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Wedding Details | Cleveland Music Group

Planner Tip: Deciding on Buffet Menu Items

On 16, Nov 2010 | No Comments | In Wedding & Event Planning, Wedding Details | By Leigh

Once again we’d like to thank professional wedding & events planner Brandi Hamerstone for providing our readers with wedding planning tips! Brandi is the owner of All Events Planned and holds a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the Pittsburgh Culinary Institute, so she is the perfect wedding planner to discuss dinner detail with! Today, Brandi gives us some food for thought on buffet menu options.

When deciding on how many items to have on the buffet you must consider the amount of time you have for the meal, how many guests you plan on having go through the buffet line, and if your caterer is willing to offer multiple choices. In my previous work for a catering company, buffet-style meals were decided on as you would decide on a plated meal:

  • You should offer salad, possibly soup, a vegetable, starch and a meat.
  • Rolls are always acceptable but can also be part of the table setup to allow for more space on the buffet and faster service.
  • When choosing your meat selection, you should go with no more than three options.
  • If you are having an extensive buffet with three entrée selections, then you must allow for a substantial amount of time for people to get through.

Three protein options are a red meat, white meat and a fish. This will typically cover the needs of each guest and the vegetarian group will have the option to load up on salad, vegetables and the starch. On average, clients will choose just two entrées and have a red meat and a white meat. Fish is always a sort of “wild card” in the catering world. Some guests love it and others may be turned off by the sight/smell of fish.

You will want to sit down with your fiancé and your caterer to get a feeling as to what options will work with your reception guests. Another good way to decide on options is to have a theme menu or allow the caterer to choose items that are in season.

If you are interested in a full buffet with lots of options, ask your caterer to make smaller portions of the entrée choices. Instead of a 9oz steak, have them offer a 4oz steak along with smaller portions of the other meats. This way, your guests will actually be able to sample all of the items but not end up wasting as much food. Try to keep in mind that with buffets, the more options you give, the more food people will put on their plate and the more money you will be spending.

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Granting Wedding Wishes with Wish Upon A Wedding

Wish Upon a Wedding is not even a year old yet, but already over a dozen chapters across the U.S. have contributed to the cause. This non-profit organization helps provide wedding services for couples facing life-altering experiences and terminal illness, regardless of sexual orientation.

Jerry Bruno Productions has signed on as a Wish Granter with the Ohio Chapter, and on Wednesday, Sept. 29, manager and DJ Scott Jones sponsored the event, acting as emcee.

Wedding planner Heidi Baumgart of Heidzillas recapped the meet and greet beautifully on her blog.



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This Time WE Are the Ones Planning a Wedding!

On 27, Jul 2010 | No Comments | In Featured Weddings, Wedding Details | By Leigh

Singing in The Avenue means that my friend and co-singer, Tiffany, and I are at weddings almost every Saturday night…working. When Tiffany asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding to Rick Smith Jr, I was so excited to get the chance to be a part of a wedding from the other side of the stage. I’ve been in weddings before, but I never got to truly be a part of the process because every one was out of state from where I was living: My brother’s wedding in Iowa, two childhood friends’ weddings in Wisconsin where I grew up, and another friend’s wedding in Indiana where I attended high school.

So I had a blast on “girl day,” aka the Bachelorette party, where we treated ourselves and Tiffany to glorious facials and outdoor cabana massages at Spa West in Westlake. It was 90 degrees, but with the oil on your skin and a light breeze, combined with light music and birds chirping, it was all I could do to keep from laughing at the wonderfulness of it all. Heaven. We topped the day off with swimming, sun, dinner, and dancing in a sweaty down town club, where all the boys straddled between jealousy that someone had snagged the beautiful Tiffany and relief that they were still single themselves.

The wedding shower, put on by Tiffany’s family, was as pretty as many of the weddings we’ve performed at! I cleaned off my plate, a delicious dinner at Crowne Plaza Independence. Then the other bridesmaids and I ran around fetching presents and cleaning up wrapping paper as we came to the realization that being a bridesmaid comes with honor as well as duties!

I love my strapless, form-fitting fuschia bridesmaid dress from Caché; I will be wearing it at many other weddings that book The Avenue! Finally, a bridesmaid dress that really will get more wears. I also love Tiffany’s theme of Watermellon. Pink & green are so fun, bright and summery!

Tiffany and I were singing together at Pickwick & Frolic, pre-Avenue, the night she met Rick there seven years ago. I’ll never forget her face lighting up as she said, “he’s cute!” I’m so grateful to share in this experience with them!

The wedding is this Saturday, at St. Basil the Great in Brecksville and the Hilton Fairlawn. Seeing as how Tiffany and Rick are so well connected in the entertainment industry, word has it it will be quite the event, and of course, The Orchestra will be playing.

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A View from the Stage: Night of the Living Speech

The beast was among them…dressed as one of them..and it was hungry.

The newlyweds were flushed with excitement.  They had painstakingly planned every detail of the reception….the perfect flowers…the perfect band…gourmet dinner…special dances…the……toasts…

It wouldn’t be long now. It had been too long since the thing had fed.  The unsuspecting victims were just now enjoying the salad course.  Soon the thing would eat too.  Only one thing would satisfy its insatiable appetite…time.  And lots of it.  It was just waiting for its cue…

…”and now ladies and gentlemen…a special toast from the Best Man…”


The timeline was dead.

Fiction?  Unfortunately in too many cases, no.  I always remember a “toast” being something along the lines of “over the teeth and through the gums, look out tummy, here it comes!”..but too often a well-wishing Best Man or Maid of Honor sees this custom as their 15 minutes of fame – literally…15 minutes.

One question I always like to ask clients is “what is your goal for this reception”?  Most people say that they want their guests to have a great time, to stay and dance and make the event one people have great memories of.  In short, they want to throw a great party.

So why do so many people seem to forget what makes a great party?

True, a wedding reception is not an ordinary party…but there are some ingredients for successful parties that are universal, no matter what the occasion.  One of those ingredients is the ability for the hosts to take the focus off themselves and put it onto their guests.  This may seem contradictory to the very reason this event is happening in the first place- to celebrate the new union of the two most important people in the room.  But the happy couple is THE reason everyone is there in the first place and the big white, fluffy dress is a big clue as to who the center of attention is.  Making 200 guests – who have already dedicated an entire day to celebrating the rookie-weds – continue to sit through long speeches and toasts to further drive the point home can be the very definition of overkill.

And it can kill your timeline.

The bride and groom are most likely not going to be aware of what time it is – or rather, how much time they’re losing – at any given point of the reception.  Nor should they. But the band the bar and the bus boys definitely know what time it is.  That’s our job as planners and bandleaders and DJ’s – to keep things moving and on schedule.  And ready or not at the end of the night, the party is going to come to a close.  Hopefully by this point it’s your guest’s feet that are tired from dancing and not their rear ends from sitting all night.  You’ve probably paid good money for the band or DJ.  You should get the most out of your investment and let them do what they do best..fill the dance floor.  I’ve seen more than a few brides with that surprised look as though the dancing just started, and it seems we’re “already” thanking the audience and going into our last dance.

Besides, wedding toasts are kind of like inside jokes – filled with memories that approximately 2% (according to statistics I just made up for this blog post) of the entire crowd were involved in and thus, care about.  Making guests endure long winded speeches about things they weren’t involved in is kind of like inviting friends over to sit through  a slide show of your last trip to the Grand Canyon.

Don’t forget the show business aspect of throwing a party.  Appeal to the larger audience.  More elements that everyone can enjoy  – like dancing, eating and drinking – can help ensure a fun reception.

None of this is to suggest toasts should be done away with.  But if brides and grooms make it clear to their respective Best Men and Maids of Honor from the very beginning of the planning process that their timeline is limited, things can move more swiftly to the true business of partying.  A brief toast can still be funny, congratulatory and heartfelt.

And the time-eating beast will have to eat elsewhere.

Geoff Short

At the time of this posting, Geoff was the Sales and Promotions Manager at Jerry Bruno Productions (now Cleveland Music Group) and the bandleader for its band, The Avenue.

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Win a Free Wedding Cake

A few months ago, we posted that Celene’s Cuisine was holding a contest for a free wedding cake. Now, the Cleveland bakery is holding the contest again!

You can enter before Monday, Nov. 16th at the Celene Cuisine web site. It’s fun! All you are asked to do is describe your dream wedding cake in 100 words or less. The cake will be made to serve up to 100 guests. Good luck, and tell your friends!

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A View from the Stage: The First Dance

Awkward DanceBeing in a special event band gives us musicians a very special perspective on things that can make the difference between a successful event and one that is primarily remembered for Uncle Shemp dropping his pants and passing out in the middle of the dance floor.  It’s a good thing all prospective brides, grooms and wedding reception guests on the dance floor, at the bar or in the buffet line can’t see what we see from atop our wedding band risers week in and week out….there might be a lot less comedy in the wedding world.

Don’t get me wrong, 99% of the weddings we perform at are gorgeous, classy affairs that are painstakingly planned.  From the band perspective, all of us at JBP work very closely with clients, planners, venues and other vendors to make sure we guide the reception smoothly through its timeline.  But the recurrence of a certain amusing–if not downright awkward–nuptial phenomenon never ceases to amaze…usually starting with the first dance.

The first rule of planning a wedding reception is that there are no rules; whatever the newlyweds like is what should happen.  But it’s always been my understanding that the first dance should be one of the most romantic moments of the big day.  A few minutes that not only christen the dance floor, but that also give a new husband and wife the chance to hold each other and reflect with one another on having just started this new part of their lives together – all while listening to one of their favorite songs.  It’s almost a private moment really.  The most moving and romantic first dances I’ve seen are usually handled this way.  And then there are the others…

You know the ones: the dance school flunkies, who despite weeks of bargain wedding dance class lessons still look like they’re in a boxing match as opposed to a first dance.  And why is it always the grooms with the absolute worst rhythm in the world who seem to be forced into this choreographic conundrum?  It never fails that instead of a lump in my throat I have to fight the giggles at the look of absolute terror on his face and the look of sympathetic frustration on hers as she is relentlessly counting to four through pursed lips.  Rather than a beautiful moment of wedded bliss, these fumblings resemble the awkward prep school dance classes we were forced into as kids.

On behalf of dance schools everywhere, dance classes are great things and fun to do together as a couple.  But a first dance is not a variety show.  You don’t have to entertain your guests – yet.  Newlyweds, do yourself a favor.  Just hold each other and thank your lucky stars you’ve just married this prince or princess of your dreams.  You should remember this moment as one of joy and love in each others’ arms – not one in which you’d rather be anywhere else than having to remember which is your left foot and which is your right.  The genuine look of being in love on both your faces will entertain the crowd way more than any spin or dip. And your future kids will never look through your wedding album asking why daddy was sweating and looked like he had to go potty.

-Geoff Short

At the time of this posting, Geoff was the Sales and Promotions Manager at Jerry Bruno Productions (now Cleveland Music Group) and the bandleader of The Avenue.

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