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I’ve always loved vintage themed weddings, so when a friend asked me to cater her wedding I jumped at the opportunity. As a previous owner of a catering business, I’ve had the privilege of preparing foods and beverages for numerous weddings, but never a vintage wedding. Although it’s been years since I’ve worked in the industry I was up for the challenge.

Prior to embarking on menu planning, I conducted research on popular vintage themed wedding foods and beverages. These included fruit cocktail, shrimp cocktail, shrimp salad, chicken salad, filet mignon, pan-fried oysters, and a variety of canap├ęs made with shrimp, cream cheese, or avocado. Favorite beverage selections include champagne, sparkling wines, and gin-based drinks. In addition to that, I conducted a food test as well. Food intolerance test is a very important test to form your eating habits and that also helped me in decided what food and drinks to include in the menu. This was also important since there are a lot of people these days with food allergies.

The bride wanted an eclectic menu that embraced Italian foods and local seafood and produces. Naturally, my first thought was antipasto salad. Instead of a traditional antipasto, I selected a variety of hard meats; hard and soft cheeses; baked brie with caramelized onions encased in puff pastry; stuffed olives; an assortment of bread; and grapes, pears, and apples.

If you’re on a budget hard meats and cheeses can get costly. One way to reduce costs is to call local cheese shops or delis and ask if you can piggyback off their order. The worst that can happen is they will say no. You might also want to contact the manager of your local grocery store or local restaurants. Most metropolitan cities have a food purveyor such as Sysco or wholesalers such as Sam’s Club or Costco.

The wedding ceremony was early evening and the reception extended for six hours, with food being served for five hours. Hot hors d’oeuvres were served first because the reception hall did not have a stove or microwave. While chafing dishes are helpful at keeping foods warm, they are notorious for drying foods out within an hour or so.

The bride wanted primarily finger foods that could be eaten in one bite. A good solution was to serve foods in wonton wrappers and filo cups, wrapped in puff pastry, or speared with a decorative pick. Food cups can be baked ahead of time and stored in large sealable plastic bags. This is especially helpful when transporting foods to the reception hall.

Appetizer fillings can be prepared ahead of time and stored in plastic bags. Fillings should be frozen if they are prepared more than two days in advance. Cut a small section from the bottom corner and squeeze filling into premade cups before transferring to serving dishes.

Serving shrimp cocktail in a martini glass was a popular trend in the 40s and 50s. Since shrimp can be costly, consider using mini martini glasses. Place a leaf of Butterleaf lettuce in the bottom so that it extends up the sides and creates a cavity. Add a dollop of cocktail sauce in the center and position 2 medium shrimp on the edges. Bring the tails together to resemble the shape of a heart.

Another popular dish at vintage weddings is Fruits de Mer; an elegant assortment of seafood typically consisting of oysters, lobster, crab, and shrimp displayed on a 3-tier serving dish. The wedding I catered took place in Florida, so seafood is fresh, affordable and easy to locate.

If you don’t have easy access to fresh seafood, frozen will work just as well. The best way to reduce costs is to locate a fishmonger or find a restaurant that will allow you to place an order and pay wholesale prices.

When serving fresh seafood, it is crucial to keep it surrounded by plenty of ice. The last thing you want is wedding guests to end up with food poisoning.

Instead of offering a salad bar with multiple toppings and condiments, consider serving a large bowl of baby greens. Position decorative vintage bowls filled with dried cranberries, walnuts, and crumbled goat cheese. Fill individual glass bottles with oil, vinegar, and balsamic vinaigrette and insert a wine pourer.

Consider using a variety of serving platters and bowls instead of matching pieces. If possible, borrow vintage serving pieces from family or friends or scout out pieces at yard sales and flea markets. Using an eclectic mix presents a more authentic vintage look.

Last, but not least, consider setting up a candy station. Offer old-time candies presented in oversized martini glasses, vintage cocktail glasses, and large glass vases. Place monogrammed gift bags on the table, along with silver scoops so guests can fill bags with their favorites.

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