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Unique Wedding Reception Menu Ideas from Campbell’s Catering

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There’s nothing wrong with a nicely presented plate of meat and potatoes—for a fancy dinner out with your fiancé, that is. When it comes to your wedding reception, however, wouldn’t you like to serve up something with a little more pizzazz? Something that will get guests talking, moving, perhaps even salivating in anticipation a little? Something that says, “This here is a celebration, folks. Let’s have some fun!”

Courtney Campbell of Campbell’s Catering sure thinks so. And she and her culinary crew are catering to wedding couples who share her passion for food that looks elegant and exciting, and delivers fabulous flavor and fun in equal measure.

Sound good to you, Houston bride? Here are a couple of Campbell’s specialties, which are, she notes, “elegant and unique without breaking the bank”—what a concept!

“We have encouraged many of our recent brides whose receptions are taking place at 8:30 p.m. or later to go with some very upscale and unique passed hors d’oeuvre, such as our duck wontons served with a spicy mango chutney, our Italian chicken lollipops, and our Spanish shrimp cocktail shooters garnished with guacamole and blue corn chips.” Uh, yum. “These are all very hearty and elegant at the same time.”

To add a dynamic and delicious interactive element to the festivities, Campbell suggests her signature Gourmet Potato Boat Bar, featuring dressed-up potato skins filled with fun “theme” goodies. Our faves?

The New Yorker, topped with sliced Italian sausage, and sautéed peppers and onions, and topped with fresh mozzarella.

The Califonia Fresh, loaded with fresh sprouts, homemade guacamole and shredded Monterey jack cheese.

The Mojo, topped with rum-sautéed shrimp and zingy Cuban mojo sauce.

The BBQ, filled with barbecued pulled pork and topped with barbecue sauce and sliced scallions.

Campbell says the Gourmet Potato Boat Bar, with 25 themes to choose from, is especially “great for weddings that have two different nationalities being combined,” and a nice icebreaker for rehearsal dinners where guests are reconnecting or meeting for the first time.

And now if you’ll excuse us, we have to go dab the drool from our chin.

Three Brothers Bakery: Where Wedding Cake Dreams Come True

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we totally understand if you’ve got just one dessert on your mind right now, Houston bride—all that chocolate you’ll be eating on February 14, of course!

But we don’t blame you if you’re fantasizing about gorgeous towering cakes and debating fondant and buttercream. After all, what Houston bride (or wedding guest, for that matter) doesn’t love a great wedding cake?

We haven’t met any.

We have, however, met quite a few Houston brides—and wedding guests—who can’t get enough of the wedding cakes and other goodies at Three Brothers Bakery.

We can see why: For five generations, this family-run bakery has been whipping up some of Houston’s finest baked goods for bar and bat mitzvahs, family and corporate events, and oh yes, weddings. Though Three Brothers suffered some pretty serious damage during Hurricane Ike, they’ve rebuilt and are better than ever, giving brides a touch of personal attention you won’t find at many other places. Give them a picture of your wedding dress, your china pattern, or even the ballroom where you’re getting married, and Three Brothers will design your cake to match. Check out some of the cakes in the slideshow below:

Tell Three Brothers all about your fiancé’s most serious obsessions—oil, Houston Rockets basketball, Vegas—and they’ll create a groom’s cake so over-the-top that you might not want to eat it.

But you should! Every cake at Three Brothers is made-from-scratch and, oh, are they tasty! And if you or your guests keep kosher or need a dairy cake, this is the place to go.

The cakes aren’t the only reason we love Three Brothers, though. We also love this hometown bakery’s charitable ways. After Hurricane Katrina, Three Brothers’ owner Janice Jucker worked to get telecommunications equipment donated so that evacuees could track down their friends and family. And Jucker—herself a breast cancer survivor—is a big supporter of the Susan G Komen Foundation’s Houston affiliate. The bakery even sells pink ribbon cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.

So when Jucker—who runs the bakery with her husband Robert and his Aunt Estelle—was named Woman Business Owner of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners in October, we weren’t the slightest bit surprised. But we were very happy to see someone who’s helped give so much to Houston brides get a little something in return. You go, girl!

Before You Say I Do… Definitely Do This!

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Among the many wonderful things the New Year brings, our annual Before You Say… “I Do!” bridal soiree is one of the best. On Sunday, Jan. 24, Before You Say… “I Do!” comes to The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, and you won’t want to miss it. From 1 to 6 p.m., more than 70 of the city’s most in-demand wedding experts and vendors—florists, decorators, photographers, cake creators and much more—will take over the magnificent Houstonian for a day of wedding fantasies made real.

Bring you mother, sister, maid of honor, fiancé…or the whole crew, and enjoy cocktails, gourmet nibbles, spectacular tablescapes, gorgeous cakes, a stunning bridal fashion show, door prizes and special treats. And while you’re at it, take advantage of the chance to chat one-on-one with some of the best wedding talents in the business.

Tickets for this once-a-year luxury showcase of the best in Houston weddings are only $20—that’s less than the price of a single manicure!—for a full FIVE HOURS of wedding ideas, inspiration and goodies galore. And guess what? They sell out. Every year.

We’ll definitely be there. Make sure you are, too!

Nonalcoholic Wedding Drinks

Like peanut butter and jelly, like shoes and socks, like you and your future hubby, weddings and alcohol are two things that just, well, go together. But not always, and not for everyone.

While most weddings feature alcoholic beverages in some form—a full premium bar, beer and wine, champagne, alcoholic punch or a signature cocktail—there are always going to be wedding guests who prefer to abstain. Do you really want to leave your nondrinking guest—whether a recovering alcoholic, designated driver, teenager or simply someone who chooses to forgo or limit her consumption—out in the cold?

In addition to sparkling water and sodas (for extra panache, you may want to throw in a selection of fancy or retro-looking bottled fizzes such as IZZE Sparkling Juice, Thomas Kemper Vanilla Cream Soda, Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda, etc.) there are plenty of perfectly celebratory nonalcoholic “cocktail” options you may choose to feature at your wedding. Your caterer or bar service may specialize in certain no-booze beverages, so be sure to ask what’s on the menu. And make sure your bar is stocked with the necessary juices, syrups, mixes and garnishes to make a great nonalcoholic drink should a guest request one.

In the meantime, here are two of our favorite festive, fabulous nonalcoholic “cocktails” to wet your whistle:

Madras
Madras

Perfect for hot-weather weddings, the Madras is a refreshing blend of orange and cranberry juice. Just omit the vodka that usually goes into this vibrant cocktail, serve in a highball glass with plenty of ice and an orange-slice garnish, and you’ve got a perfect beverage for a sunny al fresco or tented reception. Tip: Sub grapefruit juice for orange juice and you’ve got an alcohol-free Sea Breeze; sub pineapple juice for orange, and, voila, it’s a Bay Breeze!

Nojito
Nojito

This one takes a little work to prepare fresh to order, but it’s well worth the effort. Fill a pint glass halfway with ice, add a handful of clean, fresh mint leaves, add 3 ounces of fresh lime juice and 1 ½ ounces of simple syrup. Gently muddle the mix with a wooden pestle. Add more ice, top with club soda, and serve with a mint/lime garnish. Delicious! Tip: You can prep the mint leaves and squeeze the lime juice ahead of time, but DON’T muddle the mint beforehand, or it will blacken and wilt. Ick.

Caffeinate with Care with a Coffee Bar

Java Pura Coffee Bar
Java Pura Coffee Bar

Your fave coffee has been the unsung hero in planning your wedding, keeping you going as you’ve stuffed envelopes, freaked out over the seating chart and flipped through bridal magazine after magazine in search of the perfect up-do. So, why not give your liquid sidekick a special part at your reception by offering a full-service coffee bar?

Our vote for the honor goes to Java Pura, a local coffee roasting and catering company that does events for heavy-hitters like Neiman Marcus, The Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa and Tootsies, and is quickly becoming a must-have vendor among Houston brides.

Hire Java Pura for your big day, and they’ll send their professional barista—commercial grade espresso machine and grinder in tow—to your reception to serve up made-to-order specialty coffee drinks, like crème brulé (latté with caramel), almond joy (latté with dark chocolate and almond syrup) and espresso. Your guests can even opt for frozen cappuccinos, Italian sodas, hot chocolate and an assortment of teas.

Summer brides-to-be, worry not: Java Pura can put any drink over ice, so you can justify the coffee bar as a way to keep your guests cool and caffeinated for plenty of dancing.

And yes, we’re sure your guests will use the coffee bar, no matter the season. Even if you’ve somehow made it to your big day without several dozen carmel macchiatas, at least half of your guests like coffee, says Java Pura co-owner Richard Colt.

And they’ll like it no matter when you serve it during your big day. Java Pura’s first brides just wanted to serve coffee with the wedding cake, but now lots of Houston brides are opting to offer a coffee bar throughout the reception. (Some guests even forego cocktails for a cup—or three—of java!) Speaking of which, a coffee bar makes a fun drink alternative if you’re having an alcohol-free wedding.

If you want to really wow your guests, try this idea from an event held at River Oaks Country Club: Java Pura set up two coffee bars—one in the main area, the other near the exit, so guests could grab a to-go cup for the road. You could even sweeten the send-off gift with a personalized coffee sleeve or mug that reminds guests of how you caffeinated them with care. Your guests will thank you for it. We know we would.