Outdoor weddings have always been fabulous whether hosted on the family farm, backyard, or in a sprawling park. Many couples are considering al fresco ceremonies and receptions in order to err on the side of safety in the age of social distancing. Couples are using the opportunity, renewed interest, and creativity resulting from the new considerations to tailor their weddings to more closely suit their values and desires. Turns out, a smaller guest list means an opportunity to turn budget and focus on the little details of making the day unique and hosting a gathering that will be remembered for years to come.
You can get the Jimmy Choo shoes of your dreams and the super-luxe velvet napkins because you’re hosting 30 rather than 300. If you and your beloved are foodies, perhaps you’ll seek out an amazing caterer who will create an unforgettable menu that you will be talking about (and having!) on your 15th anniversary.
We wanted insights from a catering perspective on hosting your crew in a small, outdoor setting so we looked to seasoned wedding caterer Jeff Thomas of Jeff Thomas Catering in Cincinnati. Jeff offered some insight (and cocktails) into how a smaller guest list can open big doors on wedding day foodie possibilities.
With a passion for food, wine, and dinner parties, Jeff has been elevating the catering industry for over 30 years. From lobster gazpacho with cucumber sorbet served with crusty french bread and butter to hanger steak with horseradish demi-glaze accompanied by potato dauphine and grilled vegetable skewer, everything on his menu is sure to start the conversation and lay the groundwork for an event to remember.
We asked Jeff to share a handful of tips on throwing a backyard bash or wedding on the family farm. We wanted to know what considerations often go overlooked by hosts when home becomes the venue.
For outdoor weddings and summer celebrations, Jeff suggests hors d’oeuvres that are served room temperature. They tend to present better and can be pre-arranged: think hummus spread in Belgian endive topped with tabouli and an edible flower for pop. Serve BLT finely chopped in a phyllo cup. Play with charcuterie – pinwheels and boards! Add bourbon to the food – try goat cheese crostini with shaped beef tenderloin garnished with bacon bourbon onion jam.
More and more couples are choosing to serve a signature cocktail so we had to have Jeff’s top two cocktail suggestions: The Old Fashioned and French 75.
Both drinks have an added hint of nostalgia and street credit for being over 100 years old in human memory. The Old Fashioned hails from the Pendennis Club, a private gentleman’s club in Louisville founded in 1881. The name itself implies a drink whose ingredients had long been known to delight and only in the late 1800s were the ingredients pinned down with a name.
Jeff’s take on the Old Fashioned:
muddle the cherry and the orange in the Bottom of glass
splash of bitters
splash of simple syrup
2oz of bourbon on ice
finish with a splash of sparkling water
The French 75 or Soixante Quinze is claimed by the oldest cocktail bar in Europe. Harry’s New York Bar, located in Paris during WWI put a name on the drink by way of its association with the world’s first piece of modern artillery. Champagne and a little gin, sugar lemon, and ice.
Finish the night with something different for dessert, Jeff says gelatos, donuts, cupcakes, and even sheet cakes are coming back!