To Intro or Not to Intro, That is the Question… of the week?

For the last few years there has been a trend away from doing the big long introduction line at the start of wedding receptions. You know, the part where the band leader announces all of the bridal party, parents of the bride and groom, flower girls, ring bearers, third grade teachers etc. People have begun to ask me if they really need to do all of that. I say, if you have to ask, then probably not.


It’s one of those things that people do, because it’s tradition, but this is your wedding and it can be as traditional as you want it to be. If you need help deciding, here’s some pros and cons.
Cons:
  • The introductions can take a long time. That’s up to an extra 20 minutes between you and your first course!
  • You have to get your entire bridal party lined up all over again. At this point they’ve probably had a couple of drinks, which makes them less like the responsible adults that you trusted to stand by your side on this most important day of your life, and more like unruly 6th graders… I’ve heard.
  • No one remembers the order they were placed in for the ceremony.
  • The bouquet bridge!
  • There is no champagne in the staging area…
Pros:
  • Photo-ops a plenty.
  • One more opportunity for everyone to see how masterfully you’ve outfitted your posse for the event.
  • You won’t be totally alone out there when the first dance starts.
  • You get a chance to show off your musical taste with another custom song selection.
  • It’s a chance to break the ice and infuse a little fun into the room before the first dance.
Like I said, if you have questions about whether or not to do it, you may want to skip, just make sure you run it by your parents first, especially if they are footing the bill!
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Wedding Myth #2: Tuxedos are classier than suits.

Not if it has to be back to the store by 11am the next day it’s not. One of the biggest problems with the tuxedo is that somewhere along the line someone decided it was something that should be available for rent. Someone came up with this idea that women should buy a new dress for every different occasion, but if a man needs dress up, to look sharp – he should do it in someone else’s pants. What’s the deal with that?

It’s not 1987. If you want to wear a tux, buy one. You have a better chance of wearing it again than the bridesmaids do. Just make sure the level of formality of your dress matches the level of formality of your event.

Yesterday I was discussing the tux rental issue with my husband. He told me that his disgust at the thought of a rented tux goes all the way back to his fifteenth year. He had been invited to the Quinceanera of an extremely cute classmate with whom he was smitten, until… She told him he needed to go to a specific tux rental shop and rent a specific maroon tuxedo, so that he could match the other escorts at the event. That did it, there was no way he was going to that party.

That being said, if you envision a full blown black tie event for your wedding, you’ll want to state it in the invitation. You’ll need to write “black tie”. If you write “black tie optional” most men will opt… out.


Say What You Need to Say: Then Give the Microphone Back!

In my seventeen years of weddings I’ve seen a lot of great speeches. They’ve run the gamut from tear-jerkers to pants-wetters and everything in between. This July a best man wrote his own blues tune and did a whole number (with props) while the band accompanied him. In August, I played a wedding where the best man was a stand-up comedian, I was laughing so hard I was crying by the time I had to get back up on the stage.

Unfortunately for every great speech I’ve witnessed there have been twice as many complete flops. I’ve seen drunk speeches, whispered speeches, mean speeches and embarrassing-beyond-the-realm-of-funny-speeches. You don’t have to have the oratory skills of Barack Obama to bring home a great wedding speech. You can do it, whether you’re the best man, the maid of honor, the bride, the groom or mom and dad.

You can be as straightforward and to the point as you want. If you have more experience talking in front of a large group, you can really wow the crowd with jokes, anecdotes, props and songs. Either way, knowing your limits is important.

Amy

Here are some tips for giving a great speech or toast:

  1. Don’t get drunk! I mean it. It’s not funny, it’s just sad.
  2. Speak directly into the microphone. This may seem like a no-brainer, but most people have no clue how to use a mic. You can’t hold it like a news correspondent. They have the added benefit of a lavalier mic. Check out the way they point it at the interviewee. They tilt it towards the person’s mouth. That’s what you should do, to yourself.
  3. If you’re worried about what to say, short and to the point usually gets it done.
  4. Personal stories are great, but make sure they make sense and are universally relatable.
  5. Stop saying um… um, ok?
  6. Don’t get drunk!
  7. If you plan on using props, keep them simple. Ask if you can stash them on the stage or bandstand before you have to get up. Oh, and don’t use the giant roll of paper trick. It’s way overdone. Not funny anymore.
  8. If you’re too shy to speak, ask to be let off the hook. Seriously, it’s not mandatory. I’ve seen people shake with fear up there. I’m sure everyone would rather you be comfortable than terrified, there’s always someone else in the crowd that could do it.
  9. Stand still. Try not to sway, shift or walk around too much. It makes people seasick, and it takes away from what you’re saying.
  10. Only open with a joke if it’s funny, and I mean funny when you’re sober.
  11. Don’t get drunk! Seriously, I didn’t write this three times by accident.
  12. Don’t over rehearse. If you speak from the heart it is usually best. Unless there’s a song involved, then – rehearse.
  13. Don’t curse. If you’re following tips 1, 6 & 10 you probably won’t, but really now, cursing is f***ed up.
  14. Bring your champagne with you if you intend to ask everyone to raise a glass. It looks weird if you’re the only one without one.
  15. Don’t run away with the microphone. When you’re done, turn around and hand it back to the person that gave it to you. We hate having to chase people.

Following these steps, planning ahead and staying focussed will help you master almost any speeching situation. Remember, everyone is on your side – and once you’re through it, you can go have a drink… but don’t get drunk!



Me! A Guest Blogger!!

So. My friend Kara writes the great food blog, An Hour in the Kitchen. Last week she asked if I would write about my not-so-secret zucchini fetish. I couldn’t help but oblige. I love to cook, and the thought of writing a recipe was just too appealing. So below, please enjoy “The Wedding Singer’s Guide to Zucchini” it’s topical, what with the summer being upon us (finally). Also, a great way to feed out-of-town guests the night before the big day!


The Wedding Singer’s Guide to Zucchini

Two summers ago I planted my first garden. It was at my father-in-law’s house in the country, at which I was spending half of every week. The space had been dormant for a few years, so my husband and I decided to revive it. We planted the usual suspects, as we had been instructed by my husband’s dad. It was a great summer for growing that year and yields were high. (I still have jars of canned peppers). Perhaps the most prolific of the garden plants was the zucchini. Before I grew my own veggies, I liked zucchini. Occasionally… in a stir fry or as an accompaniment to grilled salmon, but since that summer the thought of going without homegrown sweet delicious zucchini is horrifying.

The first giant zucchini was really an accident. One day I looked in the garden and saw some lovely little babies sprouting from the plant. I decided to let them get a little bit bigger, and a day or two later… I had raised behemoth squash.

 

First harvest from 2007 garden.

First harvest from 2007 garden.

I couldn’t have been more proud of my accomplishment, although I think the cat had some issues with it!

Zuc bigger than cat!

 

El Zucchini Grande

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then came the advice, and inevitably the criticism. Some people said my giant zucchini wouldn’t taste as sweet as it’s normal sized counterparts. They said the skin would be too tough, they said I had gone too far! I wouldn’t listen.

My grandmother told me to make zucchini bread. Still others said soup was the way to go, but I remembered seeing a recipe for mediterranean stuffed squash (using, of course puny, normal sized zucchini) and I recalled the tale of a similar zucchini that had been pulled from that same garden about ten years earlier. It had been stuffed as well, with a curried rice. I thought, “why does my glorious giant zucchini have to be relegated to side dish status? It is a wondrous and beautiful fruit!” So, I started stuffing. I made the first one with seafood – crabmeat and shrimp, then I made a vegetarian stuffed zucchini with golden raisins, couscous and almonds. Then I moved on to the meat. I made an Italian stuffed zucchini with ground veal, bread crumbs, tomatoes (also from the garden), pine nuts and, of course… cheese! It’s that one I’ll share with you now, because it stands out in my memory as one of my greatest squash stuffing achievements.

Let me start by saying this has not been the greatest garden year here in the Northeast, but I’ve already managed this…

First harvest 2009.IMG_3351
 

… and tonight. One of those bad boys is getting stuffed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italian Style Zucchini “Boat”

1 giant zucchini (if you’re the type that’s not into giant squash, you can always make the stuffing and stuff it into many small zucchini)

1-1 1/4 lbs. ground veal (can substitute ground beef, turkey, etc.)

4-5 plum tomatoes, peeled & crushed

2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped into approx. 1/4 inch pieces

3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

4 Tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 pinch thyme leaves

1 pinch oregano

2oz. pine nuts

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped (depends on how garlicky you like it)

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup red wine (give or take… or drink)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Approx. 3/4 cup bread crumbs

salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice it lengthwise down the middle. With a large spoon, dig out the seeds from the center of the squash.

 


 

hollowed out zuc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This should create a channel suitable for stuffing. Salt and pepper the zucchini, put into a giant roasting pan and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large skillet, brown veal lightly on a medium/high heat. Remove veal from pan and preserve juices from browning. Add about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add garlic and onion and saute for 4-5 minutes or until onions are lightly browned. Add chopped IMG_3362mushrooms and continue to saute for 2 minutes. As you saute, add in your herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, parsley) a little at a time, reserving approximately 1 Tbsp of parsley for later. Add in crushed tomatoes, stir to mix. Cook mixture with tomatoes for about three minutes. Add in red wine and raise heat to cook off some of the liquid. Continue stirring for about 2 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup of grated cheese (save the rest for later) and return the veal to the pan and stir together with veggies. Salt and pepper mixture to taste. Add 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs a little at a time while stirring mixture. You want the bread crumbs to absorb much of the liquid, you may need a little more than 1/2 cup, you may need a little less. When the pan juices are mostly absorbed (nothing pooling in the bottom of the pan) remove pan from heat. Add in the pine nuts and stir to mix.


 

Spoon the veal mixture into the zucchini (depending on the size of your zucchini, you may have some extra mixture – but I usually just cram it in there.

IMG_3365

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs, then remaining parmesan, then remaining parsley on top of your stuffed zucchini. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover roasting pan with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. IMG_3367

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may want to turn the oven up to broil for the last 3 minutes or so to brown the top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve by slicing crosswise. Serves 6-8, depending on your zucchini size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


So there it is. Does the skin get thicker as the zucchini gets bigger? Yes. But it allows you to trap all the delicious stuffed goodness in there and it softens up pretty well when you bake the squash. And the flesh? Tender, sweet, meaty and delicious. What started out as a happy accident has become a summer tradition in my house. The only drag is all that baking with no A/C, but like they say, if you can’t stand the heat…

 


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Busted: Wedding Myths

Wedding Myth #1: You can totally wear that again!

No, you can’t. Sorry, unless you’re one of those Project Runway kids the chances of you “cutting it short” and “dying it black” are very slim. So what you’re left with is that dress you bought to be in your friend’s wedding. You will most likely shove it in the back of your closet and forget about it. If you’re like me you’re too sentimental to ditch it, but wearing it again poses a problem. You have no occasion, except maybe – another wedding.

I’m not saying all bridesmaid’s dresses are ugly (that’s a myth too) but they are bridesmaid’s dresses, and they look like it. I’ve seen a lot of it. You figure it’s a nice enough dress, you can sneak another wearing out of it, but you’re really not fooling anyone. You will look like you’re at the wrong wedding, like somewhere down the hall they’re trying to find you to line up for entrances…Liz Wedding Hijinks


I’ve Still Got Thriller Stuck in my Head.

On Saturday some friends of mine threw a party for which I did the unthinkable… I DJ’d, well, MP3J’d. I have to admit, it was really fun. My husband and I brought two laptops, the sound system for our band and some crazy disco lights we were given by a past client to a friend’s barn, which was transformed into a rustic, but posh, dance hall. I got an opportunity to dance, which I never get to do, but I still sang every song (as loud as I could) along with the tracks. It was an amazing moment for everyone to cut loose and forget about things for a night.

Coming just two days after the sudden death of a man who could best be described as a legend in his own time, this party gave me a chance to pay tribute to Michael Jackson, whose music has been influential throughout my life. I haven’t gotten enough of an opportunity to play MJ’s hits live in the past few years. Although, I think that will be changing. Three of my upcoming event clients have asked for tribute sets to the King of Pop at their parties. I’m sad that it took his death for people to rediscover his contribution to the soundtrack of all of our lives, but at the same time thrilled to honor Michael Jackson’s music in any way I can. In the next few weeks and months the events surrounding Michael Jackson’s death will be scrutinized and publicized. Society will, no doubt, be as fascinated by MJ in death as we were in life.

That being said, I’m not going to talk about MJ as a tragic figure. I’m not going to talk about plastic surgery or odd behavior or accusations. I’m not going to postulate on the cause of his death. I’m just going to post my Michael Jackson tribute playlist and let the discussion about his life be one about his music.

I trimmed my list down to one solid hour of the songs that meant the most to me and, of course, kept the dance floor packed – for decades.

  1. ThrillerThriller, 1982
  2. I Want You BackDiana Ross Presents The Jackson 5, 1969
  3. Don’t Stop ’til You Get EnoughOff the Wall, 1979
  4. Billie JeanThriller, 1982
  5. Black or WhiteDangerous, 1991
  6. ABCABC (The Jackson 5), 1970
  7. Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)Destiny (The Jacksons), 1979
  8. Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’Thriller, 1982
  9. Beat ItThriller, 1982
  10. The Way You Make Me FeelBad, 1987
  11. The Love You SaveABC (The Jackson 5), 1970
  12. Rock With YouOff the Wall, 1979
  13. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)Thriller, 1982
  14. Off the WallOff the Wall, 1979
  15. Who’s Lovin’ YouDiana Ross Presents The Jackson 5, 1969

We interspersed this playlist throughout the night in three song sets.

I can think of some tracks to add, what about you?

True Tales of PNS: The Great Floral Massacre of 2004.

Those of you who have been with me since the beginning know a thing or two about the symptoms of and treatments for Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, or PNS (see Surviving PNS: Pre-Nuptial Syndrome, 2/24/09). Some might refer to those that suffer from this disorder as “Bridezilla”, “Bride From Hell” or just plain “Bitch!”, but I say these women are afflicted! PNS can so permeate the soul of a good and decent woman that she becomes unrecognizable to those around her. Stress kills, but PNS? That’s a horse of a different color. It’s stress drunk with power!

As an example, I will use a case study. A bride I knew back in 2004, a sweet woman on a mission – to have the most perfect wedding… EVER! DAMN IT!! We’ll call her Jody, because I don’t know anyone named Jody. Everything started out normal. Jody was like any other bride, excited, determined, thrilled at the prospect of celebrating her big day and starting her life together with her new husband. Let’s call him… poor bastard? I mean Jeff. Jody went through all of the usual steps of wedding planning. Chose the venue, chose the band (in my opinion, she chose the best one), picked out flowers, a dress, cake, champagne – all of it. Now, let me say, I’m not exactly sure what triggered Jody’s PNS. It could’ve been anything. Invitations, favors, anything. Until the day I saw her in action though, I thought PNS was abruptly cut off by, well – the wedding! Not necessarily.

Jody’s ceremony was at 5:30pm, with a cocktail hour to follow at 6pm and dinner and dancing from 7 – 11. It was at about 5:57pm that I witnessed one of the most perplexing and horrifying displays of PNS craziness that I’ve seen in over fifteen years in the wedding business. The ceremony had just finished. It was a beautiful afternoon on the water at undisclosed location in New Jersey facing the Manhattan skyline. The hard part was over, right? The fun was supposed to start. (You all know how I feel about the cocktail hour.) As the band was setting up in the main room of the venue, the cocktail hour was going on outside on the deck and in the bar area. Jody entered the main room, where the tables had been set and the flowers had been placed a few hours earlier. The centerpieces were a well put together mix of roses and lilies with sprays of dendrobium orchids. I never got a chance to ask Jody what the orchids had done to so upset her, but before anyone could stop her, she was attacking! The dendrobiums were her target. Jody proceeded to rip every orchid from its happy home amidst the other happy flowers there to make her day special and beautiful. The orchids ended up in the trash and Jody ended up missing about 25 minutes of cocktail hour. The photographer had been looking for her, Jeff thought she was fixing her makeup, her mother had given up on trying to stop the madness and all I could do was wonder why at that moment she would care about those bloody orchids.

It was PNS, but it carried through the actual nuptials to become something more complex, something more sinister in it’s effects on the bridal brain – RDD: Reception Dysmorphic Disorder. Jody was probably unclear with her florist about her extreme hatred of all things dendrobium. It’s possible the orchids were never discussed at all, and the florist took a little creative license, which would have been fine… any other day. Unfortunately, what looked like a stunningly decorated room to everyone else, looked like a giant crap-fest to Jody. She couldn’t help it. She had built everything up so much in her mind, that was the only thing it could look like. It’s like perfectly normal sized women that think their jeans make their asses look fat. The problem is, at that point in your wedding day, if you haven’t stopped yet to realize there’s something bigger going on than a party – no one can help you. Except maybe the bartender. Jody chose a time at which most of us would say “let’s party” or “whatever, I’m married now… champagne for everyone” to freak out. She was still in planning mode, and at that moment – the planning is over. Let go and let party, ladies.

By the end of the first dance Jody was fine. She was smiling, laughing, dancing and having a great time. The crisis had passed. She enjoyed the food, the music and her guests all night. The evening ended with hugs and best wishes, just as it should. So how can you avoid a floral massacre or ice sculpture decapitation or bridesmaids’ jewelry meltdown of your own? Keep the points below in mind, and they should help talk you down.
  • Put the elements together in advance and be specific.
  • Make sure you discuss your dislikes as freely as you discuss your favorite things with all of your vendors. This will help you avoid discovering something you find hideous (like Jody’s dendrobiums) at your reception.
  • Remember the difference is in the details, but your guests are nowhere near as picky as you are. Once you’re in it, it’s probably best to let it go and focus on the positive.
  • Your wedding should at least be as much about your marriage as it is about your menu.
  • Surround yourself with people that calm you, especially if you are a Type A person to begin with.
  • Hire people you trust. Find a wedding coordinator that you can communicate well with and let her handle it… you’ve got a party to get to!



A Good Band Should… and Probably Would.

Today an online friend asked for my input on a Band vs. DJ blog. I was happy to help, especially since it is a topic I have covered here before. I read a post that was sent to her by a DJ, just below mine. This Dj was very diplomatic and sang the praises of live bands for the excitement they bring to any event. She then went on to detail some cons on bands. One was price. I can’t argue that. Bands cost a lot more than DJs. Then she said something about most bands being unable to play music from all eras and something about pleasing grandma. So not true! At least where I come from. Bands have to play everything. Ask grandma. she’ll tell you to get a band. Anyway, all of that got me thinking. Maybe people don’t know what a top level, professional event band should be capable of.

You band should be able to…

…play music that you can enjoy with your grandma, your dad, your niece, your sister and the lady from your mom’s tennis club that you had to invite, and play it well. Look for a varied and extensive song list. Then ask for recordings or video to make sure the songs on the list are recognizable as… well… the songs on the list.

…take requests for special songs like your first dance, parent dances, cake cutting, last song (if you want to specify – some people do, some don’t) or anything else that comes up. If you have songs in mind already while you are searching for a band, ask for them in advance. If not, the leader should be able to help you with those choices by giving you lists and suggestions.

…string the songs together so the action keeps going on the dance floor. Nothing is worse than a band stopping to select their next song while you are standing out on the floor ready to dance. That kind of thing sends me straight to my seat, or the bar! Make sure you hire a band with a strong leader that has experience. Leading a band is not an easy job. Choose someone you trust and can relate to. They will be reading you and your guests all night to keep the party on the right track.

…shift on the fly. There shouldn’t be a “set list” for the music at your wedding. The band should be able to roll with last minute changes to timing of food or speeches. Sometimes the best man has a lot to say. Aside from some basic needs (electricity and enough space for the equipment), your band should be able to set up just about anywhere in the room you (or your event coordinator) want them to be.

…provide music for your ceremony and cocktail hour if you want it. Ask what kind of additional services your band can provide. Don’t assume that because most of the night will be spent playing dance music that your musicians can’t also play jazz or classical. Most professional organizations have access to musicians outside of their main band as well. You may be able to book a specialty act through them and have just one person to deal with, which makes it much easier to stay organized.

…control the volume. It’s not as easy for a group of 6 to 10 people to turn down their volume as it is for a DJ (who has a master volume control), but real pros should have a sound system that is present and powerful without blowing Aunt Lisa out the back wall of the room. Bands play with dynamics. Slower, softer songs are supposed to be quieter than swing or classic rock. A good band should be able to start soft and ramp up to the louder stuff as the partygoers ramp up.

…dress for the occasion. Your band should find out how you would like them to dress before your wedding day. They should also be able to suggest attire for the band based on your event’s time, location and level of formality. If your reception is a luau on the beach, you don’t want a bunch of tuxedo clad musicians to show up to play.

…help you through the planning process. Like every vendor you hire, the band should be professional and experienced. They should be willing to take your phone calls when you are freaking out because your fiance wants your first dance to be “Bootylicious”. They should suggest ways to enhance your day and take some of the stress of planning away. Make sure you get trustworthy people all around, but especially when it comes to the band. They end up running so much of the party and music sets the tone for the whole evening. The band leader should be able to work well with the staff at your venue and be in communication with photographers and videographers so you don’t miss out on capturing any priceless moments. Like one of your bridesmaids getting drunk and dirty dancing with your Uncle Frank. I’m just saying… I’ve seen a lot.

Everything I Ever Wanted to Know About the Party I Learned at the Cocktail Hour.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good cocktail hour to set the tone for an amazing reception. So often this wonderful little section of the event gets forgotten in the planning process. It can be thought of as an add on: passed apps, fondue fountain, martini bar bla bla bla. Worse yet, the guests of honor sometimes miss it completely in favor of photo ops. This is the golden hour when guests get to mingle regardless of seat assignment or family affiliation. The open bar has just opened. There are apps and snacks everywhere. It’s your first chance to party as a married couple! There are no real traditions to uphold during the cocktail hour, except cocktails. Which, after all, is one of everyone’s favorites.


My first bit of advice is try not to miss it. Your photographer will probably want to get a lot of pictures taken during this time, but make sure you get to enjoy at least half of the cocktail hour. I’m all for great photos, but you need to unwind after all the “I Do’s” and whatnot. How about having your photographer follow you around paparazzi style? When you stop to chat with a group of friends or family she can just ask you to pose for a brief moment, then you can all go right on chatting, drinking, mingling and most importantly  – eating.

Don’t forget to eat at your wedding, it’s key. You’ll need your strength. You don’t realize what a long day it is until you are in the midst of it. You can get a lot of this eating in at the cocktail hour, without having to slow down your interaction with all of your guests. Everyone will want a chance to talk to you and congratulate you. With one-bite passed apps and amuse bouche platters you can have practically a whole meal and you won’t have to stop the conversation. Which is good, because you probably didn’t get to eat lunch!

The cocktail hour is also an opportunity to show a little of your personal style in the food/drink department. My husband and I knew we had to have sushi at our cocktail hour. We went out for sushi on our first date, we both love it and it was a great story to tell our guests as we mingled. Everyone thought it was cute – people love a good tie in like that. It doesn’t matter what it is. Maybe you met in Buffalo – so you have wings. You beat him in a hot dog eating contest? Pigs in a blanket on a NYC style hot dog cart. Is your man from Maine? Mini lobster rolls. It works for drinks too. If you are going to Paris on your honeymoon – feature all French wines. Yankees fans? Beer bar with commemorative pinstripe cups. Big Sinatra lovers? Martini time! Really, I could go on all day. Take something special about the two of you and incorporate it. It will make the whole event more personal, and maybe some of your guests will learn something about you and your new spouse that they never knew before. Don’t be afraid to ask your caterer if they can provide something that isn’t on their standard menu, but make sure you discuss price – there may be some additional charge.

The same idea goes for music. It’s best to keep it low key, but low key doesn’t have to be boring. Turn the tables on tradition. Tie the music in with your food and drink selections, or ask the musicians to play your favorite genre of music only. Quesadillas? Mariachi. Champagne and Caviar? Strolling violins. Tandoori? Sitar. From steel drums to jazz duos I’ve seen it all. How about a string quartet that plays classic rock or a solo pianist playing all Broadway love songs? It really is up to you. For the most part the music at the cocktail hour is background, but when people stop to listen, it should be something worth listening to.

The cocktail hour is my favorite part of any event. What can I say? I love tiny food. Variety is great, but it doesn’t make up for putting real thought into it. Instead of having the endless buffet of everything you can imagine (unless of course, you met in Vegas) try focusing on a few items that will really tell your story. Tie in the music and choose a signature cocktail and you’re good to go. Think outside the box and you’ll have an hour of ice-breaking, party-kick-starting fabulousness!

I’ll look for my invite in the mail.