Glorious Garnishes For Captivating Cocktails

Having signature drinks at your event, whether they are alcoholic or not, has become a must have for an interesting, lively affair. Signature cocktails are the epitome of fun and creativity so, the garnishes and accoutrement you use to adorn them should be something that also shows your flair, fun and festivity!

How about fruity ice cubes and cocktail stirrers for summertime drinks? Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries will all light up a lemonade or sweet tea as well as a wine spritzer!


Why not serve chocolate drinks with an extra dash of chocolate ….  Try decorating the edge of martini glasses with chocolate sprinkles for a chocolate martini. A dash of mint? Why not!


Multi-colored sprinkles add color to a wide variety of drinks from shots to fruit punch!


Vodka-soaked, chilled cranberries add zest and pizazz to a Cranberry-tini or even a simple glass of champagne!

Your guests will adore a peppermint cocktail with a peppermint garnish for a winter wedding:

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Last but, not least – make sure the glasses are the right size and shape for the drink and the garnishes. It will make all the difference in the world!

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-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

The Bar is Open

Believe it or not, alcohol is one of the biggest expenses at your wedding reception and the bar tab can sometimes exceed the cost of dinner considering that the estimate is $10 per hour per guest. If you are serving top shelf liquor and above average wine or beer, you will find yourself scratching your head and wondering how everyone drank so much. Of course not everyone drinks, not everyone overindulges and not everyone will drink the same amount. Allowing 3 alcoholic beverages per hour ( the average) seems like a lot to me. I can honestly say that I could barely drink  3 glasses of wine over the course of the entire evening, much less per hour. Of course, this an ‘average’ number so you have to factor in the guests who can drink 6-8 glasses (easily) in the course of the evening. 6-8 glasses if wine equals 2 entire bottles.

So how do you decide what and how much to serve your guests? Most of the time, the catering manager will be able to help you calculate your ‘spiritual’ needs. There are also scores of party drink calculators online. There are also several different routes you can take to tackle the cost of the bar tab.

Cash Bar – Is where the guests pay for their own cocktails. The upside is that when guests pay for their own drinks they are less likely to overindulge and become heavily intoxicated. Less likely – not entirely out of the realm. The downside is that you may seem like a cheapskate. Some of your guests may have traveled a great distance to be at your wedding and at great expense plus a gift and hotel room and now you are asking them to pay for their own drinks? If you choose this option, make sure it is clearly defined on the reception card so guests will know to bring the cash with them. If your budget allows, providing wine at the tables is a nice touch.

Limited Bar – There are different ways to handle a limited bar. The first is to have the bar open during a cocktail hour before the reception and then after dinner is over, serving up all different types of alcoholic refreshments. During dinner guests will be served wine (usually) and nothing else. Another type of limited bar is where you serve only  wine, beer and a small selection of hard liquor. Either of these is a less expensive option but, it is still important to go over the numbers with your catering professional.

Open Bar – This is where all drinks are paid for by the couple and guests can order a seemingly limitless supply of alcohol. Of course this is the most expensive option but, it doesn’t have to break the bank entirely since you can cut back by not serving top shelf liquor or expensive wines and beers. For a very formal reception, drinks should be served by watstaff and your guests should never have to wait in line at the bar. Make sure you have adequate waitstaff since waiting over half an hour for a drink can be quite frustrating for even a lightweight drinker like me.

Even better  – you can customize the alcohol portion of the evening any way you see fit.  Offer a particular fancy beer that everyone loves, serve wine only with customized labels featuring a picture of the two of you, create your own signature drink (one that matches your color scheme) to be served during cocktail hour or only serve champagne or champagne cocktails  during this time…. be creative!

Of course you can also omit alcohol entirely. If no one in your party is a drinker, why offer it? I can neither condemn or condone this. But, I will say that I do like a glass of wine from time to time and particularly at a wedding where I would be very disappointed to have to toast the couple with sparkling cider.

No matter which option you choose when serving alcohol, it is always important to ensure eveyone’s safety. I am not suggesting a breathalyzer at the door but check to see if the bartenders or waitstaff are trained to cut someone off when they have had too much to drink. It might be a good idea to have someone who is a light or non-drinker as the ‘designated doorman’. This person will politely and firmly remind guests when they have had too much to drink in order to drive or when they have become out of control or belligerent. Nothing spells disaster like a drunken guest and you don’t this to be what people remember about the evening.

The point of having a drink or two is to loosen up and have an enjoyable evening… not to wake up the next morning in a hotel room with Mike Tyson’s tiger and a missing tooth.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties – The time of your life!

With the recent release of the Hangover II and The Bridesmaids, I can’t help but find myself comparing the differences between a bachelor ad bachelorette party.

The Bachelor Party  is consistently portrayed as  a raucous last-call, the last night of freedom and debauchery before you settle down with one woman for the rest of your life. The ‘Bro Code’ is often evoked and seldom are the stories suitable for sharing at family gatherings. Or are they? My best guess is that the stories are greatly exaggerated and most men wind up falling short of the movie depiction of the bachelor party events. In theory, the most popular bachelor party destination is Las Vegas. Maybe it is the “.. what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” adage. Maybe it is the image of poker chips, strippers and the lure of the high roller suite, champagne and Petron flowing from the water faucet. And the streets are lined with gold.

Basically the  "Vegas Bachelor Party" is a group of men getting on a plane (possibly even  separately) and spending the weekend drinking, gambling and  supposedly partaking of that proverbial last call. Maybe they are just drinking and gambling. Maybe they are just hanging out and having male bonding time. Maybe ( in my husband’s case) they are enjoying those legendary buffets of steak and seafood. I’ve never been to a bachelor party so I don’t know for sure but, I would venture a guess that a weekend in Vegas for a man about to be married does not include a trip to the Liberace museum.  However, from my understanding the Vegas party is greatly exaggerated in movies and stories so if my  boyfriend or fiance or husband were headed sin city for a Bachelor Party, I would spend little or no time at all worrying about it . 

There are other types of bachelor parties for those less inclined or able  to spend that kind of money on a destination event, or aren’t interested in those types of activities. Sporting events, an evening of fine cigars and brandy, a weekend camping trip, a golf getaway or even a trip to the racetrack sitting in the box seats.  The key is to find what the groom likes best and just go with it, chances are the conversation and company will be enough to keep the night going and you won’t need tattoos, monkeys or hookers!

Bachelorette Parties, by comparison, are usually planned detail for detail including what kind of tiny veil the bride will wear on top of her head to signify she is about to tie the knot. The focus here is on the planning. Oddly enough,one of the most popular bachelorette party rituals is heading to downtown Chicago for a late show at the Baton ( a long standing staple in the female impersonation circuit). The bride and bridesmaids generally have no interest in poker playing or heavy steak dinners followed by cigars. It is usually a fancy dinner followed by club-hopping with the girls, funny necklaces  portraying the male genitalia and possibly a visit from a ‘special’ police officer. Tip: If you see a cop carrying a boom box, get ready for a lap dance. Seemingly tame by comparison, the bachelorette party can still serve up a night of fond memories.  A relaxing weekend retreat at a luxurious spa might be in order, perhaps taking in a spectacular show followed by a night of girl-talk in a gorgeous hotel suite overlooking the city. For a more personal touch, host  a catered "pajama party’. You can even ‘raunch it up’  with ‘gadget demonstrations’  if  it suits the bride. Again, the point here is to find something the bride would enjoy and make this night memorable.

If you have the honor of planning a bachelor or bachelorette party keep these  things in mind:

  Be respectful of the budget.Maybe a $2000 weekend wouldn’t put a dent in your bank account but, even a $200 weekend would adversely affect one of the other attendees. Have a candid conversation about this in private with anyone you feel might have a problem. If you can pool yor resources, even better.

The guest of honor never pays.Techincally the bride or groom should be able to leave their wallet at home. This is their event planned and paid for by the members of the bridal party. Asking the honoree to pay is simply tacky.

Dont drink and drive. This is a great time to use a limo service. Ladies – how about that big pink stretch limo you saw at the Bridal Expo? You would look great sitting in it.. tell everyone to wear pink to match and have some fun with it! Guys – how about a party bus or a massive stretch Hummer ?

At Bridal Expo, we have   companies to handle all of your bachelor and bachelorette party needs from pink feather boas to a tuxedo t-shirt. For more information. click on www.bridalshowexpo.comand visit our wedding directory links under the title bachelor/bachelorette parties. Or even better, call 847-428-3320 to get tickets to a show in your area so you can see for yourself why Bridal Expo is the resource for all your wedding related needs.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago