There are so many wonderful things available to us here in the wine country. I am constantly finding new wines, restaurants and food items worth writing about and I hope that you will enjoy my discoveries.

This blog is not just about weddings, but about what makes this part of the world such a draw; great food, excellent wine and wonderful people. I hope you enjoy reading these posts and can find yourself here, enjoying the same amazing things we do.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Something "New"

 Hidden Gem

This week I went to check out a possible new property for some New York clients of mine.  I was trying not to get my hopes up, afraid that it might be too “rustic” for these clients. I was so wonderfully surprised by both the natural beauty of the property and by my client’s trust and ability to see the possibilities. 

It is not often that we have the opportunity to take a truly blank canvas and make it our own.  I am looking forward to working with these clients to put their touch on every piece of the wedding. I will share the pictures in August!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Saying "I Do"

Photography by Sylvia Steininger & Jeff Smith

Now is the time when clients are in full wedding planning mode. While all of the reception details are so fun and fabulous to agonize over, I wanted to take this opportunity to focus on the ceremony, as it often gets over looked with more colorful and exciting details.

The ceremony is the real reason why everyone has come from far and wide to be with you.  These are (hopefully) your nearest and dearest friends and family. Your ceremony can be an excellent opportunity to include those that mean the most to you.  I have seen too many ceremonies that are rushed through to get to the martini luge, the five-course meal and the rockin’ dance band! While those are all fantastic moments, your ceremony is the time you become one family and one group of friends.

It doesn’t matter what your religious or cultural backgrounds are, there can be a way to create a ceremony that reflects the two of you and includes your guests.  The picture above is from a Quaker ceremony and what I loved most about it is the guests were invited to share a story or offer advice during the ceremony.  Anyone who wanted to speak was encouraged.  It was touching and heartfelt and yes, it was longer than your typical ceremony but it is something I still remember years later and I am sure everyone else who was there remembers.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Welcomed Guest

Photography by Sylvia Steininger & Jeff Smith 

A crucial thing that often gets overlooked at a wedding is your guests’ comfort.  An easy and fun way to help your guests know that you were thinking of them is to buy inexpensive flip flops (I know the weather right now would have you thinking more like Uggs) but at outdoor venues, being able to slip into a pair of bright flip flops is heaven for ladies sore feet.  Buy a variety of sizes, tie them together and place them where everyone will see them. You can even make a little sign that says “What a pair” (with bride and grooms’ names).

Another inexpensive way for you to ensure your guests’ comfort is to buy pashminas online. You can get them to match any color scheme and they can be handed out during dinner by wait staff.  Again, they do not need to be expensive, as any wrap can help ward off an evening chill.

Just two ways of making sure your guests are comfortable and ready to dance the night away.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting Started

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my family, friends, colleagues and clients a very Happy and Healthy New Year!  For those close to me, I know you have grown tired of hearing about my blog idea. Finally, here it is!  My hope is to share ideas, tricks and advice related to entertaining and to the ultimate opportunity to entertain, a wedding!

On the topic of weddings, my go to rule from the beginning, that still stands strong today is simple; focus on what matters most to you as a couple, do it well and relax about the rest of the details.

Here is a good example about keeping it simple. A few weeks ago, my husband and I hosted an impromptu holiday party with our closest friends. There were eight adults and three children under the age of three. (Already an overflowing group for our small bungalow house) We received word that our newly adopted puppy had a ride from the shelter an hour away and the thought of her spending another night there was too much, so I had her added to the mix. We had to keep the meal easy since we were busy puppy-proofing the house. I gave simple requests to my friends; someone bring an appetizer, another a salad and the last couple a dessert. I would handle the main course.  Years ago, I would have stressed about coming up with the perfect meal, handing out long researched assignments, cleaned for hours and worried that our house was not big enough nor comfortable enough for this large of a group.  Now, I didn’t have the time or the energy to worry.

As our guests arrived, they were handed a festive Pomegranate Fizz (Sparkling wine, pomegranate liquor such as Pama with a squeeze of lemon. DELICIOUS!)  Our friend Charlotte had made stuffed mushrooms (great Ina Garten recipe) that was warm and substantial and one by one I introduced everyone to our new family member, Lola.

Seeing that my living room and dining room are all in the same space, it was a short move to our large square dining table. (Love the table, we just need a bigger room!) It unbelievably can seat eight adults, two toddlers and one baby all together.  The next course was a simple and fabulous caesar salad. Debbie made the dressing from scratch. (Simple, but what a difference!) The romaine hearts were left whole and artfully displayed on the plate with a few cherry tomatoes. The dressing was so thick that it was spooned across the top with some fresh shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Fabulous!

The main course was Bolognese that had been simmering all afternoon on the stove.  I served it over good pappardelle pasta “nests”. This is a great main course as all of the work is done earlier so you are free to be with your guests and then assemble it right before serving. Of course the kids loved it but it was still elegant enough for the adults, especially with some delicious Italian wines.

To end the fabulous meal, my friend Heather made a chocolate cake, but the difference was she made it from scratch.  It was not sweet the way we are used to from a box, it was pure and simple with a layer of her homemade berry jam spread very thin in the middle and then the entire cake was covered in a rich chocolate frosting. Perfect with a strong cup of coffee or an after-dinner port.

I know this may sound like a complicated evening but when you really look at each course and the amount of work every person did, it was really quite simple. Of course it helps to have very good cooks as friends, but I am confident even a beginner chef could prepare every single course if they took the time to buy the best ingredients they could and prepare them as simply as possible.  The food was fabulous but what made the evening such a success was a wonderful group of people just wanting to relax and have a good time.  Not so different from a wedding.