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10 perfect appetizers for your fall wedding reception

1. Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey Meatballs

Because – meatballs and brown sugar. Perfect little mouthfuls of Brown Sugar-Glazed Turkey Meatballs! If you decide not to have these at your reception, save the recipe and serve them up at the next game event because Football season is coming – I think.

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Image: Diethood

2. Mini Quiche Florentine

Everyone [almost] will fall for these Mini Quiche Florentines. Filled with spinach and cheese   – Instant hit!  Who says real men don’t eat quiche!

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Image: Sam Anderson @ HGTV

3. Grilled Corn Salsa

This dish would be a perfect side dish to the mini tacos below. Serve with tortilla chips and you’ve got a southwest theme in the making. Screen ‘Blazing Saddles’ in the background of the dance floor and you’ll have the most talked about wedding in town – along with the Grilled Corn Salsa.

“Hello, handsome. Is that a 10-gallon hat, or are you just enjoying the show?” – Madeline Kahn

Image: Cooking Channel

4. Maple Chili Popcorn

Feeling a little chili? – Warm things up with this perfect fall appetizer, or favor, at your reception. Food Network’s Jeff Mauro’s Maple Chili Popcorn is perfect for filling cellophane favor bags that guests can enjoy later or have on the tables for guests to grab and munch between spicy dance moves.

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5. Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos

First of all, these Ropa Vieja Mini Tacos are the cutest little appetizer out there – I mean, COME ON! With two types of chiles, these junior spicy mouthfuls are sure to keep the guests warmed up for the dance floor.

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6. Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Whipping yourself up a Bruschetta With Caramelized Dates, Walnuts and Goat Cheese appetizers is a snap. Just toast a fresh baguette, then top the slices with a soft cheese — like chèvre — plus any combination of savory ingredients — like caramelized dates — and finely chopped pistachios or delicious crumbled bacon. See, it’s a snap. SNAP!

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7. Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey

These Taleggio Crostini With Apple, Thyme and Honey can be prepared with only a few simple ingredients and thyme – see what I did there? Spread cheese on toasted baguette slices, top with 1 or 2 apple slices, drizzle with a little honey and done!

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Image: Andrea Albin,

8. Sausage and Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce

I found this one on I should be mopping the floor. These Sausage and Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce are an awesome autumn appetizer –  say that 10 times fast – and a perfect departure form the norm!  Perfect for Thanksgiving too!

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Image: I Should Be Mopping The Floor

9. Autumn Leaf Wreath Cheese Platter

I love this one! How easy right? Cookie cutters and cheese and viola you look like a wedding catering DIY genius – I mean really, cookie cutters and cheese, WHO KNEW!

This Autumn Leaf Wreath Cheese Platter would be a fun one for the kids to be involved too.  Layer in some pretzel crackers and your favorite sweet-tart relish and fall has arrived.

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Image: The Yummy Life

10. Creamy Tomato Soup Shooters with Grilled Cheese Sticks

I love tomato soup! And, I love grilled cheese. Well, you might as well mix the two, right?

Our caterer, The Hitching Post, served Tomato Soup Shooters and they were a huge hit. Especially with the kids.

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Image: How Sweet It is


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A Toast To Wedding Toast Anxiety

hand mike

‘Why everyone hates wedding toasts”, “A tradition we can do without”, “Wedding Toast Survival Tips” — titles from my recent google search on wedding toasts.

Yes, people do not like public speaking in general.  It is difficult to risk putting ourselves “out there” for others to see.  Many of us are shy and experience stage fright, particularly if a microphone is handed to us. And like you, I’ve read the posts indicating that toasts are not just difficult for the “toaster”, but for vendors too, who struggle to manage the event and keep within a particular time frame.

Boo hoo.

To be sure, there is no shortage of anxiety and nervousness at a wedding.  It is tempting to eliminate this tradition that, it may seem, has outlived it’s usefulness and has few supporters.  Don’t.

Being asked to provide a toast is an honor.  It is a recognition of a shared bond.  Toasting is a connection to an earlier time.  By accepting, you are acknowledging and supporting the new couple. It may feel somewhat burdensome to be asked, but it truly is not intended as such — and it doesn’t mean you need to contort yourself into a pretzel of originality and praise worthy prose.

Wedding Toast Anxiety Reducing Strategies:

  1. Keep your remarks “in your wheelhouse”.  If poetry is your thing, create a poem.  If you are most comfortable keeping your comments lighthearted, do it.
  2. Keep it short.  Hopefully you were provided guidance, but if not — ask for it.  A couple minutes can feel like an eternity if you are not comfortable.  You are not the evening’s entertainment.
  3. Write it down and rehearse. Memorization is not required or expected.  If a note card helps, use it — though reading a paragraph word-for-word is not engaging.

A note to you “toasters”… any anxiety you may be feeling will likely be a fraction of the nerves being felt by the couple.  Why not expand your supportive role and check-in with the bride or groom and see how they and their anxieties are doing.  In addition to just being a good listener, you might have an opportunity to suggest some “day-of” stress reducers.

Two Easy To Implement Wedding “Day-of” Stress Reducers:

  1. Couple agrees on a “safe word” or a gesture that, when spoken/motioned by either, means he or she is in immediate need of a break from whatever or whomever – right now, no questions asked.  You then excuse the both of you for a minute.
  2. Advise the planner, the officiant, the DJ – of potential anxiety inducing moments for the couple and let these professionals do their job — looking out for the couple and making sure they are prepared should there be a moment of stage fright.

A toast is an ancient tradition – a way of symbolizing camaraderie by raising a glass together to celebrate.  Your toast is an opportunity to connect an important part of a bride or groom’s past with their future by sharing a bit of yourself and your shared history with the couple’s friends and family.  If your remarks are sincere and you speak in a way that is authentically you, you will have succeeded.  For inspiration, watch this video of a heartfelt toast from a dad to his son and son-in-law .



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Modern Families = Adjusted Expectations. Our Kid Friendly Wedding

CollectiveTrainLots of opinions and rules, rules, rules out there regarding this topic. Leave it to some of the mainline wedding sites [are you listening Martha Stewart Weddings editors?] to be a real buzz-kill on this topic. As a result, my first rule: Regardless of your decision, please -oh please- don’t refer to them as “wee ones”. Really? How ‘bout “children,” or “kids”?

Decide early and make no exceptions to the rule you create. Guests with kids will need to know your preference so they can contemplate the complexities and expense associated with a “yes” to your invitation.    You want your guests to be able to relax and enjoy the day too, so if you invite kids, you’ve got to plan for them, not just “tolerate” their attending. Tolerating sets the bar rather low, and with a 10-year old we can well appreciate the challenge of monitoring behavior in a kid-unfriendly setting. We want to encourage all of our invited family & friends to have fun, not just certain members, and believe that children of all ages can be a part of and contribute to the celebration. If the venue or the venue’s coordinator did not seem kid-welcoming, we eliminated it as an option.

How to signal kids are [or are not] welcome. Signal clearly. We plan to include the names of all invited guests on the invitation. The only exception to this rule would be for our single guests who will get the “& guest” variation. And were we to have decided to not invite kids, I like to think we would have treated those situations as we ourselves would like to be treated – with a personal phone call to explain and discuss. Do not make any assumptions. We all know the rule: never assume, because it makes… . Also, give parents a rough outline of the day’s events so that they can anticipate and plan for any rough spots.

Where to seat the kids. We have not yet decided this one. On the one hand, we hope that a number of families with kids our son’s age will be able to attend. Given these are part of his Portland posse, they certainly would enjoy sitting together — too much. This is asking for trouble unless the table location is remote and the place settings are disposable. So, we are leaning [heavily] toward having families sit together and instead having activities that kids, their parents – and those who are still kids at heart – can do together.

Meal Matters. Inquire about food allergies. Long involved dinners are not a good fit for younger kids. Kid’s eating habits will be best addressed with buffet style dining. If that is not your preference, most caterers are more than happy to offer a kid’s meal option so long as they have a head count to work from and prepare in advance. More importantly, kids will not handle the seemingly endless gap between ceremony and meal very well. Plan on having snacks available that will keep moods elevated and melt-downs to a minimum, which brings me to our favorite Taylor Street topic, favors…   

Fun favors and games for one and all. In addition to our venue having space for activities like badminton, tag, and croquet, Santa Margarita Ranch has a steam engine train so guests can go on train rides! I know! We were hooked on this option the moment we saw it, and though it is a pricey add-on, it will be worth it to us. In addition, and in keeping with our casual and welcoming design emphasis, we are pulling together activity packages and favors for the reception tables. You can find prepared kits on-line, but this is not tough stuff to do on your own. Doing this on our own will allow us to customize “the supplies” for the kids attending, and I will use this as an opportunity to involve our son in their preparation! As for favors, what adult wouldn’t enjoy some jelly beans or gummy bears inside their favor box? Better yet, have a table at the reception filled with a selection of sweet and savory treats that guests can browse and visit as needed. Lastly, we may cover table tops with white or kraft paper for crayon/chalk drawing – more for kids of various ages. 

As Bob Ross, from the PBS series The Joy of Planning, says, “Any way you want it to be, that’s just right.” This is meant to be fun. Now get busy.

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Yes! It Is Our First Blog Post!

screen-shot-2015-04-03-at-6.55.06-pm.pngWelcome to our blog!
We have been working hard over the last month to bring an easier experience to your phone and help you find what you need faster. It’s a big job planning a wedding, baby shower or a birthday party. To help you we need some help from you. Tell us what you are looking for. Tell us what would make a fantastic wedding favor. Tell us what theme you want your baby shower, gotcha day or adoption event. Tell us how you need to celebrate your child’s next birthday. 

Of course we have a few ideas. And we certainly want you to shop at our store but, what we really want to do is provide you with the best customer service we can. With that comes listening and sharing. We want to share with you what we find. You may like some of it or you may not and that’s OK. Tell us what it is you do want and we’ll see what we can do to help you find it.

Do you need favors boxes, candles or labels? Everyone wants their party to be THE party. Every kid wants to have the most awesome-est day. All Grooms and Brides want to have the BEST-DAY-EVER.  How can we help you make that happen? We have beautiful favor bags and favor boxes to compliment your event and delight your guests. We want you to have the BEST-DAY-EVER too! 

Have you seen our candle holders?
We have gold glam to beautiful colored glass. Each would sprinkle the light just right across any room. Perfect for a romantic night – illuminating a dinner for two or a party of a close friends. We have votives that will enhance the mood and brighten the night.

Label it! Want to make it more persona? Look through our labels – we are adding more every day. Personalize a tag or two. A monogram adds an elegant touch and a personalized label brings thoughtfulness to the celebration.

It’s your event – go crazy and make it your own quirky style. From traditional to outrageous we want to help you make that happen.

David & Derek.