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Wedding Guide

Cultural Cakes and Cuisine

dumplings-328924_640Chinese foods served at weddings are chosen for their phonetic plays on words. For example, the Chinese word for apple is similar to the expression go safely, Fat choy sounds like the expression be prosperous, and Liem sun denotes the hope for many sons. This particular menu consists of apples, seaweed and lotus-seed tea.

In Italy, either a roasted baby pig (porchetta) or roasted baby lamb (bacchio), depending on region, may be served, accompanied by two pasta dishes and assorted fresh fruit. As a symbol of the essence of marriage, newlyweds hand out sugared almonds representing the bitter and the sweet in life.

A Jamaican wedding feast includes curried goat, meat patties, salted codfish cakes, red snapper in Caribbean creole sauce, and a salad of avocado and/or watercress. The traditional wedding cake is a dark fruitcake laced with rum. Slices of the cake are put into boxes and mailed to all friends and relatives who are unable to attend the wedding reception.

Korean weddings serve Kuk soo (noodles), which symbolize long life. To find out if someone is married, ask Kuk soo mo-gus-soy-oh? (Have you eaten noodles yet?)

In the Jewish tradition, a wedding meal is to be prepared Kosher style, which within the laws of the Torah, means no mixing of meat and dairy.

Bermudian traditions include the bride and groom walking under a moon gate after the ceremony for good luck, and the bride and groom have separate wedding cakes. The brides wedding cake is a tiered fruitcake covered with silver leaf and has a small cedar sapling on top that is replanted after the ceremony to symbolize the growth of the couples love. Gold leaf tops the grooms cake and represents prosperity.

In Norway, Brudlaupskling, a wedding cake made of bread, dates back to the days when white flour was rare on Norwegian farms, and foods containing it were greatly admired. The bread is topped with a mixture of cheese, cream, and syrup, then folded over and cut into small squares.

Long ago in France, it was the custom for villagers to throw buns into a pile in preparation for the wedding feast. A clever baker decided to take some bun-like pastries stuffed with cream and fastened them as a pyramid, like the mound of buns, creating a tall cone of caramel-coated cream puffs called croque-en-bouche (crisp in the mouth). The cone may be topped with caged doves, which are released to symbolize the newlyweds departure from their families.

In medieval England, guests brought small cakes and piled them in the center of a table, challenging the bride and groom to kiss over them.

The grooms cake is a European tradition that is regaining popularity. Traditionally, the grooms cake is a dark, rich fruitcake, but is more modernly chocolate or spice. It is more creatively shaped than the typical tiered brides cake, often decorated to represent the grooms favorite hobby, sport or fraternity affiliation. It may be served at the rehearsal dinner or at the reception after the wedding cake has officially been cut.

In the Ukraine, couples share korovai rather than a cake. Korovai is a sacred wedding bread decorated with symbolic motifs that represent eternity and the joining together of two families.

Bridal Showers

wedding giftsA bridal shower is a party to outfit the engaged couples new home, and gives friends and family a chance to spend time with the bride before she starts her married life. Here are the who, whats, and whens . . .

WHO HOSTS? Friends of the bride who are in the wedding party, another couple, or even a male friend. The brides mother, sisters, or close relatives of the grooms usually dont do the hosting, to avoid the appearance of asking for gifts. They may help finance, or help organize however.

WHOS INVITED? Usually, only those who will be invited to the wedding, with the exception of office or club showers. Traditional all-women showers include guests from the brides and grooms families, but coed showers are becoming more popular as well.

WHEN IS IT HELD? At least two weeks before the wedding. Mail invitations or call guests at least two weeks in advance of the shower date. A post-wedding shower may even be more convenient for some, and is also acceptable.

WHAT HAPPENS? Gifts are the primary focus. Be sure to have someone on hand to help record gifts (for thank you notes). Ribbons and bows may be collected for practice bouquets for the rehearsal ceremony. Themes make the party special, and can vary from a honeymoon theme, to gardening, cooking, movies, patio party, picnic, or hobby themes.

Whats New, Whats Fun!

Co-ed showers are growing in popularity, and can ease the tension as the bridal party not only carries out their duties as attendants, but also has to get to know the people they are spending the day with. Break the ice early with a picnic, barbecue, ski weekend, beach party, or even a scavenger hunt. The better your bridal party knows each other, the more fun theyll have on your wedding day.

Whether co-ed or traditional women only, the bridal shower can be more fun with a theme. Make it a casino night, a pool party, or a beauty make-over. Gift themes are also fun and can be personalized for the bride. Have a Gardening Party for the bride with a green thumb, or a Library Luau for the bookworm.

Often the shower is a time when friends from all stages of the brides life meet for the first time. Make it a sharing time when each of her friends can share their fondest memories of the friendship theyve shared. Have each shower guest bring a favorite photo of a time or event they shared with the bride, and compile them in a special scrapbook as a heartfelt gift for her.

Booking The Reception

receptionQuestions to Ask When Visiting a Potential Reception Site

_____ What is the rental fee? What exactly does it include?

_____ What is the maximum attendance the room or area can handle  for a seated dinner, buffet, or hors doeuvre reception?

_____ Is the reception site to be shared with another wedding group? How are the facilities divided? How is privacy ensured?

_____ For how many hours does the rental fee reserve the space? Are there charges for overtime? When do they begin?

_____ Are there any restrictions on when the site is available? Any price discounts for certain time periods, days of the week?

_____ Do you have a piano, other musical instruments on the premises? Is there any charge for use?

_____ Are there any regulations concerning the type of music; number of musicians; duration of the music?

_____ Are there regulations on decorations, flowers, photography?

_____ Do you have air-conditioning (for warm weather weddings)? Adequate heating (for winter and early spring nuptials)?

_____ Do you have an in-house caterer or preferred list of caterers? Can I bring in the caterer of my choice? What are your liquor requirements?

_____ Do you have any liability insurance in the event a guest is injured?

_____ Do you have enclosed, adequate kitchen facilities? (Caterers may add surcharges for appliances  a stove, refrigerator.)

_____ Can the site be used for the ceremony?

_____ Is there a dance floor? Is dancing allowed? Where?

_____ Are there any additional charges for required services (i.e. security guards, parking attendants, doormen, lawn workers, etc.)?

_____ Can you confirm the reservation in a letter that will outline all the details, including the room assignment?

_____ What are the deposit and refund requirements?

_____ Is there adequate parking for my guests? Will they be charged? Can these charges be waived?

_____ Are there rooms available where we can change into wedding attire, going-away clothes?

_____ Do you have a microphone?

_____ Can we review staging, lighting, audio and video needs?

_____ Is there a comfortable area for guests to await our arrival from the ceremony site? Will hors doeuvres, drinks be served?

_____ Where is the best place to set up the receiving line?

_____ What is the name of the banquet manager? Will he or she be on hand that day? If not, who will be in charge?

_____ Is a security deposit required? How much is it? When can I expect a refund?

_____ Do you provide tables? Chairs? What kind  round, oblong, how many to a table?

_____ Do you have a floor plan available for sketching the reception layout? Where will the cake table, gift table, brides table be located?

_____ Are table covers/skirts available? Colors available?

_____ What are the colors of the facility?

Booking The Ceremony

wedding ringsAt this point, it must be assumed that you have been able to choose a wedding day that is convenient for the church/synagogue of your choice and for the reception facilities that you prefer.

Check on the following:

  1. Does the church/synagogue have any special rules or traditions that you should know about? Can you write your vows, personalize your ceremony? What are the parameters?
  2. What will be the time limitations on your wedding day? Is there a ceremony preceding or following yours? This should be checked again, two weeks prior to your wedding date.
  3. Is there a lounge or other setting suitable for photographs? Is there a rest area where other members of your party can relax, should there be some unforeseen delay?
  4. Who will be your musician? Are you allowed to provide your own musician? Soloist? Music selections?
  5. What kind of monetary obligations are there? Are you expected to pay for wedding ceremony services, or is a donation more traditional?
  6. If your ceremony is to be held somewhere other than a church/synagogue (a hotel for instance), what are your obligations to the officiant?
  7. Is it acceptable to tape record, video or to take flash pictures of the ceremony? Are there facilities for this?
  8. Aisle runners and length of aisle what is available and do you wish to use them?
  9. Where are the flowers to be positioned? What is the best time for them to be delivered? Are there candelabras, candles, unity stand available?
  10. Are there to be any special seating arrangements for close family members and friends? How is this to be handled?

Once you have the answers to these questions, make a note of them. WRITE THEM DOWN. They will be used and discussed later with your ceremony co-ordinator.

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