Destination I Do
Thursday, September 2, 2010

Make Your Reception All About Perfect Pairings

Words by Courtney Kellar
Words by Autumn Millhouse & Rebecca Feeney
Photos courtesy of Damion Hamilton

Weddings may bring forth one’s belief in ‘love at first sight’, yet guests may discover ‘love at first bite’ when a haute cuisine is served. The ceremony may be the heart of the wedding where lovers unite, but the reception is the spot where food and wine celebrate the union. Hence, renowned wedding planner, Rebecca Feeney, owner of Custom Event Group, indulges our sense of taste with her best food and wine advice for brides and grooms.

Feeney, a Napa Valley resident and destination wedding expert, whose brides come from across the globe to marry in wine country knows a thing or two about food and wine. Living in the epicurean epicenter of all things delectable she provides Destination: I Do Magazine with her best advice where catering, food choices and wine pairings are concerned.


Anyone who knows me knows that my two favorite words are ‘authentic’ and ‘valuable.’
Food is a central, imaginative and reflective part of your wedding. It’s yet another opportunity to show your personality as a couple. What are your favorite foods? How do you cook at home? Do you want the preparation of food to be seen? Do you have any fabulous family recipes? Why not have an authentic Italian pizza oven during the cocktail reception? Picture yummy bubbling pizzas coming out on wooden sheets. Come to your seasoned catering team with ideas and be prepared to get excited and share your enthusiasm with them. Also be prepared to listen to their input and direction, it’s often important to meet in the middle. Your imagination and enthusiasm makes their job much more meaningful. Often, thinking outside of the box doesn’t necessarily cost you more. It’s just a more valuable direction to go in. Ask your seasoned catering team what THEY like to cook, what their specialty is and what makes them authentic.

Food choices

I have so much to say on this topic, but let me highlight just a few pointers…

• Go with what’s in season and what’s pretty darn close by (I have the same thing to say about flowers when working on design.) This not only tastes great, but helps with your budget.

• I love an amuse bouche – a small, lovely tid-bit which gives an exclamation point to the beginning of the wedding meal. Maybe a shot glass with refreshing and colorful gazpacho, a miniature crab cake, or one large ravioli with butter and sage. Have fun with it, it’s only a bite or two!

• Use common sense when working on a menu. For example, passed canapés, super drippy sauces and extra large mouthfuls are not a good idea. If it’s a hot summer day and an outdoor venue, offer refreshing choices like cucumber cups, mint and lavender lemonades, or fresh ahi cones. Again, ask your talented chef!

Wine pairing

Bring in the professionals! As a planner, I see my role as a matchmaker…find the perfect fit for every need. Once a menu is established, take that menu (as well as your budgetary expectations, for example you may not want to exceed $75 per bottle) to a local wine professional or wine buyer at a local market. I have a handful of wine geeks I love to call on! And trust me, they love to be asked. It usually takes them less than 30 minutes to come up with some great ideas and offer some sources of where to purchase. I always send them a gift card “thank you” from a local coffee shop or lunch spot. It’s a small price to pay for a perfectly paired dining experience. And why not do it right? In the end you’ll have a much more valuable and memorable experience. Oh, and FYI, my local wine adviser is Stefan Blicker.

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