7 Ways to Cut Costs for Your Wedding Dinner

exclusive-banquet-1812772_1280A couple of weeks ago, we offered seven ways for brides and grooms to reduce the cost of their wedding cocktail hour. Our argument then was that you can have a really nice, really pleasing, really special wedding food service while still being prudent and conservative.

The same holds true not only for the cocktail hour, but for dinner itself—and today, we’ll offer a few tips for reducing some of the cost of your wedding dinner service.

Don’t overdo it. If you’ve already served cocktails and appetizers, nobody is going to expect a seven-course feast. You can get by with three courses just fine. And make sure you’re not repeating yourself: If you had salad during your cocktail hours, there’s no need for salad with dinner, too.

Combine courses. On the other hand, you can save costs by rolling one course into another—for example, two shrimp served with some greens and veggies can be something of a salad and an appetizer, and it can be both satisfying and affordable.

Make less-exciting ingredients more noteworthy. You may not have the budget to spring for premium steaks, but something as simple as chicken can be delicious and memorable—as well as affordable—when you pair it with a fancy sauce.

Bring some life to your pasta dishes. A boring old pasta dish can turn into the star of your dinner service if you choose something just a little bit off the beaten path—like ravioli filled with goat cheese and spinach, or something served with pumpkin.

Plan seafood according to seasonality. Ask your caterer which fish will be in season—and thus affordable—for your big day.

Don’t assume that top-dollar cuts of meat are the best. You don’t need a costly filet, necessarily; braised short ribs can be just as delicious. Ask your caterer about the most affordable options for meat.

Offer enticing vegetarian entrees. You may be surprised by how many non-vegetarians choose these less-pricey options.

Your dinner service can make a big splash with your guests, without taking a huge chunk out of your budget. And we can help you achieve that balance: Just contact the Mosteller Events catering team to learn more!

7 Ways to Cut Costs for Your Wedding Cocktail Hour

petit-fours-1566255_1280Catering is one of the most important ingredients of your big day; it’s one of the things that sets the stage for your reception, one of the things guests will remember the most. As such, it is perhaps unsurprising that food costs typically make up a big chunk of the total wedding budget. Of course, there are always ways to reduce these expenses, and one especially good one is to take a look at the cocktail hour. There may be some simple tweaks you can make to make the cocktail hour more cost-effective.

We’ll show you what we mean.

Pass out pricier appetizers by hand. Rather than allowing guests to serve themselves cocktail shrimp buffet-style, pass around a cup of shrimp to each guest; this is a great way to curb the amount that your guests consume without appearing chintzy or ungenerous.

Offer big salads and grilled vegetables. Vegetable spreads can be tasty, colorful, and vibrant—but also inexpensive. Again, you can offer your guests real generosity without breaking the bank.

Focus on the crowd-pleasers. Mac and cheese in martini glasses, mini grilled-cheese Panini sandwiches, small crab cakes… these are all enduringly popular items, and they don’t cost all that much. It’s a win-win!

Don’t get every type of seafood. Ask your caterer to help you land on one or two affordable options. You may find that shrimp costs half as much as scallops, for example—and if so, there’s not necessarily any need to have both.

Skip the cheese plate altogether. Your guests are familiar with cheese plates. They have them at every office party and holiday gathering. No need to spend a lot of money on this item.

Pass on the carving station, too. Ham and roast beef are too heavy to be considered appetizers anyway. Don’t let them add to your catering budget.

Serve food on interesting plates. Tapas-style dishes, for example, will allow you to add some style and flare to your cocktail hour without adding much to the budget.

You can have a really magical cocktail hour without ballooning your total catering costs. For more ideas, contact our catering team directly. Reach out to Mosteller Events today!

Planning for Dietary Restrictions at Your Catered Event

salad-374173_1280Any time you’re organizing a catered event, you obviously want to please as many people as possible. That’s why most catered meals come with different options, allowing each guest to pick and choose the things that sound most appealing. Of course, as you consider the different options you provide, it’s also important to take dietary restrictions into consideration.

Simply put, different people follow different guidelines for the food they consume. Sometimes, these are matters of preference, but in other cases they’re real health concerns. Regardless, your catered options should provide options that accommodate all of your guests.

If you’re aware of any specific dietary restrictions, it’s imperative to let the caterer know. In some instances, it might be wise to ask about dietary restrictions as you take reservations for the event. In other instances, you might simply instruct the caterer to ensure there are options for everyone, spanning as many dietary frameworks as possible.

Which Special Diets Should You Consider?

In terms of specific dietary needs, consider each of the following:

Gluten-free diets. Gluten-free isn’t just a health trend; for those with Celiac disease and other digestive conditions, it’s imperative.

Lactose intolerance. You’ll want to have some dining options that are dairy-free.

Nut allergies. It’s also important to cover those with hypersensitivity to various nuts. Note that Peanut Allergy is in a distinct category due to its severity.

Paleo. Those who follow the paleo lifestyle cannot consume dairy, grains, sugar, or alcohol.

Vegetarianism and Veganism. Both of these lifestyles are fairly common, enough so that you’ll definitely want to consider them at any catered event.

Handling Food Preferences

Remember that your guests, no matter their particular dietary choices, taken them seriously and expect you to take them seriously, too—which is why all of these food preferences should be treated as allergies. Don’t feel like you can fudge any of them; instead, be rigorous in ensuring that you have a caterer who will truly help guests with dietary needs and preferences feel comfortable and welcome.

That’s something the Mosteller Events catering team can assist you with. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help meet different dietary needs.

Plan a Catered Event That Will Impress Your Guests

cateringAre you familiar with the phrase rubber chicken circuit? It’s an expression used by busy professionals who travel frequently and attend a lot of networking events and catered meetings—and who find that, generally speaking, the quality of food at such events leaves something to be desired.

When you’re planning a catered event, whether professional or social, you don’t want people to describe your menu with such a dismal phrase—but how can you avoid it? How can you plan a catered event that will knock your guests’ socks off?

Know Your Guests

The first step is to come up with a basic profile of who’s attending your event. Will it be mostly young professionals? Older folks? People who attend many such events? Think in terms of the demographic breakdown of your guests’ age, ethnicity, and background.

From there, you can make some educated guesses about your guest preferences. Older folks might like a milder menu, while young people might prefer spicy and daring. If you know that many of your guests will be health-conscious, then some light and vegetarian options might be good.

Provide Choice

Something else we recommend is allowing your guests some options. This makes it more likely that everyone will get something they want. A few rules of thumb:

  • We recommend at least two options for entrée, ideally three.
  • For salads, offer multiple dressing options, on the side.
  • Serve all condiments on the side.
  • Offer a couple of dessert options, too—one that’s indulgent, one that’s comparatively light.

Also be aware of any dietary needs that might be represented at your event—food allergies, food intolerance, Paleo or Whole 30 lifestyles, etc. You may need to provide options that accommodate these dietary needs, as well.

Aim to Impress

A few additional tips we’d offer:

  • Ask your caterer to incorporate as many fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients as possible to give the menu a wow
  • Consider a regional or ethnic menu, if you want your food to really stand out from the more typical catered fare.
  • Also think in terms of event schedule: If your guests only have 30 minutes to eat, a box lunch makes a lot more sense than a full buffet.

Use these tips to guide you toward a truly memorable—and exciting—catered presentation. Also, enlist our help: Contact Mosteller Events today to learn more about our event catering services!

3 Considerations for Picking Wedding Invitations

wedding-1760024_1280If you want people to show up for your big day, you’re going to have to invite them—and of course that means sending formal invitations. Far from a minor or secondary part of the wedding planning process, choosing the right invitations can actually have a big impact on your overall theme and your budget.

As you look at different invitations and try to find the one that’s best for you, allow us to recommend three quick considerations.

Theme Matters—But It Isn’t Everything

Many brides sit down to look at wedding invitations already having some sense of the theme and colors they want—but once they see an invitation that really speaks to them, they may change their mind pretty quickly. And that’s fine. It’s good to have an idea of what you want, but we also recommend keeping an open mind. Maybe your invitation selection will prove the key to your broader choices about theme.

Price Can be Variable

We’ve seen brides pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on invitations—with most falling somewhere between $300 and $750. That’s assuming you’re in the market for about 150 invitations, and that you’re sending save-the-dates, but a much larger or smaller wedding could change that number significantly. Also note that different paper stocks and finishes will influence pricing, so make sure you explore plenty of options.

What About the Design?

Design really comes down to personal preference, though we’ll say that invitations that have ribbons and/or rhinestones attached can be easily damaged in the mail, and can come across looking a little tacky. We will also note that photos of bride and groom are generally better for save the dates, not formal invitations.

Picking your invitations should be fun, and it should allow you to express your sense of style—hopefully while sticking to a budget, as well. Consider these quick tips, and don’t hesitate to contact Mosteller Events to learn more about our services in event planning and catering.

4 Games to Keep Your Wedding Guests Entertained

croquet-349705_1280There are plenty of ways to keep your wedding guests entertained throughout the reception, and to make sure everyone’s having fun until the bride and groom make their exit. Music and dancing are the staples, of course, and we encourage you to make these the centerpieces of your reception entertainment plans. However, there are some additional ways you can keep your guests engaged, including games that offer delight to people of all ages, and are playable in all weather!

Couple Crossword Puzzles

On the back of your reception menu, or perhaps even in the program itself, you might consider the inclusion of a custom crossword puzzle—one where all the words and clues relate to you, your new spouse, and your shared story. You might be amazed by how many people get swept up in these puzzles!

Couple Trivia

You can use those same areas of your menu/program—or just create a separate stack of papers on each table—to post some interesting or funny trivia questions about your love story. Ask your DJ to direct people’s attention to the questions, to write in their answers (include pencils on each table!), and to return them to the DJ stand when they’re complete. You can have the answers announced by the DJ, and even consider small prizes for the people who get the most questions right!

Outdoor Games

If the weather’s nice and you’ve got a little bit of space, you can always set up some outdoor games for your guests to partake in—bean bag toss, croquet, lawn bowling, horseshoes… the list goes on and on!

Photo Challenge

One final idea: Challenge your guests to take photos of themselves or one another in a variety of poses or stations around your reception area—a mannequin pose, for instance—and to post them to social media with your wedding hashtag. See how many guests or couples can complete the most poses on your list!

The bottom line: Your wedding should be fun. If that means games, then play games! If that doesn’t sound fun, then skip ‘em. And with any questions about our space, contact Mosteller Mansion directly.

5 Reasons to Hire a Catering Company

cateringNo matter the size or scope of your private party—whether it’s a lavish fundraiser or simply a get-together among friends—food is essential to ensuring that everyone remains happy throughout the festivities. There are different ways to prepare and serve food at your party, of course, and the one we hope you’ll consider is hiring a catering company.

Of course, catering companies aren’t just for weddings, and they offer advantages that you won’t get if you try to make all the food yourself. Consider five of the big benefits that hiring a catering company can bring.

Why Hire a Catering Company?

  1. You can reduce your stress. Planning the food service for a large group of people is a big undertaking—and when you’re already trying to ensure that your party space is clean and well-decorated, the cumulative effect can be considerably stressful. A good caterer will essentially take all the food responsibilities off your plate (so to speak), and allow you to focus your attention elsewhere. In other words, it’s one less thing for you to stress about.
  2. You can save time. Just imagine what all you could get done if you didn’t have to go to the grocery store, prepare food, or serve it. Well, when you hire a catering company, you don’t have to imagine.
  3. You can ensure a diverse menu. A catering company will be able to put together a list of foods that go well together, but still offer the guests some options—and also accommodate different dietary needs, if applicable.
  4. You’ll know that every detail is being attended to. Catering companies don’t just offer food; they see to all aspects of the food service, including logistics and presentation. You don’t have to worry about any of that, yet you know it’s all being handled satisfactorily.
  5. You’ll make a statement. When you cater an event, that’s something that’ll stick with your guests. They will remember the event as a really special and important one—and isn’t that part of your goal in hosting the event?

Ask Us About Our Catering Service

We’d love to talk with you more about the benefits of hiring a catering company like Mosteller Events. Contact us at your leisure to get the conversation started!

Real Talk About Your Wedding Planning

beautiful-1846171_1280As you begin the process of planning your wedding, it can be easy to get hearts in your eyes and big dreams in your head. There’s nothing wrong with that! Wedding planning is a time for dreaming, a time for following your heart. With that said, it’s also important to stay grounded, and focused on the practical dimensions of wedding planning.

In that spirit, we want to offer a little bit of real talk today—debunking some of the misconceptions that exist about the wedding planning process. We hope you’ll find this to be helpful.

You can’t do it all by yourself. Some brides want to be the maestros who pull every string of their perfect wedding—but if you micromanage every single detail, you’re going to find yourself frazzled, and probably won’t enjoy the process much. People are going to offer to help you, and you should take them up on it. That doesn’t mean you have to relinquish control of the big picture. It just means that, if you have an aunt who wants to help you find the right tablecloths, maybe it’s not a bad idea to let her.

The DIY route comes with risks. With that said, you should also be realistic about your own abilities, and the abilities of your friends and family members. You don’t want to end up with a horrible-looking wedding cake because you asked a friend to make it, and it turned out to be something she’s never done before. Some tasks of wedding preparation are better farmed out to professionals, plain and simple.

You don’t have to invite everyone you know. And, you also don’t have to let everyone bring a date. Yes, the more the merrier, and you don’t want to turn people down, but you do have a budget to consider. There’s nothing wrong with drawing a line in the sand when you need to.

It’s okay to say no. When your florist tries to talk you into a big and expensive arrangement that you just don’t like, it’s alright to put your foot down and ask to see something different. That doesn’t make you mean. That doesn’t make you Bridezilla.

Your wedding doesn’t have to be unique. Should it reflect your taste and your personality? Absolutely! But weddings are, by their nature, fairly formulaic. There’s nothing wrong with treading the beaten path.

Want some real talk about your wedding venue? We’d love to tell you about the perks of Mosteller Mansion, and help you determine whether it’s right for you. Contact us today to learn more!

What to Ask Before Hiring a Wedding Photographer

camera-820018_1280As with any wedding vendor, it’s important to be judicious in selecting your photographer—interviewing several different professionals and comparing their rates and their credentials before you make a final decision. If you’ve never done this before—which most brides probably haven’t—then you may not know exactly what to ask. Allow us to share a few things you should always inquire about before landing on a wedding photographer.

Do you have my date available? Obviously, if the answer is no, then it’s time to simply move on to the next photographer—unless you’re flexible on your wedding date.

How far in advance do you need to be booked? There’s probably going to be a ticking clock on when you can make your decision, and you’ll want to know it up front.

What’s your experience like? Feel free to ask these variants: How long have you been in business? How many weddings have you shot? And have you shot weddings similar in size/scope to mine?

How would you describe your style? Some photographers are more traditional; others, out-of-the-box. You’ll obviously want to know what you’re getting into!

Do you have a portfolio I can view? Ask to see some recent work.

Will you accept a list of specific shots that we’d like? Most photographers will say yes, but it’s still wise to ask.

May I have a list of references? A good, professional photographer shouldn’t hesitate to provide you with this.

What information should I provide you with before the wedding day? You’ll have better things to do than to answer a thousand questions from your photographer on the big day, so get everything out in the open right from the get-go.

What are your rates? Of course, you can and should inquire about pricing.

These questions will hopefully guide you to choosing a photographer whose work you love, whose rates you can afford, and whose style you enjoy. To learn more about wedding planning basics, we welcome you to check out the Mosteller Events blog!

Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Family During Wedding Planning

family-216825_1280The wedding planning period can be a little stressful from time to time, and your family members won’t always help things. They are well-intentioned, to be sure, but let’s face it: Nobody knows how to push your buttons and get under your skin better than the people in your family!

As such, it can be tempting to speak to them a little too candidly, in ways that could hurt feelings or even burn bridges. What we’d advise is trying your best to be thoughtful. You can start by excising some of these phrases from your vocabulary:

I really don’t need your help.

You are perfectly entitled to feel this way, but it’s probably best not to speak it aloud—and if your family members really want to be involved, try to find a way to let them. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just get them to help assemble gift bags, or maybe help you narrow down some minor decisions between two color schemes or floral arrangements. Your family members just want to feel like they are part of the process, and helpful to you in some way.

That’s a HORRIBLE idea!

It may be—but why hurt your poor grandmother’s feelings by telling her so? Try to fake an open mind, and just let everyone know that you’ll seriously consider their suggestions, but that ultimately you’ve got to do what you and your fiancée think are best.

Well, if our budget was a little bigger…

If your folks are footing the bill for your wedding, the last thing you want to do is come across as ungrateful—or like you are trying to guilt them into giving you more money.

You have such bad taste!

Again, you’re welcome to think it, and it may even be true—but this is the kind of comment that could lead to hurt feelings between mother and daughter, or between sisters. That’s not what you want during your wedding planning.

This day is all about ME!

The day can mostly be about you, but remember that you have a lot of friends and family members who want to come alongside you, support you, and show you how much they care. Why not let them do so?

Remember: During wedding planning, diplomacy goes a long way. Keep it in mind, but also don’t hesitate to reach out for the help you need. Contact us at Mosteller Events any time!