By LIBBY CUDMORE
ONEONTA – Nikki Bower reminds you to always eat barbeque with care.“I’m not a girly-girl, so wearing a wedding dress all day was hard for me,” she joked. “I was trying to eat responsibly, but I got barbeque sauce all down the front of my dress!”
Married June 25, 2016, Nikki and her husband Sean were on the cutting edge of the latest in wedding trends – forgoing filet mignon and lobster tails for some good old-fashioned barbeque. “It’s more affordable than steak and shrimp,” said Bobbi Harlem, owner of the Carriage House, the Southside wedding venue. “And for us, it goes really well with the barn-like atmosphere of the Carriage House.”
Barbeque “is more family-style and more relaxing,” said Ryan Brooks, owner of Brooks’ BBQ. The Bowers’ wedding was catered by Andre’s Blue Ribbon on Route 7 east of the city. “We didn’t even know they catered,” said Nikki. “We’ve always gone there, and so we asked, and they agreed!”
“Barbeque has always been popular in other parts of the country,” said Theresa Andre, who operates Andre’s with her husband, Pat. “But now, a lot of people are doing these rustic-theme weddings, and it fits right in.”
Pulled pork is the favorite, but chicken remains popular, and brisket is making a comeback. “The Food Network has really been promoting brisket, so that’s what everyone’s asking for,” said Andre. “We offer southern-style barbeque, low and slow, with a dry rub rather than a lot of sauce.”
But as delicious as they are, ribs aren’t a popular choice, for obvious reasons. “People love our ribs, but it’s risky with a white wedding gown,” said Brooks. “Chicken and pulled pork are easier to eat.”
Brooks also partners with both the Carriage House and Sunrise Catering. “We’ll do the appetizers and desserts, as well as handle china, linens and wait staff, but Brooks’ will be the entrée,” said Janet Hurley-Quackenbush, who runs Sunrise Catering with her husband Mark. “It’s always a crowd-pleaser.”
According to Brooks, his caterers handle 20-30 weddings a season, both on-site and off. “We had an email yesterday from a fan of ours who wants us to cater his wedding,” he said. “It’s a little outside our 100-mile service area, but for a wedding, you don’t worry about mileage. When we get to be part of their day, it’s huge for us.”
And small portions are the way to go. “When people are dancing or hanging around a bonfire, you may not want a big plate of meat,” said Andre. “We like to do a buffet with sliders so we can let people mix and match sandwiches, or do a quarter chicken, rather than a half. You can always come back for seconds!”
But don’t forget the fixin’s. “We pride ourselves on our homemade mac ’n’ cheese!” said Harlem, “It’s extra cheesy and creamy.”
“Our mashed potato bar is really popular,” said Quackenbush. “People really love comfort food.”
It also lends itself to easier cleanup. “It’s a little more casual, you can use disposable service, rather than china,” said Harlem.
Brooks has even made bottles of his famous sauce available as wedding favors. “We can do a custom label, or people buy our sauce and put a bow on it,” he said. “But we don’t recommend using it in place of throwing rice! That could get messy!”
As for Bower’s dress, it was nothing a good cleaning couldn’t fix. “David’s Bridal cleaned it for me,” she said.