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Eat, Drink, and Be Married

A Cocktail Party
June 26, 2004

The Bride and Groom: Rachel Rice, 31, a pediatric physical therapist, and Erik Geisler, 31, the co-owner of a credit-card-processing company.

The Setting: Banchet Flowers, an 1,800-square-foot brick-walled florist's shop in the meatpacking district.

The Backstory:
The couple wanted a reception that replicated the relaxed environment of their engagement party, an impromptu get-together at the bar at the Soho Grand Hotel with family and friends the night after Erik proposed. "The evening was so personal - everyone could chat with everyone," says Erik. "We thought it would be a shame if we couldn't have an equally relaxed environment at our wedding." So out went all of the trappings of a traditional wedding - the ballroom, round tables, 250-person guest list, sit-down meal, and highly scripted timeline ("Like, 'Now it's time to cut the cake,'" says Erik); instead, they opted for Banchet's bare-bones space.

Photographs by Yancey Hughes

Making it Happen:
With room for only four small tables (a concession to older relatives), most of the 100 guests would be standing all evening. So caterer Marcey Brownstein came up with a selection of twenty hors d'oeuvre that could be eaten without plates or silverware and while balancing a drink. "We wanted things that people didn't normally see," says Erik. The menu included Asian panko scallops with three-herb chili chutney; vegetable rice-paper rolls with miso dipping sauce; leek, feta, and black-olive mini-tartlets; fish and chips in a paper cone, as well as heartier fare like baby lamb chops with crushed almond pesto and filet mignon on rye. Soup "sips" - lobster bisque, cream-of-wild-mushroom soup, and sweet-pea soup served in shot glasses - mixed things up, texture-wise.

How it Played Out:
After the 7:15 ceremony, the wait staff served Veuve Clicquot and cocktails as well as the hors d'oeuvre, which were passed for the next two hours. "I loved that people could socialize and not be interrupted by the food," says Rachel. After a brief lull, wedding cupcakes and chocolate fondue with cake made the rounds. "People loved the party—it matched our personalities," says Erik, who found that the lounge music that played all night had him thinking he was in the coolest club. "We're fun, we love to break the rules, so people saw it as a reflection of us. There was the novelty of guessing what was going to happen next."

The Tab:
About $95 a head for food and beverage.

From the Spring 2005 New York Wedding Guide