprised him with those and they had a Sox logo, his favorite team

Favors of Cashews and Swedish Fish by Ricci & Company

Flower Girl dress by Jenny Yoo

AV by Precision Sound and Lighting

Personalized Handkerchief for Deb and Wally are provided by Li’l Inspirations .

I’m proud to be an active board member of Wish Upon a Wedding’s Chicago Chapter. If you would like to become a wish granter please fill out this application. To learn more about how to get involved within our Chicago Chapter please visit our website at Wish Upon a Wedding Chicago and if you would like to join us at our Gala this coming November 1st at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, please purchase your tickets here.

What should you expect at a food tasting

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

It is a little exciting and daunting to go on a food tasting. You are walking into something you’ve really never done before and don’t know what to expect. Kinda like getting married right? What should you expect at a food tasting?

Most caterers will start by offering you a cocktail or glass of champagne as you arrive to the food tasting. Take a seat at the table and notice the chairs, the linens and even the glassware. It is the caterer’s job to show you exactly what he / she provided in their proposal. Be ready to take notes and let the caterer know if you like what you are seeing (and tasting) or if you would like to see things modified or changed completely. The caterer should give you a listing of the foods to be shown during the tasting.

You will most likely start off tasting the hor ‘d oeuvres. I usually tell my clients to rate them from 1 to 5 as they go. If you like the appetizers to be spicier, warmer or even crunchier…. let the caterer know. They will note all of your requests.  Select four to six hor’ doeuvres depending on the length of your cocktail hour.

Most weddings usually do three to four courses. Next up,  is the first course. Usually a salad or a soup. In some cases a soup salad combo which can be quite interesting if paired correctly.  Try them, let the caterer know if you would like to see something different. If you don’t care for it altogether, let them know.  Around this time the server will offer you wines to try. Usually a white wine and a red wine. Try them!

The favorite course for many is coming up…. Entrees. The perfect entree will be served hot, the portion will be sufficient for your guest to have a filling meal and the food will look appetizing as shown. Dig in! Usually two to three different types of entrees are served depending on what you are looking to serve your guests. Make sure you also pay attention to the sides (starches, vegetables) that accompany the main entree.

Always end with a sweet ending…. dessert. For most weddings that is a slice of cake. Most of my clients tend to go directly to the baker where they can play and taste different cake and filling combinations. Most caterers can have the baker deliver a tasting portion to their office for you to taste during the food tasting. Select a cake, select a filling and voila you have chosen your wedding cake.

If you don’t care for something during the food tasting. Let the catering manager know, remember to be polite. Say something along the lines of ” I really didn’t care for ____ ” vs. “That was awful”. Caterers take really good notes during the tasting (as should you!) and they will send you a revised proposal with your changes.

Why does it take so long to get a proposal from a caterer?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I’m going to bat for caterers this week! We have some pretty outstanding caterers in Chicago and I want to make sure that brides out there understand what happens behind the scenes at a catering office to serve you better.

Why does it take so long to get a proposal from a caterer? Some times it seems like it takes one or even two weeks (gasp!) to get a proposal from them. It may seem like a long time to get a proposal but a good caterer will create a custom menu for you. They also have to reach out to the rental companies to provide them with a price for all the rentals needed. They also need to get a response back from their food wholesaler as the costs of goods change through out the year. Strawberries in August don’t go for the same price as strawberries in December. Nor do they taste the same by the way!

There are many parts to a proposal for a caterer. The venue, time of the year, length of the event, logistical challenges and the amount of guests all play a big part in the way a caterer can put together a well rounded and realistic proposal for you. So it’s not surprise that it takes the caterer a few days to get back to you. Do ask the caterer when can you expect a proposal from them during your first conversation? If you haven’t seen a proposal by that time give them a call and remind them that you are anxiously waiting for their proposal. Once you receive it, make sure to review it. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask them to go over it with you.

A caterer will be your largest vendor and the biggest expense you will incur at a wedding, give them enough time to put together a comprehensive proposal for you.

Tomorrow…. what to expect during a food tasting.

Why taste with a maximum of two caterers?

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

In Chicago we are lucky that 90% of the caterers do not charge nor do they request that you put a deposit down before scheduling a tasting. Believe me it is not that way in other major cities in the country. They don’t do it in New York City and they don’t do it in Los Angeles. So the fact that caterers let you taste their food before signing on the dotted line is a testament that our local Chicago caterers want to make their clients happy.

Yesterday we talked about narrowing the caterer’s choices and reviewing proposals before you walked into a caterer’s office to taste their food. I asked you to narrow down the choices and taste with just two caterers vs. every single caterer on the venue list.  Not every caterer has the same price point, style, cuisine or service. They are all different. One may have a completely sustainable and organic menu while another caterer may be perfect for a hard core foodie who loves to pair wines with their food. Not all caterers are created equal. By tasting with more than two caterers you will be actually wasting your time and you will walk out of a few of the tastings disappointed because its not what you were looking for in the first place.

I also wanted to say this in defense of Chicago caterers. A full tasting is quite a big expense to a caterer. Hence, the reason why they want to make sure they do it right the first time and most of them tend to go all out for you. They rent equipment (it may seem like they do but they don’t have a plethora of plates, linens, silverware or glassware in the back), they also bring in a server to pass, set and clear the table… just for the tasting. They also have additional staff in the kitchen so they can cook, plate and photograph the food right before it goes out. Last, but not least they also purchase the actual food for the tasting. Think of that chocolate covered strawberry for the sweet table they showed you at the end or that perfectly grilled steak for the entree. They didn’t go to Jewel or Whole Foods to purchase that. They bought it from a food wholesaler.  In order for the caterer to show you four chocolate covered strawberries they have to buy a flat of strawberries which ends up being a big expense for them.

Don’t waste your time, money, or resources tasting with more than two caterers. Lastly, don’t forget to call the caterer who was not chosen. Thank them for their time and if they like feedback (which most of them do) let them know why they weren’t chosen.

How many tastings should you do before hiring a caterer?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Food Tastings…. Yipee! It is a very fun part of the wedding planning and it’s the perfect time to bring the parents together and let them into a little bit of the planning. This week we will talk about hiring a caterer correctly. Before you go onto your food tastings you need to do some important homework so your tastings go well.

Most venues have a list of approved or preferred caterers. It may range between four to six caterers. Call the caterers, let them know when you are getting married, ask them to provide you with a custom proposal. Don’t be afraid to let the caterers know exactly what you want. Let them know if you have any food allergies, let them know if you are looking for a special cuisine (ie. american, french, italian, fusion), let them know if there is something you just don’t care to see in the menu. If you are a foodie… by all means let them know so they can get creative with the menu. Most high end caterers in Chicago have a menu for you to choose from, but the real fun begins when the chef creates something special just for you.  It will take the caterer between one to two weeks to put a proposal together for you. Why does it take so long to get a proposal? I will talk about this later on in this blog post series.

Review all the proposals…. yes all those proposals that you received. The goal is to try and compare apples to apples as much as possible. Review the menu. Does it look interesting? Did they put together a pretty well rounded menu? Is the price point within your budget? If the answer is no…. then it may be time to cross that caterer off the list as you have a few others to choose from. If the answer is no for all caterers, then it sounds like you need to tweak what you are asking from the caterers and ask them to resubmit. Again review and cross off any caterers that just doesn’t meet your criteria. The goal is to taste with a maximum of two caterers. If you’ve done the homework before stepping into a caterers office/kitchen you will be able to taste, feel, and get a good idea for what the food on the day of the wedding will be.

Tomorrow we will explain…. why taste with a maximum of two caterers vs. every single one on the venue’s list.