Thursday, August 6, 2015

Teaser: Wedding Reception Details

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So after our ceremony comes the fun part - the reception! If you've been following our wedding planning process, you'll notice our wedding isn't exactly traditional. This carries on into the reception where many common wedding elements are not included simply because it doesn't fit us.

Hawaiian Musicians

For one, there is no DJ. We are having musicians from Barefoot Hawaiian perform throughout our reception to keep the tropical Hawaiian vibe in the air.

Reception Tablescapes

We will have two pole tents put up in which 12 round reception tables will be placed. Each table will be dressed with white round linens, topped with a burlap runner down the middle. Not shown below, we will also have a square of fresh banana leaf placed in the middle and then topped with our centerpiece below. 

Potted Orchid Centerpieces

On our round reception tables, I wanted to go for more simply stated centerpieces, potted orchid plants. They fit well with our theme and makes for a beautiful, easy centerpiece that require no assembly and will last far longer than any floral arrangement.

Wedding I Spy: Hawaiian Edition

To keep our guests entertained throughout the reception, we wanted to encourage them to be interactive with one another. One way to do that is with a game such as "I Spy." This game lists various items that are to be found and have a picture taken of. I created a "Hawaiian I Spy" game that asks guests to take find the various details specific and unique to our wedding, take a picture of the items and share it on social media using our wedding hashtag #tankennylove. The game will be framed and placed on our round reception tables, along with a disposable camera for children and/or guests who do not have a smart phone.

Table Snacks

While guests wait for our Wedding Luau Reception to start, on our reception tables will be a divided tray filled with a variety of tropical chip snacks. We've included cassava chips, ube chips, taro chips, banana chips, Filipino popcorn (aka 'Cornick'), etc. It's a great way to introduce some tropical snacks that guests may not have had the opportunity to try before!

Tropical Drink Station

As for drinks, we have quite a few options for our guests to choose from - wines, signature mai tai cocktails (more on this in a bit), tropical punches and craft beer from Tight Head Brewing Co. We have a couple of kegs from the brewery to serve our guests and I am especially excited to have a local brewery represented at our wedding.

Pear Tree Catering

My biggest task in the whole wedding planning process was finding a caterer. Being a culinary instructor who is also avid with the culinary scene, I'm so so thankful to have found a caterer who truly captured our vision and executed it flawlessly for our tasting. Pear Tree Catering has won my heart and we're both excited about them as our preferred caterer. 

Since purchasing, renaming and repositioning what is now Celebration Catering in 2001, Mark Sternberg has seen his company grow into one of Chicago’s premier catering operations. 
Following Celebration Catering’s merger with Pear Tree Catering in November 2003, the combined company has seen sales grow over 200%. Mark is very proud that Pear Tree and Celebration Catering recently were nominated for a Jean Banchet Award as one of the top five catering companies in Chicago. 
Prior to purchasing Celebration Catering, Mark had enjoyed a 13-year career with the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. He served as Director of Corporate and Travel Industry Sales Worldwide, in addition to serving as Director of Catering at the Five Diamond Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. During his first few years in the hospitality industry, Mark developed, built and ran six restaurants in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. His success in Cleveland led Mark to Hyatt Hotels and then to the Four Seasons.
Mark and his team are amazing and here are pictures of what they did for our tasting, highlighting the menu items that will be offered at our luau reception:

Wedding Reception Food Islands

In keeping with the Hawaiian theme, our reception will feature 'islands'. Each island offers something different, allowing our guests to move to different places and customize their eating experience. 

Passed Sushi Appetizers: Because our very first date was at a sushi restaurant, we knew that we had to incorporate sushi into our wedding reception menu somehow. We decided to start off our reception with sushi, just as our first date kicked things off for us. We're having three kinds of sushi maki that will be passed butler style by staff - California Rolls, Spicy Tuna Rolls and Vegetarian Rolls - as a teaser to the luau reception that awaits...




Mai Tai Signature Cocktail:To accompany our sushi maki trio, we are toasting to glasses of mai tai cocktails! What's a proper luau without a mai tai in hand? Our bartender will be shaking them up to order and garnishing them with umbrellas and bamboo skewered fruits...




Stir Fry Island - Guests will have the opportunity to customize their stir fry over steamed jasmine rice or crispy Japanese noodles with an array of vegetables and chicken or beef. I especially love the sauces available - coconut lemongrass and ginger soy...



Tempura Island - Guests will also have tempura cooked to order including jumbo shrimp andvegetables like sweet potato, broccoli florets, bell pepper and onion petals...


Pupu Platter Island - What's a luau without a pupu platter! We'll be offering some vegetable eggrolls (also cooked on site), crispy vegetable potstickers and coconut chicken kabobs...



Kahlua Pig & Side Dishes - Mark and his team will be roasting a Kahlua Pig on site. During the cocktail period after the ceremony, they plan on making a show of transferring the kahlua pig onto the presentation table that will be covered with fresh banana leaves. Accompanying the kahlua pig will be side dishes such as steamed jasmine rice, a Tropical Macaroni Salad and Crispy Asian Salad...



Tropical Fruit Table - To take advantage of the seasonal fruit, we are also offering a table dedicated to tropical fresh fruit including melons, berries, papaya, pineapple, mango, guava...


Hawaiian/Filipino Sweets Table - Overflowing with wooden acacia bowls of treats brought overseas from Philippines and Hawaii, we are spoiling our guests with so many edible treats for favors. Some of the treats include our favorite sweets including polvoron (Filipino shortbread cookies), mini caramel bars, chocolate covered macadamia nutsaloha chocolate Hershey kissescookies from the Honolulu Cookie Company, and so much more. We seriously did not skimp on the sweets table!

Tropical Treat Favors

The best part about all the treats offered is that they are all individually wrapped. This means guests can enjoy them right away or save them for later. We anticipate and encourage guests to pack up sweets to take home and to help with that, I have white Chinese take out boxes available with customized round seals bearing our birds of paradise motif and names:

Tropical Wedding Cake/Cupcakes

Cake & Cupcake Island: featuring our wedding cake and cupcakes from Kiera's Confections. We've chosen 3 flavors for our cupcakes that include Hawaiian Macadamia Nut [a pineapple cake topped with toasted macadamia nuts & coconut], Key Lime Pie [a Vanilla cupcake filled with key lime pie filling and topped cream cheese frosting & graham cracker crumbs] and Chocolate Salted Caramel [chocolate cupcake filled with sea salt caramel topped with chocolate fudge frosting and a ribbon of salted caramel...a rich and indulgent sweet/salty combo.] We opted to have the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut as our small wedding cake. And our cake topper matches our bouquet with birds of paradise and orchids. 

Hawaiian Shave Ice

Hawaiian Shave Ice Truck - So because our wedding venue is in a park... in the middle of a summer day, I know it's going to be hot. That said, I wanted to ensure our guests are comfortable. As a result, we've arranged for a Hawaiian Shave Ice food truck to come out and offer Hawaiian shave ices after the luncheon. Guests will have their choice of blue raspberry, cherry and pina colada flavors to choose from!


 Hawaiian Entertainment

After our luau reception and refreshing Hawaiian shave ices, we have some Hawaiian entertainment also provided by Barefoot Hawaiian, a local Hawaiian performance group. Aside from the musicians that will be playing music throughout our event, we will have 3 dancers perform an hour long show. Since we're not particularly interested in the whole dance party thing with a traditional DJ, the show will also be interactive in which audience participation will be encouraged. It's a fun and unique way to get our friends and family dancing in a memorable way!


Couple's Farewell

After the luau show, most likely will be beyond exhausted. We will be giving our farewell to our guests and leaving the reception so we can rest. I know I certainly look forward to doing nothing and lying like a rock after all is said and done! We cannot wait to celebrate and despite how much time and effort it took to create this memorable experience for our dearest friends and family, we know it is all worth it and then some. 


Stay tuned - tomorrow is the start of our wedding weekend and I'll be sharing details of our Southern Pre-Wedding Picnic we are hosting to kick off the weekend festivities!

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