To Cater or Not to Cater
The four most important criteria, according to TLC’s “Four Weddings” are the venue, the dress, the food, and the overall experience. When venue hunting, see if the venues cater the food and beverage themselves. If not, they should recommend caterers to you. Some may even require you to select one from their list. Once you have a caterer, taste their food well in advance in case you decide to select another one instead. One of the benefits of Vintners Inn is that they have the John Ash & Co. restaurant on the property that caters all their food. That being said, we wanted to make sure we’d be happy with them since we’d have no other choice. Thankfully, we have a chef in the family who looked over the menu and praised Chef John Ash’s reputation so that helped with our decision.
Taste the Menu
A really fun part of wedding planning is tasting the food! We scheduled our tasting about 6 months before our wedding. They gave us our menu options and asked us to choose between 2 plates for the first course and 3 plates for the two-entree options to taste. We headed up to wine country and boy was it an incredibly fun day! We were brought to a private room reserved for us to begin our tasting. I had a few friends warn me to eat no more than half of everything because it would be a lot of food. Well, we came hungry and the food was so delicious that we ate EVERYTHING! And felt so stuffed at the end. Oops! We took advantage and walked around the property for a few minutes to enjoy all the beautiful landscaping and flowers blooming now that it was Spring. It was so pretty!
Miso Crusted Sea Bass – tatsoi, shiitake mushrooms, sticky rice, lemon grass ginger emulsion
Braised Short Ribs of Angus Beef – mashed cauliflower, roasted fingerling potatoes, crispy onions, red wine jus
Breast of Mary’s Natural Chicken – with mozzarella, prosciutto, sage, cherry tomatoes and herb polenta
Eyes are still bigger than our stomachs…
Choose Your Menu
Our wedding menu included three passed or displayed hors-d’oeuvres and a two-course meal (first course and entree). For the entree, I recommend having beef and fish options. The chicken dish we tasted was very good but we didn’t think it would be special enough as we eat chicken a lot at home. In our invitations, we had our guests choose between the short ribs and sea bass in their R.S.V.P. Vintners also prepared a delicious risotto dish for any vegetarians.
We brought in an assortment of desserts and a small cake from another vendor, Rassasy Cakes. I will go into detail on this in a separate post. Depending on how long into the night your wedding goes, it’s a good idea to offer late night snacks. Since ours lasted until midnight, we decided to throw in the extra $ to keep our guests happy.
This was our final wedding menu:
Hors-d’oeuvres (during cocktail hour):
risotto cheese balls with truffle dip
Ahi Tuna Sashimi
wonton chip with avocado tartar and cilantro
Imported and Domestic Cheese
six varieties of cheeses featuring sheep, goat and cow milks, garnished with grapes, berries, dried fruit, baguettes and assorted crackers
Organic Baby Spinach Salad
baked breaded Cypress Grove chèvre, candied walnuts and apple vinaigrette
Entrée, a choice between:
Miso Crusted Sea Bass
tatsoi, shiitake mushrooms, sticky rice, lemongrass ginger emulsion
Braised Short Ribs of Angus Beef
mashed cauliflower, roasted fingerling potatoes, crispy onions, red wine jus
Seasonal Vegetable Risotto (vegetarian option)
Romano cheese, fresh basil,and basil oil
Assortment of Desserts
Late night snacks:
Deep Fried Beef Meatballs
sweet and sour dipping sauce
chicken teriyaki and Vietnamese braised short rib
Petit Croque Monsieur
grilled ham and cheese sandwich 1⁄4 ers
My favorites were the Arancini, the Sea Bass, and the Petit Croque Monsieur. Both the Short Ribs and Sea Bass are pictured above. We also had a coffee station come out after dinner – had to keep the dancing going after all!
We had 87 guests in total and served:
- 87 plated meals
- A two-tiered wedding cake and 102 assorted desserts.
- Late night snacks:
- Deep fried meatballs (2 dozen)
- Sliders (2 dozen each of the chicken teriyaki and the Vietnamese short rib)
- Croque Monsieur (2 dozen)
Provide Vendor Meals
You have a lot of people working hard to make your day special. These include your photographer, your videographer, your wedding coordinator, the band, and more (we had 14 people). Make sure these important folks are fed, and therefore factored into your food & bev budget! Request that your venue or caterer provide them with vendor meals. Typically, the venue/caterer has a prepared option or will prepare an assortment of what you requested for your guests. It’s a big no-no if you don’t do this for your vendors.
Determine the Bar
Many wineries and vineyards did not have liquor licenses and therefore we would have been confined to their wine selections and beer. It was important for us to have an open bar. Vintners Inn also prepared his and hers signature cocktails at our request!
Here’s how we laid out the beverages:
Champagne (we chose Prosecco instead because I love La Marca) ~ 21 qty
La Marca Prosecco for the toasts and at the bar
They pre-poured the champagne flutes before guests entered the ballroom with light pours
Dinner wine ~ 28 qty
White wine: Ferrari-Carano, Sonoma County, Fumé Blanc
Red wine: Alexander Valley Vineyards, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon
Beer Domestic/Imported (hosted) ~ 30 qty
Lagunitas IPA, Coors Light, Corona, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, St. Pauli Girl (NA), Blue Moon
Bride’s Drink: “The Final Rose” (I watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette a lot so it was only appropriate)
Tom (Gin) Collins with muddled blackberries
Groom’s Drink: “The Baba Booey” (yes, my husband is a big Howard Stern fan)
John (Whiskey) Collins with muddled mint springs
Premium Brands; Mixed Drinks (NO SHOTS!!) ~ 120 qty
Ketel One Vodka, Dewars White Label Scotch, Bulleit Bourbon, Jack Daniels
Tanqueray Gin, Bacardi, Herradura Silver Tequila, Courvoisier VSOP
Beverages ~ 30 qty
Assorted Sodas, Bottled Water
Coffee/ tea station
Key is NO SHOTS. As much as you want everyone having a good time, you don’t want it to get messy!
We had just the right amount of food and drink. By the end of the night, there was nothing left for us to take to our rooms. It was all gone! If you’re having close to 100 people, hopefully, the quantities above are useful in your planning.
Was this post helpful? I have a few more wedding planning tips coming your way. If there’s something in particular you want me to cover, comment below!
Read more in the “Planning Your Wine Country Wedding” blog series: