Growing up on Long Island, I attended my share of big Italian weddings and other life milestones celebrated around food. Whether a Christening, first holy communion, confirmation, or wedding, the event was always held in a large reception hall. As family and friends gathered, the food procession would begin…appetizers and cocktails followed by a multicourse sit-down dinner, and then cake. Just when you couldn’t eat another bite, the Viennese dessert table would roll ceremoniously across the dance floor. This gastronomic ritual was played over and over as I so fondly remember.
Now some 30 years later, as Coho Restaurant’s event coordinator, I find myself producing life’s special events for others. My charge is to help couples realize their aesthetic dream as they embrace the latest wedding fads fueled by Pinterest and Instagram. Burlap, muslin, chalk boards, lanterns, photo booths, lawn games, wine barrels – just when one fad fizzles out, there’s another trend to replace it.
San Juan Island Weddings
Couples marrying on San Juan Island are embracing venues that are more destination-appropriate — choosing beaches, barns, farms, or childhood homes to say, “I do.” These sites are rustic, located in stunningly beautiful natural settings and unequivocally San Juan Island. Many of these venues are blank canvases and are personalized to the couple’s vision. All the infrastructure must be brought to the site including cooking equipment, tableware, tables, chairs, tents, water, generators, and bathrooms. Don’t let all the logistics cause a worry, however! Coho Restaurant’s event team takes care of all the details to transform your special site your wedding fantasy.
Trendy Casual Catering
Just as venue choices are changing, the formal wedding dinner is being replaced with a meal that is casual and less fussy. Beach barbecues, rice bowls, taco parties, sushi, pizza, and downhome Southern food (think chicken and waffles) are often requested. Honestly, these menus fit the more relaxed spirit of the venues, don’t they?
How about a pie wedding? pizza (pie) for dinner and pie for dessert.
How about a food truck wedding? In a big city you could have five food trucks pull up but on the island we replicate the same feel with a variety of food stations.
What about a Halloween-themed wedding? They are taking the “’til death do us part” to a whole new level – mummies, witches, hairy-finger bread sticks and voodoo cookies.
What about a pot luck wedding feast? We planned the menu, developed the recipes and calculated how many recipes of each side dish were needed. There was an online sign up where guests chose what they wanted to bring to contribute to the wedding meal in lieu of a gift. The main courses were cedar-planked salmon and a whole pig.
When you really think about it, how fun are these meal options?
And that is what our couples are now looking for. Fun. They want to create a lifetime of memories that is uniquely them. They want the evening to be relaxed and non-fussy.
Making an Impression
Let’s face it how many weddings have you been to that really stand out in your memory?
When meeting with couples, I hear it time and time again, “I am so burnt out on the traditional wedding dinner of rubber chicken, I want mine to be different.”
It’s the couples that put their fingerprint on the day which makes their wedding stand out from all the others. Now we aren’t saying that you need to do a DIY wedding, it just needs to be your vision that we will execute for you.
Farm to Table Catering
Coho Restaurant is known for sustainable fine dining farm-to-table meals. Often, it is a surprise to our couples when I bring up “food truck” style menu options. Why not?
We source the same quality local ingredients and use the same attention to detail with our craft when preparing these meals. Instead of a fancy China plate, we’ll serve a taco on a red plaid paper boat or the rice bowl in a disposable bamboo bowl with chop sticks.
Guests love the paradigm of the “new” wedding dinner. They enjoy all the choices and have fun sampling smaller bites of a wider number of flavors and textures. This style of eating also lends itself to conviviality and guest interaction as guests are not stuck at their table for most of the reception for a multi-course sit down dinner.
Coho Restaurant’s culinary team also loves letting our hair down executing “food truck” style events. It’s not that Coho Restaurant owns a food truck, but we associate this style of cooking with comfort foods. It would certainly be easier to execute meals in some venues with a food truck, but we are very resourceful with building kitchen facilities where there is a blank slate. Whether its food truck or fine dining, our chefs source the same quality ingredients and make everything from scratch – corn tortillas, pizza crust, marshmallows, and graham crackers. For those that still want a farm-to-table dinner, it would be our pleasure to create one for you. Consider family style service where large platters of food are passed around the table. It is like a family holiday meal. It is so much more convivial and fun than a plated dinner.
What about wedding desserts?
The multi-tiered dry and flavorless wedding cake has been replaced by cupcakes, cake pops or cake bars. No need to decide on a single cake design with one or two flavors when you can have six different cakes in a cake bar…and what a photo opportunity. Lemon cake, lemon curd, lemon meringue; devil’s food, chocolate ganache, cherries, whipped cream; German chocolate cake, coconut, nuts, chocolate ganache; carrot cake, cream cheese buttercream; red velvet cake, white chocolate buttercream; and old fashion white cake, Bavarian cream, fresh berries, buttercream (oh my!).
What about ice cream sundae, cookie, or candy bars?
Then there’s the currently trendy pie bar. Nothing says barn or farm more than a beautifully displayed selection of pies laid out on a rustic wooden table.
Despite all the visuals these alternative desserts offer, some couples still want a cake cutting photo op. They opt for a small ceremonial cake for two.
Late night snacks run the gamut from popcorn bars, walking taco bars, to house-made s’mores around a bonfire. Walking taco bars were a new one for us. It’s the ultimate “comfort” food. Literally rip open your favorite bag of chips and layer on taco toppings.
Now onto Beverages
Beverages and the vessels that hold them have also changed. Custom printed glassware is not only utility but double as party favors. Stemless glasses, mason jar mugs, or insulated travel mugs give your guests a practical remembrance of your special day while allowing them to enjoy their drinks during the evening. Signature cocktails made with local artisan spirits are still trending. Consider choosing beverages that pair to your food’s theme – margaritas and tequila shots for taco parties, sake bars for sushi, or a witch’s brew for a Halloween-themed wedding. After dinner offer a specialty coffee bar or a single malt scotch or whiskey bar.
The possibilities are limitless.
Food like fashion is dynamic and trending. While the internet is great for inspiration, we encourage couples to come up with their own signature style. Whatever your vision, we will make it a reality.
Whether you are planning a wedding, family reunion, birthday, or celebrating one of life’s other milestones, Coho Restaurant offers a complementary event consult to help your planning.