Wedding Snapshot Series: Steph and Matt at South Shore Pavilion

The Slam Dunk Meeting

Steph and Matt grew up fifteen blocks away from each other, but didn’t wind up meeting until a mutual friend invited them to a Bucks vs. Lakers game in 2003. “After the game, we went to Matt’s house on the East side to hang out, where we both vividly remember Steph jokingly taking Matt’s phone and entering her phone number and birthday into his calendar,” the couple remembers. She also secretly entered a reminder alarm at 3:00am on her birthday, and Matt called to leave her a funny voicemail.

After a couple years of occasionally running into each other, when Steph was finally single, Matt invited her to a Christmas party at his house, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.

The Claw-some Proposal

Steph and Matt knew for a long time that they wanted to get married, “but it wasn’t until we went ring shopping that things got real,” they say. Matt surprised Steph with a gorgeous ring and a kitten!

The Dress

Steph tried on about twenty or thirty wedding dresses before finally finding the one. “I remember seeing [the dress] for the first time in a magazine thinking there was no way it would be in the budget, but I found it online and to my surprise, it was!” Steph says of her Wtoo Elise dress, which she purchased at Bliss Bridal in Brookfield, WI. “It had literally everything I was looking for – a sweetheart neckline, beautiful lace, tulle, and pearl beaded straps – everything that I wanted for our vintage romance inspired wedding on the lake!”

The First Look

For their first look, Steph and Matt chose the courtyard at the Iron Horse Hotel in downtown Milwaukee, where the bridal party got ready. “I was so nervous while I was getting my hair and make done,” Steph says, “but then suddenly ass the nervousness went away as soon as I knew I was going to see Matt.” The couple giggled and smiled nonstop when they finally laid eyes on each other for the first time. “They aren’t kidding when they say the day goes by quick,” they said, “and we are both so glad we did a first look so we got extra time together before the day really started.”

The Ceremony

“Our favorite part of the day was definitely our ceremony,” Steph and Matt say. The bride and groom both wrote a little something to say before their vows, and hearing each other’s words was the highlight of their day. “He was the one who wanted to write our own vows, so it all just meant a lot to me,” Steph remembers. “The words he said and how he said them was perfect and he is just the perfect guy for me.”

The Venue, Decor, and Flowers

Picking the venue was easy for Steph and Matt, since Steph had worked weddings with All Occasions Catering / Bubb’s BBQ there. Set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Michigan, South Shore Pavilion offers an amazing view, beautiful exposed brick, and a completely customizable hall. “It was a no-brainer,” Steph says.

The inspiration for their decorations was Lake Michigan, which makes perfect sense given the location of the venue. To go along with the lake theme, they picked light blue, aqua, and pink as their wedding colors. They even featured small sailboats at every table!

The brooch bouquets added a special vintage-y touch to the day. “It was something I saw in a wedding book, and I did my own twist on them, making sure the custom order included only brooches that looked like flowers.”

For the centerpieces, Steph was inspired by doilies and vintage blue ball jars that she already had. The rest, she purchased from Etsy and Hobby Lobby.

The Food

Steph and Matt opted for a plated dinner featuring Grilled Filets with Bearnaise Sauce, Spinach Stuffed Chicken with Herb Tomato Butter Sauce, Smashed Garlic Potatoes, and Buttered Green Beans. They chose All Occasions Catering because Steph used to for us in the Summer, and because they wanted classic, traditional choices their guests would love. “So many people told us they had the best filet ever in their life at our wedding, and that makes us so happy.”

The Honeymoon

For their honeymoon, Steph and Matt went to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. “We swam with dolphins, saw tons of tropical fish snorkeling, went on a speed boat and jet ski, ate like pigs, and drank like we were 21 again. We lived the dream.” Sounds like paradise to us!

Congratulations Steph and Matt! We LOVED working with you, and we are so excited to share your beautiful story!

Check out some of the other amazing moments from their day:

Vendors:

March Madness-Themed Fundraiser: March 25, 2017

Every year, we work with a local high school to put on their biggest fundraising event of the year – the annual Spring fundraiser. Past fundraiser themes have included A Day at the Ballpark, Game Show Night, Milwaukee, Disco, and Caribbean. This year, the theme was March Madness, and we were all very excited to come up with the menu.

Appetizers

Appetizers were the easy part, since we wanted to focus mainly on food that you would serve at a March Madness party and food that was basketball-themed. Our passed appetizers for the event included:

  • Brisket and Vegetarian Sliders
  • Mini Mac and Cheese Balls
  • Mushroom and Pepperoni Mini Deep Dish Pizza
  • Loaded Potato Bites
  • Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese Sauce
  • Buffalo Chicken Bites with Jalapeno Ranch

Main Course

For the main course, we focused on creating a high-end menu that would feature some of our new menu items and would really wow the guests! The champagne vinagrette featured in the salad was a huge hit, and people really loved the presentation of the tenderloin tips in a puff pastry shell.

Salad

Romaine Wedge Salad with Goat Cheese, Candied Walnuts, Roasted Beets, and Champagne Vinaigrette

Entrees and Sides

Tenderloin Tips in a Puff Pastry Shell
Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Herb Redskin Potatoes
Roasted Vegetable Medley

Dessert

Fresh Fruit Tart with Cream Cheese Filling and Citrus Glaze

We had so much fun at this event, and we want to thank St. Thomas More and our staff for making this a great fundraiser year after year!

Wedding Snapshot Series: Mara and Geddy at Black Swan MKE

The Milwaukee Meeting

Mara and Geddy met in the Summer of 2011 at Bradford Beach through a mutual friend, and they had their first date at Cafe Hollander on Milwaukee’s East Side. “I still vividly remember that day, what we were thinking, what we ate! We hit it off right away and the rest is history. We were pretty much inseparable after that,” says Mara.

The Proposal

One of their yearly traditions is to go to the American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI, so Geddy planned to propose on their annual trip in the summer of 2016. He surprised Mara with a visit to Wollersheim Winery, where they walked the grounds and tried some of the different wines.

Mara said she should have known something was up when Geddy suggested a photo opportunity by a winding path that led to a beautiful archway covered in vines. When they reached the archway, Geddy got down on one knee, and Mara was so taken aback that she doesn’t remember most of what he said. “I was crying and he had a huge grin on his face. To this day he still says he doesn’t think I even said yes!’ Mara remembers.

The Dress

Mara found her dress at the popular Milwaukee boutique, Miss Ruby’s. “Overall,” she says, “I just wanted something timeless that I would look back on and still love.” Ultimately, she chose a dress by Wtoo, a company from Dallas that makes stunning gowns. “As soon as I tried it on,” she says, “I had a smile on my face.”

The First Look

Mara and Geddy chose to have their first look at the Hilton Garden Inn because of the gorgeous marble staircase. Looking at the pictures, it’s clear how excited they both were. “It was sort of a relief to both of us that the day was finally here, we had this sense of peace and comfort sharing our ‘I love yous’ and some ‘us’ time before the rest of the craziness started,” the couple says.

The Ceremony

Their ceremony was held at Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee. The ceremony, Mara says, was one of their favorite parts of the day. “My oldest brother married us and my Dad delivered our wedding day sermon so the ceremony was very special to both of us.”

The Venue, Decor, and Flowers

Black Swan MKE, a new venue in the Renaissance Building in the Third Ward, set the elegant backdrop for the ceremony. As soon as they saw the venue, Mara and Geddy were completely blown away. They even cancelled the other venue appointments they had scheduled for the day to go out for a celebratory brunch. “Peter was so easy going but direct,” the couple says. “We liked him right away and knew we could trust him with our day.”

The color scheme, which was blush, icory, burgundy, and navy, fit in perfectly with the setting of urban elegance at Black Swan MKE. “We wanted a very romantic and elegant feel since it was a winter wedding,” says the bride and groom. Feisty Flowers provided a beautiful  combination of cranberry and burgundy flowers paired with lots of greenery, blush tones, and mixed metals. “I cried when she brought all our flowers in the morning of the wedding!” Mara recalls.

The favors, which we absolutely love, were small jars of popcorn with a tag saying, “Thanks for popping by!”

The Menu

Since the wedding was in Winter, Mara and Geddy chose a comfort food-inspired menu, with items like Carved Smoked Steer Tenderloin, Smoked duck with Cider-Mustard Sauce (their favorite!), Skillet Green Beans, and Four Cheese Mac. They also set up a whimsical dessert station, complete with balloons and a doughnut and hot chocolate bar.

The father of the groom had one requirement for the food – pizza as a late-night snack. Mara and Geddy chose to go with Ian’s Pizza, a Milwaukee staple, and it was a huge hit. With unique flavors (like mac and cheese!), it was the perfect way to end the evening.

The Rooster

Mara comes from a large family, and one of her uncle’s brothers is nicknamed “Rooster.” At a wedding “back in the day,” her family thought it would be funny to set a live rooster loose during the Chicken Dance – a tradition they carried on to Mara and Geddy’s wedding. And don’t worry – the rooster is safe and sound at Mara’s parents’ house now. “He’s among other chicken friends. We just saw him again this past weekend actually!”

The Honeymoon

Mara and Geddy honeymooned at the El Dorado Maroma in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, for a week. “We had such a blast and loved every second of it!” they tell us.

Mara and Geddy – we wish you all the happiness in the world! Thank you for letting us be a part of your wonderful wedding!

Vendors

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Delightful Desserts for Spring

Spring is right around the corner – we can feel it! To help you get in the mood for the season of rebirth and new beginnings, we’ve put together a list of desserts that are light, colorful, and fun – just like Spring!

Above: Orange Poppy Seed Cupcakes via Martha Stewart

We love the buttercream poppy that goes on top of these cupcakes. They’re perfect for a bridal show, an Easter get-together, or just because!

This Coconut Banana Pudding from My Recipes puts a delicious and healthy twist on the classic banana pudding. You can either serve it family-style or in individual dishes!

Not only are these Pink Lemonade Cheesecake Parfaits from Cravings of a Lunatic super easy to make, they’re also really cute! We love the addition of sprinkles on the top.

Naked cakes are a huge trend right now! We’re loving this Eaton Mess Cake from The Cake Blog, which features fresh berries and homemade whipped cream (because homemade whipped cream is obviously the best).

Cherries are one of our favorite fruits, and it seems like they’re under-represented in desserts! That’s why we’re excited about making these Rustic Cherry Tarts from Chocolate with Grace. The flaky crust perfectly contrasts with the juicy cherries.
We’ve never tried this before, but we can’t wait to try these Carrot Cake Cookies from Delish. The frosting drizzle is actually a cream cheese glaze!
How pretty are these Blackberry Cheesecake Bars from I Heart Naptime? They even have a sugar cookie crust!
Although the traditional topping for pound cake is usually strawberries and whipped cream, we love the idea of putting a rhubarb compote on top! Try this recipe for Sour Cream Vanilla Pound Cake with Rhubarb Compote from Country Living.
This oh-so-cute Strawberry Lemonade Layer Cake from My Recipes uses shortening, making it the perfect decadent treat!
What says spring more than daisies? Make this Daisy Cake from Woman’s Day, which uses cream cheese frosting and almond extract!
Happy baking, and happy Spring!

2017 Catering Trend: Street-Food Inspired Dishes

Image via Wedding Wire

One of our favorite new trends in catering is offering menus inspired by the easy-to-eat dishes of STREET FOOD! Artisan street food is a great way to bring variety and ethnic fusion to a meal, and to make your menus stand out among your competitors. Offering street food-style menus can also help your clients – instead of contracting with several food trucks for the evening, they can get all the dishes they need through you.

A street food-style menu is perfect for almost any type of event – corporate, wedding, fundraiser, you name it! We’ve put together some station menu ideas inspired by recipes from all around the world.

Asian Station

Pork Satay with Chili Dipping Sauce (SBS)

Banh Mi Chicken Tacos (A Spicy Perspective)
Sticky Rice Dumplings (SBS)
Thai Corn Cakes with Pickled Cucumbers (Olive)

American Station

Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog (Everyday Southwest)
Burger Sliders (My Recipes)
Skewered Corn on the Cob with Assorted Toppings (Betty Crocker)
Mac and Cheese Bites (Damn Delicious)

Mexican Station

Lamb Barbacoa with Avocado Tacos (Muy Bueno)
Shrimp and Black Bean Quesadillas (Jamie Oliver)
Mango, Jicama, and Cucumber Salad (Muy Bueno)
Churros (All Recipes)

French Station

Chicken Cordon Bleu Roll-Ups (Delish)
Mini Spinach and Mushroom Quiche (Food Network)
Steak, Spinach, and Mushroom Crepes (Half Baked Harvest)
Bacon and Onion Tart (Saveur)

Mediterranean Station

Turkey Meatballs with Herbed Yogurt Sauce (Kitchn)
Garlc-Rosemary Lamb Pita (My Recipes)
Cheese, Herb, and Sun-Dried Tomato Phyllo Rolls (Epicurious)
Spicy Cheese Sticks with Hummus and Olive Tapenade (Kitchn)

The main thing with street-food inspired catering is to make it easy and FUN! Let us know some of your street food recipes!

10 New Orleans Recipes for Mardi Gras!

Image via estockphoto

Mardi Gras is right around the corner! If you aren’t able to make it to New Orleans this year for the big party, have no fear! We’ve put together a list of some of the best New Orleans recipes to help you celebrate.

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo via Emeril Lagasse

Gumbo is one of the most famous dishes in Louisiana cooking. Though recipes differ from one chef to another, the traditional meats include chicken, ham, bacon, oysters, shrimp, sausage, crab, and beef. Gumbo is often cited as an example of the melting pot nature of Louisiana cooking (Southern Foodways Alliance).

Crawfish Etouffee via Jennifer Cooks

One of the oldest Cajun and Creole dishes around is etouffee, which literally means “smothered.” In the case of etouffee, the crawfish (or desired seafood) is smothered in vegetables and sauce, resulting in a stew-like dish. Traditionally, the Cajun version of the dish does not contain tomatoes, where the Creole version does. According to culinary history, etouffee was first served at the Herbert Hotel in the early 1920s (Cajuncrawfish.com).

Muffuletta Sandwich via Serious Eats

One of the most iconic New Orleans dishes, the muffuletta sandwich is made of olive salad, genoa salami, ham, mortadella, provolone, and Swiss cheese layered on a large sesame round. Sicilian immigrants settling in New Orleans are responsible for this delicious sandwich, whose name originally comes from the bread it’s made on (New Orleans Historical).

Red Beans and Rice via All Recipes

Red beans and rice are the favorite Monday tradition of the people of New Orleans! Monday used to be the traditional “wash day,” so while they were tending to the laundry, the women of the house would put on a pot of red beans to cook all day. This dish is usually served with a side of sausage or pork chops, and can still be found on many restaurant menus in the Big Easy (New Orleans Official Guide).

Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce via Everyday Occasions

Remoulade sauce goes back to 19th century France, where it was originally a sauce used for various types of meat dishes. The New Orleans-style sauce we see today has a distinct Creole and Cajun influence, and is most enjoyable with any number of seafood dishes (Cook’s Info).

Shrimp and Grits via Bobby Flay

Grits originally came from the Native American Muskogee tribe, who would grind corn in a stone mill to give it the gritty texture accompanied by grits. This tradition was passed down to settlers in the area. However, it was in 1982 in Chapel Hill. North Carlolina that Bill Neal gave grits their status by adding cheddar and parmesan as a base. Shrimp and grits remains a classic New Orleans brunch dish to this day (Deep South Magazine).

Jambalaya via Gimme Some Oven

Similar to gumbo, jambalaya recipes vary from chef to chef and can contain multiple ingredients depending on what part of the country you’re in. There are also two different versions – the Creole (or “red”) version which contains tomatoes and the Cajun (or “brown”) version which does not contain tomatoes. It is widely speculated that jambalaya recipes originated from the Spanish paella dish (Louisiana Life Magazine).

Crawdogs via My Recipes

While this is a more modern New Orleans creation, we’re still super excited to try it!

Beignets via Paula Deen

Beignets, which were brought to New Orleans by early French settlers traveling from the Acadia region of Canada, are hot, fluffy pastries deep fried to perfection and topped with powdered sugar. Made from a type of dough called choux, Beignets can have a variety of different fillings, including meat, cheese, fruit, or chocolate. The most famous spot to get Beignets and coffee is the Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter (Livery Tours).

Bananas Foster via Martha Stewart

The now-famous recipe for bananas foster was invented by Chef Paul Blange as a response to a challenge by his boss, the owner of Brennan’s Restuarant, to create a new dessert with bananas in it. It is estimated that Brennan’s serves about 35,000 pounds of bananas each year (New Orleans Online)!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

How to Save Money on your Wedding: Little Things that Add Up

Image via Romanzar

Welcome to the seventh and final post in our series about how to save money on your wedding! If you’re just tuning in, make sure to check out our other posts on the subject:

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the little things that can add up without you even realizing it. Cutting away some of these things can really help you get costs down so that you’ll have money to spend where you really want to.
Be up front with your vendors about your budget. Some people try to conceal their budget in the hopes of getting a better deal, but revealing your budget right away can help your vendors present you with realistic options you can afford. This can also save you time, as you’ll know which places are out of your budget right off the bat.
Ask your talented friends to help you out! Know someone with pretty penmanship? See if they’ll address your envelopes for you. Have a friend who’s studying photography? See if they would be willing to do the pictures for your wedding. You can offer appropriate compensation without breaking the bank. If someone offers you their service as a gift, say yes!
Sign up for newsletters from different wedding websites. You may receive coupons or special deals for something you need! A good way to keep track of wedding related emails without flooding your regular inbox is to create a wedding-specific email address (for example, vinceplusjen@gmail.com).
Save on delivery fees by having friends and family pick up things like flowers and desserts.
Take advantage of a credit card with a good points program; however, confirm with your vendors if they have an extra processing fee for paying with this method. Sometimes adding 3-5% on to the overall cost is not worth the savings in points. 
Avoid using the word wedding if you can. Some vendors will automatically mark up prices simply because it’s a wedding.
Ask to pay in cash for a discount. There are many vendors who will take a small percentage off if you pay the entire bill in cash. It may only be 5-10% of the final cost, but every little bit counts when you’re paying for a wedding!
Hire a film or photography student to do your pictures or your wedding video. Oftentimes, students will be willing to offer lower rates in order to build their portfolio. Make sure to go through the same selection process with a student as you would a professional photographer so that you are happy with the results.
For the day of, as best as you can, stick to the schedule. Photographers, videographers, DJs, and musicians may charge more if you go over your specified times.
Image via The Pinnacle List

Hopefully you have found some helpful information in our blog series. As always, happy planning!