What to Expect from Your Wedding Menu Tasting

What to Expect from Your Wedding Menu Tasting | Photo by Danielle Nichol Photography | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

You’ve selected the perfect venue, you’ve found the perfect dress and your vendors are booked. Now it’s time to taste the food and finalize your wedding menu! Whether you are offering a Plated, Buffet or Action Station Menu you want to ensure the food you serve is a good representation of you and your fiancé and work well with your wedding theme.

The Catering portion of the wedding budget is generally one of the biggest expenses and as Catering Managers; we want our couples to be prepared for their tasting and to leave more than satisfied knowing we will create the perfect meal to enhance their guests’ experience.

What to Expect from Your Wedding Menu Tasting | Photo by Meg Baisden Photography | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Here is What to Expect from Your Menu Tasting

When does the menu tasting take place?
Depending on your menu selection and if you are planning to offer a choice of entrée in your invitations, the tasting should take place anywhere between 2-4 months before the wedding event.

How many people should attend the tasting?
Your Caterer and Wedding Planner should attend along with 2-4 guests including you and your fiancé.

How long does a menu tasting take?
Generally about two hours. You will be mixing business and pleasure while you taste the menu options and talk about the wedding day details.

What to Expect from Your Wedding Menu Tasting | Photo by Rhodes Studios | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

How do you choose what to taste?
For a Plated Menu you will generally choose one starter for all of your guests and two entrées for them to choose from. The Chef will pair your entrees with complimenting sides to enhance each dish. Favorites of ours are the Oven Roasted Fennel and Fresh Herb Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes! You will have to list the selected entrees on the response card with your invitations and your guests will check which meal they would prefer. In order to ensure that each guest is served the correct choice the place card will have to be different for each meal choice.

Do you love everything you’ve tasted or want to avoid having to differentiate your place cards with guest’s entrée selection? A duo entrée like the Duo of Petit Filet with a pair of Jumbo Shrimp dressed in Brandy Dijon Sauce is a great option! Or substitute the Shrimp for Chicken or a Fish Filet if you may be worried about dietary restrictions.

For Buffet Menus – you will taste the starters, the entrée choices and the sides. Buffets give guests the option of trying multiple dishes and are easily customized to your flavor preferences. We are absolutely in love with the Braised Short Ribs!

Action Station and Display Menus are becoming more popular – you will taste all of the components of each menu station. Stations allow for a more interactive dining experience. As we all know, food brings us together and what better way to bring two families together than being around delicious cuisine to share and talk about?

Will the menu presentation look the same on the wedding day?
For Plated Menus there will be a show plate for each dish so that you can see what the plate will look like on the event day, but you will be trying tasting portions. For a Buffet and Action Station Menu, the presentation will be on a smaller scale than it will be on the event date, however, the actual menu items will look the same.

What to Expect from Your Wedding Menu Tasting | Photo by Rhodes Studios | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

How do we take care of dietary restrictions?
Dietary restrictions and allergies of those attending the menu tasting should be discussed prior to the tasting date. The Catering Manager will communicate them to the Chef to ensure the menu does not include the restricted items and cross contamination is avoided. Wedding guests with dietary restrictions and allergies will let you know ahead of time, please communicate these details to your Catering Manager at minimum two weeks prior to the event date so that we best prepare their meal.

What you need to know and what we need from you!
Make sure you take this opportunity to speak up about how you feel about each dish. The Chef will come out following the meal to discuss your dining experience; this is a great time to talk through your menu! Our Culinary Team wants to ensure your wedding menu is created especially for your occasion. If you and your guests like your food spicy, ask the Chef to work in some of your favorite flavors. If you like extra sauce on certain dishes, don’t be shy! We host the menu tasting to make sure your wedding meal perfectly matches your expectations.

Take advantage of the time you have with your Catering Manager and Wedding Planner in one room! It may be the only time we will have together before the big day. Come prepared with questions you still have as we will be discussing the specifics of your wedding celebration.

What to Expect from Your Wedding Menu Tasting | Photo by Rhodes Studios | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

It has always been a delight for us to learn how Chefs interpret different dishes and to see how different couples respond to the culinary masterpieces created by our in house Banquet Culinary Team. Working with couples to help customize their wedding day meal to over exceed expectations on the big day is what we pride ourselves in.

Although tasting all the menu options is certainly one of our favorite parts of the planning process, the menu tasting is also our most beloved time because it gives us an opportunity to get to know our wedding couples and to build more personal relationships.

Enjoy!

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Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Vendors

 Tips for Choosing Wedding Vendors | Photo by Castaldo Studios | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

The vendors that you choose are a very important part of your dream wedding. We thought we would share a few tips to keep in mind when selecting your vendors.

Understand Your Budget
Set your budget and the number of guests first so that you don’t fall in love with a venue or vendors that are out of your price range. Even if you do end up spending a little more than you had anticipated; it’s better to lay out your expectations with you and your fiancé, in private. As you comparison shop, you’ll get a much clearer picture of how much this is all going to cost you.  Whether your budget is $10,000 or $10 million, find a vendor that will creatively rise to the occasion. The best will be able to suggest creative swaps that can keep you within your budget

Recommendations
Once you’ve edited the list of potential vendors, ask them to see reviews or testimonials from the last year. You can even ask them if you can contact a few of the couples they’ve worked with recently. Since many vendors work closely together in the area, you could also ask other vendors, your catering manager or wedding planner if they’ve worked with this particular person before and if they would recommend them.

Tips for Choosing Wedding Vendors | Photo by Castaldo Studios | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Glynn Ferguson, Sensational Ceremonies, officiates Cassie & Ryan’s wedding.

The Right Fit
Be aware of how potential vendors deal with your initial contact: How do they react, how quickly do they respond, and how do they conduct themselves? Follow your gut. It’s usually right and should be a good guide to follow. First impressions mean a lot, and so does interacting with your vendor. If you don’t feel comfortable with them now, why would you on your wedding day?
Remember, you’ll be interacting with them on what will likely be the most emotional day of your life, so you want someone who will be able to put you at ease, not stress you out. Not every vendor is the right fit for you and not every wedding couple is a good fit for the vendor. It’s ok when this happens. No hard feelings, just move on.

Familiarity with Your Venue
In some cases, a vendor having an existing relationship with a venue can be a big plus. They’ll already know about any shortcomings — like if the space needs a generator or is challenging to load into — and how to work around them. Alternatively, if you’re having doubts about your vendor, you can ask the venue manager about her experience with them. Questions about how they treat people behind the scenes and if they handle stress well can tell you a lot.
Being familiar with the venue is especially important when selecting a photographer; they already know the best places to take photos, how to get around the property quickly and the best alternate locations if you encounter inclement weather. They will also be able to show you photos from past weddings at your actual location.

Tips for Choosing Wedding Vendors | Photo by Revelo Studios | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

PD Videography captures Allison & Aaron’s big day.

Understanding Your Uniqueness
You want to collaborate with someone who will listen and create an event that isn’t just beautiful but reflects you two as a couple. Your wedding theme, décor and special touches should reflect your unique personalities. The right vendor will create moments where your guests think, “This is SO you!”

All Packages are NOT Created Equal
Just remember that each vendor prices their packages differently, they include vastly different services in their packages and add value because of their specific experience. It would be like trying to compare apples to oranges, it’s not a fair comparison. As a consumer, you are looking to find the service that best matches your needs. Remember to objectively consider each vendors services for the cost. A florist that is cheaper may not always be better. Consider your budget, but also consider the vendors experience and quality of service when making your decisions.

Tips for Choosing Wedding Vendors | Photo by Revelo Studios | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

The Photobooth from Revelo Studios creates fun moments at Allison & Aaron’s wedding.

Be Informative
When you are chatting with a potential vendor, communicate what you need and who you are. The more information the vendor has, the better they can figure out how to best help you. When vendors ask you questions, it’s usually for a reason other than being nosey. Honesty is the best policy here.

Get Everything in Writing
In order to truly understand what’s included in a quoted price; the vendor should itemize everything for you. For example, if you know that you want pink roses and white hydrangea in your centerpieces, then all of that should be listed. Although this might sound too much, this information will safeguard you in the event of a dispute or in case the items you requested aren’t available during that time because of unforeseen issues.
When reviewing the contract, look out for any hidden costs (wording such as “additional costs may be incurred” and “plus setup and delivery”). Ask for clarification if anything is unclear. For some vendors, you’ll also need to know their policy on fees in case the ceremony or reception runs over the original ending time.

Tips for Choosing Wedding Vendors | Photo by Kristen Weaver Photograhy | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Leonard Brothers Band keeps the beats going at Anna & Houston’s wedding

Know When It’s Time to Walk Away
When you’re not happy with a vendor, wait until you can articulate your concerns in a non-emotional way. Express the problem, and then ask for a solution. Depending on how they react, it may make sense to part ways. If you have a contract, you’ll likely have to pay a fee, but it may be worth it to move on to someone who’s a better fit.

Remember that We Are Here for You!
If you keep these things in mind when looking to hire your wedding vendors, we think you’ll be able to assemble the perfect team to carry out the wedding of your dreams. At the end of the day, we are in the wedding business because we LOVE it. We want your wedding to be better than you every expected it to be! On the big day, relax and remember to leave the rest up to us!

Tips for Choosing Wedding Vendors | Photo by Kristen Weaver Photograhy | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Wedding Links to Love

Wedding Links to Love | Photo by Joi Redel | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Click and explore this Wedding Wednesday with a few of our favorite links!

Meet the Team: Pastry Chef Rachel

Meet the Team | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

This month’s Meet the Team post is all about our amazing Pastry Chef, Rachel Cullen. Rachel is a Florida native who attended Johnson & Wales University in North Miami and Providence, Rhode Island. After graduating, she returned to Miami and had her first job with a catering company.

Chef Rachel just celebrated her 10 year anniversary with the Reunion Family and we couldn’t be luckier to have her on our team. She oversees the production of all in house pastries and desserts, creates the dessert menus for all of our restaurants and takes on any special projects that come her way.

Meet the Team: Pastry Chef Rachel | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Here is a peak into the mind of our Pastry Chef:

What are the first 3 things you do when you wake up:
Feed Maggie (our 3 year old Lab Mix)
Walk Maggie
Check my Email

Cupcakes or Regular Cake: Definitely Regular Cake, there is so much more space for decorating!

Best advice you’ve ever received: “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable”
One of my college professors said this and it has stuck ever since. I HATE being late unless it is unavoidable.

Favorite “Get Pumped Up” Song: “Feel So Close” by Calvin Harris.
It was played at our wedding so there is a good memory attached it to. Plus, it’s good for working out or the ride into work, it just makes me feel good!

Tell us your funniest pastry story: I made a Red Sox ball cap cake for a groom a few years ago. I set it up on the cake table and the Mother of the Groom came by and said “Now, who would leave their hat on this table?!” I was just happy it looked so realistic.

Mini Dessert made by Reunion Resort Pastry Chef Rachel | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

What would you choose as your last meal?: It would have to be my mom’s Schweinersnitzel (super thin pork cutlets, breaded and fried with a squeeze of lemon on top) and Parsley Potatoes or her Chicken & Waffles Pennsylvania Dutch Style (shredded stewed chicken and chicken gravy over a waffle), sounds weird but it’s amazing!

What is the most delicious thing you’ve ever made?: Hmmm…I’ve been told my Nutella pop tarts are awesome! But I think my favorite thing is my New York Cheesecake with a Brownie Bottom.

There are a ton of home bakers out there, what is the best advice you would give them?: Practice, Practice, Practice! It’s hard to get everything right the first time. Don’t get frustrated, just try again! Plus, you’re baking- so usually your mistakes are still delicious!

If you could choose 1 person (past or present) to have dinner with who would it be and why?: That’s a tough one! I will say Elisa Strauss. She is a famous cake decorator and has so much talent! I’d love to pick her brain on techniques.

Cassie & Ryan’s Wedding + Video

Cassie & Ryan's Wedding + Video | Photography & Video by Castaldo Studio | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Cassie and Ryan met about four years ago. Cassie had just moved from New York to Florida and the two met at work. Ryan worked as a banquet server and Cassie was hired as the Event Manager. They spent many long days and nights together planning, executing and cleaning up after weddings and events, that it only made sense when they happily became a couple!

Their wedding was a perfect reflection of their personalities, they tastes and most importantly, their love for each other. The décor was classically modern, with touches of tradition. They used white, black and silver accents and took the beautiful backdrop of Reunion and transformed it into an elegant Saturday evening wedding. Cassie and Ryan can still not say enough wonderful things about Reunion’s sprawling property, elegant green space and the attention to detail by every member of the team.

They saw that their best wedding memory was having their family and friends from all over the world join them to celebrate their marriage. They loved the convenience of Reunion’s villas so close together which allowed them to spend even more time with their loved ones. Cocktail parties, welcome receptions, rehearsal dinner, the wedding day and their family Water Park day made an eventful weekend full of celebrating.

Their entire family had a wonderful vacation and they look to make staying at Reunion an annual tradition!

Reunion Resort :: Cassie & Ryan Wedding Highlight from Domenico Castaldo on Vimeo.

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Event Coordination: Alison, Blush by Brandee Gaar
Ceremony: Linear Park at Reunion Resort
Hair/Make: Kristy Alonzo
Officiant: Glynn Ferguson, Sensational Ceremonies
Photographer/Videographer: Castaldo Studio
Florist: Lowe and Behold
Reception: Grande Falls Pavilion at Reunion Resort
DJ/Uplights: Soundwave Entertainment
Linen: BBJ Linen
Swag/Chandelier: Swag Decor
Patio/Fire Pit Furniture: Totally MOD Event Furnishings
Chairs/Chargers/Cake Table: A Chair Affair
Cake: Party Flavors

Meet the Team: Lisa New

Meet the Team | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

We are thrilled to introduce our new Blog series, “Meet the Team”. Each month we will highlight a service professional from our wonderful Reunion team. This month, we are starting with our fabulous Senior Catering & Wedding Sales Manager, Lisa New. With over 20 years experience in the hospitality industry, Lisa has gained her knowledge working in catering, weddings and conventions with leading hotel companies such as Renaissance Hotels, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Walk Disney World Fairy Tale Weddings and The Waldorf Astoria Orlando. Reunion has been lucky enough to have her for the last year and a half!

Meet the Team: Lisa New | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Here is a chance to get to know Lisa a little bit better:

First 3 things you do when you wake up: Feed my cats, turn on the news to check the weather, make coffee

Skittles or M&M’s: Skittles

Best advice you’ve ever received: Know what you don’t know. Always be open to learning new things.

Favorite “Get Pumped Up” Song: Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars

What is your favorite part of the wedding industry?: Seeing all my hard work come together and result in an amazing event that will last forever in people’s memories.

Tell us your funniest or most embarrassing story from an event: At Disney Fairy Tale Weddings, I had a wedding outside and it was so hot that the cake was melting. The couple had chosen a Mickey & Minnie Mouse Ceramic Topper and at one point, the cake topper slid off the cake and hit the patio. It smashed into pieces and everyone at the wedding started clapping!

What would you choose as your last meal?: Tator Tots

Which event location at Reunion is your favorite?: Linear Park- for a beautiful garden wedding ceremony.

What is your best advice for couples getting married?: Trust your wedding professionals to do all the work. Try to savor every happy minute of your wedding celebration- it flies by!

 

Jackie & Evan’s Wedding

Jackie & Evan's Wedding | Danielle Nichol Photography | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Jackie and Evans’ love story began in Tampa, Florida while Jackie was in college and Evans attended medical school.

Shortly after graduation, Evans took a job in Dallas, Texas and they both moved half way across the country, away from their families and friends. This time for them was hard but also helped their relationship grow even stronger and most importantly, made them realize they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.

Shortly after Jackie and Evans were engaged, they decided that Florida was their true home and they wanted to come back to celebrate their wedding.

They had a few key aspects that were very important to them- a wedding that had an elegant tone but was also casual and of course, fun! Both Jackie and Evans love the outdoors and wanted part of their day to be enjoyed in the Florida sunshine. Reunion offered a stunning outdoor ceremony location in Linear Park and the Grande Falls Pavilion for the reception. The Pavilion is a wonderful glass enclosed space presenting scenic views with the comfort of a weather protected and climate controlled environment.

Mother Nature decided not to fully cooperate for Jackie and Evans and their ceremony was moved indoors- it went off without a hitch and was absolutely beautiful. Plus, the rain and unique stormy skies left room for some of the most memorable pictures from the entire evening.

The Grande Falls Pavilion provided a wonderful shelter from the rain and the new the couple was able to enjoy their first few married hours watching the sunset and dancing the night away with their closest family and friends.

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Event Coordination: Lisa, Blush by Brandee Gaar
Ceremony: Grande Ballroom at Reunion Resort
Hair & Make-up: Kristy’s Artistry Design Team
Officiant: Jeff McMullin
Harpist: Stephanie Short
Photographer: Danielle Nichol Photography
Florist: Lowe and Behold
Reception: Grande Falls Pavilion at Reunion Resort
Band: Foreman Productions
Lighting: Get Lit
Draping: Swag Decor
Chivari Chairs: Orlando Wedding and Party Rentals
Dance Floor: Letz Dance on It
Cake: Party Flavors
Cigars: Cigar Creations

Shreya & Jeff’s Wedding Video

Sherya & Jeff's Wedding Video | Video by Anchor Weddings | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

We are blown away by Sherya and Jeff’s wedding video and excited to share it with you today. Anchor Weddings captured every special moment of this three day Indian Wedding.  Enjoy the celebration of this lovely couple!

“Happy marriage begins when we marry the one we love
and it blossoms when we love the one we marry.”
– Father of the Bride

Shreya & Jeff Wedding Highlight from Jamice Ivie on Vimeo.

Event Coordination: Amen, Pawar, Inc
Baraat: Linear Park
Garba, Wedding Ceremony & Wedding Dinner: Grande Ballroom
Wedding Lunch & Cocktail Reception: Grande Falls Pavilion
Sunday Brunch: Eleven
Indian Caterer: Memories of India
Floral and Decor: Raining Roses
Photographer: Kallima Photography
Videographer: Anchor Weddings
DJ and Lighting: DJ Rahul Patel
Hair and Make-up: Kristy’s Artistry Design Team
Henna: Tejal Henna
Pandit/Priest: Pandit Shukla
Horse for Baraat: Downtown Horse and Carriage
Cake and Cupcakes: Party Flavors Custom Cakes
UM Bhangra Team: Amit Garg

Wedding Links to Love

Reunion Resort_Wedding Links to Love_06

Happy Wedding Wednesday! Today we share some of our favorite links for around the internet. Wedding ideas, inspiration and something to make you smile.

Photo by Rhodes Studios.

We love Casa di Bella!

We love Casa di Bella Bridal Boutique! | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

Casa di Bella is a beautiful wedding boutique in downtown Celebration, Florida. It was recently purchased by Dina and Krista Engler, who are doing an amazing job and bringing new brides to the area.

Reunion: Krista, tell us how you and your Mother, Dina ended up owners of Casa di Bella.
Krista: My sister bought her wedding dress from the previous owner. When we went to pick up her dress the owner said she was going to have to sell the shop and my Mom immediately had the idea to buy it from her. We went to a few different places to shop for my sister, Ashley’s, dress but Casa di Bella was by far our favorite. The level of service was unparalleled and we had the boutique all to ourselves which no other boutique in Orlando has. So, when we thought about buying the shop we knew we wanted the level of service and the makeup of the shop to stay exactly the same.  I had just graduated with my degree in Fashion Merchandising from Florida State University and my mom, Dina, has a background in hospitality and event planning so we both loved the idea of buying the shop together. It’s the perfect combination with the perfect timing and we knew we just had to take a chance and buy the shop or we would always regret it, so we did!

We love Casa di Bella Bridal Boutique! | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

What is your favorite thing about working in the wedding industry?
Our favorite thing about working in this industry is to be a part of someone’s journey to becoming a bride! We love to get to know our Casa di Bella brides and hear their love stories as we try to find them the perfect dress for their wedding day. It’s a special time in someone’s life and we’re just happy to be able to be a part of that.

What do you think the biggest dress trends are for 2016?
I think overskirts, plunging necklines, sheer skirts, and tiered skirts are all going to be really big in 2016. Brides are leaning away from traditional and more towards modern, sleek, and fashion forward.

We love Casa di Bella Bridal Boutique! | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

What advice would you give a bride who is newly engaged and starting her dress search?
To have an open mind! It’s definitely great to look at magazines and Pinterest to get an idea of what you’re looking for but keep in mind the things that you’re flipping through and pinning may be way over your budget or may not be as comfortable as a different type of dress. Girls get so thrown off by the fact that they end up loving (and buying) something that they have never pictured themselves in and I’m here to tell you that’s 100% okay!

Your wedding dress is all about the feeling you have when you put it on and that feeling is what makes you feel like a bride. It’s not a formulaic as a certain silhouette with a certain neckline and a certain fabric. Pick the dress that makes you smile the most and the one you are confident and beautiful in. And don’t let anyone convince you to get something that you don’t like because at the end of the day you’re the one wearing the dress, not them!

What creative ways have you seen brides use their dresses for after the wedding?
Most of the brides preserve their gowns but I’ve seen some that frame it, use the fabric to make a christening gown, trash their dress at the end of the night, or sell it so they have some extra cash for the honeymoon.

We love Casa di Bella Bridal Boutique! | ReunionResort.com/WeddingBlog

What do you think makes the millennial bride different from what we’ve seen in the past?
I think millennial brides are more tech savvy then brides in the past. They are very active on social media, they use wedding websites to communicate with their guests, they rely on reviews to make decisions on vendors, and they use mediums like Pinterest and The Knot to keep up on what’s trending in the wedding industry. They have so many resources to learn what to do when planning their wedding and they take full advantage of what is given to them, which is great!

Photos courtesy of Casa di Bella Bridal Boutique

Follow Casa di Bella Bridal Boutique on Social Media: Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest