At many wedding receptions, it’s pretty much an elbow-to-elbow race to the open bar once the I do’s are done. Since current times aren’t well suited for crowding with cocktails, it’s a perfect opportunity to think outside the bar and seek alternative ways to get guests to toast.
“It’s clear that satellite or ‘open bars’ are not safe right now because of the lack of social distancing,” said Braithe Tidwell, beverage director at Brennan’s. “It’s much better for guests to be seated and served by someone wearing a mask. This type of service is a natural component of wine service, so it makes sense that wine and cocktail service are a better fit in the climate.”
Tidwell suggests presenting seated guests with a mix of paired wine and cocktails as a way to elevate the intimate mood of the reception, as observed at a recent reception.
“We announced a description of the pairing between each course, which added a personal touch and an engaging element for guests,” said Tidwell, referencing combinations like Turtle Soup with German off-dry Riesling and Gulf Fish Amandine with a White Burgundy.
“There’s so much you can do with beverage pairing that will enhance any dining experience, but for a wedding it’s particularly celebratory!”
Tidwell notes that in most instances, the approach will heighten your guests’ imbibing and eating experience.
“There’s a lot to be said for getting your favorite cocktail at the bar, but a great wine pairing can often enhance the memories you make at the event. Not to mention that being waited on, rather than waiting in line at a bar, is a more relaxing experience.”
Katie Morris, co-owner of Black Pearl Catering, views this type of pairing service as a way to present yourselves as a couple to your guests.
“I think there’s a unique opportunity here to be creative and add some touches that reflect your personal story, and what’s important to you and your family when it comes to food, drink, and celebrating together,” said Morris, observing that some couples utilize this type of beverage service as a way to showcase their shared interests.
“We’ve had couples choose wines from different countries they’d traveled to and paired each with a dish from a similar region,” said Morris. “There’s so many routes you can go, I think the important thing is to think about how to tell your story in a meaningful way.”
Walker Geoffray, executive chef and co-owner of Black Pearl Catering, believes that it also lends itself to a more memorable reception, as witnessed during a course-pairing themed on clarity, which showcased a translucent Satsuma Ice Box Pie with a clarified milk punch from Cocktail & Creative.
“When you want the story [of the couple] to come across to the guest, it’s so helpful for them to see consistency with all components in front of them,” said Geoffray.
He notes that seated reception dinners with chosen pairings are a way to create an intimate experience. “You can take your guests on this really meaningful food and drink journey that’s specific to your story together. I think at this time especially, we’re all cherishing every minute we can spend together and the menu can enhance this in a really thoughtful way.”