Given that we live in such a food-centric city, what your guests nosh on is easily one the most important component of a memorable wedding reception. Resist relying on boring standards or unimaginative house salads to fill up your guests. You wouldn’t do that if you were hosting an event at home, would you? Your culinary habits are an important reflection of who you are as a couple. Met in New Orleans? A Big Easy-inspired menu would be a great way to relay that. Set up on a blind date at a Thai restaurant? Ethnic cuisine would make a great personal touch. Whether you are in need of full-service catering or smaller-scale delivery for an intimate dinner party, most catering companies can accommodate a wide variety of guests’ needs.
In business for over 40 years, LaBella’s Catering & Deli (2118 Third St., Kenner, 466-4675, LaBellasCatering.com) wants to “make every experience a very unique one for our clients.” Chef Joey LaBella recently earned the distinction of being named one of 25 best chefs in the city by the New Orleans chapter of the American Culinary Federation. Wedding packages are on their website, which makes browsing menus a cinch. “We have all original recipes for the food, and you won’t have to worry about ordering not enough food,” explains Jenny LaBella. “If anything, we overcompensate and try to avoid any sort of mistake the client could make when ordering.” In addition to appetizers and entrées, the caterer provides some more unconventional services, such as a mashed potato bar and ice cream sundae bar, which are fun, do-it-yourself ways for guests to pile on their favorite toppings.
Nothing beats Southern charm, and just 30 minutes from New Orleans, Patton’s Catering (127 Cleveland Ave., Slidell, (985) 645-3600, Pattons.com) can serve up old-world soul and elegance in the historic Salmen-Fritchie House in Olde Towne Slidell. Built in 1895, the mansion comprises nine rooms adorned with antique furniture and a breathtaking, picturesque front porch. Whether you’re throwing an intimate reception or a grandiose affair, Patton’s will give your day the illustrious touch you deserve. Extend some Southern hospitality via your guests’ taste buds by serving them Louisiana staples such as crawfish pie, fried catfish, turtle soup and Patton’s Crawfish Saks – crêpes stuffed with crawfish dressing.
Many personalized services are included with the facility fee, such as engraved napkins, a photography session with your photographer and an event coordinator and bridal attendant.
Martin Wine Cellar (3500 Magazine St., (800) 298-4274; 714 Elmeet St., Metairie, 896-7300, MartinWine.com) works with clients to achieve custom menus, full bar options, and will even assist with renting tents, florists and renting linens. It is almost a one-stop shop. From a backyard barbecue buffet to a seated, full-service dinner, Martin makes everything fresh the day of and will even cook on-site. There are no set package deals, which ensures the food will be exactly what you want from the start. A Martin consultant will make suggestions but will build everything around what the couple wants.
Staying within budget is very important, and talking numbers is often a sensitive subject. Martin tackles the topic head-on, so you won’t feel intimidated when starting to plan and having to hack off ideas later. One clever couple needed to stay within their budget, so they cut the wait staff and had a serve-yourself bar, with beers and a bottle opener nestled in a pirogue. “Most brides have never planned an event this big before, so there are some common mistakes that they should avoid. No one RSVPs to weddings anymore,” says Hope Martin. Give yourself some wiggle room to accommodate party crashers. “If you’re serving small-plate portions, plan on each guest eating seven to nine pieces.” You can always enjoy the leftovers if you don’t honeymoon right away, or have the staff fix to-go boxes for the bridal party.
Nanci Easterling, owner of Food Art (801 Carondelet St., 524-2381, FoodArtInc.com), prides herself on one-of-a-kind events. “We’ve been in business for over 20 years, and always active in the bridal market,” she explains. “Food Art is unique in that we don’t offer packages. Every menu is custom-designed with the couple’s personal taste in mind. This is the first step in making it ‘their’ day.” She continues, “Couples always have ideas in mind about the types of food they want. It frequently reflects the region(s) they are from. Sometimes there are separate stations for each region, and sometimes we are asked to make a fusion of the two cultures. The second area to come into play is colors and/or textures of fabrics. A bride always knows what her color scheme is going to be; she knows her look. For us, having a large array of equipment to help facilitate her look is one of the things we provide our clients. Whether it’s cypress trays, copper, colored glass, gold leaf, pottery or porcelain, we use these accent pieces to complement her look. Our approach is a fully coordinated event when food and design make a singular statement to reflect their style and taste.” Food Art isn’t just about the food. If it’s comedy, drama or music that you’re seeking, they can assist with various entertainment options.
From bluegrass bands to orchestras, they can help you book the gig to make your reception complete.
Not only can the Hyatt Regency (601 Loyola Ave., 613-3930, NewOrleans.Hyatt.com) serve guests with spectacular lodging, but they can also accommodate your entire wedding, from ceremony to reception. All packages include a complimentary suite for the bride and groom, champagne toast, custom-designed wedding cake, complimentary dance floor and several other amenities to make your day extra special. A wedding consultant will guide you through the entire process, and is on hand to help arrange meetings with caterers and design teams. Receptions typically last four hours, but the celebration doesn’t have to stop there. The Hyatt can also host your post-wedding brunch in any of its event rooms for additional time spent with family and friends.
Portobello Catering (400 East William David Parkway, Metairie, 833-2120, PortobelloCatering.com) was named after Portobello Road in London, inspired by the owners’ travels there. Everything is fresh and made in-house, including breads and desserts. The company sources produce, meat, fish and shellfish from local farmers, which contributes to incredible, custom made presentations. Portobello is a full-service caterer, providing all the rentals you’ll need for an additional charge. Beautiful pewter platters and chaffers accompany each dish and are garnished with edible flowers and fresh fruit.
The catering director can assist you with individual dietary needs, style direction, and of course your budget. Live cooking stations serve as half sustenance, half entertainment for your guests. And, from start to finish, Portobello will take care of your entire event, so you don’t have to worry about cleanup afterwards.
While the sweetest pièce de résistance will always be your wedding cake, a candy table can be a fun option for guests with an extra sweet tooth. With Graceful Event Productions (723-2906, Graceful-Events.com), set-up is a cinch, with self-serve scoops and bins that resemble an old-fashioned candy shop. All custom candy tables include five to six types of candy – from chocolate to gummy candy – and additions such as desserts and candles, and custom signage or photos can be added for an additional fee. Guests can snack or take some sugary favors home with them, and you get to keep any uneaten candy. Tablescapes can be created to match the colors and theme of your reception, creating a candyland that adds whimsy and fun to your party.