Your favorite restaurant? Ice-cream shoppe? Here’s what you need to know about bringing in fare from one of your favorite spots to share on your wedding day
Yeah, You Can Cater That
Anna Sachse CTW Features
'Maybe you and your fiancé spent your first date devouring a messy deep-dish pie from your favorite Chicago pizza joint. Or maybe he hid your engagement ring in a box of your beloved Dunkin’ Donuts. Or perhaps your mutual love of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food has gotten your relationship through both good times and bad. Now you can’t imagine getting married without incorporating your favorite local treat into your day of “I do’s.”
Not to worry – although the details regarding acquisition, transportation and serving may vary, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to have your favorite ice cream cake on your wedding day and eat it too.
“Customization of wedding menus is really popular and very common,” says Wendi Hroncich, a wedding planner and founder of Ethereal Events in Seattle. “I would say that 50 percent of my current couples are choosing personalized food/beverage/dessert, in comparison to 25 percent in 2006 and 2007.”
In her role as coordinator, it is usually Hroncich’s responsibility to facilitate pickup or delivery of the treat to the wedding venue, although, if it’s simple enough, sometimes the couples opt to organize this aspect themselves. One of the couples she worked with served mini Jamba Juices in their favorite flavors (which happened to match the wedding colors) as a pre-ceremony treat. Hroncich worked with the individual store closest to the wedding venue to have the smoothies delivered one hour prior to ceremony, stored in the on-site freezer and then served by the staff as guests arrived. A different couple she worked with wowed their guests by serving hot burgers and fries from Dick’s Burgers, a Seattle institution, an hour before the end of the wedding. In this case, it was preplanned that the best man would pick them up from the local Dick’s drive-thru.
Depending on the company, product and location, your caterer also might be willing to directly take care of acquiring your treasured treat. “We love to customize menus with special items and try to raise the bar of creativity,” says Sarah Glass, sales & catering manager for Butler’s Pantry Catering in St. Louis.
Butler’s Pantry clients have opted to augment their menus with St. Louis-based products like Gus’ Pretzels, Ted Drewes frozen custard or Missouri Baking Co. Italian cookies, or have simply served up crowd-pleasing standards like Jimmy John’s subs or two-packs of Krispy Kreme donuts for a late night snack as guests were leaving. Other popular treats have included warm chocolate chip cookies and milk shooters, as well as “candy bars,” where favorite sweets are served in glass cookie jars with scoops and glycine bags for the guests to take the candy home.
Having your caterer take care of these specialty items will help ensure seamless service, however, keep in mind that they will likely include a service charge for the time and additional rentals involved. “Sometimes, depending on the item, I would suggest to the client it would be less expensive for them to handle a personal treat themselves,” says Glass. “But for many, the service charge is worth not having to deal with the details.”
That said, even if you handle the ordering and delivery yourself, particular venues, especially fine hotels with in-house catering, may add additional costs onto the bill if the treat is similar to something they already provide or if they are expected to serve it. For example, it’s common for a hotel that makes cakes in-house to charge a cake-cutting fee for bringing in an outside dessert, or a corkage fee for bringing in an outside wine, says Hroncich. But if a venue doesn’t have a special menu item you’re looking for and can’t easily find it themselves, they may forgo the fees entirely, or just charge you for the additional materials and labor.
To make things even easier on you, some outside local haunts will handle transportation, set-up, service and even materials as part of the package. “Generally, all we require are two eight-foot tables; we handle everything else,” says Bruce Kaplan, owner of Ben & Jerry’s stores in the Uptown Shopping Center and Pearl District of Portland, Ore. For weddings, Kaplan’s stores frequently set up sundae bars with four to six flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream, nuts, sprinkles, all-natural brownies and fresh chocolate chip cookies. Couples who want to make a stronger statement could even ask Kaplan for a tie-dye ice cream wedding cake, or one decorated with mini ice cream cones or cow spots.
“I think people are definitely trying to think outside of the box with weddings these days,” says Glass. “Even a small special item can make a wedding unique, and the bride and groom get to share a piece of their lives with their guests.”
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