We are constantly asking brides and grooms about the most important aspects of their wedding day and what they “couldn’t live without.” We tend to get tons of varied answers except for one; we almost always hear that the food on their day was super important to them. Of course they want their guests to enjoy themselves and you know what they always say, they key to anyone’s heart is through their stomach. Because of this, we were so excited to talk with Joanie Rylander, the Creative Director & Senior Event Designer of our newest DC area wedding vendor, Purple Onion Catering so she could give us the ins and outs of the hottest catering trends right now. We added some of our own thoughts, tips, and tricks as well! This week we will be focusing on cocktail hour, but stay tuned for part two, coming next Tuesday, which will focus on reception food and beverage!

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What are some of 2016’s hottest trends regarding cocktail hour?

Some of the things that we have been seeing is canned cocktails, veggie based signature drinks, clean eating menus (so many food allergies!), and fruit/herb infused ice cubes. Rose wine and craft beer continues to be popular, as well. Instead of just one signature drink we’re seeing a lot of his and her’s cocktails; this is not only a great conversation starter for guests but it can also help control bar costs.

We love the idea of his and her’s cocktails because you really can let your personalities shine, not only as a couple, but individually as well. If you want to cut down on bar costs, as Joanie stated, doing wine and beer and then a signature cocktail or two in addition is a great option!

How can a couple create the perfect signature cocktail?

The main thing I really love about weddings is how personal the details have become in regards to the couple. An events menu should be an outstanding reflection of the hosts’ personality. It’s the personal touches that guests remember the most. We have been seeing a lot of his and her cocktails where they each pick their favorite drink and then serve that to the guests. A drink you had on your first date also lends a nice touch. I have done everything from mini hurricanes with a jambalaya skewer for a couple from NOLA to a mini craft beer with pretzel for a Philly couple. Pairing cocktails with food has become more popular.

We hadn’t thought about including a drink that couples had on their first date but we think the idea is spectacular! We have had couples choose drinks that remind them of the other person, drinks that reflect their destination wedding or honeymoon venue, drinks that show off their own heritage and culture, and so much more! Signature cocktails are SO fun. We have even shared some of our favorite signature wedding cocktails + recipes!


What items/ideas are on the decline?

We have been seeing a decline in late night snacks and dinner station menus. Clients are really going back to the traditional plated dinner. However, I am seeing clients adding in a “personal station” during cocktail hour instead of the standard cheese station.

Some of our favorite “personal stations” that we have seen at cocktail hours are mac and cheese stations, small taco stations, pasta bars, and sushi stations.

What is your cocktail hour specialty? What item or design element sets you apart?

I would have to say service. We really pride ourselves on our attentive staff. Making sure they are trained, courteous, and professional helps us ensure a successful event. Service really is the new luxury.

We absolutely agree! Purple Onion not only makes amazing food, but also has a level of service that makes guests feel taken care of and special, and that is exactly what you want on your big day! 

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For more catering vendors, please visit our Washington DC area wedding vendors guide and for even more tips & tricks for your wedding, check out our Washington DC area wedding advice.

All photography sent via Purple Onion Catering.

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