Saturday, November 2, 2013

About Champagne, Friends and Family Helping, Creating Memories

Planning the Quantity of Champagne of Purchase

     Think of the last time your went to a wedding.  It is time for the toast and your champagne class is filled about 3/4's full.  The first toast is given and you take a sip or two.  Then the next, and perhaps one or two more.  And unless you are a champagne lover (in which case you probably prefer Crystal)  you then set the glass down on the table and ignore it for the rest of the evening.   During clean-up I would have a person go around and empty the contents of all drink glasses into a bus tub, or pail.  Most of what was emptied was champagne.  (Dumping the liquid first makes collecting the glasses proceed much faster  and when you are racing the clock this is a valuable time saver).   

     The reference guides suggest that a one liter bottle of champagne will serve 12 - 14 each 2 ounce champagne glasses.  I actually counted how many glasses were filled at one function and by not pouring quite as much in each glass - 16 glasses were filled.  And granted, this is not going to be a huge amount of money, but it is money that can go toward something special that you want to include.  Please don't forget to provide an option such as Sparkling Juice for any guest that doesn't drink alcohol.

Rent or purchase disposable champagne glasses? 

IF YOU USE DISPOSABLE CHAMPAGNE GLASSES  - set aside time to hot glue the bases to the stems ahead of time - the fit between the stem and base is not tight enough and the two pieces come apart very easily.

Your budget and the formality of the formality of the occasion will help determine your decision.  I have seen disposables used in all situations and if you are going for a very formal tone, but want to use disposables, I would suggest pouring the champagne at a side table and then have volunteers serve to each table.

Another option is to have 2 people working as a team just prior to the toast, one sets glasses on each table, the other pours the champagne. 

Or, have the glasses set on the table prior to the start of the reception. Several helpers could go from table to table pouring the bubbly.

You could also have the glasses set on the table ahead of time and then have a helper place a bottle of champagne on each table; requesting that one guest pour for the table. 

If you were having a very formal function (and paying through the teeth for these types of services) the options above would not be acceptable.  But I have seen them all used by my clients, and if the guests are having a good time they don't seem to be offended by the lack of formality.

Note about rentals:  If you use rental glasses remember to add 10%  of your original count to the order.  

Pouring tip for wine and champagne- rotate the bottle a quarter turn as you complete the pour to avoid dripping

Friends and Family That Offer to Help

Let's go off track a little and talk about utilizing the people who offer to help when they discover that you are planning a DIY affair. 

The most important goal of the majority of my clients was that they have a day that was memorable. 

  • They wanted their wedding and reception to be well organized.

  • They wanted an environment where they and their guests would be relaxed and comfortable.

  • They wanted visually appealing and great tasting food which their guests would really enjoy.

  • And most importantly, they wanted a day that would leave everyone with special memories.

By including those people who ask to be involved, you are providing a memory for them.  I have seen friends and family of the bridal party help with pre-reception cooking , BBQing food on-site,  transporting food, beverages, decorations, and supplies to the reception site, picking up large quantities of ice, baking and decorating the wedding cake, arranging flowers, making favors, final food preparation and presentation, setting up the buffet, decorating the room, setting up the guest tables with linens, tending bar, pouring and serving champagne, cutting or serving the cake, taking candid pictures or the DIY photo booth, serving as DJ or Master of Ceremonies, etc.

The immediate family of the bridal party should have no responsibilities, other than enjoying themselves, once the wedding begins.  And letting friends and family members help is the way to make that happen.

As part of your planning process you might start a list of the various tasks that your friends or family might be able to do.  When people ask if you need help, refer to the list and let them choose a task that appeals to them.  Over a period of time you will accumulate a list of volunteers that are going to reduce your stress level on the big day; which is going to be key in helping you build your precious memories

Of course, anyone who is helping should know that problems can arise.
Note to all involved - if something starts going south ....rather than panicking, take a deep breath and consider options.  The guests will never know there has been a change.  I recommend having an Emergency Envelope with $50.00 cash inside tucked in the Back Up Box to cover any miscellaneous expense that occurs during the reception.  It is frequently used to purchase additional ice but comes in handy for a variety of situations.  I once had a relative of the bride who owned a catering business show up with 2 bags of spinach and a bottle of salad dressing - her famous spinach salad - at a wedding for 300.  We just bought more lettuce and extended the green salad already on the menu. 
As I write this I am thinking about printed menus....none of my clients went to the formality of printing individual menus.  However, we did either print a menu for the beginning of the buffet line or made little tented cards that  identified each dish and indicated if nuts or shellfish were included.   

Spinach Salad

1 C Vegetable Oil
1/2 Vidalia (or other sweet onion) finely diced
4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar - packed
1/2 C Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 C Catsup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons dry or French style mustard

2 lbs baby spinach
12 each mushrooms, sliced
4 each hard boiled eggs
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 C dried cranberries (optional)
8 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

Combine first 8 ingredients in a blender, pulse to mix ingredients and then add salt and pepper to taste.  Place in a container with a tight lid and refrigerate.  Clean and slice mushrooms, peel eggs, slice the red onion and place in slice lock baggies.  To serve, combine all salad ingredients just prior to serving and add the dressing toss lightly. 
Dressing and individual items may be prepared 2 to 3 days in advance
24 servings

Coming Next - How much help do I need?  Where can I find it?  Are there other options?

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