What Is A Deconstructed Menu?

Ashley Nicole Events Deconstructed Wedding menu

Deconstructed Wedding Menus

Have you ever heard of a “deconstructed wedding menu”? No? Please allow me to explain! Deconstructed Menu: a meal or dish that is pulled apart to allow for guest customization. Mashed potato bars are an excellent example. The catering team would place mashed potatoes in a martini glass and make an array of toppings available for self service. Toppings might include bacon bits, vegetables and an array of sauces/gravy.

mashed potatoes

Another deconstructed option is a salad bar. By offering a salad bar, you are providing your guests a healthy option but still allowing them to have fun with their meal. Start with one or two lettuce types and then go to town on the dressings and toppings! Ranch, Italian, Thousand Island, Poppyseed, Caesar, tomatoes, broccoli, corn, peppers, croutons, etc. Salads are tricky. Either people love them or hate them. Providing options increases the chance that your guest will actually eat a salad! 

Dan Gold/Unsplash

Now for dessert, my favorite part! Who doesn’t love s’mores? Leave out heaps of graham crackers and a whole lot of marshmallows, but don’t forget the chocolate! Your guests can roast their own marshmallows and then add any additional toppings if they wish. You can offer peanut butter, whipped cream, sliced fruit, etc… Not only will kids at the reception love this, but adults will too! 

The Shirley Journey

If a completely deconstructed dinner menu is not up your alley, you could incorporate this idea during cocktail hour. One fan favorite is a French Fry Bar. Provide pre filled cones of french fries and an assortment of toppings such as ranch, ketchup, mayonnaise, honey mustard, bacon bits, pulled pork, cheddar cheese, etc… I could go on forever!

A deconstructed menu might not be for everyone, and that is okay! This type of meal tends to be more casual.  A few years ago, I attended a wedding with a similar menu. My husband and I still talk about how fun it was to create “our own menu” at the wedding. 

Have you ever hosted or attended an event with a deconstructed menu? I recently posted about a Thanksgiving dinner party where we featured deconstructed pumpkin soup. You can check out that story here! If so, comment below with recipes, tips and tricks. I can add them to future posts!

Happy Planning!

Ashley

Top 4 Tips When Selecting Your Wedding DJ or Band

When planning your wedding, a large portion of the budget goes to the reception. Every vendor will tell you that their specific service will “make or break” the wedding. Do NOT get me wrong, EVERY aspect of the wedding is important! Food, flowers, decor, photography, etc all have their place. Music, however can truly make or break the party vibe during your reception.

Having a professional DJ or Band is one way to amp up the party and ensure your guests are satisfied on the dance floor all night long! There are some pros and cons of both types of music and it really depends on what your budget will allow. Here are some things to think about when considering a band or a dj.

  1. Can the band play a wide variety of music? Is this a “wedding band” or strictly a bar band? Wedding bands know all of the tried and true classics, know how to keep the party going and will *usually* know how to professionally MC the event as well…think Wedding Introductions, Dinner Service, Father/Daughter dance, Cake Cutting etc. A bar band that you and your fiance love to listen to on a Friday night might not have the working knowledge of weddings or the elements that go into creating a seamless event. Bar bands also *may* be limited on their range of music and will not take requests. If the band can not play Sweet Caroline at the drop of a hat, you might have some unhappy guests. This is NOT a deal breaker, just something to consider and questions to ask.

  2. Will the DJ be the same person MCing the event? There is a huge difference between knowing how to read a crowd, play music and mix beets and actually interacting with the guests. A DJ who also MC’s the event has to ham it up from time to time and get the wedding guests on their feet. You can not have a dud on the mic…it makes for some awkward transitions.

  3. Will your DJ or band perform during the ceremony? Is there an extra charge for this service? How many breaks does the band require? How long are their sets? DJs usually only require a meal break and then play for the rest of the night. If you have a band, do they play all night or do they have scheduled 10/20/30 minute breaks? What music will be played during their set breaks?

  4. What does your budget allow? Bands can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Totally depends on who you hire, how many pieces are in the band and how long you need them to play. DJs will *usually* be the more cost effective option, but do not cheap out. remember, you get what you pay for.

  5. Most importantly, find someone who you and your fiance connect with, who will be able to read your crowd and truly speak to your guests in a way that will keep the party going into the wee hours of the morning.

 Photo Credit: Mayden Photography
Photo Credit: Mayden Photography

Both bands and DJs can create a successful wedding or event. One is not better than the other, they just offer a different vibe to the evening. The most important thing is finding someone who you and your fiance connect with. Make sure this group or person will be able to read your crowd and keep the party going into the wee hours of the morning. Nothing ruins a reception quicker than a dud on the microphone. Find that person with the energy you require and no matter who you choose, you will be happier you chose a professional.


Top Photo Credit: Ann & Kam Photo 

Escort Cards vs Place Cards vs Seating Charts: Ways to Get Creative & Is There A Difference?

Did you know there is a difference between an escort card, a place card and a seating chart? No?!? Well, let me explain!

 Escort Card - Photo Credit: Mayden Photography
Escort Card – Photo Credit: Mayden Photography

An escort card is a small piece of paper (usually) that is in the lobby or entrance of the reception venue that tells your guests what TABLE they are sitting at (escorting them to their table…get it?). This card could be Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or could be individual, Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Evelyn Smith.

 Place Card -  Photo Credit: Ivory House Creative  - Shop the link!
Place Card – Photo Credit: Ivory House Creative  – Shop the link!

A place card is already at the table and tells Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Evelyn Smith which SEAT they are supposed to sit at as well as their pre-selected meals…notice the chicken in the place card.  (placing them in a seat…get it?)

 Seating Chart - Photo Credit:   Ivory House Creative  - Shop the link!
Seating Chart – Photo Credit:   Ivory House Creative  – Shop the link!

Finally, there are seating charts. These are super cute and trending right now. For the love of God, please alphabetize these charts. No one knows what table they are sitting at, but they know where their name falls in the alphabet. This also goes for escort cards. Alphabetize by last name!

Because this is one of the final visual aspects of the wedding, getting creative pulls all of the other visual aspect together. The devil really is in the details! 

Weddings can have either “themes” or “color pallet” help guide your visual elements. Making your escort cards representative of you and your partner will make a cohesive feeling on your big day.If the two of you are into traveling, find nicely folded paper airplanes and have your guests names and table number written on the wings. You could also do the traditional folded escort card but add a twist, like having them standing up in notches of a wooden log. A lot of these creative ideas can be a fun DIY for you and your bridesmaids.

 Photo Credit: Studio 3 Productions
Photo Credit: Studio 3 Productions

If you do not want to get too “theme-y” then sticking to a color pallet is an excellent way to finalize the wedding “day of stationary” into a cohesive wedding collection. For example: Your wedding colors are Navy and Gold. Your Escort Card could be on navy paper and the guest names could be in Gold foil.
 

 Photo Credit: Mary Rose Photography
Photo Credit: Mary Rose Photography
 Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co
Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co
 Shop the link!  Click Here
Shop the link! Click Here

Okay, Ashley! I get the difference. But do I need all of these things? This is where it gets a little tricky…technically no, but sometimes yes!

Ask yourself these simple questions to help:

Q 1.  My guests have pre selected their meals (chicken, steak, vegetarian).
A. Make an ESCORT CARD with an indication of what table number and meal choice. Couples should get their own card. Mr. John Smith (steak) and Mrs. Evelyn Smith (vegetarian).

Q 2. My guests will all eat the same thing (or it’s a buffet/stations).
A. Make an ESCORT CARD with an indication of what table number they guest is sitting at. Couples can be on the same card. 

Q 3. I really really really want to have one of those nifty little seating charts that are really trending. But my guests have also chosen their meals.
A. You now need to make the SEATING CHART and PLACE CARDS. You need to put a name to each seat on the floor plan and tell people where they are sitting. In reality, they will sit next to who they want, but you still need to let the staff know who chose what meal. Catering does not know that Great Aunt Sally ordered a steak, or where she is sitting. You need to tell Sally where to sit and that she ordered the steak.

Q 4. I really really really want to have one of those nifty little seating charts that are really trending and my guests are all eating the same thing (or it’s a buffet/stations).
A. Make that super cute seating chart and rock that look! You do NOT need to make any additional directions regarding meal choices for the catering staff or guests. The chart will work just fine!

*Please note, if you have kid’s meals, kosher, gluten free or any other dietary restrictions, you will want to give more specific directions to the catering staff to help serve these guests in a timely manner. 

I hope this helped explain the difference between SEATING CHARTS, PLACE CARDS and ESCORT CARDS and when/why you need to use them. If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me and I will explain away!

 Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography
Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

Cocktail Hour: Miniature Versions of Your Favorite Foods

When it comes to cocktail hour, some couples want to serve what they’ve seen at other weddings. Whether it be bruschetta, meatballs, a cheese and cracker station, etc… However, there are couples who are on the edgier side of things when they choose cocktail hour food. These couples don’t serve the standard, they serve unexpected appetizers that the guests will be thrilled with.

 Photo Credit: Deer Petal Flowers
Photo Credit: Deer Petal Flowers

Maybe it’s just me, but miniature versions of things are just so darn cute! I mean come on, who doesn’t love puppies? They are just so much cuter when they are little! The same goes for appetizers. By doing smaller versions of classic foods, you are giving your guests a small taste of something scrumptious.

 Photo Credit: Happy Wedd
Photo Credit: Happy Wedd

Being a Pinterest fiend, I’ve seen some pretty creative hor d’oeuvres that can be served at almost any party, let alone a cocktail hour. The options are almost endless, just pick some regular sized food that you and your fiance enjoy and ask the catering company if they can make it into a miniature version. It may help to go on Pinterest to see what you like first, and then have a frame of reference for your caterer when they ask about appetizers.

 Photo: Wedding Party by Wedding Pics
Photo: Wedding Party by Wedding Pics

Some minis I’ve stumbled upon are miniature grilled cheese with a shot of tomato soup, a fork with nicely twirled spaghetti, sliders, mini caesar salads. I could go on and on, but you’d be here for hours!

 Photo Credit: You and Your Wedding
Photo Credit: You and Your Wedding

No matter what you and your partner decide to serve, try to keep it unique to the two of you. Remember that there’s no other couple in the world like you, so why not make your special day even more unique? A selection of miniature appetizers will keep people talking about your wedding for months, maybe even years. They will be so blown away by this trend that they will keep telling friends about it. And who knows, you could be a trendsetter for your group of friends who have not yet tied the knot!