Inspired Feast!

The Canards creative team is hard at work updating our website and creating new menus and designs.  We will be featuring our progress here- so stay tuned for some great inspiration!

First up is Family Style. Basically, that means that guests are seated at a formally set table and staff bring platters and displays of food portioned for each table.  There are lots of variations to consider:  plated and served salad?  french served protein? sweet station?  It's the benefit of a "bespoke" menu:  you get to design each course to best showcase the food you have selected while serving your guests in a way that is most comfortable for them.

I love the concept of family style because it invites an interaction at the table that is not naturally there. It looks, sounds and feels like a true feast!  Who wouldn't be "wow'd" by an abundance of gorgeous food within arms reach?

Family style service presents a variety of food choices without having guests get up and serve themselves from a buffet.  Food becomes part of the table decor.  Guests experience a high level of service and accommodation with a variety of selections:  The best of all worlds!

Here is a peek at a family style menu featuring beautiful and delicious "centerpieces":

Rare Ahi Tuna with Asian Slaw and Crispy Wontons

Grilled Chicken with Pesto, Wilted Spinach, Roasted Peppers, Mozzarella and Pico de Gallo
Twice Baked Potatoes with Sharp Cheddar and Applewood Smoked Bacon
Mixed Greens with Fresh Vegetables

What do you think?

Bridezilla Redefined.

For years I have been reminding my brides to keep THE WEDDING in perspective.  It is, after all, one day.  I “get it” that the money spent on that one day could buy a new car, a down payment on a house or college tuition for one year.  It seems that with the explosion of the commercial wedding industry that this very special, intimate celebration with family, friends and community has become a measure of a young couples taste, creativity and pocket book.  Talk about pressure!  I have seen it consume brides in a way that makes them crazy- singularly focused on one detail or feature that without it will ruin the whole day.  Planning becomes a stressful chore and huge source of anxiety.  Brides are forced into a crash course on event planning, management and design; all requiring a skill set that may not be natural to them.  The learning curve is steep AND there are no do-overs!


Having a professional planner or coordinator (who is not personally attached to your wedding) is critical to your pre-wedding well being. A planner will save you time and money. Often they not only pay for themselves once, but many times over.  A good planner will take your vision and budget and make it happen for you. 
 Recently, I was sitting with a bride and her mother and was reminded of beautiful dynamic that is a natural byproduct of supported planning.  I was presenting my design plan on a leisurely afternoon over tea.  The bride and her mom were relaxed, laughing and reminiscing about past family weddings.  They commented on how rarely they take the time out of their busy lives to spend time together. I realized that it is this is not just about one day. The planning process is about spending time with your mom, or sister, or best friend.  It provides the framework for defining and articulating your style in a way you never really had to.  It is dreaming fantasy and compromising down to reality.  It is a conversation with your fiancĂ© about taste, style, tradition and family that you may not have had before.

Your wedding celebration actually begins with “yes! I will marry you” and ends with you and your new husband enjoying your picnic basket of wedding leftovers and reliving party highlights. Your wedding day is a culmination of the whole planning experience: all of the lessons learned, compromises made and beautiful moments with your friends and family all along the way.
So, enjoy every moment of the planning process.  Your planner will narrow down the endless possibilities and help you design and organize your perfect event: reflective of your style and taste.  Your planner will keep you organized and on task without overwhelming you with details that can be handled by others.  Your planner will sweat the small stuff so you can glow on your special day!

And may I shamelessly add:  Canards planners are among THE BEST!


Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of getting cocktails in the hands of party goes as soon as possible...  but sometimes (especially after sitting through an outdoor wedding ceremony in the mid-Atlantic in July) I see the value of offering a fun, non-alcoholic beverage (that is not soda) to refresh and hydrate before the partying begins.
It can be as simple as a pretty pitcher of water with thinly sliced cucumbers floating in it.  Add an over sized mason jar of lemonade surrounded by smaller jars of citrus segments, mint sprigs and lavender flowers and you have a great looking- much appreciated beverage station that is very low cost.

You can always step it up by displaying several flavors and garnishes.
Later in the party, add a chilled bottle of vodka... and everyone is happy!

Here are some great "Lemonade Stand" ideas:

Start with a really good lemonade:

  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • Water
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice (best to squeeze it fresh...)
  1. Make a simple syrup with the sugar and 1 cup of water: heat in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Chill. 
  2. Mix 7 cups of water, the simple syrup and the lemon juice. Serve over ice or add a fun infusion.

Pineapple- Mint: Bring pineapple juice to a boil.  Simmer until the juice has been reduced by half. Chill. Add to lemonade and garnish with fresh mint.
Thyme: Combine several fresh thyme sprigs with simple syrup and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and let sit for 15ish minutes. Strain and chill.  Add to lemonade.  This also works really well with rosemary.
Ginger- Lime:  I am a sucker for anything with ginger in it.. this is really wonderful!!  Peel fresh ginger. Grate. Wrap in cheesecloth and squeeze over a bowl to release the juice. Add the ginger juice to your lemonade with a touch of honey. Squeeze 1/2 lime into the pitcher and garnish with  lime wheels.

Sparkling Sodas:
These are really simple, and unbelievably delicious and refreshing.
Add any of the Stirrings mixers to club soda.  1:1.  Serve over ice and garnish.
My favorites are:
Watermelon, Blood Orange, Chocolate Peppermint, Peach, Pomegranate, Mojito and Wild Blueberry.

Don't forget to label everything so guests know what they are drinking!

Sweet Favors!

Invariably, at some point in the planning process a bride will ask me about favors. Often she has her heart set on something like a tiny silver bell with (very time consuming) ribbons in the wedding colors attached, or a very expensive heart shaped, engraved ornament with their engagement photo in it. Big. Mistake.  I hate to say... but most favors end up either in the trash, or in the trunk of the groom's car with all of the gifts. 
That said, I love the idea of an offering or token of gratitude and some couples really come up with cool and creative ideas that really reflect who they are. Several years ago, I had a couple who placed a handwritten note on each placesetting. Time consuming: yes. Meaningful: out of the park.

One of my favorite ideas was from a very creative and thoughtful bride, Lindsay. She made her favorite treats (peppermint popcorn, chocolate dipped pretzels, blueberry bars, cookies, cake pops, birds nests...) and provided environmentally friendly, reusable shopping bags for each of her guests to fill with the sweets to take home.  The guests LOVED it! 

While the offering was really appropriate and meaningful (and delicious!) the display was as well.
She gave me a lot of really cool props to use for food and beverage displays which created a cohesive and coordinated design throughout the site.  For the favor display, we used an old dresser that belonged to her grandmother. It was one of the few things left from her long closed flower shop and held alot of meaning to the family. 

Unlike a 10 year old's birthday party (where favors are CRITICAL to the child's social standing) you should should not feel pressured or obligated to buy or make everyone a favor. You can certainly express your gratitude in many other ways.  If you do choose to send your guests away with an offering: make it  relevant and meaningful!

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