By Erin Keane Scott
This summer seems like one never-ending heatwave, and while the Fro-Zen-Yo on M Street has been getting more play from our offices than we’d like to admit, it also got us thinking: What similarly cool treat could couples serve their wedding guests, especially during nuptials that take place during this sweltering time of year?
Enter Alison Reed, pastry chef at Ripple in Cleveland Park and the mastermind behind sister store Sugar Magnolia’s creative and tasty ice cream sandwiches. In variations such as maple-bacon pressed gently between homemade waffle cookies, or coffee ice cream surrounded by delicate and flavorful macaroons, her sweetly packaged, innovative desserts are the perfect after-dinner treat to impress, and cool down, party-goers. We caught up with Reed to chat about wedding desserts and what’s new at Sugar Magnolia.
You’re not quite known for doing weddings . . . yet. What can a bride expect if she wants Sugar Magnolia treats served at her wedding?
I would probably try to follow a theme. I can do a smaller cake, we could do a couple of flavors of ice cream sandwiches, sugar cookies with piped initials, and personalized fortune cookies. My recipes that are a little more homey would be well-suited for a dessert bar.
By Erin Keane Scott
Welcome to a new feature on Bridal Party. We'll be meeting some of our area's very best wedding dessert connoisseurs every other week with "Take the Cake."
There’s a new recipe for creating beautiful cakes. Mix a lifetime of classical ballet training with a French pastry education and an apprenticeship with superchef Charlie Trotter’s dessert genius, Della Gossett, and you’ll reach something pretty close to perfection. Maggie Austin brings exactly that delectable résumé of accomplishments to DC, whipping up innovative flavor combinations and beautiful decorations. We caught up with Maggie to talk trends, her favorite flavors, and how baking is like ballet.
Who is the “Maggie Austin” bride?
Brides who are doing their research, who are on Pinterest and reading blogs looking for ideas.
And what can a couple expect at one of your cake tastings?
I definitely have a distinct style, but I get inspired by my clients. I don’t ask them to bring anything along to the consultation; rather I ask them to talk about the aesthetic they’re going for. I won’t re-create the dress in cake form.
The expert: Jamie Sears of Simply Chic Events in Leesburg, VA
Her best rehearsal dinner advice: “Make your rehearsal dinner the complete opposite of your wedding. For example, if you’re having a formal wedding, keep the rehearsal dinner laid-back, casual, and fun. Why not plan a Mexican fiesta or a clams-and-crabs party? Don’t use the same color scheme or theme as your wedding, either. Do the opposite, so you’re not giving away all the surprises of the next day! Don’t wait too long to start planning your rehearsal dinner. Secure your location as far in advance as possible; nine months to a year beforehand is ideal.”
Hill Country's laid-back Boot Bar. Photograph courtesy of Hill Country
Choosing a venue for your rehearsal dinner can be even more difficult than finding a site for your wedding. But fear not: We’re here to help. Check out some of our ideas below, and if none suit your fancy, visit our vendor guide for more suggestions.
You wanted a laid-back, down-home wedding, but your parents insisted on a formal affair at the country club.
Try . . . Hill Country
We love the idea of making your rehearsal dinner the polar opposite of your wedding—if you’re having a formal wedding, a casual barbecue rehearsal dinner (and vice versa) keeps guests guessing. And a more relaxed rehearsal dinner will encourage out-of-towners to mix and mingle before the wedding. This barbecue spot’s private Boot Bar holds 125 guests for a seated dinner or 200 for a cocktail reception; the room can also be divided for smaller events. And if you’re interested in some live music, the spot’s full-time music booker can hook you up. Plus there’s nothing like brisket, beef ribs, Longhorn cheddar mac and cheese, and corn pudding to bring people from two different families together.
This year, feature shades from the same color family rather than just choosing two distinct hues, says event planner Amber Karson of Amber Karson Events.
For au courant color, reach for Pantone’s shade of the year, Tangerine Tango, which has burst onto the scene with bold reddish-orange flair. Try adding splashes of vibrant pinks and blues to the mix, or temper the hue with pretty pastels.
“Color is moving in and finding staying power,” says Miriam Liggett, owner of Soliloquy Bridal Couture in Herndon. More brides are choosing soft blush- or rose-colored gowns, or pairing white dresses with colorful shoes and bedazzled sashes.
If you loved Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, here’s some good news: Royal-wedding-inspired gowns with lace sleeves are all over salons. Designer Heidi Elnora’s delicate designs exude classic elegance.
If you want your dress to have a free-flowing, romantic quality, go for a shirred chiffon skirt. Portland designer Sarah Seven creates gowns fit for a goddess with her draped styles.
The latest first-dance songs are neither Top 40 tunes nor old classics. “Couples seem to be putting a lot more thought into finding that one song that really speaks to them, as opposed to going with the old standbys, “ says Evan Reitmeyer of MyDeejay. Modern, quirky tracks like “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros have made appearances on the dance floor. So have Daniel Lee Kendall’s “Lost in the Moment”—which gained traction from a recent television commercial—and the Avett Brothers’ “January Wedding.”
Have a guest list full of foodies who love creative flavors? Try a variation on the standard cupcake. Brianna Alcorn of Windows Catering anticipates savory—not sweet—mini cupcakes becoming a popular cocktail-hour staple. Look for combinations like lobster and Manchego cheese with fresh chive crème icing.
For wedding cakes, try a mix of something old and something new. Go traditional on the cake’s design—think vintage piping and ornate textures—and nontraditional on the inside, says Lara Stuckey, owner of Fluffy Thoughts Cakes. Play with seasonal flavors: Fresh strawberry cake on a hot summer day has a nostalgic, Grandma’s-shortcake quality, while pumpkin cake with salted caramel frosting sets the perfect mood for fall.
If you just got engaged, congrats! You may have already started buying a newsstand’s worth of wedding mags (including the new issue of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, we hope), but first things first—time to think about the engagement party. Normally, engagement parties are held two to four months after the proposal, and are planned by parents, close family, or friends, but oftentimes the couple will have input, too.
We asked event coordinators Laura Ritchie and Megan Pollard of Events in the City to share their five favorite area venues for engagement parties.
Trummer’s on Main, Clifton, Virginia
“This restaurant brings modern cuisine to a picturesque village. We love the onyx bar, which serves up creative cocktails, and the food, from award-winning chef Clayton Miller, is mouth-watering. The decor is warm and inviting, and the private dining area on the third floor would be ideal for an engagement party.”
Winter wedding food should be warm, comforting, but not too heavy—you don’t want your guests napping instead of dancing. We asked Main Event Caterers in Arlington to create the perfect winter wedding menu, and here’s what they came up with:
The fall season has a style of cuisine all its own, and if you’re hosting a wedding during this time, it’s a great opportunity to incorporate autumn’s bounty into your menu. We asked Occasions Caterers in DC to create the perfect fall wedding menu, and here’s what they came up with:
The fall season has a style of cuisine all its own, and if you’re hosting a wedding during this time, it’s nice to incorporate autumn’s bounty into your menu. We asked Charles Levine Caterers & Events in Owings Mills to create the perfect fall wedding menu, and here’s what they came up with:
The fall season has a style of cuisine all its own, and if you’re hosting a wedding during this time, it’s nice to incorporate autumn’s bounty into your menu. We asked Windows Catering, in Alexandria, to create the perfect fall wedding menu, and here’s what they came up with: