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How to Pick and Work with a Wedding Caterer


Catering food for outdoor wedding

Once the blissful chaos of engagement celebrations dies down, the reality of planning your wedding sets in. Seemingly overnight, questions from friends and family morph from, “So, when are you getting engaged?” to “Have you set a date?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then chances are good that you also picked the venue. That’s two checkmarks off your wedding to-do list. Now what? Time to pick a caterer!


Wedding Catering Tip:

Your relationship with the caterer will be one of the longest out of all your wedding vendors. Choose someone that you connect with, as you’ll be working with them for the next several months or more.


Planner v. No Planner

If you have the budget for a coordinator or planner, he or she will become your new go-to person. If you’re taking more of a DIY approach, your mom, mother-in-law, best friend and maid of honor will surely play important roles. But sometimes it’s helpful to have a seasoned, objective opinion to serve as a sounding board and partner. Enter your caterer. If you’re not working with a wedding coordinator, in many ways the caterer also assumes the role of day-of planner. Here are a few ways your caterer can give you a hand with the planning:


  • Ask for a list of preferred vendors. While this might be your first time at the wedding rodeo, your caterer has likely helped with numerous nuptials and worked with a variety of vendors. The caterer’s preferred vendor list is a great starting place, especially if you’re new to the area or the first of friends and family to take the plunge.


  • Work through the caterer to book vendors. Create a mood or Pinterest board and share it with your caterer. Together, you can discuss ideas for any number of food- and beverage-related elements, such as cocktail hour, place settings, a dessert table, and late-night snack. Then, your caterer can leverage their contacts to reserve the right items and equipment to create the look and feel that you envision.


Wedding Catering Tip:

Blue Plate Sales Director, Missy Wright Scroggins, encourages couples to stay open to possibilities with food and beverage. Use mood and Pinterest boards as a source of inspiration rather than replication. There are lots of ways to use a general concept as a foundation; then incorporate personal touches that best reflect the style of the bride and groom.


  • Create an itinerary and day-of schedule. No matter what amount of organizing and planning you do leading up to your wedding, when the day arrives, it will inevitably be a bit chaotic. To minimize stress, work with your wedding caterer to create an itinerary for the rehearsal dinner, day-of, and day-after tasks. Since the majority of the day-of vendors are connected to the food and beverage components, your caterer can help you manage those contacts and oversee their activities.


Cocktail Hour-wedding


Elevating Food and Beverage

More and more, food and beverage at weddings have evolved from cookie-cutter meals and cash bars to highlights of the celebration. Now, brides and grooms might use the cocktail hour to highlight food from their first date or a special cocktail from their home town. Remember when the standard party favor was a spoonful of butter mints in a tulle bundle with a ribbon? Today, hotel welcome gifts and reception party favors have been upgraded to reflect the couple’s story and style, such as custom cookies, monogrammed wine keys, and samples from breweries and distilleries.


Food and Drink Pairings

Food and drink pairings are another fun way to tell your story and delight guests. If the groom’s favorite treat is cookies and milk, you could arrange these on a dessert table with interesting glassware and decorative straws. Or, maybe Mexican food holds special meaning for the two of you. In that case, serve mini al pastor tacos paired with margarita shooters at cocktail hour or for a late-night snack. If you’re from the South, think about a fried chicken and barbecue spread with all the fixings, accompanied by sweet tea and mint juleps.

However you choose to personalize your union with special cocktails and unique bites, your caterer can help you explore and execute these components. Remember to stay open to creative food and beverage ideas. And, if you’ve hired the right caterer, then sit back and let them do their thing!

Mulled Wine & Spiced Holiday Drinks

Mulled Wine | Blue Plate Catering

Photo Credit: Jameson Fink |

The winter season provides a perfect excuse to make some spiced drinks, including mulled wine, at home. Many of the spices popular in holiday baked goods – such as clove, ginger, and nutmeg – also bring fantastic flavor to holiday drinks.

Whether you’re looking for a festive beverage to serve at a holiday gathering, or just want to cozy up with a good book and get warm, the spiced holiday drinks below will do the trick.


Mulled Wine

While red wine is wonderful on its own and as an addition to many drinks, one of the best ways to enjoy this wine when the temperatures drop is mulled, as the spiced flavor not only tastes great, but serves to warm you up as well.


Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never made mulled wine before. This drink is extremely simple to make, only requiring you to heat red wine with some mulling spices. And you don’t need an expensive bottle of red wine for this drink to taste good. Even better? As the wine steeps with the spices, your house will be filled with a warm and lovely holiday scent!


Mulled wine is prepared a bit differently in different countries. For example, in Germany mulled wine is called Glühwein and it is occasionally made with fruit wine. In Scandinavia it’s called Glögg and is typically served with a spiced cookie or cake. And in Quebec, maple syrup and hard liquor are mixed in and it’s called Caribou. No matter how it’s made or what it’s served with, mulled wine is one winter holiday drink you want to be sure to make.

If you need a recipe, take it from us! This mulled wine recipe is perfect to get you started and is one you’re sure to love.



  • 1 bottle heavy red wine, like merlot
  • 1 cup rum (optional)
  • 1/42cup sugar (or more), to taste.


for mulling spices:

  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 whole nutmegs
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 tbsp cloves



Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves, and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each, and serve.


Other Spiced Holiday Drinks to Try 

In addition to mulled wine, the three spiced holiday drinks below are perfect for holiday celebrations, as well as for treating yourself to a special (and well-deserved) beverage.


  1. PDT’s Gingerbread Man Recipe – King’s Ginger, a strong scotch-based ginger liqueur, is used in this cocktail to provide deep flavor, along with molasses, rum, and allspice bitters.


  1. Scotch Regency Punch – Cardamom and scotch blend together beautifully to provide a delicious holiday punch. For this drink, you’ll make cardamom simple syrup and mix it with a bottle of blended scotch, fresh lemon, and soda water.


  1. Jalisco Pear – Silver tequila, pear liqueur, allspice dram, and lemon combine to create a cocktail you’re sure to want to make again and again.

These holiday drinks are guaranteed to get you into the spirit of the season and make the cold weather much more appealing! Our team at Blue Plate wishes you a joyful holiday season and a cozy winter!

Why You Should Get Married on New Years Eve


New Years Wedding | Blue Plate Catering

Not convinced a NYE wedding is for you? Read on to discover some of the best reasons for saying “I do” on this magical last night of the year.


Gorgeous Wedding Photos

The cold weather often provides plenty of gorgeous backdrops for photos. And with a New Year’s Eve wedding, you won’t have to suffer while taking your special pics in the summer heat! Instead, you can get nice and cozy with your loved one and actually enjoy the photo session without breaking a sweat.


Dress for Glitz and Glam

New Year’s Eve is all about glitz and glam. So, when you have a wedding on this special evening, you can make it a formal affair and ask your guests to get really dressed up. If you just love events where women arrive in long formal gowns and men are dressed in tuxedos, feel free to make your wedding a black tie affair – or a white tie one for the highest of formal dress codes.


Shiny and Extravagant Décor Allowed

A New Year’s Eve wedding makes it totally acceptable to go a little crazy with your décor. Use silvers, golds, pearls, diamonds – any shiny colors, sparkly jewels, and other accents you can think of to create a truly spectacular scene. Some décor ideas to consider include:


  • Deck tables out in glittered tablecloths and centerpieces with crystals hanging on branches.


  • Consider a black, gold, and silver color scheme – not only are these colors traditional for this holiday, they also serve as a great backdrop for a variety of wedding styles.


  • Create a festive and warm ambiance with mini lights strung all over the venue, providing a wonderful glow.


  • Pillar candles partially dipped in shiny glitter make glamorous centerpieces.


Celebrate You as You Ring in the New Year

A NYE wedding gives you license to have a blast celebrating your special day with loved ones while ringing in the new year together. Have your band or DJ get everyone to form a circle around you and your significant other on the dance floor as midnight approaches. You can arrange to have confetti fall over the entire dance floor, tons of silver and gold balloons released, or a combination of both! To make sure everyone is engaged and participating, have fun celebratory items handed out – think wacky glasses, top hats, tiaras, and a variety of fun noisemakers.

Although it can probably go without mention, an added bonus to having NYE as your wedding anniversary is that you’ll likely never have to worry about forgetting an anniversary!

Impressive Holiday Hosting: How to Host a Spectacular Holiday Event



The holidays are here! Each year, December and January are chock full of happy hours with coworkers, special dinners, and festive gatherings to mark the holiday season. If you’re planning a party of your own, here’s how to stand out from the crowd with creative, yet simple ideas to entice your guests.


Food: A global twist on a favorite

Holiday parties are a chance to spice things up. Our executive sous chef, Randal Jacobs, puts a worldly Christmas spin on an iconic, American hors d’oeuvre–the deviled egg. This creamy, half-moon treat actually traces its roots back to ancient Rome. Who knew?? Serve the traditional deviled delicacy alongside our four versions below with flavors from around the world. We’ll get your culinary juices flowing with a full recipe for one of the four variations on the holiday favorite.


  • The Irish Devil with whole-grain-mustard-infused yolk with potato, bacon and chives.
  • Russian Deviled Egg, a red-beet-soaked egg with caviar and dill
  • Greek Deviled Egg with pesto, feta cheese and kalamata olives
  • Italian Deviled Egg with white-truffle-oil-infused yolk and prosciutto


Beverages: Iced and cozy options

Perfectly crafted, timeless cocktails, such as martinis and old fashioneds are always welcome at a party. But what about shaking things up a little with a wine cocktail? Check out these recipes from our mixologist, Lov Carpenter.


Wise Cabbie

1.5 oz cabernet sauvignon

0.5 oz pomegranate juice

0.25 oz lemon juice

0.25 oz sage syrup


Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into martini glass, garnish with sage sprig.


Oak and Stars

1.5 oz Merlot

0.75 oz bourbon

0.25 oz anise syrup

0.25 oz lemon juice

Whole cranberries


Muddle 4-5 cranberries with anise syrup. Add Merlot, bourbon, and lemon juice; shake with ice. Strain into old fashioned glass, add ice, garnish with speared cranberries and anise star.


Is the latest polar vortex chilling guests? Warm them up with a cozy, tea-infused beverage.


Ginger & Roy

1.5 oz brewed Rare Tea Cellar Gingerbread Dream rooibos tea

.5 oz Amaro Nonino

.25 oz Grand Marnier

Nutmeg-infused whipped cream


Brew tea, then add amaro and Grand Marnier. Top with whipped cream. To make whipped cream, prepare with bowl and whisk or combine heavy whipping cream and ground nutmeg in a shaker tin, add spring from strainer, shake vigorously.


Decor: Keep it simple and festive

  • Twinkle lights are a holiday season staple, but they’re not just for shrubs and light posts. Bring them inside your space and string white twinkle lights over the bar, buffet or dance floor to set the mood.
  • Purchase simple, yet festive greenery and berries from a wholesale flower market to dress up the bar, dinner table, or buffet. And don’t forget the mistletoe!
  • Invite guests to bring a holiday photo, decoration or stocking from their childhood and display them on the fireplace or above the bar. The most original memorabilia takes home a bottle of wine!


Music: Conversation backdrop or dance party?

First, ask yourself if your gathering will be more of the mix-and-mingle sort or if you expect guests to eventually hit the dance floor. Next, choose a band or a playlist. Yes! You’ve heard of bands instead of DJs at weddings, but what about live music at your holiday party? Depending on the mood you want to set, ask a trio of high school, college, or professional musicians to play at your cocktail party. If you want something a little more casual, invite a guitarist/vocalist to play holiday tunes and take requests. If you’re on a budget or crave the crooning of original artists, create a playlist so that you can easily select and organize songs to set the perfect backdrop for conversations all the way up to spirited spinning and twisting on the living room floor.


Activities: Ornament decoration or gift exchange

If your guests are the interactive, creative sort, designate an ornament- or cookie-decorating station. If children are in tow, set up a space for activities and crafts that will keep them engaged (err… occupied). Play-doh® (if you can stomach the cleanup) and Lego® building blocks are always a favorite among kids of any age. So set aside an area where young guests can create holiday sculptures, buildings and scenes so that parents don’t have to worry about bored kids. A viewing area for holiday movies completes the activities area.
Happy holiday party planning!

Entertaining Food: How Food Can Bring Your Party To Life


When it comes to party planning, food is more than just a meal; it’s part of the entertainment! Interactive food stations are not only fun, they can also serve as inspiration for the party’s décor so that the entire event has a cohesive feel. The best part is, themed food stations allow guests to interact with chefs, mixologists, and other food specialists to learn about the food and see it made right in front of their eyes.

Whether you’re planning a wedding, holiday party, or corporate event, check out this infographic from Blue Plate Chicago to see how you can make food part of the entertainment at your next party!

Food As Entertainment Infographic | Blue Plate Catering

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