Anna Marie Leo Holder, 25, and Jason Michael Holder, 28, of Clearwater
Married: Dec. 31, 2012
Ceremony and reception: St. Petersburg Marriott, Clearwater
Number of guests: 130
Budget for food: $15,000
Reception format: Cocktail hour with a combination of passed hors d'oeuvres and stations, including two open bars. Following that, guests went into the grand ballroom for a buffet dinner of Santa Fe chicken, truffled macaroni and cheese, green beans, zucchini and squash, and freshly carved ham. Once through this line, there was a separate station set up as a mashed potato bar.
Special requests of the caterer? We always wanted a mashed potato bar that we had seen at another formal event. A chef scooped mashed potatoes into a martini glass, and guests had a variety of toppings that they could choose to top them with. It was a fun, delicious addition, and all of the guests loved it!
Cake or no cake? We had our cake made by Pandaisia in Tampa. Instead of a cupcake wedding cake, which is what we originally wanted, the baker was able to make individual cakes for each guest. Each cake was wrapped with either a white glitter ribbon for vanilla cake, a black glitter ribbon to indicate chocolate cake, or a red glitter ribbon to indicate red velvet. For the bridal party we had a two-tiered cake that was displayed on a raised, circular table. The cake was topped with roses and a silver H monogram. We had roses and candles scattered around the cake table, as well. This two-tiered cake was the one that we cut together.
Did you make anything yourselves? Yes. Being a traditional Italian (bride), I wanted to incorporate a Viennese table into the reception. Since my father owns his own deli, Anthony's Deli Warehouse in Clearwater, we had them cater a large part of the pastries. It was really a joint effort since it is a family business. My father makes his own cannoli cream for the deli, so he made 150 cannolis, as well as a variety of Italian cookies. My mother and I made 150 eclairs and 150 cream puffs. Additionally, we made individual desserts in a 4-ounce shot glass. There were 150 peanut butter pie shots, 150 tiramisu shots, and 150 French blueberry shots, which is a family cheesecake-style recipe.
What advice would you give to a friend planning a wedding in regards to food? An all-inclusive package is definitely the way to go. You get much more value, and making it all come together is so much easier. Plus, with a hotel like ours, they eliminate so much of the stress because they have preplanned everything with you months prior to the wedding, so when the big day finally arrives, there is nothing to worry about or run around doing. You just get to sit back and enjoy everything!
Samantha Jones, 41, and Maurice Dunbar, 41, of Land O'Lakes
Married: June 26, 2012
Ceremony and reception: Plantation Palms Golf and Country Club, Land O'Lakes
Number of guests: 100
Budget for food: $1,000
Did you use a caterer? No. Family made all the food. We are Caribbean and wanted to keep our culture very prevalent throughout the reception. We had curry goat, escovitch fish and jerk chicken.
Cake or no cake? Yes, I made it. I was a total DIY bride. I enlisted friends and family to help with everything from the invitations to the favors for the event.
What did you do for beverages? We made homemade Jamaican Rum punch and had an open bar for wine and beer.
Any special family traditions incorporated into the menu? We had Jamaican Black cake, which is a traditional rum cake served at weddings and other special events.
What did the groom have to have? He's easygoing, but requested a groom's cake reflecting his love for DJing.
What advice would you give to a friend planning a wedding in regards to food? Have a definite plan in mind, and enlist the help of friends and family. Also, most importantly, have the food reflect who you and your husband-to-be are.
Elizabeth R. Dy, 28, and Darryl M. Parulan, 29, of Tampa
To be married: Aug. 10
Ceremony and reception: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Tampa, and the Cuban Club, Ybor City
Number of guests: 250
Budget for food: Undecided; still interviewing caterers
Unique or unusual requests for the caterer? We love the fusion of cuisines involved in the New American style but without getting too fancy.
Cake or no cake? What's a wedding without cake? How is this even a question?
What kind of cake? We will most likely have two different cake flavors. Darryl is a huge chocolate fan and while I do love chocolate, I'm an overall cake lover. It would be so hard to decide on just one!
What are you doing for beverages? Local craft beers and wines.
What does the bride have to have? Potatoes of some sort. I'm really into truffle fries, so hopefully, we can make that happen.
What does the groom have to have? Steak. Darryl is a triathlete who really loves his red meat.
Who are you using to help in planning? Jackie Ross with Table 6 Productions (table6productions.com) is taking care of it all. She is truly a blessing for a busy bride.
What advice would you give to a friend planning a wedding in regards to food? Make sure to serve food you would love to eat on any given day. It will really make your wedding feel more personal.
Julie morales, 31, and Erwin Morales, 33, of Tampa
Married: Feb. 23, 2013
Ceremony and reception: Nova 535, St. Petersburg
Number of guests: 106
Budget for food: $10,000
Reception format: Stir-fry station during cocktail hour, passed hors d'oeuvres, stations for the dinner entree (salmon and beef tenderloin), no assigned seating, slider/fries station at end of night.
Did you have any unique or unusual requests for the caterer? Sliders and mini beers at the end of the night.
What kind of cake? Four-tier with fondant (the outside was white with pink and black details). Bottom and top layers were chocolate with peanut butter frosting, middle tier was yellow cake with raspberry filling made by Puff 'n Stuff.
What did you do for beverages? Open bar and three Cigar City Brewing beers besides the usual beers that were offered by the venue.
Did you make anything yourselves? No food, but we made a beer menu card that described the Cigar City beers we served so our out-of-town guests would know what they were and what was available to try.
Any family traditions incorporated into the menu? It's not exactly a family tradition, but since the groom is Asian, we incorporated a noodle stir-fry station during the cocktail hour, which was a big hit. The food was served in pink Chinese takeout containers to tie in our theme of pink and black.
What advice would you give to a friend planning a wedding in regards to food? We wanted to pick foods that reflected us and what we like; our vision and goal for the reception was to do something unique and nontraditional because that is how we are. We wanted everyone on the dance floor all night and that is why we chose stations over a formal seated dinner. It was perfect and amazing and came together exactly the way we wanted.
Compiled by Sabrina Rocco, Times staff writer