Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Personalizing Your Bar

Signature Drinks

I haven’t been to a wedding in a long time without seeing a signature drink. Signature drinks are an incredibly hot trend right now and come in all styles and flavors.  Signature drinks are a great way to carry out the theme of your wedding or maybe you want to serve the drink you had when you first met or when he proposed. Whatever your reason, make it personal! With that said, here’s some information you might find useful when choosing what you’ll have at your wedding.

Did You Know: One of the first signature drinks "The Windsor Arms", comes from the 1922 marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in London.  

Signature drinks can be a budget saver. 
Offering just one signature drink instead of a whole open bar can greatly cut down your costs. Depending on the type and quality of the alcohol, an open bar can average $12.50- $20 per guest, a wine and beer bar $7-$15 and a signature drink only bar around $4-$6 per guest.
But how do you choose? 
With so many options out there it can seem a bit daunting to pick a drink that reflects you both. Why not have a “His” and a “Hers” drink. And if you really can’t choose, I’ve even heard of entire “His” and “Hers” bars. Since most of us don’t have the budget for that, this may help. Keep it simple. Start with the classics like martinis and manhattans and build on them. Change the name of classic drinks to something describing the couple. Choose a color; use your bridesmaid’s dresses or flowers for inspiration. Flavors of the season or from your cake are also great for ideas. Then pick your base spirit, vodka, whiskey, whatever- just make sure that people will like it and that it’s affordable for you. A professional mixologist can also help you concoct a cocktail that’s simply your own.
You’ll also want to keep these tips in mind:
Serve a punch: they are made in batches and appeal to a lot of different tastes.
Make large quantities: making large amounts ahead of time will help speed the bar service and keep your guests happy.
Add unique garnishes: herbs and edible flowers will make a great drink look as good as it tastes. But be careful about putting in fruit/herbs ahead of time, after a while it may develop a bitter taste. Mix the liquids ahead and add fruit when served.
Flavored water: It can be a great, refreshing alternative and will be good for guests that want something fun but aren’t drinking alcohol.

Recipes by the season:

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup half-and-half
2 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup creme de menthe
*Whipped cream and shaved bittersweet chocolate for garnish

(for 1 cocktail)
1 lemon
4 basil leaves, roughly torn
6-8 rasberrries
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 oz. Limoncello
1 oz. Citron vodka
Champagne, to top off

Cut the lemon in half, then cut each half into quarters. Use 2 pieces per cocktail.
Muddle lemon, basil, raspberries in a glass, until raspberries and lemon are well mashed. Fill glass with ice. Add limoncello, vodka and sugar. Stir. Top with champagne.

5 ripe strawberries, chopped
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
3oz Gin
muddle the basil and strawberry with the simple syrup  with a mortar and pestle (an ice cream scoop and a cocktail shaker works as well). Add all other ingredients and shake with ice.
8 fresh cranberries
1 tsp. pumpkin spice agave nectar*
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Champagne of sparkling wine

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the cranberries, agave nectar, and lemon juice. Add ice and the champagne or sparkling wine and gently mix. Strain out into a champagne flute. Top off with an extra splash of wine.
Garnish with 3 floating cranberries
*To make pumpkin spice agave nectar, simply combine 1/c cup agave nectar with 1 tsp store bought pumpkin pie spice and stir.
Flavored Water:
I truly couldn't pick just one flavored water so here's an article with a bunch of great options!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Unique Locations for a Unique Event- Part 2

Locating the Unusual Location- Part 2

Hey there readers! As promised, here is Part 2 of great places you might consider for your wedding venue.


Restaurants can be great places to have a wedding reception. Maybe it was where you had your first date, or somewhere you go often now as a couple. By having a reception at a restaurant, you can expect the food to be just like it would be if you were going for a great night out. They have all of the dinnerware, tables and linens so you may cut costs on rentals. But you may be limited on space, and depending on the venue, dancing may not be as high on the priority list. A great restaurant for a small, intimate event, perhaps even a shower or anniversary dinner is TreVi in Glenside, PA. TreVi's classic Italian cuisine will bring a warmth to your special night that you won't find in larger restaurants.


On a lovely spring or summer day, there's no better place to be than in a park. They provide the perfect natural backdrop to any event and it gives a fun, down to earth vibe for your guests to relax with. You may want to consider just having the ceremony in the park, with a reception venue with an indoor space. Tenting is also an option but figure out the logistics of bathrooms, catering areas and any park service rules about having events in the park. One of the nicest parks just outside of Philadelphia is Sculpture Park at the Abington Art Center. Within the wooded park area are sculptures from local artists scattered throughout. The displays are changed every so often and with a pavilion for the reception, you get the best of both worlds!

Art Galleries

If you and your fiance are the artistic sort, an art gallery or museum will be perfect for you. Guests usually have time to roam the galleries during cocktail hour and your reception will need little decoration to make the room look fabulous. Be careful of rules stating where you're allowed to have food and beverages. One of the best art venues in Philly is the Fleisher Art Memorial. The gallery spaces at Fleisher add so much detail and interest to an event that will awe your guests and a venue like this is hard to find in Philadelphia!

Corporate Centers
A lot of large companies have big spaces that they use for their own events or just have very large lobbies with interesting displays that end up being perfect for private events. They are usually blank slates which allow you to really personalize the space and most of them have a modern feel that really lends itself to some great lighting options. A great venue is WHYY, Philadelphia's public radio and tv producer which rents out portions of their building for private events. With its large spaces and beyond average media capabilities, you can really put together a fun, personalized event, plus they display your names and a congratulations message on their jumbo screen on the front of the building.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unique Locations for a Unique Event

Locating the Unusual Location

If you've read my last post on tips to finding your perfect venue location then you're ready for a little inspiration on locations. You wouldn't be able to guess all of the places that are willing to host private events these days. Any building that has the space is now realizing that they are capable of hosting an event and in this economy, they're capitalizing on it. Take a look at some of the types of places you can hold your event, highlighted by some of our favorite Philly venues.

Historical Locations

Historical locations can be great for weddings because they come with built-in charm. They usually have wonderfully manicured outdoor areas and can be a great talking point for guests. They typically very adaptable to many different styles of weddings so they're great for just about every bride while maintaining the ability to be different for every event. Many historical venues have restrictions on where food and drinks are allowed, if loud music or dancing is allowed and if it is, you want to make sure that the electricity is up to date and is able to accommodate your all night partying. One of our favorite historical places is the Belmont Mansion located Fairmount Park. This old mansion was once a stop on the underground railroad and is now a very nice museum dedicated to Black History, not to mention the breath-taking city skyline view.

Out Door Locations

An outdoor location can make for one of the most beautiful and customizable venues for a spring, summer or early fall wedding. Out door weddings often include a tented reception, or feature a pavilion which guests love because it keeps them out of the sun. Just be careful on choosing an outdoor venue that doesn't have a good rain plan. Even if rain on your wedding day is good luck, no one wants to be a soggy bride. Bartram's Gardens is a great venue for the outdoorsy bride. As one of Philadelphia's most notable botanical gardens, Bartram's offers all of the charm of a sweet, modest wedding with great buildings and a nice barn just in case of rain.


Museums are fantastic wedding venues because it gives your guests something to do while you're away taking pictures with your bridal crew. With built in entertainment and spaces that are kept impeccably, museums are the way to go. There's a museum for just about everything you may be fascinated in so you can really showcase you and your finance's interests. These types of venues may also have restrictions on where you're allowed to have food or if you're allowed to have a big dance party so choose a place that will not only reflect your love of a sport, city, or hobby but that will also allow you to have a great time at your wedding. The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent is located in Center City Philadelphia and features a great outdoor space that is rare to find in any city. Featuring everything that is great about Philadelphia, your guests will not only be invited to a venue full of interesting things but may even learn something along the way.

And since venues are so important and one of the most exciting decisions you'll make about your wedding, there's a PART 2 coming in a few days!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Wedding Traditions Passed

Long Gone is the Traditional Wedding...

As wedding professionals, we’ve noticed a lot of changes in weddings and lately we’ve been wondering what has happened to some of the traditions associated with a typical wedding. We love the creativity and personalization of today’s weddings but where did all of the tradition go? Here’s 3 traditions we’ve noticed getting tossed.

The Wedding Cake

The tradition of wedding cakes dates back to Roman times when a simple barley cake would be broken over the bride’s head and guests scurrying at her to get at the crumbs for good luck. Once tiered, frosted cakes became more popular, A bride would cut the cake and pass small pieces of cake through her wedding band for each guest.

What Couples are doing today:
Cupcakes! One of the biggest trends for brides today is cupcakes. It makes sense- they’re easier to manage the day of your wedding and they look just as nice, if not better than a traditional wedding cake. Another great cake alternative are pies for dessert. Pies are a great way to bring a great, home-made, personalized, DIY feel to your wedding. I love the idea of seasonal fruit pies in the Spring and Summer. And lastly we have dessert tables. These can consist of any dessert combination you’d like, ensuring that you’re wedding is quintessentially you, and your guests will love all of the options.

The Garter/Bouquet Toss

The Tradition:
The origin of this tradition is a little nuts. After the bride and groom said “I do”, they were expected to almost immediately consummate the marriage. Undergarments were stolen from the bedroom as proof that the marriage had been made official and also for good luck. Women attending the wedding were known for tearing at the bride’s dress as the threads denoted… good luck. As you can imagine, it wasn’t enjoyable for the couple so it became tradition for the bride to toss the bouquet as a distraction for the ladies and the groom to throw the garter so the other men would leave his new wife alone.

What Couples are doing today:
Nothing. It has happened many times at event’s I’ve attended that the couple did not partake in either of these traditions. A lot of couples find the tradition cliché or embarrassing. But ladies, who doesn’t love to put your friends in the center of a dance floor, announce them as single, and then watch as they desperately grab for a bouquet?

Wedding and Engagement Rings:

I’m going to pass on the story that says rings are a lighter version of tools used to keep captured brides from running away- because the Egyptians had a different tradition first… and it’s a more pleasant story to tell the grandkids. 

The Tradition:
The Egyptians, and many other ancient cultures, used the ring as a sign of eternity, no beginning, no end. We wear the ring on the third finger of the left hand, because they believed that that the vein in that finger ran directly to the heart, which the Romans later named “vena amoris”.
Also, a 12th Century Pope declared that the time in between the engagement and marriage should be lengthened which greatly increased engagement rings in popularity. And a clever 1950’s ad campaign by DeBeers cemented a diamond as the must-have gem. Perhaps you’ve heard it? “A Diamond is Forever”.

What Couples are doing today:
This tradition is not fading as quickly as some of the others. But there is an increasing amount of couples getting ring tattoos (diamonds are forever but tattoos are permanent?) and many brides are forgoing the traditional diamond and opting for other precious gems like a sapphire due to the amount of conflict surrounding the diamond market. And surprisingly enough, men wearing weddings bands is not a deep-seeded tradition but the number of men wearing them is going up.