Category Archives: For Wedding Industry Professionals

Keeping Wedding Toasts Short and Sweet

I recently had the opportunity to offer my perspectives about wedding toasts to a writer for Brides Magazine, which has just published an online article called “THIS Is How You Tell Someone You Don’t Want Them Giving a Speech at Your Wedding.”  Here is the complete version of the advice I provided:

Toasts are carefully scheduled by the Wedding Planner in the wedding day timeline, which is sent out two weeks before the wedding.  So they are not extemporaneous.  Typically, the toasts are given in the following order:  The Best Man traditionally gives the first toast; per newer traditions, the Maid or Matron of Honor follows the Best Man; then the Father of the Bride follows the Maid or Matron of Honor.  These three toasts are given when guests are seated prior to dinner (or the main meal) being served.

Photo: Dennis DeSilva, Studio Seven

Photo: Dennis DeSilva, Studio Seven

These toasts need to be “short and sweet” for two important reasons:

  1. The First Course is ready to be served (or perhaps food stations open) immediately after the completion of the three toasts. If the toasts went beyond the scheduled time, the chefs and banquet staff would be extremely upset.  Chefs do not like to serve wilted salads, cold soups or any other type of food that is delayed from being brought to the guests.  Basically it is extremely important to time the toasts carefully with the Banquet Staff, so any unscheduled toasts would not be appropriate.
Photo: Withers Wanberg Pictures

Photo: Withers Wanberg Pictures

  1. If the 3 individuals – Best Man, Maid or Matron of Honor and Father of the Bride – exceed their designated time (typically, they are asked to keep it to 3 minutes each, for a total of 9-10 minutes) not only will the Banquet Team be unhappy, but from my years of experience as a wedding planner, the wedding guests will not be happy either! Guests do not appreciate listening to long-winded “Roasts or Speeches” which are not suitable for weddings.   Also, the toasts need to be understood by all guests – no “inside jokes” that most guests would not understand.

Following the meal, typically during the band or DJ break, there are 2 additional toasts that take place during the Cake Cutting Ceremony.  Prior to actually cutting the cake, the Bride and Groom are positioned at cake table, and the Groom toasts his lovely bride for the first time, then the Bride may reciprocate the Groom’s Toast.

Photo:  Paco & Betty

Photo: Paco & Betty

Additional toasts are not appropriate at this time, because the guests want to eat cake and dance the night away!

Rustic & Vintage Weddings: Fad or Fixture?

I was honored to be contacted by Special Events Magazine to offer my perspectives on the current popularity of rustic and vintage weddings.  I am most grateful that some of my comments were even included in an article published in their weekly “Eventline” e-newsletter.

But since this is such an important topic into today’s wedding world, I thought it would be helpful to share the complete set of comments I made on this subject.  So below, I have listed the questions posed to me by Special Events, and my responses immediately following.

1)      Is the rustic/vintage wedding theme still a hot trend, or is it starting to fade?

First of all, there is a difference between “rustic” and “vintage.”  Rustic is weathered, time-worn pieces (furniture) and accents (accessories) in a more casual setting.  Examples include an old barn or a vignette of weathered country furniture.

“Vintage” applies to more refined furnishings, from the early 1900’s to the 1950’s, typically more “refined” than rustic.  Examples are painted French chairs, glided sconces, toile or lace fabrics, mercury glass containers, pieces of silver and crystal chandeliers.  “Antique” furniture is 100 years or older.

I don’t think rustic or vintage is a fad, but a style that will stay with us.  However, it’s also important to note that neither rustic nor vintage should be considered a “theme.”  Rustic and vintage are styles (and 2 of many style options) for a wedding couple to potentially select.  Typical styles include:  traditional, formal, casual, contemporary, modern, rustic, vintage and whimsical.

2)      If it’s still hot, what are some of the “must haves” for the rustic/vintage wedding? (That is, in linen, floral, tabletop, chairs, venue, etc.)

The plethora of bridal blogs show the typical items used at rustic or vintage weddings.  But unfortunately, I believe these blogs are all swimming in a sea of sameness.  If the rustic or vintage style truly resonates with the couple, I would encourage them to develop a unique “theme” which fits within that style, but also incorporates their unique tastes and personalities.

For example, Tamara and Damon’s wedding had a distinctively vintage style, but we developed a “Signs of Love” theme to make their wedding uniquely their own.  Here’s a synopsis of their story:

As their relationship blossomed, Tamara and Damon created many romantic rituals that reflected their playful personalities.  They loved to take drives in Tamara’s Mini Cooper convertible with the top down.  Every time they stopped at a red light, they would kiss.  Whenever they spotted a Volkswagen Beetle on the road, they would play a game of “Slug Bug,” giving each other a love tap on the arm.  And if they ever found a photo booth during their travels, they would always stop for a strip of pictures.

At home, Tamara and Damon kept mistletoe hanging in the hallway all year round, so they could kiss whenever they passed underneath.  Once each week, they would take turns cooking “lovey dinners” – culinary creations that they had never tried before.  And before quaffing a cocktail, they would dream up a poetic toast that rhymed.

After this darling couple selected Events of Distinction to design and plan their wedding, we first set out to develop an appropriate color palette for the celebration.  When we asked Tamara what her favorite color was, she replied, “poppy red… and cobalt blue, aqua, peach, taupe and gold.”  OK, no problem.  Working with a graphic illustrator, we were able to develop a logo for their wedding that included all of these colors, while vividly depicting the couple’s “signs of love.”  We used this logo on several printed pieces, including the Save the Date from Union Street Papery, beautifully photographed by Caroline Ghetes:


 On the wedding day, for a pre-ceremony beverage, guests were greeted beside a vintage truck at Beltane Ranch and a display of vintage linens and boxes in the color palette of the wedding.


During the ceremony, the chuppah included a vintage needlepoint heirloom that Tamara’s grandmother had made.


At cocktails we had a vintage display of silver champagne buckets used for the escort cards and a vintage stop light at the bar.


The dinner area had crystal vintage chandeliers from Twilight Design hanging over a tablescape of “Sevres Antique” china from Classic Party Rentals and floral centerpieces from Michael Daigian Design.



3)      Do certain color palettes dominate the rustic/vintage wedding? If yes, what are they?

Absolutely NOT!  All it takes is a little courage and confidence to create color schemes for any theme wedding (and style).   Start with your  favorite colors.   Change your mood (from ceremony to cocktails to dinner and dancing) with color.  For Tamara and Damon’s wedding, we used peach to poppy red for ceremony; cobalt blue and gold for cocktails and aqua and peaches for dinner.  After dinner we used gold, aqua and peach, as shown in these delightful desserts from Patisserie Angelica.


4)      Is there a certain profile of the “typical” rustic/vintage bride? (Maybe her age, where she’s from, other?)

For some city-dwelling couples, a farmstead wedding may serve as an escape from the urban concrete jungle.  After all, the grass is always greener on the other side (even when we’re in a drought).  Couples who have an appreciation for history may find the vintage style particularly appealing.


5)      Why do you think the rustic/vintage wedding is so appealing to brides? (Does it seem more “authentic” or more human in a high-tech age, other?)

The vintage-inspired wedding started to become popular as the economy was taking a downturn around 2008-9.  Couples in the luxury market did not want to appear “over-the-top” and started thinking more about “green” weddings.  Hence, vintage items from neighborhood garage sales and flea markets found a new life as nuptial décor.

I also think this style of wedding may be partly a generational issue.  Millennial couples who have embraced the rustic and vintage styles may be doing so just to assert their independence from their parents (and style of wedding their parents had).


6)      But if the rustic trend is starting to fall off, what trend is coming on strong? Old World elegant? Hip minimalist? Strong personal themes? Other?

I believe the word “trend” should never be used in the context of wedding & event design, because the key to developing a “trendy” design does not come from following the latest fads, but from capturing the couple’s unique personalities.  Following a “trend” only results in creating a copycat look.  That’s why I always focus on developing very personalized designs.


7)      What are the biggest drivers that influence your brides’ desires—Pinterest images? Bridal magazines? What their friends just did at their wedding? Your advice?  Other?

Brides do have an insatiable appetite for what’s new, but they are also inspired by great ideas from wedding design professionals.  It’s up to the designer to be the creative genius and convert the couple’s personal tastes into a workable design.  So the biggest drivers that influence our clients’ desires are my creative juices, along with their combined shared interests, ethnic heritage and personalities.

Bringing Your Wedding Vision Into Better Focus Than 20/20

ABC television, in a recent broadcast of its 20/20 program, aired a rambling episode that they called “Wedding Confidential.”  This episode consisted of several segments, one of which was an attempt to portray wedding industry professionals as scam artists who gouge engaged couples at every opportunity.  In case you missed it, you can watch the entire show by clicking here.

Many outraged members of the wedding industry have offered insightful rebuttals to the 20/20 segment. If you want to read some of the commentary about the 20/20 program, please visit the blogs of my colleagues Alan Berg and Andy Ebon.  Since I have previously commented on these kinds of accusations in another blog post, I will not repeat my prior observations here.  But after finally watching the program online and mulling over the massive outcry it generated, I wanted to offer a slightly different, and hopefully helpful, perspective.

Yes, there are a few bad apples in every industry, and the wedding industry is no exception.  But what is truly important for the engaged couple is to know how to avoid the bad apples.  Brides and grooms certainly won’t learn that by watching 20/20, a program that was designed to entertain, not educate.  So in the paragraphs that follow, I want to take this opportunity to offer my advice to couples on how to make sure you are getting fair value for the wedding services you need.

The single most important thing you can do to ensure that you’re paying a fair price is to obtain proposals from more than one service provider in each vendor type that you need for your wedding (i.e. florists, photographers, caterers, etc.).  And it’s fine to inform each vendor you contact that you will also be getting other quotes – most vendors would expect you to do that anyway.

Make sure that you ask for similar levels of services from the vendors you contact, so that you can make an accurate comparison of the quotes you receive. Getting 2 or 3 proposals from qualified service providers is typically enough for you to make an informed decision.  (Getting 20 to 30 proposals is unnecessarily draining on everyone’s time – especially yours.)  Your decision on which vendor proposal you prefer may be based on the price quoted, but that shouldn’t be the only thing you consider – you may, for instance, decide to select a more expensive photographer because you liked their style the best.

Assuming I’ve convinced you of the value of getting multiple proposals, an important question may still be nagging at you – “How can I be sure that all the vendors I am contacting are qualified, capable and trustworthy?”

My advice is to look for service providers that have credentials, experience and established reputations.  Many qualified vendors belong to non-profit associations that seek to advance the level of professionalism in the industry.  These associations include the Wedding Industry Professionals Association, the International Special Events Society and the National Association of Catering Executives.

If you’re looking at wedding websites to find qualified service providers, check out listings of vendors that have been carefully screened, such as those appearing on Here Comes the Guide or Style Me Pretty’s Little Black Book.  With these listings, the service providers have all received rave reviews from couples as well as other respected professionals in the wedding industry.  Other website listings may only require the service provider to pay a fee to be listed, so there is no mechanism in place to confirm the qualifications of the advertiser.

So I hope the above advice will help you find reliable service providers that you can count on to make your wedding day a wonderful experience.  But before concluding this blog post, I wanted to address one more issue that was brought up in the 20/20 program segment – whether service providers typically charge more for weddings than they do for other types of events.  The answer is that sometimes they do, and let me explain why that can be the case.

I can assure you that the amount of time you will put into planning your wedding will far exceed the amount of time you would put into planning another event, such as a birthday party.  After all, birthdays happen every year, but a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you will want to fondly remember your wedding day for the rest of your life.  Your wedding vendors want that for you, too.

But this means that your service providers may also need to spend more time working with you to prepare for your big day, to ensure that your wedding celebration is a much more special occasion than a more “ordinary” event like a birthday party.  So it’s not the selections of flowers for your centerpieces, or entrees for dinner, or music for dancing that are themselves more expensive – instead, a somewhat higher price can occasionally result from the extra time that your service providers take to make sure those centerpieces, entrees and tunes are exactly what you want for your wedding.

Overall, the vast majority of wedding service providers work very hard and earn a very modest living.  What motivates them the most is not making money, but making all your wedding dreams come true.

A great example of the kind and generous spirit of most wedding service providers was clearly (and ironically) illustrated in another segment of the same 20/20 program.  This other segment told the story of a bride who supposedly had terminal cancer (she actually did not have cancer, but that is beside the point I’m trying to make here).  What did local wedding service providers do when they heard about this bride’s terminal cancer?  Did they try to overcharge her because she wanted to get married quickly?  No, they offered their services for free or a deep discount because they wanted to help her!  (Unfortunately, since the bride was faking having cancer, it was the wedding service providers who actually got scammed.)

So let me finally wrap things up with what I think is the moral of this story:  If you do your homework to find qualified service providers, and put your trust in these knowledgeable professionals, they will skillfully implement your beautiful wedding vision with much more sharpness and clarity than the producers of 20/20 could ever envision.

Julie & Mike’s A-Door-able Celebration

Over the past several years, many print magazines in the wedding industry have folded up and disappeared, unable to economically compete with the burgeoning bridal blogs. There have been many sad situations resulting from magazines that have been blogged out of existence, including one involving a client of ours.

Julie & Mike had a fabulous wedding that we were honored to receive a Gala Award for. Their wedding was scheduled to be published in a national bridal magazine, but the magazine kept postponing the publication date, then finally it ceased operation. It was a most unfortunate set of circumstances, both for the defunct publication, and for our darling client.

But while many wedding magazines have been on the decline, one publication has actually been on the rise. That publication is Ceremony Magazine. A lovely high-end bridal magazine that has flourished for many years in Southern California (with 3 separate publications for the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego markets), Ceremony Magazine has recently expanded to the San Francisco Bay Area, as well.

And now there is a happy ending to Julie & Mike’s sad story. I am thrilled to learn that their wedding is being featured in the current Bay Area issue of Ceremony Magazine. Not only does Ceremony Magazine have a luxurious printed version that you can buy in bookstores, but they also provide an online version that you can view by clicking here. (Julie & Mike’s wedding can be found on pages 244-247.)

I wanted to take this opportunity to show some of my favorite photos from Catherine Hall Studios that Ceremony Magazine was not able to include in its feature. But first I need to explain how we came up with the design concept for Julie & Mike’s wedding.

Inspired by the couple’s travels together, Events of Distinction developed an a-“door”-able theme for their celebration. During a trip to Europe, Julie and Mike discovered that they especially enjoyed photographing old-world doors, capturing beautiful entrances that were surrounded by vibrant life. For their wedding design, the door was more than just a symbol of their unique personalities; it also represented a passageway to their new life together as a married couple.

The woodlands of Nestldown in the Santa Cruz Mountains provided the perfect backdrop for Julie and Mike to find the key to nuptial bliss:

A nuptial highlight was the “Key Sharing Ceremony”. Their mothers first came forward to give Julie and Mike “the keys in life.” Each mom gave their own child a key. Julie and Mike then exchanged the keys with each other as the officiant declared, “Select a special location in your home for these keys, so that they can serve as a reminder that the door to your hearts shall always be open.”

I am most grateful to the wedding service providers who helped make Julie & Mike’s wedding an award-winning event, including Asiel Design, Beaux Gateaux, Blueprint Studios, Classic Party Rentals, La Tavola, Painted Tongue Press, Papineau Calligraphy, Parsley Sage Rosemary & Thyme and Thomas Hughes Films. And I am delighted that this delightful couple finally got their wedding published!

In Loving Memory of Ronnie Montrose

The tributes have been pouring in from aficionados of hard rock music following the passing of Ronnie Montrose.  Ronnie’s guitar-playing wizardry has been praised by his many fans, but there was a softer side of Ronnie that will always remain in my memories.

That’s because I wasn’t introduced to Ronnie by hearing him play at some headbanger hangout.  I didn’t even know he was a famous rocker in the 70’s (I must admit that I was more into the disco scene during that time).  Instead, I met Ronnie because of my relationship with Leighsa Montrose, his lovely wife who owns Branch Out Floral and Event Design.  I have had the great pleasure of working with Leighsa on numerous occasions over the years.

I loved Ronnie, not the rocker, but the “regular guy” who would build props for the weddings that Leighsa and I worked on together. On the many occasions where we collaborated, Ronnie was there to help install the fabulous décor.  He enjoyed fabricating items to use in weddings and events, because it gave him another creative outlet for his many talents.  The photo below shows Ronnie working on the setup of an Asian food station at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.

The end result was a spectacular sight:

Above Photos:  Dennis Desilva, Studio Seven

For a photo shoot for Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine, I worked with Leighsa at Branch Out and Napa Valley Linens to design a fun poolside table at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco.  We wanted to have an out-of-the-ordinary table shape for this unique location.  Ronnie created a hexagonal tabletop and installed copper cladding around the base to coordinate with the china, flatware & stemware that I had selected.  It was way cool, and we could not have mastered it without Ronnie’s help!

Photos:  Events of Distinction

On several other occasions, I also knew Ronnie as the supportive husband who would be sitting in the audience as Leighsa and I partnered on speaking engagements together at industry conferences.

For as long as I knew him, I never realized how famous Ronnie was in the music world, because he was such a humble, down-to-earth person.  Instead, I had the pleasure of knowing Ronnie in the world of weddings, and giving him a big hug whenever I worked with Leighsa.  For that, I will always be grateful, but my heart is very sad at this time.  Ronnie, may you rest in peace and enjoy God’s love forever and ever.

20/20 Vision of “HollyWed” Is a Wake-Up Call for the Wedding Industry

I used to joke that I would like to design & plan more Hollywood celebrity weddings, because then I would have more opportunities for repeat clients. In fact, many of my esteemed colleagues have eagerly sought out this market, and have even elected to place the word “Celebrity” in front of their own professional titles (calling themselves “Celebrity Wedding Photographers”, “Celebrity Wedding Planners”, etc.), presumably as a marketing strategy to attract more clients. But after the recent “HollyWed” episode on ABC’s 20/20 was beamed into millions of homes across the country, I am very skeptical about the value of associating one’s wedding business with celebrities. And after watching this program and writing this blog post, I promise I will never tell my old joke again.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

In case you missed this episode of 20/20, and if you have the time and stomach to watch it, you can click here to see the entire video.

To me, the most nauseating part of the program was the segment on “Celebrity Wedding Freebies,” featuring the lovely Kim Kardashian’s momentary marriage. This segment unveiled the lengths to which some celebrities have gone to extract gifts and massive discounts from wedding service providers, in exchange for the potential of massive media exposure that is presumed to result from their assistance with the wedding.

But following the outrageous divorce filing only 72 days after the Kardashian-Humphries nuptials, I doubt that most of the involved vendors are still crowing “I did Kim’s I-Do’s” in their marketing materials. And I also suspect that these vendors will not rush to her side when Kim someday decides to have a sequel celebration with some other poor schmuck.


Photo Credit:

Most importantly, I believe that the fallout from the Kardashian nuptial debacle may be leaving a big black eye on the wedding industry as a whole, thanks to the continuing media coverage of this travesty. So what exactly do I think is wrong with this publicity-driven picture? While subsidizing celebrity weddings may seem on the surface to be an appropriate marketing strategy for wedding professionals, I believe it is a bad business practice for two reasons:

1. Using the terminology of today’s public discourse, I believe it is morally wrong to offer freebies or huge discounts to members of “The 1%” (celebrities) in exchange for an expectation that it will increase the number of future bookings you will be able to obtain at full price. That’s because many of those future bookings would likely come from “commoners” – i.e. members of “The 99%.” So by subsidizing celebrity nuptials, you are effectively expecting future payments from The 99% to cover your marketing expenses on The 1%.

2. As the Kardashian catastrophe has graphically demonstrated, there is no guarantee that an investment in a celebrity wedding will actually yield positive returns in the future.

Over the years, the wedding industry has been accused of gouging customers, accusations that are overwhelmingly without merit, as I have discussed extensively in a previous blog post. Although the number of wedding service providers that have actually donated services for a celebrity wedding is very small, we all unfortunately and unfairly can get convicted in the court of public opinion of being “guilty by association.”

So I believe the Kardasian disaster serves as a wake-up call to everyone in the wedding industry. I think we all need to take a firm stand and “Just Say No” to any attempts by celebrities to seek our services for anything less than full price.

At this point, you may think that I just enjoy bashing celebrities in general. Not at all true. Many celebrities effectively use their status to promote great causes, and I have great admiration and respect for Hollywood couples who have had long-lasting marriages like Tom Hanks (a Northern California born & bred boy, by the way). My darling associate in Malibu, Sarah Kern Possick, has met many delightful couples who work behind the scenes in the LA entertainment industry. None of these couples have asked for discounts based on their association with celebrities.

So I think what’s really important is to ignore the temptations of the seamy side of Hollywood. If you feel a desire to donate your services, consider giving to a truly worthy cause like the SEARCH Foundation or Wish Upon a Wedding, not some celebrity who can easily afford to fully compensate you for your fine work.

Of course, your comments are always welcome on this subject.

Summer Entertaining– Dine Like You are in Napa in Your Own Backyard

Just last month I co-chaired a Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA) meeting held at Church Estate Vineyards in Malibu.  The day was gorgeous and once guests entered the estate they were swept away to Southern California’s finest coastal wine country.

photo courtesy of Imagery Immaculate Photography

In addition to the fantastic setting, the food (catered by Good Gracious! Events) and its presentation were the epitome of summer vineyard entertaining.   Peach and thyme infused water along with platters of fresh figs and salads adorned the table.  The frequently refreshed platters gave a sense of abundance.

While we don’t all live on a vineyard estate we can take inspiration from the menus we find in wine countries all over the world.  The beauty of the quintessential wine country dishes is their focus on fresh and local ingredients. A white porcelain dish filled with organic farmer’s market strawberries makes a stunning statement.   The bright reds of tomatoes, oranges of peppers and squash, and greens of arugula and basil are beautiful as well as mouth watering.

Today’s Los Angeles Times featured an article on easy -to- prepare whole grain salads that are beautiful for a summer vineyard-inspired buffet.  The salad below is made with bulgur, arugula, zucchini, and pine nuts.

This Quinoa, grilled corn, tomato, and cilantro salad is refreshing and sophisticated and will certainly impress your guests at your next get together.

Please, pour yourself a glass of California Chardonnay and enjoy a fantastic, mouth watering meal in the sun to celebrate these precious summer months!

Ice-Cold Vegan Wedding Desserts

Who doesn’t love an ice-cold refreshment on a hot summer day?  The thought of popsicles and ice-cream sandwiches takes me back to the ice cream vendor at the park I used to love as a kid.  I can still hear the tinny sound of the music that triggered a pavlovian response to run as fast as I could to the truck to order a Big Stick.   Now, with creative dessert artisans we can enjoy vegan versions of our childhood favorites without sacrificing the flavor we remember.

Compassionate (read dairy and egg free) desserts aren’t just for vegans these days.  They are for everyone who wants to enjoy delicious sweets.  Ice cream sandwichesSorbet cakes, Popsicles, and Ice Cream balls like the ones pictured above make a beautiful (not to mention tasty) dessert display so guests can cool down after a hot summer evening on the dance floor.

There are endless vegan ice cream flavors and options to play with for an exciting sundae bar.  For vegan Ice Cream Parlors across the US, check out: Ten Vegan Ice Cream Shops

Hope you all are having a fabulous summer and eating to your (vegan) heart’s content!









Keeping Award Competitions Kosher

Over the past several years, I have received numerous “Vote for Me” emails from colleagues who were competing in some kind of “Best Of” contest.  I have previously avoided involving myself in such competitions because I felt that the award-winners in many of these contests did not necessarily represent the best in their professional fields, but they certainly won the prize for having the “Best Network of Devoted Voters.”Instead, I have preferred to submit my work for award competitions that are carefully judged by a panel of experts – specifically, the Gala Awards and the Esprit Awards.

So when I recently learned that I had been nominated as a finalist for the BizBash West Readers’ Choice Awards in the category of “Social Event Planner of the Year,” I was certainly surprised, but at the same time, humbly honored.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with BizBash Magazine, it is a leading trade publication for event professionals, serving 9 major markets in North America.  (To subscribe, click here.)  I am very touched that several BizBash readers were motivated to submit my name as a nominee.  Whoever you are, thank you so much!!

Most importantly, as a top-notch publication for our industry, BizBash deserves a top-notch voting process for its awards.  So I did not write this blog post to make a typical “Vote for Me” plea.  Instead, I urge you to carefully review my work and credentials on Events of Distinction’s website, and do the same for the other nominees.  That is the only way to ensure that the voting is fair and just.

If, in your judgment, Events of Distinction is deserving of the honor of “Social Event Planner of the Year,” please know that I am very grateful for your kind support.

To see the nominees and cast your votes for the BizBash West Readers’ Choice Awards, please click here.  According to the competition rules, you are allowed to vote once each day during the voting period, which runs through June 12th.  The winners will be announced at the BizBash West Expo & Awards at the Pasadena Convention Center on Tuesday, June 14th at 5 p.m.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this blog post, and for taking the time to cast an informed vote in the BizBash West Readers’ Choice Awards.

Creating Festive Food Stations for Your Wedding

In a previous post, I mentioned that I recently gave a presentation at Catersource, the leading industry conference for caterers.  Here is an excerpt from this presentation topic – the design of food stations for wedding receptions.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, a “food station” is simply a fixed location where your guests can go to obtain food (instead of waiters coming to your guests to serve food).   Some people use the term “buffet” interchangeably with “food station,” but they are not the same thing in my book.  In fact, in my book Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding, I had this to say: “long buffet tables, exhibiting all the ambiance of an Army mess hall, should be dishonorably discharged from service.”

So while buffets may resemble your high school cafeteria, at food stations we typically use “small plates,” which are served in a much more attractive manner.

Photo:  Dennis DeSilva, Studio Seven

Why would you want to have food stations at your wedding?  First of all, food stations entice your guests to move around more, and this leads to more interaction among the guests.  Also, food stations provide more variety in the styles of food service, which makes the reception a more interesting culinary experience for guests.

There is one more reason to use food stations – and this is the reason why I gave the presentation at Catersource.   Food stations provide an opportunity to creatively express the design theme of your wedding.

For example, I had a bride and groom who loved all sorts of sports – hiking, biking, running, skiing, etc. – so I designed an “All Things Athletic” theme for their wedding.  To convey this theme at the cocktail reception, we had a “Mountain Climbing Station” decked out with an ice pick, pitons and climbing rope:

Photo courtesy of Melons Catering

If the idea of having food stations at your wedding intrigues you, first consider when you might want to use them.  It really is a matter of personal choice!  Some couples decide to have stations for their main meal service, but the vast majority of my clients have opted for a seated, plated meal for their dinner.  If you also prefer to have a sit-down dinner, then the best opportunities for using stations are during the cocktail reception… or you can have a dessert station after dinner:

Photo:  Wendy Maclaurin Richardson

Regardless of the design theme you have chosen for your wedding, it creates more interest when you have a variety of table shapes and heights at the food station.  This waterfront wedding, catered by Paula LeDuc Fine Catering, was designed with elements of sailing ropes and grasses growing by the seashore.

Photo:  Wendy Maclaurin Richardson

To provide some finishing touches on the stations, I like to select dishes and utensils that complement the food & beverage and the design concept.   When appropriate, I use lighting and props to enhance the look.  This station was designed to represent the couple’s favorite Asian restaurant in New York:

Photo:  Grace Image

Custom-designed food stations are not inexpensive – they typically can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 to create.  But they are a wonderful way to enhance the design concept of your celebration, while creating an unforgettably delicious experience for your guests.