Gourmet Fête

Newlywed foodies focus on creating memorable receptions.

Suit provided by Current, Winter Park; Reem Acra gown provided by The Collection Bridal, Winter Park; Models: Natalia Z and Chase S of AbFab Management; Photograph by Roberto Gonzalez.


Possibilities for reception food and drink are limitless thanks to clever caterers and brides searching for the newest trends to make their wedding distinctive and buzz-worthy. From food trucks to uncommon cuisine, the menu is now taking center stage.

Meals on Wheels


Guests order from La Empanada | Jessica Leigh (jleighphoto.com)

Thanks to a year-round calendar filled with sunny days, Orlando’s food truck scene has flourished; it’s not surprising then that these epicurean entrepreneurs have started to catch the attention of brides looking for something other than the usual catered affair.

Fork in the Road delivers some tasty Southern BBQ. | Krista Potter (kristapotterphotography.com)

Newlyweds with the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck | Jessica Leigh (jleighphoto.com)

Bryce Balluff brought his modern American cuisine to a handful of local weddings via his Fork in the Road (forkintheroadtruck.com) food truck, including a Winter Park Farmer’s Market wedding where he served up a BBQ-themed menu complete with pulled pork, smoked brisket and jalapeño cornbread. “I can work with a bride to completely customize the menu,” Balluff says. “And being able to bring a full kitchen with me everywhere I go means I’m not restricted by a venue’s kitchen capabilities.”

“I absolutely love going to the food truck bazaars, so we thought this would be a great way to personalize the wedding by incorporating something we enjoy doing together,” says Alana Kitch, who used Fork in the Road and the Yum Yum Cupcake Truck (yumyumcupcaketruck.com), a dessert truck growing rapidly in popularity for wedding receptions, at her November 2012 Winter Park Farmer’s Market wedding. “To this day we still have people commenting on the food from our wedding.” 

La Empananda Food Truck (laempanadatruck.com) also hit the wedding scene with gourmet empanadas, which vary from mushroom and goat cheese to Nutella strawberry. Owners Gabrielle Arnold and Janelle Luce see brides capitalizing on the food truck trend rather than simply utilizing the trucks as a catering alternative. 

“Food trucks get people out of their seats and socializing more with other guests, which is always nice,” says Arnold, who sees added atmosphere as a big perk of the food truck experience. “They’re also unexpected. Food trucks bring personality to a wedding reception.”



Surprising Stations


A S’mores station appeases late night guests. | Heather Rice (heatherricephotography.com)

Interactive chef stations are so common these days that local caterers have upped the ingenuity with everything from DIY taco bars to gourmet S’mores stations.

Mashed potato martinis make eating and socializing simple. | KWU Weddings (kwuweddings.com)
Custom flavored popcorn is ideal for a midnight reception snack. | Brian Pepper (orlandoweddingpix.com)

At Big City Catering (bigcitycatering.com), brides can choose uncommon cuisine such as the “Wedge of Lettuce Salad Station” filled with mounds of iceberg lettuce and atypical accompaniments like sugared pecans and dried cranberries.
Other enticing options include the make-your-own tacos station and the mashed potato martini bar, where mashed potatoes are artfully oozed into martini glasses and topped with bacon, cheese and sour cream.

“More and more brides are looking for a way to incorporate their favorite food into a captivating action station,“ says Big City Catering owner Tom Pokorny.  “We can accommodate almost any request.”

On the sweet side, brides are tending toward options like made-to-order mud pie stations and root beer float bars. At Erin Pavano’s 2011 wedding at Paradise Cove,  she delighted guests with a S’mores station. “My goal for the whole wedding was a relaxed, fun party, and we had envisioned people relaxing by the lake roasting marshmallows by the fire,” she says.

At Kinsey Ankrum’s vintage Hollywood-themed wedding at The Abbey, she played up the movie theme by serving gourmet popcorn. “I ordered it from Kernel Encore (kernelencorepopcorn.com), and chose four flavors: Hot Wings & Ranch, Kettle Corn, Theater Style, and Crazy Confetti.” She also added a “Thanks for Poppin’ By” sticker to each bag. “We set them out toward the height of the partying as a late-night snack option.”



Delightful Drinks


Bourbon tasting bar | A Bryan Photography (abryanphoto.com)

The same level of creativity is now being applied to the bar, where brides are requesting everything from tequila tastings to Mojito stations. Erin Pavano even had a canoe filled with ice and canned beer delivered to her reception, an interesting and memorable visual for her guests.

Mason jars add a sweet Southern accent | Kristen Weaver (kristenweaver.com)
A canoe full of drinks is an offbeat beverage offering. | Misty Miotto (mistymiotto.com)

For Great Gatsby-themed events, Big City Catering can create a speakeasy bar filled with Prohibition-era libations like Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and Harvey Wallbangers.

Color themed bars are another interesting visual choice for neo-brides. Consider serving a red-only bar filled with everything from sangria to Bloody Mary’s, or an all-green bar with dirty or green apple martinis.

D. Michele Butler, president of Michele Butler Events (michelebutlerevents.com), is increasingly seeing couples go beyond the average alcohol offering, including tasting bars and expert pairings. “A client of mine recently served donut holes with Brandy Alexanders,” she says. “Another wanted to offer specially picked wines to pair with various dinner options. To top it off, we had a sommelier on hand to educate the guests on the wines.”

To customize your reception even further, consider having the bartender create a signature cocktail for your guests. Caroline Bonvouloir had two signature drinks served in mason jars—a blackberry infused Jack Daniel's whiskey with sweet tea and a raspberry infused vodka with lemonade.



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