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Wedding Tips

Guest Post: Planning Your Wedding Menu – Simply Stunning Events

July 16, 2012

One of the biggest wedding expenditures (and often the one most enjoyed by your wedding guests) is the food. It’s been a long-standing tradition to serve a meal as part of a wedding reception and these days couples are getting creative and choosing menus that reflect not only the reception time of day, but the location, region, and their cultures and personalities. You can serve pretty much anything at your reception, as long as it’s tasty, filling, and reflects the formality of the party (meaning you wouldn’t serve casual BBQ at a black tie affair). What are some things to consider when creating your reception menu?

First you must decide if you (and your guests) would prefer a plated meal (in which all guests are served a plated dinner  at their tables), a buffet, action-stations (similar to a buffet but instead of one area where all the food is presented, the food is set up at various stations throughout the room), or some combination of all styles. You should also consider whether you’d like to serve appetizers during the cocktail hour (these can be passed or set up at a station), any type of dessert other than wedding cake, and finally if you’ll serve any additional snacks or treats at the end of the night.

Next, brainstorm different foods that you like as a couple and that your family and friends might enjoy and feel free to get creative! You don’t have to service the traditional beef or chicken with veggies and potatoes. The sky is the limit. You can incorporate any ethnicity or region in your menu, Italian, Asian, French, southern or mix it up for variety. At a recent catering meeting with a couple, they decided to each choose an appetizer that represents their heritage and background. For the groom from New Orleans, Cajun Shrimp Gumbo Shooters and for the Asian bride, Mini Pork Eggrolls. And who says you can’t serve more casual favorites dressed up a bit? A recent couple we worked with served the most amazing gourmet Gouda Mac & Cheese as a side dish in their wedding menu.

Create a budget of what you plan to spend on your catering menu. Keep in mind the more options you serve, the more it will cost. Prices vary by region but in Nashville you can expect pricing to start around $20 per person (for a very basic meal with no appetizers) and range up to $70 per person or more. Typically I find our couples spend an average of about $30 – $50 per person on the food. This per person cost does not include a 20% service charge or 9.25% state sales tax. Also decide whether this budget includes the rental of service ware, silverware, and glassware or if that is provided elsewhere (through the venue or renting from an event rental company).

Finally research various caterers in the area and ask people you know for recommendations. Typically if a company has been in business for many years and does a lot of events, they most likely do a great job. Keep in mind that you will most likely not be able to taste any food before placing a deposit (yes, this is a pain but consider that a catering company can’t give a free meal to EVERY person that is considering hiring them). So be sure to do your homework, read any reviews you can find, and ask for recommendations. If you hire a wedding planner, they will be able to recommend catering vendors that are reputable and fit with your budget and style.

A final bit of advice…keep in mind this is a wedding, not Thanksgiving dinner. You do not need to serve a Smorgosbord (yes I had to look up how to spell it) of food with tons of different choices and a million sides, just to please everyone. It’s just one meal that you are hosting with a set menu. Choose 1-2 meat options and 2-3 sides, plus 3-5 appetizers. Don’t worry if not everyone will like everything, if you’ve got picky eaters, that’s their problem, not yours.

Good luck in planning a tasty wedding menu!

Simply Stunning Events

Images by Phindy Studios


Leap in the City Event at Sambuca

April 18, 2012

I was so excited to be invited by Michelle of Burlap and Brooches and Sara Fried of Fete Nashville to their Leap in the City Event at Sambuca this past February. Sambuca is a great local restaurant here in Nashville and happens to be one of my favorites. They have a newly expanded Sky loft Lounge designed for 70-100 guests and it’s ready to host rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions and bachelorette parties. The food was wonderful and I had my first ever bacon wrapped Quail which was really good! 🙂

Dulce Desserts made the most delicious cupcakes and I was happy to find out they make most of the desserts for Sambuca’s special events. The lush flower arrangements were by Ricky Minder of Ode Floral Artistry and the detailed charcoal and candy apple red linens were provided by Jennifer Byler of Connie Duglin Linens.

Daiva Grubb of Designs in August whom I had the pleasure meeting that night created the logo and paper designs for the event and I loved how they turned out.

Melissa McBryde of Grand Avenue Transportation provided the fancy Mercedes Benz for the fun photo shoot outside.

The always charming and very talented Gregory Byerline was the photographer for the night. Thank you again to Michelle and Sara for throwing such a fun party!

Other sponsers for the night: Nashville Audio Visual  // Chris Wheeler Films // Reed Thomas Lawrence 


Parachute Canopy

February 2, 2012

I saw this idea the other day on Pintrest and I thought it was one of the coolest things I had seen in a while! Using a parachute as a canopy in your reception area. What a great way to possibly cover up a less than desirable ceiling & add great ambiance to a room! Apparently it is also a budget friendly option as well…rentals can be as low as $35!

Image by Matthew Michael

Bridal Fashion

Tuesday’s Trendwatch – The Reception Dress

December 13, 2011

So you have selected YOUR dress – THE dress – DREAM dress and you honestly can not wait to wear it on your big day.  Why not just add one more dress to the mix?  I love the idea of a reception dress.  Having one amazing, couture gown for your ceremony and then changing into something fun and flirty for your reception.  It just tells your guest you are ready to celebrate – ready to get down and might even just throw them for a loop on your fashion choices.  Very recently we had a Nordstrom open here in Nashville and since then this store has been all the craze in town.  They have an amazing selection of reception dresses in store and especially online that would all ultimately be a divine choice.

This is your time to have fun – show your personality and kick up your heels.  Let’s party girls!

Images –

Wedding Tips

Don’t Hire A Caterer Until You Read This! – Southall Eden

October 21, 2011

Hiring a caterer for your wedding is a huge decision, and will probably be one of the most costly aspects of your big day. But unfortunately lots of couples only consider two thirds of the equation when making this choice. First, of course, is the food itself. Does the caterer in question make the type of cuisine you intend to serve? Does it taste like you want it to? Secondly, what is the price and what does all does that include? Does it fit in your wedding budget? These are both crucial aspects that anyone with common sense knows to consider, but all too often couples ignore the third crucial component, which is service!

When I say service, I am not just talking about how the food gets from its original container into your guest’s mouth, although that is included as well. I’m talking about the overall interaction between you (/your wedding planner, your venue, etc.) and the caterer, from the time you sign the contract all the way through until the conclusion of your reception when they load up to leave. To an eager couple who is dealing with the realization that weddings are crazy expensive and things just keep adding up, its tempting to overlook something like service that is intangible and seemingly not a priority. But as I recently advised a bride, a caterer may promise you quality food at a very low price, but who’s to say they won’t show up in a child molester van with servers who have 3 teeth and haven’t showered? Hear me now and believe me later, you DON’T want to hire a caterer based solely on price and food quality. Why? Let me share some of the horror stories that I have either experienced first hand or heard from fellow wedding vendors:

  • The caterer shows up an hour and half late, and guests enter the cocktail area to find the caterer still setting up. But even worse is that the beautiful wedding photos, by a very talented and costly photographer, feature a U-Haul and servers scrambling around in the background of the ceremony!!!
  • The caterer says they will provide all their own linens and china, but they show up with linens that are the wrong size, wrinkled, and stained. They “have a long drive” ahead of them at the end of the night and leave early, not leaving a single drinking glass, and totally unconcerned that 200 people dancing the night away MIGHT just want a beverage at some point.
  • The bride hires her own caterer, who does not supply a detailed contract. The wedding planner cannot get anyone at the catering company to return her calls and emails until the week before the wedding. When she finally does speak with them, she learns that service is not included in the price they had quoted the bride in their very nebulous contract, and the they had planned to drop off food and leave. To rectify this situation, the couple has to come up with a significant amount of money in a matter of days.
  • The catering company, although they own a reputable restaurant of their own, shows up to the event in a dirty beat up station wagon, and the manager puts her pack of cigarettes on the buffet table while they are setting up. Family and wedding party members who have arrived early for pictures get to enjoy the show. Need I say more?
  • The owner of the catering company has multiple events that day and sends out several servers but no manager in charge. Not only does nobody know what they are supposed to do, they also have not brought the correct beverages, serving pieces, and supplies so they just have to “make do”. Really?? The only person making a do on your wedding day should be your hair stylist!

I could go on and on, but hopefully I have horrified you into believing that hiring a reputable caterer with a history of good service is imperative! Before you sign a contract, do you internet research, ask around, and definitely, definitely take the advice of your planner, venue, and other wedding vendors. Unless someone around you has personal experience with the company, or you can at least read several positive online reviews, it may not be worth the gamble. Some brides think that vendors recommend each other because they get some sort of financial kick back. This is very rarely, if ever, the case. We all have a vested interest the event going flawlessly, and we recommend vendors who we know we can rely on to make that happen. Once you make your decision, be sure you get EVERYTHING spelled out clearly in writing. If there are things you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask. Most caterers are not “out to get you” by any means, its just that there are a variety of goods and services involved in catering and you want to be sure that both parties understand what to expect!

Guest post by Southall Eden // Images – Photographix