Succulent Love

Sorry, the subject sounds a little dirty.
I seem to be seeing succulents everywhere lately, even when we had lunch at a sandwich shop over the weekend.  And I love them.  One of my favorite Boston-area floral designers, Sarah from Spruce, often uses them when my clients are looking for a modern look.  And I recommended them to a day of coordination client whose reception is in a funky space.

From Wikipedia: Succulent plants, also known as succulents or fat plants, are water-retaining plants adapted to arid climate or soil conditions. Succulent plants store water in their leaves, stems and/or roots. The storage of water often gives succulent plants a more swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants, also known as succulence.

Without further ado, some succulent love!

Our Signature Cocktail...

is the Wild Irish Rose, amended from the original recipe.  What's yours?

We had a signature cocktail tasting party last month and invited a few friends over to help us choose the perfect cocktail to serve our guests.  We weren't sure what theme to work with - the Irish theme or the color scheme (one of our colors is navy).  We ended up making and serving a bunch of god-awful tasting drinks, including some with curacao and coconut rum! Never again!  But it was a great excuse for a mini party...

We settled on the Wild Irish Rose, and tried several iterations of our own creation...try it out for yourself - you'll never taste the Jameson's.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the following over ice:
2oz Jameson's
1/2 oz grenadine
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake and serve straight up in a chilled martini glass with a sugared rim.  Delicious and pretty in pink - though that's the only pink you'll see at our wedding.

I am sometimes a bit ridiculous, so as our cocktail hour begins and these drinks are passed to our guests, the Irish band is going to perform My Wild Irish Rose.  Very likely no one will get the reference but Jen and I, but no matter.

So, what's your signature cocktail?  I'm always looking to try new cocktail recipes, especially on our deck in the summer.

The All-Important Tasting

Tomorrow is our all-important catering tasting.  Whenever I'm working with clients, the tasting is one of my favorite parts of the planning process.  Free food, yes, but the look in a couple's eyes when they actually sit down and taste the food they may be having on their wedding day is pretty special.  Especially, of course, if it tastes good and they are comfortable and happy with the process.  The tasting makes the wedding begin to feel ultra-real.

Your tasting should include at least a few of the passed hors d'oeuvres that are part of your most recent wedding proposal, as well as 2-3 of each: first courses, entrees and sides.  If the caterer or venue is providing wedding cake, you should be able to taste that, too (though I admittedly prefer to go on cake tastings separately).  So, in the spirit of our own tasting (which I'll undoubtedly be debriefing via blog next week), I wanted to share some questions to ask during your own wedding tasting. 

Our venue provides the food and beverage for our wedding so we'll be at the venue, not at the caterer's office, which leads to many more questions.  But off we go:

  • How is the food presented? 
  • Are hot dishes served hot and cold dishes served cold? 
  • Is the plate presentation appetizing? 
  • Are the hors d'oevures easy for your guests to eat?  Side note:  I hate skewers - they are awkward and unattractive!
  • Do the flavors pop and are they complex?  Is the food absolutely divine?
  • Do the courses flow well together?  Is there too much of one kind of protein or do you have items that are very divisive (like goat cheese, which I love)?  I'm not saying you need to change or eliminate those items!
  • Is there a nice balance of selections for vegetarians and carnivores?
  • Will there be any in-season changes to the menu?
  • When is the latest date you can make a change to the menu?
  • Is the caterer managing your rental order?  Did you pick linens yet?  Make them show you swatches!
  • Are the plates you're eating off the same plates you're using on your wedding day?  Same for flatware and glassware?
  • Will you be having chargers?  Side note: Say yes!  Chargers are lovely!
  • What is their standard napkin fold?  Do you like it?
  • If you are a same-sex couple, be sure to get assurance that every last person on the service staff will treat you right! 
  • If you need them, does the caterer or venue provide menu cards?  What is the heading at the top of the cards?
  • Think about when you will be having a champagne toast.  Do you want the champagne pre-set at the dinner table?
  • What is the approximate timing for dinner?  How long does it take them to get through 3 courses if it is a plated meal?
  • Is there a separate cake cutting fee?
  • Will they be providing tableside wine service?  Do you want them to?
  • Confirm whether the fee includes staff gratuity?  Side note: typically not included when you are working with an outside caterer.
  • Confirm the bar setup if you are hosting the bar: flat fee per person or consumption?  Maybe you're lucky enough to bring in your own alcohol.
  • If possible, taste your wedding wine with the food.  If the venue provides the food and bar, then ask them for a wine tasting.  If you're bringing in your own caterer and bar, then bring your own wine to the tasting!
  • What time will the caterer begin setup?
  • If you haven't already done so, ID a location for your gift table, guest book, escort cards
  • Confirm the flow of the space if the ceremony is held onsite: where does everyone go for cocktail hour while the room is being flipped for dinner?  How much of the dinner tables are set up prior to the ceremony and how will they be hidden discreetly?
  • If you don't have a wedding planner to manage the caterer, who will be your day of event go-to person?  What capacity does that person have to act as an event planner and liason with the other vendors like the DJ & photographer?
You may already know the answers to these questions but if not, the tasting is the right time to find out.

Did I miss anything?  Have fun with the tasting!  I know we will - I am looking forward to lobster tomorrow!

J&K's Wedding

It is looking to be a busy year.  One of the trends I am noticing is that many couples (same-sex and straight) are choosing to have their weddings in the private dining rooms of upscale restaurants, guaranteeing outstanding food and generally a pretty cool atmosphere.  This means smaller but nonetheless stunning weddings!  I love these weddings and because I've now planned quite a few of them, I know the private dining spaces of our area's restaurants rather well.

Yesterday, my dear girls J&K got married at Rialto in the Charles Hotel.  Seems I've now had weddings in Harvard Square's top three restaurants.  The noon wedding started with a Jewish ceremony under a gorgeous chuppah, followed by a cocktail reception for a few hours (complete with scrumptious hors d'oeuvres and a string quartet).  The last 90 minutes was an Ipod dance party with a horah, cupcakes and amazing desserts.  Those cupcakes were out of this world!  Rialto is a great spot and I especially like their private events coordinator.

I told Sarah from Spruce Floral that she made me look good yesterday because the flowers were so stunning. The girls were looking for flowers as art - structured, architectural pieces instead of anything feminine and romantic.  Check out my photos (the professional ones are forthcoming):

Finally, it's nice to wrap up a wedding and see a mother of a bride in the hotel and hear her say "Anytime you need a reference, please give them my phone number, my email.  We couldn't have done it without you!"  Very sweet.  Sweet girls, lovely family.  I have the best career.

Choosing the Perfect Wedding Wine

When planning a wedding, there are so many indulgent details to obsess over.  Jen and I have had so much fun over the past few months indulging in private, at-home wine tastings with potential wedding wines.  It's been great couple-bonding and has been a big obsession of mine (though certainly a fun obsession)!  Our wedding venue provides its own catering and wine list.  We took a look at the list, tried a few, were vaguely disappointed and decided to choose our own and have them order it.  We tried to say within the $10-15/bottle price point because the venue will mark it up 300%.  This has been a fun process...

Choosing the right wine for your wedding can be a wonderful theme-related detail.  For example, I had clients last year who had a travel-themed wedding.  Their custom-designed wedding invitations (below) were boarding passes.  Their table names were photos of places they'd been.  And so on.  The details were great, up to and including their red wine selection, Boarding Pass Shiraz, selected not only because it was thematic but also because they enjoyed the wine.

During the course of wedding planning, it's not unusual for my clients and I to share some wine.  I worked with two gentlemen last fall who always had a beautiful bottle of Chardonnay in their home (never red wine, for fear a spill would damage the beautiful Jonathan Adler furniture).  Together we shared many bottles of wine, and picked out wines for their wedding and holiday party.  Through them, via the local Wine Emporium, I discovered the delicious Liberty School Chardonnay - and its gorgeous buttery color and flavor - robust and fruity, yet with a nice crisp finish. 

When it came time to choose our own wedding wines, I went right for the Liberty School, not even noticing that it could be thematic (we are getting married on the 3rd of July, after all).  Their Cabernet is equally as good and Jen's mom, a red wine aficionado loves it.  I am a big fan of new world styles of wines and big, bold reds.  Their Cab is softer than some - it tastes full of berries with a kick of pepper.  I think it's actually a very fun, summery Cab.

This past Friday night, I went food and wine tasting with clients from Manhattan getting married in April.  Together we tasted an exquisite white called McManis Viognier.  The first thing you notice is the peach aroma.  This is an outstanding wine value at about $12 and my clients chose it for their white offering.   The next day, Jen and I had a bottle and are thinking of switching to the McManis especially since it goes great with the lobster on our menu.  I highly recommend this wine.

I love how our own wedding plans are inspired by my clients, even in tiny ways such as wine selections.  When planning your wedding, don't forget to choose wine you love - it's an inexpensive detail that can speak volumes.