Amid the hectic planning, steady stream of appointments, and endless decision-making involved in creating a wedding, time with loved ones at a shower, brunch, or rehearsal dinner shouldn’t become just another item to cross off the “to do” list.
Catering experts suggest couples seek true inspiration and go beyond the doors of a restaurant or country club to an unusual location or transform the family home into a unique backdrop for a personal, meaningful event. In this way, couples can surprise guests with something as touching, as memorable, and as fun as the wedding itself.
Plug Into Modern Style. Mike Bomberg of Spice of Life Catering welcomes innovative ideas from couples hoping to add their own personal touches to events. “We just listen,” Mike explains. “We’re completely different from a restaurant service. It’s very exciting for us when someone comes to us with new ideas.”
Perhaps one of the most unusual locations Mike has catered is the old New Braunfels power house. Once a working power plant that's now completely renovated, the plant is a clean, industrial space, with exposed pipes and huge ceilings—perfect for a couple who enjoys modern design. For spaces with a high-tech feel, Bomberg recommends colorful fresh produce like salads and raw vegetable displays as well as gleaming chafers of Italian-inspired entrées.
Kick Back at a Local Ranch. For a more casual, comfortable ambiance, local ranches set the stage. “We’re seeing a lot of continued interest in locations in the Hill Country,” says Caryn Hasslocher, owner of Fresh Horizons Creative Catering. In ranch settings, Caryn prefers to create very simple and tailored looks, serving food on antique, off-white platters and incorporating rustic pieces and soft elements of the surroundings, like delicate wildflowers.
Uncover Historic Charm. For couples drawn to the historic charm of downtown San Antonio, Caryn suggests places like the Cos House in La Villita, a historic building dated before 1835. The walled area accommodates 150-200 people, with two rooms inside, but it is the open patio that makes the space ideal for any gathering.
She also touts "unsung heroes" like the Spanish Governor’s Palace, where she recently catered an engagement party. “With grounds that are impeccably maintained and a courtyard in the back, the palace is truly perfect for entertaining guests outside,” Caryn says.
Picnic in the Park. A sunset picnic at McAllister Park, San Pedro Springs Park or Landa Park inNew Braunfels would make the most of cool evenings in spring or fall. String lights in the trees and lay colorful blankets on the grass. Homey picnic baskets could be stocked with cheeses, wines, olives, deli meats, breads, fresh fruit, and simple desserts. Or to make the dinner more interactive, invite guests to bring their favorite picnic specialties. The atmosphere can be completed with live music, such as a folk guitarist or another kind of music you enjoy.
Top 5 Ways to Transform the Home
Keep Guests Satisfied with Food Stations. Among all the venue possibilities, the one often overlooked by bridal couples is the home. When hosting rehearsal dinners or showers at people’s homes people always enjoy having food stations set up in their backyards.
“Once you bring it out of a restaurant setting into your home, it’s much more personal, and people want to transform the space for the event,” one local caterer explains.
Bring the Destination Wedding Setting to Your Own Backyard. If a couple is having a seaside destination wedding that many of their friends and family can not attend, an ingenious way to include them is to also host a themed backyard event mirroring the actual wedding setting. Caterers suggest setting banquet tables around the pool, stringing paper lanterns in the trees, and infusing bold color such as red, buttery yellow, and orange. With floating candles in the pool and comfy ottomans in the grass area, guests will be completely at ease.
Cocktail hour could feature fountain ice sculptures and sugarcane martinis or mojitos and other island drinks. Local caterers agree that serving guests family-style, passing plates back and forth to each other. In keeping with the tropical atmosphere, the menu could offer a colorful spread of fresh fruits, vegetables and light foods flavored with herbs.
Throw a Fiesta…Familiar, But Always Fun. For a more localized event, nothing captures the spirit of San Antonio like a lively, Fiesta-inspired rehearsal dinner. With sizzling beef and chicken fajitas, fresh avocado and an array of salsas, condiments, and side dishes, the appetite of every guest will be satisfied. A mariachi band makes any event festive, and guests would certainly remember taking a turn with a colorful piñata. In addition to the expected candy, the piñata could also contain small trinkets or goodie bags filled with items that are meaningful to the couple.
Take Your Love to the Big Screen with Movie Night. Film lovers could create a movie night in their living room, complete with buttery popcorn, cheesy nachos, and the couple’s favorite candy. The “previews” could include a slideshow detailing the love story of the bride and groom, with pictures from the start of their relationship, special dates or trips together, as well as their engagement.
Please Every Palate with Themed Cuisine. “Foodies” could set up hors d’oeuvres food stations around their backyard, featuring themed cuisine, such as popular foods in Texas. Avid travelers could highlight their favorite foods from around the world. From savory German Wiener schnitzel to delicate French crepes filled to the brim with sweet nutella, the possibilities are endless.
Ultimately, a couple is only limited by what they have in mind.
“When planning a wedding-related event, couples should simply try to do something unique to them,” Caryn says. “Something connected with how they met, for example, would be compelling for their guests.”
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