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Bridal themes
By Kathleen Ostrander

Wedding trends like food stations with themes, all hors d'oeuvres, mini meals or tasting menus could take awhile to make it to Springfield, but a few brides are being a bit more adventurous.

Karen Jewell, director of catering for the Crowne Plaza, said brides are going for themed rehearsal dinners or gift-opening brunches because those are a little more manageable then an entire reception.

"Using hors d'oeuvres and dessert at the reception is really not that economical," she said. "It takes more time and labor to make hundreds of little delightful bites rather than a plate of food. A bride might still choose that, though, if the emphasis is on networking and mingling," Jewell said.

She added that it's also an interesting option as a second marriage reception or a reception if the ceremony happens to be late in the evening.

"Most often, we have receptions with a plated meal," said Kevin Scarbrough, wedding coordinator and catering manager at the Hilton. "Brides tend to choose this option for the 'wow' factor of having their guests served at their tables," he said.

"We also offer buffet-style meals. One reason to choose a buffet is that it offers your guests a full meal with the benefit of them being able to choose which foods to eat. Although, having a buffet is not always less expensive than sit-down service, as you'll need to order more food than you would otherwise," he added.

Jewell said they are seeing an increase in ethnic foods and smaller themed dinners.

"We had one themed rehearsal dinner - 'going to the Caribbean' - because that's where the bride and groom were going on their honeymoon. We used the rooftop, brought out the grill and decorated with palm trees and paper lanterns. We had lots of fresh fruit and island type foods on the menu. The bridesmaids were running around in little sundresses, the weather was perfect and it was cute and elegant," she said.

"We have been seeing an increase in ethnic (East Indian) weddings. For these functions, and those only, we allow the catering to be brought in from an outside vendor," Scarbrough said.

But he added that the chef at the Hilton can do most any menu. "Our menu suggestions are just suggestions," he said. "We are always pleased to work with the bride and groom on creating individualized menus that meet both their tastes and budget," he said.


Planning tips

If a wedding is on the horizon - here are some trendy suggestions from www.theknot.com, www.elegala.com and www.weddingchannel.com.

Refreshing drinks for a summer rooftop wedding: Offer a fabulous selection of drinks. Nonalcoholic lemonade or iced tea bars are very popular. Displaying different flavors (and colors!) of lemonade or tea in giant glass jugs along with cut fruit for garnishes makes for a lovely, decorative setup during your cocktail hour or reception.

Cool appetizers: Help hot guests cool down during your cocktail hour or reception. Shrimp cocktail on ice is always refreshing. While ice sculpture raw bars remain popular, if that's not your style, consider serving individual shrimp set on cups of shaved ice.

Decorative desserts: Serving a dessert in addition to the wedding cake is more popular than ever. Give your dessert double impact by choosing a sweet treat that echoes the ambience of your event. Consider serving a mini-scoop trio of sorbet that mimics the colors of your wedding.

Go ethnic: It's a great opportunity to showcase your heritage or just an excuse to serve something fun. Consider an Italian pasta station, a Chinese wok station, even a build-your-own taco bar.

Comfort food chic: Pay homage to your family upbringing and serve comfort foods, straight up with a chic twist. Everyone loves macaroni and cheese; add some pizzazz to an old favorite by adding gruyere and fontina cheeses or even lobster.

Reflect a theme: Tie it all together, and choose your catering menu based on the season, theme or color of your wedding. Feature apple-maple glazed chicken with pumpkin cheesecake during the fall, or try lemon grilled salmon with a steamed fresh vegetable medley during the summer.

Fondues and fountains:  Fondues are back, and the bold and decadent chocolate fountain is popping up at receptions all over the country. Seen too many chocolate fountains of late? Kick start the evening with a Swiss cheese fondue instead.

Mini meals: Scaled-down portions of traditional dishes is one of the hottest trends in hors d'oeuvres. Some favorites include miniature hamburgers with teardrop tomato slices, tiny Chinese to-go boxes stuffed with lobster, shrimp and Chow Fun noodles.

Tasting menus: Foodies around the world flock to fine restaurants to enjoy "tasting menus," where as many as 30 small courses are served. Caterers are able translate the concept by serving courses of hors d'oeuvres-size dishes. For example, a starter course may include a trio of soups in shot glasses. When it comes to entrees, a small roasted filet on a bed of horseradish-crusted potatoes and four-peppercorn sauce may share a plate with a small piece of herb-crusted halibut with tomato fondue.



Story published Friday, March 6, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 2 )

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