The Ballroom at McKay Blog

Simply Spring Centerpieces

March 27th, 2014


For weddings, centerpieces are essential. They establish the wedding theme for the reception part of the venue. Since centerpieces are the focal point of a room, it is necessary that you choose the ideal piece to set the perfect tone for your big day. All while keeping in mind that it should be as equally elegant as the event. Your wedding centerpieces may be the center of your guests’ consideration as they take in every detail that came out of your precise planning.

Spring is right around the corner and with every new season comes a new inspiration for your wedding theme. When dreaming of the days filled with sunshine and the bountiful flowers finally blossoming, the inspiration of color palettes and tablescape centerpieces may incorporate soft creams, blush pinks, minty greens and perhaps even some warm coral tones.

The current trend for spring centerpieces includes pastel flower palettes. This palette is the perfect subtle spring theme. Pastel colors included in your flower bouquets are mint, blush, powder blue, pale pink, light yellow, peach and lavender. While these pale, understated pieces make for a beautiful focal point of the table, bright colors are making a comeback. Weddings are white… weddings are cream and pale pink. A bright pop of color is just what some of these – dare I say – bland weddings need! Bright yellows, hot pinks and rich, brilliant purples and blues serve as the perfect addition to a neutral color scheme.

You may be pondering what types of flowers are in this coming spring season to integrate with these palettes. Hydrangeas, peonies, baby’s breath, and lilies are all excellent choices for centerpieces, as they exemplify the beauty, the freshness and the elegance of springtime. Spring is the time when everything is coming into blossom, and beauty can be found just outside your doorstep. Bring this beauty inside for your guests’ viewing pleasure! With the tower marble and vastly elegant space, the Ballroom is the perfect backdrop to Springtime floral selection.


Floral: Flowers by Marla Courtney Wood, Photography: Jen Kroll Photography, Planner: A Day in May, Event Planning and Design


Floral: Field of Flowers Farm, Photography: Jen Kroll Photography, Planner: A Day in May, Event Planning and Design

spring group

Floral: Field of Flowers Farm, Photography: Left: Jen Kroll Photography, Right: Jeremy Harwell Photography,
Planner: A Day in May, Event Planning and Design

The Caterers: Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

March 18th, 2014


Last but deliciously not lease; ending our short series on our Preferred Caterers is The Amway Grand Plaza Catering. Built in 1913 and located just around the corner from The Ballroom, The Amway Grand Plaza has shared a historic spot in the downtown Grand Rapids area. The service of the staff and quality of their catering is not one to be missed! Continue reading to learn more about our final, fabulous caterer!

What is most important to you as a caterer?

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel has always prided itself with impeccable service and product.  We carry this mission to all of our events within the Hotel and outside the Hotel.  With that said, the most important goal we have as a company to ensure that our guests are happy and receive an even better experience than they expected.

Do your dishes and recipes vary per season, and if yes, how so?

It certainly can.  We encourage our guests to work with us on customizing their menus to allow for uniqueness and the freshest of ingredients.  Our most popular dishes listed on our menus are handled by our award-winning culinary staff with utmost care in selecting the freshest ingredients and it’s presentation.

What would you say is your best: Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert?

We couldn’t just pick one.  Based on both personal and professional experiences with our food items, they are truly works of art.  Each food category excels, but not more than the other.  We have guests who are not sweet lovers, yet, fall in love with our cakes and desserts.  Then we have guests who are skeptical with banquet food, yet they have expressed how wonderful the food has been and how it exceeded all of their expectations.

What is your most popular selection for:

Corporate Events: Herb Roasted French-Cut Chicken with our own Hotel Kitchen® Cherry Chutney.

Weddings: Filet of Beef and French-Cut Chicken as a duo plate.

What is your best advice for couples planning their wedding menus?

Customizing your menus doesn’t mean to completely veer off the menu items listed.  It could be as simple as a sauce substitution or even presentation.  Our Chefs love to be creative and that’s really important.

Do you find that most Corporate Events request heavy appetizers, entrees or both?

Most of our corporate events decide on a full 3-course dinner with lighter appetizers and beverage service.

Could you describe a situation where one of your entrees has been significantly altered for a client:

Because the Amway performs so many custom menus, there hasn’t really been one group or one entrée that we completely changed from its original state.  Most of the time, if the client asks for suggestions for other items that are not listed, the Amway puts together items based on if the client wants two entrees versus one, then we build on that. 





 Photos courtesy of The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel


The Caterers: The Catering Co.

March 4th, 2014


Today’s featured caterer is The Catering Company! Providing exceptional service, The Catering Company is a great consideration for your upcoming event – whether classic, contemporary, a wedding or corporate event.

What is most important to you as a caterer?

Our most important attribute is service.  While high quality, well prepared and beautifully presented menu selections are important, it’s the service we provide form our initial contact with and client through completion of event that sets us apart.

Do your dishes and recipes vary per season, and if yes, how so?

The Catering Company works with each of its clients to customize a menu specific to their event needs, whether seasonal, specialty theme, international cuisine or other unique event circumstances.

What would you say is your best:

Chili rubbed braised beef short rib – presented on a Pablano pepper and corn guacamole garnished with red pepper.
Bacon Wrapped Chorizo Dates  – Sweet California dates filled with Mexican chorizo sausage wrapped with cherry wood bacon with a spicy sweet Thai glaze.

Chicken Florentine – Seasoned and grilled chicken breast crowned with a blend of freshly sautéed spinach cream and cheese. Set atop rich dauphinoise potatoes.
Beef Tenderloin – Our chef cut tenderloin steak is lightly seasoned with sea salt and cracked peppercorns then grilled to medium rare and completed with our distinctive Fig & Cabernet Sauce.

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Tart  – 62% bittersweet Peruvian chocolate combined with toasted pecans and rich caramel baked in a vanilla shell.
Chocolate Decadence A classic flourless chocolate cake made with Peruvian and Venezuelan chocolate, creamy, smooth and melt in your mouth texture.


What is your best advice for couples planning their wedding menus?

Our advice is to recently engaged couples is to really understand what you would like for your day.  Talk about the must haves for your reception and even the items you prefer not to have.  Communication is very important for planning your special day.   

Do you find that most Corporate Events request heavy appetizers, entrees or both?

Corporate events vary based on specific event formats.  Social gathering such as galas or fundraisers tend to lean towards hors d’oeuvres stations while events with a “meeting” format prefer a plated entrée with hors d’oeuvres during gathering time.

Could you describe a situation where one of your entrees has been significantly altered for a client:

When clients ask us to design menus for their event we like to have a feel for what they are trying to attain with the menu.  If our menu items are not good fits for their theme or the direction they would like to go, we find that designing a menu from scratch work well as we can be more specific with needs to each guest’s menu.  






Photos courtesy of The Catering Co.


Keri + Owen

February 27th, 2014


On October 12, Keri and Owen shared their beautiful wedding reception, with their friends and family, within The Ballroom at McKay. We wanted to share a few of the images from their momentous evening, thanks to Karyn May’s beautiful photography.













Photos courtesy of Karyn May Photography

Floral – Modern Day Floral, Catering – The Gilmore Collection,
Cake – Mirabella Confections, Music – The Groove Party Band, Photography – Karyn May Photography

The Caterers: Applause Catering

February 25th, 2014


On today’s blog we’re featuring Applause Catering! Founded in 1989, Applause has incredible experience under their belts with catering all types of events, and delicious recipes to match!

What is most important to you as a caterer?

What is most important to Applause as a caterer is top notch customer service from the event designers to the service and culinary staff, we strive to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations at every turn.  From the initial event planning sessions to executing the events with our experienced event managers, service and culinary teams we want each and every guest at our events to have a memorable experience from the venue ambiance, the friendly and helpful staff to the exceptional food.

Do your dishes and recipes vary per season, and if yes, how so?

Yes, our dishes do vary per season.  We certainly try to source as much local food as possible for our menus.  And always offer advice to clients on when certain fresh items are at their peak (are in season).

What would you say is your best:

Some of our best (signature) appetizers are our Pita Feta Crisps, Avocado Egg Rolls, Sugar Glazed Bacon wrapped Water Chestnuts and our Cherry Pork Tenderloin Crostini.  The items I just listed are all handmade piece items from our seasoned culinary team.  From a presentation and taste standpoint, our La Grande Display is a WOW for any event!  An assortment of gourmet meats and cheeses, chef salads, olives, artichoke hearts, dried fruits including dates and figs all cascading attractively on a table accented with fresh fruits, vegetables and hearty breads.

Some of our stand outs include Applause Stuffed Chicken Portofino, Chicken Caprese, Cabernet Tenderloin Medallions, Maple Glazed Salmon and our Roasted Red Pepper Rigatoni.

Our desserts are all created by our in-house pastry chef.  From mini desserts to full size cakes and tortes she creates exceptional desserts.  Our Applause Signature Chocolate Truffles are always a hit.  In addition, our chef-attended dessert stations such as Berries Jubilee, Flaming Apple Pie and Bananas Foster are always a crowd pleaser.

What is your most popular selection for:

Corporate Events: Duo plate of Cabernet Tenderloin Medallions & Chicken Caprese.  We also specialize in custom menus for a lot of our corporate clients, recently we paired a Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chop with our Chicken Caprese, it was delicious!

Weddings: A lot of our weddings prefer a plated meal over buffet.  They also like to offer choices to their guests, some of the favorites are:  Champagne Chicken, Chicken Monterey, Cabernet Tenderloin Medallions, Maple Glazed Salmon.

What is your best advice for couples planning their wedding menus?

Talk over menus ideas as a couple and try to determine what menu style of service you want for your reception.  Are you looking for a more formal plated dinner, a casual buffet or maybe even food stations for a more mingling, strolling feel to your event?  That will really help you to narrow down menu selections and budget.  Tastings with the caterer are very helpful in determining your final menu as well.

Do you find that most Corporate Events request heavy appetizers, entrees or both?

Most of our corporate events want some type of appetizer, many times it is passed canapés during the cocktail hour and then move into dinner, usually plated, a duo plate most often and then of course dessert to follow.  Some corporate events will opt for heavy hors d’oeuvre in place of dinner.  Usually then several stations are set-up throughout the event space for mingling, strolling and heavy hors d’oeuvre.

Could you describe a situation where one of your entrees has been significantly altered for a client (and resulted in the best success):

We do alter entrees on a regular basis for clients.  In this day and age we are dealing with a lot of different food allergies and menu different styles of eating – Vegan, Vegetarian, etc.  We are always willing to work with a client to modify for them a menu to best fit their particular needs.





Photos courtesy of Applause Catering

We can’t wait for our next Event with Applause, as it’s always a guaranteed delicious meal with incredible service! Consider Applause Catering for your next event!