Well well well. Here we are at LunchDate #3, and we’re covering one of our favorite subjects – booze. Well, signature wedding cocktails, to be specific.
Are you planning on having a signature cocktail at your wedding? We had one. Our names are Jennifer and Ben so, in a nod to the ultimately doomed celebrity relationship that had tongues wagging in the early 00′s, we called it the “Bennifer”. A name which, much to my chagrin, has stuck to this day among many who know us (Jennifer loves it). However, the drink, which was a simple mix of St. Germain and champagne with a twist, and was lovingly devised by our best man (and mixologist extraordinaire) Adam Geenen of Salud Tequila Lounge in Chicago, was a hit. We still drink it to this day and toast not only our marriage but also the tabloid king and queen of 2003 at the same time.
We put the question to our esteemed panel of wedding planners, consultants, and all around geniuses:
Signature Cocktails: Yes or No? Rising Trend or Past It’s Prime?
Yes, yes, yes. It is always a fun, festive first impression as guests enter the cocktail hour. Pass on silver trays at the entrance to help welcome guests as they arrive, and prevent lines at the bar as the party begins. I love to create a signature cocktail that works with the theme or color palette of the event, or plays on personality traits or hobbies of the bride and groom. For a retro reception, we served miniature Root Beer Floats with Vanilla Vodka; for a wine country wedding Pinot Punch from the Napa vineyard, and a Parisian Engagement Soiree St. Germain Sparklers.
-Debi Lilly, A Perfect Event (Chicago, IL)
Definitely not a rising trend, but here’s a fun twist on the signature drink: put a posterboard or chalkboard on an easel near the bar. At the top, write the ingredients of your signature drink and ask guests to help you “name this cocktail”. Leave room (and pens or chalk) for guests to come up with fun personalized drink names based on the ingredients and the personalities of the bride and groom. Cheers!
-Kim Oliff, Always RSVP Event Design and Coordination (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
I say a resounding “Yes” to signature cocktails. Not only are they the expression of the newlyweds’ personalities and a reflection of their creativity, they are a very effective way to cut the bar tab costs (which is one of the MAJOR expenses of the wedding, let’s face it). In addition, a signature cocktail can help make the theme of the wedding more cohesive, as an extra benefit.
-Tatiana Abramova, The BrideScoop (Chicago, IL)
Yes – I think they are still hot. They can serve 2 purposes – the drink can reflect the personalities of the couple (and some couples are right on trend using different/unusual ingredients) and/or, it can help reduce the bar costs by serving beer, wine, soda and one great specialty drink and forgoing the full bar for the cocktail hour!
-Cindy Shanholtz, Effortless Events (Naperville, IL)
Only if you feel strongly about wanting them. The truth is that just serving beer & wine is totally fine – if your guests complain about being served limited types of free drinks, well, really? They’re free, you’re an adult, it’s time to learn to be gracious.
-Elizabeth, Lowe House Events (San Francisco, CA)
I love signature cocktails, I am a huge fan and these days the more creative the better! There are so many amazing mixologists and drink recipes out there and it shows your guests you put a lot of thought in your special day!
-Angela Nelson, Lulu Events (Napa Valley, CA)
It’s depend on what type of signature drink you serve. For example; Cosmpolitans, Lemon drops are definitely past their prime. Whereas vintage liquers and spirits can really add a level of sophisticaion and fun to an event. Recently I was turned on to a wonderful, delicate flower liquer by the name of St. Germain Elderflower liquer. It is absolutely devine mixed with dry champage or club soda & lime. Creating new or bringing back old elixir’s is a fun way to entertain your guests.
-Alice Grisez, Grisez & Co. Event Design (San Francisco, CA)
Not trendy at all! Many of my clients have a his and hers signature drink. Can keep the bar costs down too–go for it!
-Genevieve, Lily Spruce (San Francisco, CA)
No, I don’t think signature cocktails are past their prime. What might make the next generation of cocktails more interesting would be to source some of the flavor elements locavore style using local, organic, heirloom and/or sustainable ingredients.
-Stacie Tamaki, The Flirty Guide (San Jose, CA)
While many might say it is past it’s prime, I’m a fan of anything that can be passed upon guest arrival to relieve pressure on the bar and get drinks into the guests’ hands quickly. A signature drink gives me a fun way to offer guests something color coordinated that is not champagne, chardonnay or sparkling water…love when people get creative and have fun with them such as the watermelon “Hopitini” that we just created for the Hopman’s at their wedding – fun pop of coral, great flavor and a play on their married name!
-Isabella Sikaffy, Florabella (Menlo Park, CA)
Absolutely! It’s a trend that has reached its peak and is now standardized at events. It’s a great way of customizing a personal event while budgeting hard liquor into a bar that might have only served beer and wine.
-Hazel Bourget, Blu Bungalow (San Francisco, CA)
The signature cocktail is here to stay. It is a great way to put individuality into your wedding and let’s be honest very fun! I recommend that the signature drink should not only be available at the bar but also passed during cocktail hour so that guests can really experience it. Serving your signature drink in a unique vessel like a jewel toned martini glass also makes it stand out. I love when couples design the drink themselves, a great resource for researching a signature drink is drinksmixer.com. One couple I worked with designed a his and hers signature drink-a Tango which was a classic white wine sangria with a hint of champagne, this fit their personalities to a “T” as the groom was a classic kind of guy and she was a more bubbly personality, also for their first dance they did a choreographed Tango!
-Robyn, Red Letter Event Planning (Glenview, IL)
Still hot as can be. But couples are opting for old style cocktails like Manhattans, Hi Balls and Tom Collins.
-Alexandra Jusino, Exquisite Designs (Chicago, IL)
Absolutely still in effect! Signature cocktails allow you to extend a refreshing cocktail to your guests when you may be on a limited budget and cannot serve a full bar. They are also a great way to incorporate personal details into your wedding, by naming each drink uniquely – for instance, after your beloved pets, who couldn’t attend.
-Kate Miller, Kate Miller Events (Northern CA)
Past It’s Prime…still fun if you are “known” for a certain drink, but…Most people have their own drink and they’ll stick to it! NOW – Signature Hors d’ oeuvres are making their move…jump on!
-Marcia Hemphill, An Urban Affair (Chicago, IL)
I haven’t seen this in a while, but, if done in a classy and appropriate manner, I don’t think there is any harm done. Think about naming it after the couple, or use the decor/theme/time-of-year as a guide to create something interesting. If you need to keep your bar bill down, I would advise to stay away from offering a signature cocktail, as they tend to be expensive.
-Claire Abrams, “Day-Of” Party Coordinatoremail@example.com (Chicago, IL)
If you are Carrie Bradshaw and everyone knows you ONLY drink Cosmos or you met your future husband-to-be at a whiskey mixology party, I think signature cocktails have a place for a wedding celebration. If you are doing it just to spend more money, let it be and enjoy the open bar and wine service!
-Claudia Antony Zompa, AS YOU WISH EVENTS (Chicago, IL)
A signature cocktail is still a fun way to offer guests a ‘creative’ drink & to put a personal touch on the bar – but it’s definitely been done before. More unique options – do stations with wine pairings during cocktail hour or have one bar dedicated to margaritas and another to your favorite draft beers (think Guinness & Harp for the Irish crowd or rare micro brews for the beer lovers)!
-Kirstin Martin, Smitten Boutique (Chicago, IL)
Lets be honest … Cocktails are important! Almost all of our couples (especially the grooms) put the bar at the top of their list. With that in mind, I think it is important to greet your guests with passed beverages before the bar gets over crowded. I like passing a signature cocktail because it is always a great conversation piece. Come up with a fun name or a meaningful cocktail (got engaged at at Tapas bar? Serve Sangria. If your name is Shelly serve a “Bomb-Shell”) and enjoy your evening.
-Heather Lynne Vickery, Greatest Expectations Special Events & Weddings, Inc. (Chicago, IL)
I think a specialty cocktail list is the way to go. Offering a few classic cocktail options to your guests through a specialty menu at the bar is here to stay. Drinks that rhyme with your name and match the colors of the wedding should be long gone.
-Shannon Leahy, Shannon Leahy Events (San Francisco, CA)
Signature cocktails are past their prime, they have been around for awhile and are no longer a rising trend. However, they are appropriate for themed parties and weddings and really add flair to an event when the drink is an incorporation of the idea rather than just a color accent. Weddings are getting a bit dated with signature cocktails, I think there needs to be a new spin on just having a martini that is named after the happy couple!!
-Monica Sehgal Sharma, Allure Event and Meeting Productions (Chicago, IL)
What do you think, Foodie Registry brides?
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