Getting Married on Long Island Has Moved!

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Cordially Invited Guest: Anu Karwa, Swirl Events

Today’s guest is Anu Karwa, Founder and CEO of Swirl Events, which offers customized, private in-home wine tasting with a fresh, hip spin. Anu knows everything there is to know about wine.

Q:  Can you recommend any Long Island wines for a wedding reception that won’t break the couple’s budget?

A:  The Pellegrini East End Chardonnay is crisp and very food friendly and at $12 a bottle, it won’t break the couple’s budget. But no reception is complete without an equally stunning red – try the Wolffer Reserve Merlot for $16.

Q:  What does champagne for the reception typically cost, and are there any less expensive options?

A:  Champagne can be 10-30% of your reception budget with each bottle starting at about $30 for drinkable Champagne.  A great alternative is Prosecco from Veneto, Italy.  Not only is this wine 1/5 the cost of the typical wedding Champagne, but it’s easy drinking and nearly universally loved.

Q:  Does the reception have to have an open bar?  This can get pretty expensive.  What are other ideas?

A:  Open bars can put a couple’s budget over the top. Instead, close down the bar during speeches and one hour prior to the end of the reception – this is also a safety tip for drivers.  Another way to be equally sophisticated is to limit your options. Serve one white wine, one red wine, one beer, and one “special” drink that you have the venue create and keep ready in pitchers.

Q:  What ‘s your top tip for the bride and groom when it comes to selecting wine for their reception?

A:  When picking wine for a wedding, you want to pick one white wine and one red wine. Make sure they’re food friendly and that they’ll please a wide spectrum of palates. Don’t pick extreme or non-food friendly wines, e.g. a sweet white wine, a big Barolo, red Zinfandel, etc. Plus, you need a sparkling wine for the toasts. My picks for wedding whites include: a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (especially the Marlborough region), a dry Riesling from Washington State or Alsace or an unoaked Chardonnay (known as White Burgundy in France.) For reds, I would pick a Pinot Noir (known as Red Burgundy in France.) Great choices come out of the Willamette Valley in Oregon and the classic region of Burgundy. They’re very food friendly or perfect on their own and easily please a wide taste range.

Q:  What about the budget for wine?

A: Assess your crowd. Some crowds are more likely to consume wine, beer and cocktails. The ratio is up to you, but assume people drinking wine consume one glass per hour.

Q:  For couples who really love wine, do you have any reception ideas?

A: Pick wines that are special to you and indicate the meaning behind the choice to guests via small tent cards. Place the tent cards in front of the wine or near the bar. This gives guests a little insight into you as a couple.

  • When  either the bride or groom come from a wine-friendly area, such as Long Island, pick a wine from there then.
  • Have you vacationed in wine country?
  • Are you especially environmentally conscious and planning a “green” wedding? Pick all organic or biodynamic wines.
  • Have you picked a wine to be your new “home” wine?
  • Do you have a special restaurant where you shared your first date, where he proposed, etc…? Pick a wine off their menu.
  • Are you going to a honeymoon spot known for its wine: Napa, Australia, France, Italy, Egypt, even India?

And here’s another idea: Be different and have a wine tasting cocktail reception! Swirl, as featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, The Knot and more, does wine tasting parties in the NY, NJ and CT region. We can set up stations, each with one wine and a sommelier or bartender pouring and discussing the wine. Pair an appetizer or cheese with each wine being tasted and keep it at the station. Get score cards printed with the names of the wines and the station number. Hand these to guests so they can vote for their favorite or write notes. This keeps guests occupied and encourages mingling between guests who might not know each other.

Thanks, Anu!

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In the News: Free Wedding Package from Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino

I’ve not yet been to St. Maarten but hear it’s lovely.   So brides,  if you’re thinking of getting married there, here’s a cool deal:  Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino in St. Maarten, Netherland Antilles is offering a “Free Wedding Package” valid for travel through 2010, when you book a minimum of 10 rooms on the resort’s all-inclusive plan for seven nights or more.   It includes:

•    Personal wedding sales consultant to help couples design their nuptials
•    One hour with wedding coordinator on wedding day
•    Ceremony venue
•    Documentation Charges
•    Stamp Duties
•    Official Marriage License
•    On-site Officiate
•    Translation of Documents into English
•    Courier Charges
•    Customized Wedding Cocktail Reception & Celebration Dinner
•    Reception and Dinner Venues
•    Open Bar During Event
•    Custom Designed Wedding Cake
•    Sparkling Wine for Toast
•    Signature Sonesta Champagne Flutes
•    10% off select spa services at The Good Life Spa

For more info, email Sonesta Maho Wedding Sales at or call 602-904-5584.

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The Second Time Around: Prenups

I just came across a great article on about why second-time-around couples need prenups:  “A premarital contract not only helps you divvy up property in the case of divorce but also absolves you of your spouse’s debts, carves out assets for children from a previous marriage, keeps a family business intact and ensures that the family home stays within the family.”  And they offer five tips on setting up a prenup.  For the entire article, go here.

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Details and Ideas

With so many beautiful parks and beaches on Long Island, who wouldn’t consider getting married outdoors?   Key word is “consider” — that’s because there are many issues to take into account, not the least of which would be the cooperation of the weather.   There are also  permits that are  required by the townships.   I wrote about this in Newsday’s Bridal Planner not too long ago, so take a look at my article for how-to tips.   Then come back and let me know what you’ve decided…

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Cordially Invited Guest: Andrews Catering and Event Management

Welcome Bill Whitcomb Jr, Co-Director of Andrews Catering and Event Management in Huntington Station.
Q:  When at the beginning stages of planning a wedding, what should a bride and groom consider in selecting a venue vs. a caterer such as Andrews Catering?

A:  Venues and off-premises offer two different worlds. On one end you have a brick and mortar place that might have beautiful settings, but they are hard to change. They usually produce the same type of wedding every weekend. Same setups, same design, same flower guy that always puts the roses here and the lilies there, same repainted moldings and stained carpets. Off premises offers, to those that want, a new design based entirely on your imagination. A company like mine has limited venues with a focus on off premise dining. We specialize in the fresh cook method, something that brings the off-prem idea to the forefront of catering.

In the first stages look at price, site fees especially and the hidden costs in the upgrades you want. You should have a good idea on the flow of the event and the look. If you have trouble, ask the caterer or an event manager. These are the people performing the event. If you don’t get a good feeling from them, run!!  Often venue caterers are so used to the same thing, if you want something different you want a person who understands you and can deliver.

Q:  How much money should the couple budget for if hiring a caterer?

A:  With price nothing is normal. The guide to use these days on Long Island is broken into three parts for an off premise event.

#1-Site fee: Is this a Gold Coast mansion or Uncle Bob’s house? Find out all the fees needed to use the site.  Ask questions regarding the bathrooms, electric, etc. These are all things an off-prem caterer would want to know. Estimated cost is $3,000-$10,000 per event.

#2- What exactly do I need to entertain my crowd? Think and walk through the entire event. Do I need the guitar player during the cocktail hour? Is that $5,000 rented bathroom needed, do the glass and gold plates really matter? Estimated cost is $40pp-$100’s pp.

#3- Food from bistro tables to apps. It’s all about how much of a foodie you really are. You can always move money in and out of the food budget. Can we change from Filet Mignon to Flank steak to save money? Yes, it’s all how much you want the food to speak about you, your fiancé and your guests. Estimated cost is $80pp-$100’spp.

Q:  What else do they need to take into account when hiring a caterer?

A:  Rentals: goblets or all purpose wine glasses?  These things can make or break budgets every day. Find out what you think looks pretty. Does the china seem too boring?  Rental companies have an almost unlimited supply of ideas when it comes to this.  Do you have a wedding planner or do you want the caterer/event manager to help plan and coordinate your wedding ideas?. You always need to designate who is planning and deciding for you. Then work with them.

Food: (of course) What has the caterer done before? Can you taste their food? Are they food focused? Can they help you find something different than a cake? Can they plan a menu that showcases a blend of what you like, and what your guests like? Ask questions!  This seems impossible to figure out, but remember —  the food, just like the flowers or design, should have something to do with you, your style, your taste. Then you always add a few crowd pleasers or classics to fill in.  Let’s say you love BBQ but hate French food. Try adding a fun BBQ station during cocktail hour. You get to eat what you like from one side, and the guests can enjoy the Filet Mignon with port wine reduction.

Q: What’s trendy and new in wedding cuisine?

A:  Some new trends are cook-to-order or flash prep; fun action stations that break up the monotonous buffet or center of the plate presentations.

Q:  What’s your best advice for couples planning a wedding on Long Island?

A:  My best advice is to think about what makes them happy. Try to use your experience as a couple to build the wedding. Did you and your fiancé meet at a bar with a special drink?  Have an incredible dinner date that you can never forget?  Use these experiences to guide you. A great event management/caterer can give you great ideas and add to your experience, but you must have some basic ideas in the beginning.  The best experience I have with clients is with those couples that work with me on the experience.

Thank you, Bill!

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In the News: “In Sickness and in Space…”

A New York couple is getting married in zero gravity.  Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G®), the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights, will host its first-ever weightless wedding on Saturday, June 20.  Flying high above the clouds, Noah Fulmor and Erin Finnegan will say their “I Dos” while flipping and floating mid-air among their closest family and friends.  Hope they’re all carrying paper bags!

Here’s the couple’s blog for more:

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