The Best Ways to Offer Your Wedding Guests Even More

Westminster Weddings at the Westminster Hotel - photo by Andy Foster Photography

Wedding menus at the Westminster Hotel in Livingston

Westminster Weddings menus at the Westminster Hotel - photo by Andy Foster Photography

We’re so happy to give you a sneak peek at some terrific wedding survey results, courtesy of The Wedding Report’s upcoming Wedding Report Quarterly issue. We know you want to give your wedding guests an amazing experience (we want that, too!) so here are the top ways to spoil your wedding guests, offering them even more than they would expect from such a special day:

Wedding drinks at the Westminster Hotel's Strip House

The WRQ survey puts the top two ways to give your guests even more in the Drinks category:

  1.  Offer a welcome drink or drink station upon guests’ arrival. (38.3%)
  2. Offer post-ceremony drinks or drink stations, so that guests can help themselves or be served your signature wedding drinks, a special post-ceremony drink, wine or champagne just after you say your I Do’s. With everyone having a drink in hand, a group toast may be in order! (36.5%)

The survey continues with a mix of gourmet cuisine offerings in your wedding menu, plus more drink options:

3. Offer a larger number of menu options at the cocktail party, including stations, passed hors d’oeuvres and a buffet. (26.2%)

4. Offer late-night bites during the dancing hours, since it may have been a while since dinner. Late-night bites let you treat your guests to even more of our wonderful catering options, and perhaps include some more casual items that didn’t make it into your final picks for your cocktail party or dinner menus…or maybe they did, and guests would just love to see that they get to have more! (22.1%)

5. Offer quick, light bite treats before the ceremony. Why make them wait? (21.3%)

6. Offer multiple signature drinks at the cocktail party. Such as His and Hers drinks, or a variety of cocktail choices. (19.9%)

7. Offer passed desserts in addition to cake and dessert hour options. Guests on the dance floor would love a mini pastry or other sweet treat! (18.3%)

Desserts at Westminster Weddings

8. Offer amazing entrée options. (15.6%)

9. Offer a food truck outside your venue for guests’ enjoyment as they depart (14.3%)

10. Offer an ice cream bar at the dessert hour. (13.3%)

Talk with our event coordinator and chef about your Westminster Wedding menus and drinks, and create a fabulous experience for all of your guests!

 

 

 

 

5 Goals of Great Rehearsal Dinners – By the Westminster Hotel Weddings Team

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner private room at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel

Your rehearsal dinner is where your wedding really kicks off as an amazing experience from start to finish. When you treat your guests to your rehearsal dinner, they get their first taste of your taste level, and especially since so many of your loved ones may live far apart from one another, this get-together is even more special for all of you. There’s a tremendously happy energy at a rehearsal dinner, and the details you plan for it elevate your celebration to the best rehearsal dinner anyone in your group has ever attended.

New Jersey Bride named us as one of the best rehearsal dinner venues in New Jersey, and they’ve named us to their Love It! list. We’re so proud to be recognized for our team’s fine work.

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel

Here are the top 5 goals of a fabulous rehearsal dinner, created for you by our Westminster Weddings team:

  1. Group bonding. Whether it’s the first time your sides of the family have ever met, or the fiftieth, your rehearsal dinner gathers everyone together for excellent bonding time, when you become one big happy family. The same goes for your bridal party members and circles of friends. At this exciting rehearsal dinner event, your friends will get to know one another, chat, mingle, find common interests, and set the stage for all future friend gatherings once you’re a married couple. All of your favorite people are here in one place, toasting to your happiness, and by virtue of this VIP quality time will likely have an even better time together at your wedding. Toasts are an important part of group bonding at the rehearsal dinner, and while wedding etiquette rules apply – the hosts propose the first toast of the evening – anyone can raise a glass to your happiness, and of course it’s wonderful when the two of you propose a toast to your rehearsal dinner guests as well.
  2. A fabulous dinner. Treat your VIP rehearsal dinner guests to an amazing, unforgettable meal designed and created by our outstanding chefs. You can set the bar high with an ultra-gourmet rehearsal dinner meal – enjoying your chance to spoil your loved ones with an elaborate menu – or plan a rehearsal dinner menu that departs from the elaborate menu plans you have for your wedding day, instead planning something more casual like an outdoor tailgating party menu. Themed party menus such as tacos and other dishes are also popular for rehearsal dinner catering options. Family-style meals also tie into the family-bonding goal of a great rehearsal dinner.

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel - photo by Andy Foster Photography

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel - photo by Andy Foster Photography

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel - photo by Andy Foster Photography

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel - photo by Andy Foster Photography

3. Personalize it. Again, you can personalize your rehearsal dinner menu with your favorite tailgate menu options, or with themed stations like a nachos bar, tacos, fajitas and sangria, or you can choose a theme related to your favorite shared interests like a movie, television show, or era. You’ll notice that the famed Strip House at the Westminster Hotel has an Old Hollywood vibe to it, so that may be a jumping-off point to help you choose your rehearsal dinner’s theme. Further personalizing your rehearsal dinner can be signs – just like you may be planning for your wedding – announcing your signature drinks, or a lit marquee sign featuring your choice of word or your initials.

4. Stress-free time. Forget about wedding day nerves and stress. Your rehearsal dinner is your stress-free break from all that, a time to just relax together and enjoy, laugh, clink champagne glasses together with your family and friends, and let our excellent staff treat you like the wedding royalty you are to us!

5. Privacy. Use our private party room at Strip House, or gather outdoors in a tented rehearsal dinner on our grounds, or on our Zen garden terrace with fountains, or book one of our smaller party rooms for your rehearsal dinner. You can also arrange to ‘take over’ a section of our Strip House dining room for your rehearsal dinner celebration, or take over the entire Strip House restaurant for your larger rehearsal dinner!

Westminster Weddings rehearsal dinner in the private VIP room at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel

Contact us to begin planning your rehearsal dinner (and wedding! And bridal shower!) today. And don’t forget to share your rehearsal dinner images with us for a feature on our Facebook page.

Some of the Delectable Desserts at Westminster Weddings and Parties

 

These are just some of the delectable desserts that your wedding and party guests can feast on at your unforgettable celebration, ending with your choice of plattered, station or individually-plated desserts. We invite you to come in and talk to our wedding and event planner, meet our chefs and plan the perfect choices for your wedding menu and dessert hour!

NJ wedding favorite mini pastries at Westminster Weddings

west bridal shower2west bridal shower1Desserts at Westminster Weddingswest bridal shower 3westdessert24layercakewestdessert5westdessert4westdessert3westdessert2westdessert1west desserts3west desserts1west dessert5west blueberry4westminsterPetits FoursWestminsterMacaroonswestminsterDessert StationCocktail Cupcakewestminseter

Top Fall Wedding Trends for NJ Weddings 2016

Fall drinks at Westminster Hotel weddings

Fall weddings have grown in popularity for NJ wedding couples, since the weather is so comfortable in our region, the fall foliage so beautiful (especially at outdoor wedding spaces) and fall wedding trends including gorgeous décor and food inspirations.

According to the wedding industry survey site The Wedding Report, the most popular months for weddings in New Jersey include September at 14.0%, October at 13% and November at 8%. If that doesn’t sound overly impressive, keep in mind that April weddings in New Jersey are at 7%, May weddings are at 12% and June weddings are at 13% — which makes October weddings equal in popularity to June weddings, and September beats them all as the top month for weddings in New Jersey.

To help inspire your fall wedding plans, here are some of the top new trends for fall weddings in 2016:

  • Outdoor ceremonies and cocktail parties. With such gorgeous autumn color in the trees and landscaping all throughout your wedding venue and outdoor wedding gardens, you get gorgeous scenery, color and textures courtesy of Mother Nature (without adding a penny to your wedding budget for décor!) There’s something so special about gathering your loved ones in a scenic outdoor space for your ceremony and cocktail party, especially during peak fall foliage times in NJ.
  • Fall wedding colors. Color trend-setting specialists PANTONE® announce the top wedding colors for each season, and their fall wedding colors include the loveliest shades of cranberry, brick, dark green, gray-blue, and other shades that add depth and richness to wedding plans. You’ll see a number of PANTONE® wedding inspiration boards on Pinterest, sharing gorgeous fall wedding design inspirations by color, including which top wedding colors to combine for fall. One of the top neutrals for fall wedding colors is charcoal gray, which adds an elegance to wedding design, and lest you think fall wedding colors are only in the darker shades, pops of bright colors are a top trend for fall wedding color combinations. We’re seeing more and more bright colors reminiscent of summer (such as ice-pop style reds) mixed in with classic fall colors for a fresh and happy look.
  • Jewel- toned crystals. Clear crystals have long been wedding décor staples, and now a top trend for fall weddings that add sparkle and rich hues is jewel-toned crystals such as sapphire and burgundy shades, in addition to oranges and yellows.
  • Intimate lighting. Fall weddings get all the more intimate and magical with lots of pretty lighting, including table-set candles in varying heights and styles (candelabras, pillar candles, votives, etc.) lantern lights, suspended lights, chandeliers, and specialty lighting companies’ color washes, uplighting and custom lighting effects projected onto the dance floor, walls and even onto the driveway outside your wedding venue for an exciting welcome to your wedding celebration.
  • Fall flowers. And not the usual ones you’d expect for wedding flowers in the fall. New favorite fall wedding flowers includie Iris, Hyacinths, zinnia, snapdragon, freesia, and lily of the valley – all surprising choices, since these are commonly known as spring wedding flowers and summer wedding flowers. But in the world of flower creation, new hybrids are sprouting up spring and summer colors and delicate flowers in the fall season. New Jersey-grown flowers are also on the fall wedding décor trends list, such as popular blooms like sunflowers and roses.
  • Fabulous fabrics. Fall weddings call for heavier fabrics for your table linens, in rich, touchable textures that add elegance to your wedding décor.

Fall wedding menus at Westminster Weddings

  • Fall wedding menus include lots of meats with paired sauces, and stations offering both heavier and lighter, fresh, garden-inspired fare. In a top fall wedding trend, pair foods with NJ microbrew beers and ales, and bourbon-glazed meats. And side dishes include chef-elevated fall veggies with a gourmet twist, making side dishes as enticing as the main course. Soups, particularly creamy soups and bisques make the list for top wedding menu stations and courses.
  • For fall wedding drinks, include hot toddies like hot rum drinks and hot spiked ciders for that elevated autumn drinks menu, and include an array of flavored coffees for after dinner.
  • In desserts, add pies to your dessert hour list, since pies are a top trend for wedding desserts, in full-sized pies for slicing, and as mini pie tarts. Fall flavor macarons are also on the In list, and everyone’s favorite NJ pastries and mini pastries are always popular, no matter the season.

NJ wedding favorite mini pastries at Westminster Weddings

If you’re in our Westminster Weddings family of couples marrying here this fall, we hope our collection of fall wedding trends 2016 helps with your last-minute planning. We also remind you that the upcoming fall wedding season is also time for your rehearsal dinner and other wedding weekend events at which you can use these inspirations as well. Strip House at the Westminster Hotel has been named by New Jersey Bride magazine as one of the best rehearsal dinner spots in New Jersey, and we look forward to helping you plan a fabulous rehearsal dinner or special event to your specifications.

New Jersey Wedding Couples’ Average Spending on the Wedding Cake

 

Wedding cake for a Westminster Hotel Wedding - photo by Montclair Studios

Our friends at The Wedding Report share their wedding survey results on what NJ wedding couples are spending on their wedding cakes. It’s always fascinating to see how budget trends change from year to year, and we see that wedding cake spending will stay about the same for 2017 weddings and 2018 weddings in New Jersey. For your Westminster Hotel wedding or party, talk with our in-house cake baker about your cake wishes, favorite flavors and design inspiration, and we’ll have all of your guests Wowed by the sensational cake providing a fabulous focal point in your wedding ballroom, and tasting fabulous as well!

Year   Average Spending per Wedding  
2008   $460  
2009   $451  
2010   $495  
2011   $542  
2012   $541  
2013   $538  
2014   $546  
2015   $576  
2016   $581  
2017   $581  
2018   $581  
2019   $584  
2020   $584  
2021   $586  

 

10 Ways to Make Your Wedding Cocktail Party Stand Out

west apps3

Wedding guests say they love a great cocktail party, and with a fabulous array of dishes in luscious flavors, it’s no wonder that many guests look forward most to this phenomenal first hour of a wedding celebration!

We’ve collected ten ways to make your cocktail party stand out, incorporating some of the top trends in wedding catering and wowing your guests with amazing choices and presentations:

  1. COLOR. From vivid greens to bright oranges, yellows and reds, to fall menu purples and persimmon, fresh and healthy cocktail party menu options add a burst of color to your stations. It’s a far cry from those brown, fried hors d’oeuvres that guests have seen a million times at other weddings, enticing and appetizing in a colorful rainbow of hues.

Westminster Wedding cocktail party

2. Salad small plates. Light, healthy, crunchy salad dishes are a welcome sight at a wedding cocktail party, for those guests who prefer to eat farm-fresh fare. Plus, our chefs work magic with greens, veggies, toppings and dressings for your guests’ enjoyment of salad plates offered here at the cocktail party, rather than as a course during your wedding dinner.

Cocktail party at Westminster Weddings

3. Unique hand-passed hors d’oeuvres PLUS the classics. Wedding guests look for approaching servers bearing platters of hors d’oeuvres, and they’re delighted when the offerings go beyond ‘the usuals’ found at every other wedding. Ceviches, mini empanadas, and forkfuls of flavorful noodles give guests unique bites…and they also know that the trays of crunchy coconut shrimp and pigs in a blanket 9one of our specialties!) will also be coming around.

4. Food and drink pairings. Our Westminster Wedding chefs perfect the art of pairing cocktail party foods with complement drinks, like our Asian noodles with a shot of green tea for a refreshing duo of flavors. Getting back to our pigs in a blanket, add a mini mug of beer for a flavor combo that wows the crowd.

Cocktail party at Westminster Weddings

5. Food and soup pairings. Mini grilled cheese adored by guests get a flavorful pairing with mini shots of tomato soup, and you can personalize your soup shooter and bite menu with our chefs. For instance, a mini crab cake offered with a shooter of lobster or crab bisque.

Grilled cheese bites at Westminster Hotel's weddings6. Crostinis. They’re a top trend for wedding menus, a toasty slice of crusty bread topped with creamy and tasty layers, like our beef and black truffle oil spinach combination.

Small plates at Westminste Weddings7. Gluten-free options. GF wedding menu options are so plentiful at Westminster Weddings. Talk to our chef, and try some at your wedding menu tasting, to offer a wide range of GF wedding menu options for your guests.

8. Chef attendants at stations. They put on a show while preparing dishes, and they’ll also customize your wedding guests’ orders.

9. Gorgeous station setups. Each table can have towers and tiers of food for the taking, and upscale plates and serving bowls set out with plated food looking like colorful and textured, tasty works of art.

10. Wedding signs. Cleverly-worded and personalized signs set at each cocktail party station tell guests their menu options and personalization ideas. Add some humor to yours, or share a story about why you chose that particular station, such as it being a nod to your culture, or a dish inspired by your grandparent’s recipe.

We’d like to add a #11: give some extra thought to the kids’ food station, treating them to something more exciting than a kids’ wedding menu of chicken fingers and fries. Talk to our chef about kid-pleasing gourmet mini pizzas, spring rolls, sushi, crudités cut into kids-friendly shapes, and other dishes that parents and kids will be happy to see.

April Cocktail of the Month at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel: The Aviator

A wedding’s signature drink is always a hit, and we’re excited to share one of the April Drinks of the Month: The Aviator, now available at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel.

Stop in to try it, and see if it’s the perfect drink for your Westminster Wedding, or mix it up at home using our mixologist’s cocktail recipe:

The Aviator, an April Cocktail of the Month at Strip House at the Westminster Hotel

Aviator

Gin, Pimms, Fresh Lemon Juice

3 oz Gin, ½ oz Pimms Cup  ½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice

Mix and shake with ice and serve in Cocktail Glass