By Richard L. Nix, Jr.
For our parents and grandparents, the champagne reception was a fairly typical way to celebrate the nuptials of families and friends. In fact some might say it was not only a stylish but also an elegant way to entertain. Somewhere between ice carvings bearing the likeness to the bridal couple and table linens that match the bridesmaid’s dresses, the champagne reception format may have been forgotten.
A champagne reception is generally defined as a party that serves champagne and non-alcoholic beverages. These functions usually offer light hors d’oeuvres and often occur during the mid to late afternoon. The Butler’s Pantry likes to expand on the typical definition and believes that the champagne reception is a versatile way to entertain. Here are some of the ways to make your celebration unique and festive.
Location is very important to a wedding ceremony, however, most champagne receptions can be held anywhere. The gardens of the family home, a shady area of a local park, an unusual art gallery or your place of worship could set the backdrop for your celebration. A romantic champagne reception could take place in the Piper Palm House on the grounds of Tower Grove Park surrounded by reflecting ponds, exotic plants, and horse drawn carriage rides. The newly renovated Culver Pavilion at The Muny in Forest Park is certain to be another dynamite setting. It is essential to select a location that will allow guests to comfortably mingle and yet provide the attendees an intimate setting.
Time is another crucial part of the champagne reception. In a relaxed wedding world, a champagne reception may be held at anytime of day. Starting late in the morning, through the midday and into the late afternoon, the champagne reception can be designed to suit any celebration. The evening champagne reception will be both elegant and glamorous. Whether the ambiance is dictated by candlelight, twinkling lights strung in the trees, fireworks, a string quartet, fragrant floral arrangements, or the sound of a waterfall an evening champagne reception will amaze your guests.
Once the time of the reception is chosen, work can begin on the menu. A wedding reception held in the mid-afternoon might include a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres accompanied by caviar or fresh seafood. A reception held in the late afternoon might want to add lavish food stations. The addition of hand carved meats or sautéed pastas can lend more substance to a meal without blowing the budget.
Finally, the champagne and beverages that are selected can really set the tone. Smaller intimate gatherings might appreciate such quality champagnes as Tattinger or Dom Perignon. Other fine champagnes that offer a quality taste but are more reasonably priced for a larger gathering would include Billecart-Salmon, Moet, Clicquot or Perrier Jouet. But, let’s not be limited to just champagne. Adding a wine bar with several different varietals can allow your guests choices other than the typical chardonnay or merlot. If providing unusual non-alcoholic beverages is important think about flavored waters, exotic teas, or a coffee bar with assorted condiments and toppings.
Remember, the locations, timing, cuisine, and spirits may change through the years, but the traditions of our parents and grandparents can live on through the champagne reception.