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

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

Too Delicious to Choose: Cupcakes or Cake

Sometimes, weddings can have a certain element of pressure. Kind of like peer-pressure. Everyone you know has a wedding cake and does the “typical cake cutting” cheesy photo op. What if you and your partner aren’t the biggest fans of cake? What do you do then? Do you suck it up and have a cake because everyone else did, OR do you do something different that really speaks to you and your fiancé? 
Cakes come in all shapes and sizes. There are two types of “average wedding cakes” these days. The first is the typical 3 tier vanilla frosting with some type of butter cream filling. The second is a single tier, much smaller cake simply used for the ceremonial cake cutting. Deciding on the decorations of the cake can become a sugary nightmare! Maybe you don’t like frosting and want to mix things up a bit. Be true to yourself and the rest will follow. 

 Photo By: Crane's Photography
Photo By: Crane’s Photography

We all know that cake is good, but there’s sometimes a stereotype of wedding cake being dry and covered in too much frosting or fondant. Instead of serving pieces of cake to your guests, let them serve themselves! Give them a variety of cupcakes that were picked out by you and your partner! This way your guests can have options.

 Photo Credit:  Cupcakes 101
Photo Credit: Cupcakes 101

When it comes to cupcakes the sky is the limit! You can mix and match flavors, get creative with the cupcake liners, and even choose a simple design for the top! Just like having signature drinks you could have signature cupcakes for your guests. Your partner may like red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting while you like chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.

 Photo Credit: Crane's Photography
Photo Credit: Crane’s Photography

Having a simple cake as well as cupcakes keeps the tradition of cutting the cake a part of the reception. This way you are allowing yourself and your partner the joy of still getting to cut the cake together. Always keep in mind, however, that cupcakes can be smashed in your face just like a piece of cake can!

 Venue: The Haight
Venue: The Haight

6 Tasty Signature Cocktails For Your Summer Wedding

Ashley Nicole Events Signature Drink Wedding

There’s nothing better than a summer wedding, but boy it can get hot! Make sure your guests stay nice and refreshed by offering a signature drink to keep them cool. Read on for 6 different options to include on your special day!

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

1. Rum Orange Sizzle: With the sweet taste of orange juice and rum, a summer favorite, your guests will have a sweet drink to sip down.

 Complete Recipe found HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Are some of your guests under 21? Forget about the liquor, your underage guests will feel just as ‘cool’ by keeping these ingredients on hand: Sugar cube, Maraschino cherry and ice.

2. Blueberry Ginger Mule: Putting a creative twist on a Moscow Mule, blueberries can be added for both flavor and a touch of color. Try putting the drink in a frosted glass to keep it cooler longer!

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Are some of your guests under 21? Forget about the liquor, and add lemonade, frozen blueberries, zest and juice of orange and lemon, sugar, white vinegar and vanilla flavoring.

3. Flor de Cana Pina Colada: A typical summer drink, your guests will have this cocktail and feel like they are on a tropical vacation. Don’t forget a pineapple wedge on the rim of the glass for a nice, simple garnish!

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Simply take out the liquor, allowing your underage guests to enjoy a nice, refreshing coconut delight.

4. Tropical Negroni: A classic drink but with a twist. To incorporate even more of the tropical feel, serve the drink inside a pineapple!

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while still keeping these simple ingredients: crushed ice, strawberry simple syrup and pineapple juice

5. Dragon Bramble: A unique cocktail will keep your guests on their toes, while also incorporating you and your significant others unique relationship! With a nice pop of color, this drink would be perfect with anything millennial pink.

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while still keeping these simple ingredients: dragon fruit puree, blackberry simple syrup, lemon juice and ice.

6. Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade: With a twist added to regular lemonade, there will be an sweeter punch when mixed with lemon and sugar.

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while keeping these simple ingredients: lemonade, sugar, lemon sugar, grated lemon rind, muddled raspberries and ice.

What is your favorite signature cocktail? My favorite is an oldie but a goodie…vodka tonic. 😉