Every couple dreams of a unique wedding, and Beth & Kye were no exception. I was delighted to take on the challenge of creating an exceptional event for this well-traveled couple with discerning taste. In our first meeting they expressed two essential ideas. First, their guests’ comfort and entertainment was of utmost importance. It was essential that their guests not be bored or seated awkwardly with strangers. Secondly, the food and wine was to be the highlight! They love trying new culinary experiences, and wanted their guests to have that chance as well.
To create a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, we did away with traditional wedding seating at large tables and instead transformed the reception space into a luxurious lounge, complete with soft drapery, vintage furniture, and dainty chandeliers, all in subtle cream and champagne colors. Guests were free to move among the vignettes at their leisure, finding new areas to enjoy themselves.
Of equal importance was the way we structured the evening’s menu and schedule. I suggested that our entire menu be passed in courses throughout the event, never requiring guests to stop a conversation to find a buffet or be glued to one seat at a plated event. Kellie Bryson, the owner of A Catered Affair, was given the challenge of creating a menu to excite this special couple’s eclectic culinary style and she was more than equal to the task! Read here, in her words, about the flavors and service style used:
“The engaging couple wanted to be sure that guests did not leave hungry – a challenge taken seriously. We felt the best way to combine a satiating experience with the passed structure was to create more than one demi-meal, which brings us to our main course, accompanied with a wonderful Pinot Noir.
Waiters roamed with silver trays of tiny brioche rolls filled with medium rare beef tenderloin topped with caramelized onions and horseradish cream. Grilled New Zealand lamb chops were dusted with a traditional Adriatic mixture of parsley, lemon zest and garlic then served on top of a parmesan risotto cake. Breast of Quail rounded out the main course and was served on top of a tiny Johnny cake and drizzled with a calvados glaze and garnished with white grape halves.
In case guests wanted to nibble further, a live action Bahn Mi station was available throughout the night. Fresh pork belly smoked over hickory, then slow cooked, was served on a French roll and topped with an Asian influenced slaw. Sesame and spiced white vinegar were the chef’s secrets to this flavorful traditional Vietnamese sandwich. For a finishing touch, wasabi spiked snack mix was available in the lounge areas.”
Because this was a potentially unfamiliar service style to many guests, we created a “Passport” for the evening that guided guests from course to course, and event to event. It allowed them the ability to be present for all the special moments, but still feel free to wander and mingle. They could also look ahead and see what menu items were yet to come, allowing them to leave room for every delicious course!
This unconventional style is not for every bride, nor should it be attempted without a stellar team of vendors that can execute service with clock-like precision. But for the couple that wants to put a fresh spin on their reception and treat their guests to a night of luxury, this may just be the idea for you!
A more detailed look at the menu from A Catered Affair’s, Kellie Bryson:
“We were excited to work with Amy Parman on this fun reception – she’d worked with Beth & Kye to choose the preferred service style of a butlered menu. Their favorite restaurant, which serves great bar food with a speakeasy vibe, was our starting point. Being well-traveled and experienced foodies let us take them in a few directions, so our challenge was to create a menu that would not only satisfy the couple’s desire for delectable food but also create a complete meal for the guests.
The meal included all traditional menu courses in bite-sized form. Specialty cocktails were served to guests upon their arrival. The groom selected a 12-year special reserve Kentucky bourbon served neat and the bride’s choice was the Juliet & Romeo – a gin cocktail with fresh squeezed lime juice and rosewater – which started the spring evening wonderfully.
Following the ceremony, waiters passed sparkling wine and single bite hors d’oeuvres: Parmesan Asparagus Crisps, Duck Breast wrapped in Benton’s Bacon and drizzled with Smoked Fruit Butter, and a Crab Cake Duo – Maryland Style topped with traditional Remoulade Sauce, as well as Thai Style, speckled with fresh cilantro and served alongside Black Pepper dipping sauce.
The Salad Course had three styles, paired with a great Pinot Gris. First, lobster steamed with Piri-Piri chili sauce and served on top of mixed greens that had been drizzled with a green chili sauce, served in a stemless martini glass and cocktail forks create for a delightful presentation. Secondly, endive lettuce was filled with a mixture of diced apples, grapes, toasted pecans all mixed with a blue cheese vinaigrette. Lastly, shot glasses filled with our signature Bloody Mary Mix and pickled vegetables concluded the first course options.
The Italian Wedding Soup course came in a tiny demitasse cup garnished with a delicate skewered hand formed beef meatball. So many guests specifically complimented the meatballs. Chef’s secret (shh)? Don’t overcook the meatballs!”
Post by Amy Parman of CJ’s Off The Square // Food commentary by A Catered Affair // Images by Ulmer Studios