7 Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Catering Service

April 21, 2022

With the average wedding catering costing $75 per person, you can’t afford to make the wrong choice. And guests will remember, and talk about, the food.

But how exactly do you choose a good wedding caterer? Most people have little experience in choosing a good caterer. They may go into the process blind, but you don’t have to make the same mistake.

Here are 7 factors to consider when choosing your wedding catering service.

1. The Number of People They Can Cater For

Before anything else, you need to know how many people you need food for. Some caterers may be willing to stretch what their upper limit is to accommodate your wedding, but that doesn’t mean they have the experience necessary to handle large weddings.

2. The Cost

Most people expect that catering for more guests means an increase in catering costs. But that’s far from the only factor you need to consider.

Ordering foods that are out of season can also make a huge dent in your budget. Talk to your caterer to see if they can suggest any substitutes for out-of-season items. 

When you discuss costs with your wedding caterer, also ask about the payment method. Some require the full amount upfront, while others require some in advance and the rest later. 

Also, ask about everything that’s included. Some may not include tax. Others may not include gratuity or other hidden fees.

3. Menu Customization Options

How flexible is the caterer with their menu options? Depending on your guests, you may want to serve vegan, vegetarian, or other menu items that cater to a specific allergy. If a guest has a food allergy, that needs to be taken into consideration too. 

If they do offer customization options, ask about the costs. Good wedding catering is about making great dishes for all of your guests.

4. Kids Options

While your ideal menu may be perfectly tailored to adults, kids’ tastes are far different - and pickier. Ask your potential caterer if they have catering options for kids. 

5. Sustainability

What happens to the leftovers? Where do they source their ingredients from? Do they use a lot of single-use plastics?

If you’re concerned about sustainability, bring up these questions when inquiring about a caterer.

6. Taste Tests

Don’t go with catering services that don’t offer taste tests. Do you really want to risk serving boring, bland food at the most important event of your life? 

Plus, the taste test isn’t only about seeing if the food is good; it’s a time to hone in on your food likes and dislikes. 

Is there a specific dish that is special to you and your future spouse? If so, you may want that included on the menu - and you may want to taste test it to ensure they get it right.

7. Their Reputation

Check online reviews for the caterer’s reputation. Read through both positive and negative reviews and make note of what clients are saying about the caterer’s food, communication, and overall performance during catered events. 

Don’t go solely by online reviews. Many online reviews are fake

Inquire if the caterer has references they can provide. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend any caterers.  

Take Your Time When Choosing a Wedding Catering Service

Hiring someone for your wedding catering isn’t easy, but it’s important that you don’t rush the process.

Otherwise, you might end up with bland food, a struggling service, or sticker shock from hidden fees.

For more advice on wedding planning, check out the rest of our blog.

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Best Wedding Day Tips for Any Beautiful Bride

April 18, 2022

 An estimated 2.5 million weddings will take place in 2022. The U.S. hasn't reached that number of yearly weddings in almost 40 years. 

If you're one of the millions of couples planning a wedding this year, you probably need a few tips to help you plan for the big day.

This guide will discuss everything the beautiful bride should know to prepare for this important day. Keep reading to learn more. 

Put Your Wedding Party Together Early 

First on the list of wedding tips is creating the perfect wedding party. Choosing the members of your wedding party might prove difficult if you have a lot of loved ones who are an important part of your life. 

The wedding party will consist of the maid of honor, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the best man depending on the couple. You'll want to consider individuals who can commit to taking on this responsibility. 

You'll need time to choose the right people and send out invitations. Make sure you finish this task long before the wedding day. 

Take Photos Before the Ceremony 

Your wedding day will be a whirlwind of activity. If you want the day to go as smoothly as possible, you should consider taking photos with your wedding party and guests before the ceremony. 

If you take photos ahead of time, you'll be able to spend more time enjoying the reception after your ceremony. Your photographer will still take photos during the reception, but you won't have to worry about posing with every guest. 

Your Hairstyle Is as Important as the Dress

You'll likely start looking for your wedding dress early on. One thing you should also start planning ahead of time to help you look your best on your wedding day is your hairstyle. 

The hairstyle you choose will depend on your hair type and your dress. Styling your hair down is great if you have naturally long hair. You might prefer an up-do if you want to keep your hair out of your face. 

Put Together a Good Crew 

If you want the perfect wedding, you'll need to choose the right people to help you achieve that. Choosing a venue that works for your number of guests is key. 

You should start researching vendors early on, too. You might want to hire a wedding planner to help you book the right catering company and a florist to help decorate the venue. 

You'll also need to book the best entertainment so everyone can enjoy their evening. If I were planning my wedding, I'd want to learn more about wedding singers near me. There are lots of talented local musicians who can help make your wedding day a success. 

Wedding Day Tips Every Beautiful Bride Should Know 

There are many important wedding day tips every beautiful bride and groom needs to know to make their big day one to remember. This list was just the start. It's important to hire the right people and put together the wedding party well in advance. 

Check out some of the other wedding-related blogs on our website for more helpful tips. 

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Let's Talk Kombucha

April 7, 2022

 I've been drinking kombucha since 2009, and was in the crowd of people who were devastated when it was taken off the market around 2010. If you love fermented foods, this is the mother of all of them. An ancient Chinese tea concoction full of probiotics and acetic acid. It's fizzy and tastes amazing. 

And healthy. It's healthy. 

With the constant rise in kombucha prices I had been wanting to get into making my own. This fall I ran into a friend who said she could give me a scoby and get me started on my first batch. 

I really thought that there was no way that this could be easy, I mean seriously... I blew up a jar of sauerkraut in the fridge. That wasn't easy and smelled like it might poison me. 

But kombucha, it's easy. Just find a friend who is willing to give you some plain starter tea and a scoby and you are good to go. 

The Scoby Hotel

The little jar in the front, that's my scoby hotel. It's a nice little place to grow replacement scoby and ferment some tea to the point of vinegar. 

You'll only need to add a new 2 cups of tea sweetened with a cup of sugar once every two months or so. Some say one month, but with our weather, two months gave me a really strong vinegar that could also be used as a starter tea for someone else. 

Any small scoby you initially put into your hotel doesn't have to be perfect. While it is allowed to sit and ferment for an extended period of time it will develop new layers of scoby and grow to the size of the jar. 

Here's an up close view of my hotel. You can see at the top where a second layer has started. 

Just make sure when you are replacing/feeding the kombucha that you keep 2 cups of the kombucha that has been fermented to add to the 2 cups of sweet tea at all times.

The Scoby

As this baby grows to the size of whatever jar you put it in, you will see new scoby forming. (some people call this a pellicle) 

The darker bits are the older scoby, stained from the tea. The newer bits are a cloudy white. 

As this scoby ages and grows you will want to peel off older bits and discard them. Sometimes you'll want to thin your scoby if it becomes too thick... just add those bits to your hotel. 

And finally, how I make my kombucha tea every week. 

The Kombucha Process 

I like to continuous brew and keep my ferment to one week for each step. I'll add links to exactly what I use on each item. Here's my process: 

Sunday - Boil two cups of water, add in one cup of sugar (I used an organic unbleached sugar) and 5 tea bags. These need to be caffeinated and not flavored. Black, white tea, and green tea work best. Let the sweet tea cool down to room temperature completely. I tend to do this in the morning. 

(On a side note, nothing will kill your brew faster than earl grey tea. The bergamot isn't your friend. Do not use herbal teas. It's really best to stick to quality teas. Prince of Peace offers great tea that is also organic for very reasonable prices.) 

Sunday Evening: Once the tea is completely cool I will get out my large measuring cup, two large mason jars, a small dessert plate to hold my scoby, and a funnel. At this point I wash my hands and the pie plate off with white vinegar, antibacterial soaps will kill your scoby. I take off my coffee filter that protects my jar, and grab the scoby out with my clean hands, placing it on my small plate. 

(detailed much lol) 

Reserve two cups of your kombucha in one of the mason jars. Using your large measuring cup, pour the kombucha into the containers you will use for your second ferment. (that big gallon of kombucha is considered the F1 or first ferment) I use old GT Synergy Kombucha bottles, these will go about a year before I need to replace them. Every week I get about 5 16 ounce bottles filled and then one bottle has 8 ounces of kombucha. I like to decant my kombucha into that Pyrex measuring cup and pour it through a funnel into the GT bottles. 

After I have poured all of my first ferment kombucha into their bottles I will add my flavoring, tightly seal the lids, and store them in a dark cabinet for one week. Daily you should "burp" your bottles and let off a bit of the carbonation to prevent them from exploding like champagne when you finally decide to open them. This also let's you gauge how carbonated you want your tea to be. 

Now on to the big gallon jar again - from here I pour my 2 cups of cooled sweet tea, and  2 cups of kombucha in my jar. Next I fill the jar up with filtered water, put my scoby back into the jar, place the coffee filter back on top and secure it with a rubber band. 

This big jar of kombucha will sit in a dark corner of the house, undisturbed, for one solid week. Until I start the process over next Sunday. (You don't have to do Sunday, that's just my day that I swap it all over.) 

How Long Can I Ferment my F1? 

You can let your first ferment go anywhere from 7-21 days. Keep in mind though that the longer it ferments, the higher the alcohol content (all fermented foods contain alcohol as a by product), and the more sour it tastes. 

I have been sticking to a 7 day ferment. That is just long enough to reap the benefits of the acetic acid and develop the probiotics. It also allows the kombucha to eat up most of that sugar. I recently saw an interview with Dave from GT where he was talking about how companies solved the alcohol content crisis of 2010 that pulled kombucha from shelves. Some bought million dollar machines to remove the high alcohol content and pasteurize the kombucha after a 21 day ferment. Dave chose to just lower his first ferment to 7 days and this kept the alcohol level down to super market standards. 

If 7 days is good enough for Dave, 7 days is good enough for me. 

The benefit to this is that if you have to go over a day or two due to the happenings of daily life, it's no big deal. However, the batch I was making when Dad passed away had a back bite that tasted like beer because I had let it ferment about two weeks. 

But don't worry, even if you fermented if for 21 days the alcohol content would be so low that you'd have to drink 24 16 ounce bottles to feel the effects. Before you ever hit that 24th bottle you'd be visiting the bathroom for what that much kombucha would do to you stomach anyway. 

What I've Learned from Flavorings 

When you have your second ferment going, and it's brewing away with a touch of flavoring added, it's important to have a touch of sugar in there for good measure. No, I don't literally mean to add more sugar. Instead use juices or fruits that will add some natural sugar. Just enough for the kombucha to feed off of it and create that signature fizz. 

My favorites flavoring by far is blueberry ginger. 

I've made this by cooking blueberries down into a syrup, or even using organic blueberry juice. This pas week I used only ginger, and while it has an amazingly smooth gingery taste it is lacking majorly in the fizz department. 

Too little sugar for that F2. 

I tried apple twice, it was no bueno. Something about how it fermented at home caused a high sulfur content and it smelled awful. Too much lemon also causes this, but if you get it right the lemon/ginger is great. 

This summer I would like to try lavendar/honey or lavendar/lemon

That about wraps this up. If you have any questions about kombucha, or live close enough that you'd like some of mine... let me know! 

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Simply Earth Essential Oil Recipe Box || April 2022

April 1, 2022

This month's essential oil box theme from Simply Earth is Clean Laundry! 

In the land of dirty little boys, anything that can benefit the laundry is a good idea in my book. 

In this month's box you'll get the following single oils and blend: 

Clean & Fresh Blend - Cleans (Kid Safe 2+, Pregnancy Safe) 

Tea Tree Oil - Skincare, cleans, uplifts (Kid Safe 2+) 

Tangerine Oil - Aides digestion, supports immunity (Kid Safe 2+, Pregnancy Safe, Dog Safe) 

Thyme Oil - Aides digestion, supports immunity (Kid Safe 10+) 

The extras this month include: 

2 oz Amber Spray Bottle

Soap Nuts (I'm so excited to try these) 

Cotton Fabric Squares 

In the event you are wondering what on earth soap nuts are, (I've heard about them for ages in the natural cleaning realm, but haven't used them.) they're the husk from soapberries. They contain a natural soap called Saponin. When the saponin gets wet it releases natural suds, making this a great biodegradable alternative to chemical detergents. 

You're going to love the recipes for this month's box. They include: reusable dryer sheets, a Fresh Start Roll-On,  Soap Nut Liquid Laundry Soap, Stain Remover, Clean Linen Spray, and a Clean & Crisp Diffuser Blend. 

I'm honestly the most excited to try the Soap Nut Landry Soap and Reusable Dryer Sheets. I already started diffusing the Clean & Fresh blend mixed with a few drops of tangerine in the living room and it smells so nice. 

Now for a few more reasons, as if this amazing cleaning inspired box isn't enough, to dive into Simply Earth. (I actually started using essentials oils back in 2011 to clean just because regular cleaners made me feel so sick.) 

When you buy these oils in the subscription box you are getting $149.53 value for only $39 dollars. Simply Earth isn't an MLM company or has any middle men sellers (I don't actually sell their stuff... I'm just a blogger who loves their oils.) so you save money right there. No middle man, less $$$. If we are being honest, some companies cost more for the sake of costing more... not because they're better. 

You'll also get a free essential oil education with your subscription. What's the point in having all this stuff and not knowing how to use it? No worries, you get access to the Simply Earth Essential Oil Hero Course where you can learn how to use your oils with confidence. They also have a great Facebook group for subscribers. 

Last but not least, if you love to feel crafty and do a DIY here or there... this is a fun place to start. I've subscribed to many a box in my time and this one offers just the right mix to keep me interested. It's something to do, learning something new, making things, and making my house smell amazing that does it for me! 

A few things before I wrap this up - 

This month's 13% to end human trafficking is going to the organization The Daughter Project. Located in Ohio, they help women and children who have been rescued from trafficking. They provide survivors with food, clothes, and counseling at their drop-in shelter. 

As always head over to Simply Earth to order your APRIL box and use the code LABRIDEFREE to get a $40 giftcard/credit towards your next order when you get your Bonus Box! 

Next month's box will contain Ladies' Choice (I'm laughing so hard at this name) Lemon, Marjoram, and Spearmint. Can y'all guess the theme? 

Also -- here are a few things you can do with your box every month! 

1. Add items to your box to get free shipping. 
2. Exchange oils. 
3. Gift a month to a friend. 
4. Get 50% off your next box by sharing your unique voucher code with friends, they'll also get $10 off their first 5 months -  you'll get 50% off for every friend that subscribes! 

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