Archive for Natalie Ho

The Secrets of Serving An Inspired And Sustainable Wedding Menu

Planning

Photography courtesy of Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality.

With the start of a new year, and a new decade, the collective awareness of the state of our planet is at an all-time high. In the first part of this sustainability series, we spoke about paper, and this time, we’re discussing all things food!

The importance of food in our society stretches far beyond nourishment—food is an experience. On the flip side, food is also a large contributor of waste, carbon emissions and water usage across the planet. That’s why we’ll be sharing ideas on how you can create an unforgettable food experience at your wedding while making a tangible difference.

Our first tip is to challenge your caterer to source local products that are in season. For example, if you want a tomato and burrata salad, even though your wedding is in November, keep in mind that tomatoes are in season in Canada between early spring and summer. This means that to acquire a tomato that will have the flavour you want in your salad, it must be imported from warmer-climate country. Instead, consider serving a delicious squash and burrata salad. Your chef will have strong knowledge of seasonality, so let them know you’d like to consider this in the planning of your menu.

If you are set on a particular menu but still want to be mindful of the waste being produced at your wedding, consider contacting Second Harvest. Their ever-expanding Food Rescue program—available across the nation—promises to come to your venue, pick up any leftover food and deliver it to those in your community who need it. Ask your venue if they can participate in this program on your behalf.

Another way to reduce your footprint is by incorporating several plant-based dishes into your menu. This might mean serving vegan canapés and a vegan appetizer, then featuring a locally sourced meat or fish in your main. This way, guests will still eat food they enjoy, while potentially trying something different and prolonging the life of our planet.

And to end with a pretty wild idea, our culinary team recently partook in a challenge to compose a dish entirely out of leftover food from our restaurants. The result was beautifully and creatively crafted dishes that you would never have imagined came from “waste.” If you really want to make food recovery a priority and a focal point for your wedding, ask your venue team and chefs to collaborate with you, and share your devotion to the cause with your guests.

Whatever you choose to do, let your guests know the choices you made and why you made them. At least a few of them will be planning their own wedding in the future, so sparking these ideas in them now will continue to help move the environmental needle!

Natalie Ho has worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years and is currently is the director of event sales for Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality. She has personally planned 350+ weddings and momentous events. Both creative and business-minded, Natalie is dedicated to growing her events business in out-of-the-box ways.

Invitations Are The First Part of Planning A Sustainable Wedding

Planning

Recycled paper invitations by by Paper Culture.

As a consumer in the wedding market, you may have already identified yourselves as an eco-friendly, sustainable or conscious couple. But if you haven’t given too much thought as to how your wedding can help increase awareness about sustainability, this article (and a few more to follow) is here to help! There are many aspects of your wedding that will give you an opportunity to consider your buying choices and their life cycle.  You can go about this in small, medium, or large-scale ways, and no one way is better than another.

Let’s start with paper.

You may be dreaming of the perfect, most exquisitely designed invitation suite to match your wedding colours—and rightfully so, because who doesn’t love stationery? Perhaps, instead of including multiple pieces and an RSVP card, ask your guests to RSVP via your wedding website. Having an online space also allows plenty of room and flexibility to display additional information guests might find useful, such as the menu and maps.

If you decide you want to do a paper invitation but aren’t fixed on the look, consider purchasing a beautiful, handmade recycled paper set to send to guests.  You can even go the extra mile by hand-delivering as many invitations to your guests as possible, to help further reduce your carbon footprint. Alternatively, you could go paperless with an online invitation. Canva and Paperless Post are among many design sites with a vast array of gorgeous templates at your fingertips that promise to look chic and sleek, while perfectly complementing your wedding theme.

The approach you choose for your invitations can also be applied to other traditionally printed day-of pieces—like programs, menus and signage. Between printing fewer pieces, printing on recycled paper and refraining from printing altogether, there are an abundance of options that will minimize waste on your big day. If you are contemplating recycled paper, seed paper is a spectacular biodegradable product that is also approved for planting. The paper itself contains seeds that can grow wildflowers, vegetables and herbs, while doubling as a thoughtful wedding favour for your guests. Should you choose not to print at all, brainstorm creative electronic ways to share important information, and ask your venue what they have done in the past to support this choice.

Regardless of which avenue you take, communicate with your guests the reasons for limiting your paper usage. Often, it takes an idea to spark another idea—so give your guests the gift of showing your effort and allowing them to consider their own future choices.

Natalie Ho has worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years and is currently is the director of event sales for Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality. She has personally planned 350+ weddings and momentous events. Both creative and business-minded, Natalie is dedicated to growing her events business in out-of-the-box ways.

Insider Tips To Keep Your Wedding Budget On Course

Planning

Photo courtesy of Oliver & Bonacinci Hospitality.

If you’ve gotten engaged recently and have started the planning process, what I’m about to say likely won’t come as a surprise. Hosting a wedding is a hefty financial commitment, especially if you intend to invite a large number of guests to your celebration. But, like any investment, there are ways to allocate your funds to guarantee the best return. So where should you spend the money?

When it comes to food, there are so many creative ways to ask for a dish in a budget-friendly format. For example, a salad with nuts and cheese is great, but if your caterer can remove the extra elements, you will likely shave off a few dollars. Or, if you have your heart set on serving beef, ask your caterer to swap the tenderloin for a braised short rib. This is a fantastic way to save more on your per-person price without sacrificing taste or quality.

Another trick is, instead of having a late-night food station for your guests, opt for passed canapés — they’re typically less expensive per person than a food station and prevent your guests from being pulled away from the dance floor.

Table décor presents another great opportunity to spend less. Instead of one large centrepiece, spruce up your tables with smaller deconstructed vases (rented from your florist) that hold fewer flowers but create a fuller look than a single arrangement. Then backfill the gaps with side-by-side pillar candles from an inexpensive home décor store for an extra-romantic feel.

Another important décor detail that will go a long way is a cohesive print set for menus, table numbers and bar signs. You can find a digital download online (Etsy is a great source), update the file with your personal details, and print them out at your local printing shop on a thick cardstock.

Finally, do your research and ask questions. If you have your heart set on a wedding vendor, ask them for creative ways to help stretch the dollars you spend with them. Don’t hesitate to communicate your budget upfront and let them tell you what works. This way, you won’t have to overspend or re-negotiate once you’ve fallen in love with a certain product.

Oh, and maybe now is the time to get a money tree for the house. Happy saving!

Natalie Ho has worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years and is currently is the director of event sales for Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality. She has personally planned 350+ weddings and momentous events. Both creative and business-minded, Natalie is dedicated to growing her events business in out-of-the-box ways.

How To Create An Amazing Wedding Food Experience

Planning

Photo courtesy of Oliver & Bonacini.

You’ve booked your venue, and you’re ready to get down to business. Let’s face it—food is one of the main elements of your wedding that guests will be anticipating (along with an endless flow of beverages), and you want to ensure their bellies are full with a really delicious, memorable meal. As the food experience evolves at weddings, the ever-present trend is the desire for couples to customize what they serve so that it perfectly reflects their history and the story that led them to their wedding day. So how might you achieve this?

If you are a couple willing to take a risk and are really passionate about a certain cuisine, you can forgo the traditional wedding dinner and serve something unexpected. Picture your guests in their formal attire, as you surprise them with a decadent brisket, warm cornbread and hearty potato salad. Or, if you are a vegan couple, have your venue chef prepare a nourishing plant-based menu for your guests to enjoy. Your guests will appreciate both the personalization and a new experience they likely wouldn’t have had at another wedding.

If you prefer something more traditional for your main meal, the cocktail reception, late-night stations and dessert are your best bets for really expressing who you are as a couple and what you love. Perhaps the two of you always eat cereal late at night, so why not create a fun late-night cereal bar with your favourite sugar-filled cereals? Or if, for example, you and your partner travelled or lived in Asia, try serving dim sum as your late-night snack, or arranging a Japanese-inspired cocktail reception with sushi, gyoza and a ramen food station.

Wedding food is no longer just about the taste, but also the guests’ experiences interacting with it. A dessert station is a great opportunity to experiment with décor and interaction—for example, you can hang candy apples from a tree that guests can cut down themselves, or cotton candy from an overhead cloud. Don’t be afraid to get creative and create a food experience that will resonate with your guests long after the celebrations. Bon appétit!

Natalie Ho has worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years and is currently is the director of event sales for Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality. She has personally planned 350+ weddings and momentous events. Both creative and business-minded, Natalie is dedicated to growing her events business in out-of-the-box ways.

An Insider’s Guide To Booking Your Wedding Venue

Planning

Photography by Mango Studios. Venue, Canoe.

Getting engaged is a big step in your relationship, but committing to your wedding date and signing on with a venue makes it completely official. So how do you find the venue that will host the most magical night of your life? (No pressure!)

When it comes to finding a venue, I always ask couples, what is the vision you have for the day? Do you see yourself outdoors for the ceremony? Are you surrounded by a lot of natural light, or is it moody, romantic and filled with candles? Venues come in all shapes & sizes, so this is a great way to start to narrow in.

Also, how many guests are you really inviting? (Get all key stakeholders together and create a list) and what is your per person budget for food and beverage? Understanding your capacity needs are key, as you don’t want to fall in love with a space that you can’t fit in or with a price point that isn’t in line with what you are wanting to spend.

When you approach a venue, include as much of the information you’ve now envisioned from these questions. This will allow your venue representative to show you exactly how you can execute your vision in the space, including which wedding suppliers could make your dreams come to life. If you have a Pinterest board, share it around! The more people know your vision, the more likely it will come to life in the exact way you’ve planned.

And if you are curious about what other couples are doing—one of the big trends we’ve seen is restaurants becoming a popular wedding destination for larger groups. Restaurants offer a designed backdrop, which limits the amount couples have to spend on décor. They also offer a more robust bar offering and finer dining experience than some larger facilities. Most restaurants will allow a buyout, so ask your favourite restaurant if they would consider hosting a wedding.

Or, skip the heat and join other couples who are now looking outside of May – October and spending their wedding indoors.  This approach could also lend to great savings as many venues and wedding vendors will provide an off-season discount.

European destination weddings are also increasing in popularity and we completely understand why! Dreamy castle backdrops with rolling hills and local wine? I’d RSVP yes to that!

Natalie Ho has worked in the hospitality industry for 15 years and is currently is the director, event sales for Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality. She has personally planned 350+ weddings and momentous events. Both creative and business-minded, Natalie is dedicated to growing her events business in out-of-the-box ways and she and her team are passionate and always prepared to go above and beyond to bring their clients’ vision to fruition.