When it comes to planning a wedding, I’m a big fan of having one or two stand-out elements; details that will make your wedding personal and memorable and that are worth splurging on a bit in what otherwise might be a tight budget. This post is the first in a series highlighting elements that can serve as those personal, memorable details.
Guest Blogger: Bill Bywater
New Windsor, New York
Bill, a commercial sculptor, is a member of the Academy of Ice Carving and Design. Bill’s company, Bywaterworks, was named by that organization as one of the world’s top 200 ice carving companies.
So you have chosen your soul mate, you have chosen your officiate, picked the date, and picked the location. Now you can contact your ice carver. Some larger reception venues, like hotels or catering halls have an ice carver on staff or one that they are used to working with. It is not unreasonable to ask to see photos of their work so you can determine if they can knock out a standard swan or if they can execute a more involved and personalized carving. Ice carvings fall under auspices of the Sous Chef. This kitchen position includes cold food service as well as vegetable and fruit sculpture.
I did not go school for culinary training, I went to school for sculpture and got into ice carving later. If you need to research who in your area can handle an ice carving for your wedding reception, engagement party, bachelor or bachelorette party or rehearsal dinner, here are some suggestions:
- 200 Best Ice Carvers. Both this and the next organization’s websites feature lists of dedicated ice carvers.
- National Ice Carving Association
- WeddingWire lists ice carvers under “Unique Services”.
- You could Google “ice carving blocks” to find out who is making crystal clear carving blocks near you. They will know carvers.
- My site is www.billbywater.com. I serve the Hudson Valley and north to Albany, west to Fairfield, and a little of Northern NJ.
Be ready to tell your ice carver the critical information about your event so they can determine if they can accommodate your needs. Only once the contact person,(usually the bride, groom or wedding planner), tells me the date, location, time and description of the ice carving(s) needed, can I tell them if I am free at that time and what the cost would be.
For me, ice carvings start at $350 for a single block carving. A single block of ice can become any animal, heart design combination. I have carved an R2D2 robot, a pair of wedding bells, back-to-back saxophones forming a heart, kissing fish, a turtle and frog as bride and groom… you get the idea. This is an area for a couple to express themselves and show their flare. Couples’ names are often incorporated into the carving using a snow fill technique so they show up white.
I once talked a bride out of getting their names and the date on side-by-side hearts because it would look like a frozen gravestone. We did one large heart, with an arrow and both first names. She was very thankful I could picture the finished carving in my mind as we were discussing it, thus avoiding the headstone look.
Flowers and photographs can also be frozen into the block when it is being made if that is what you would like.
My price includes delivery to a freezer or the table. I also include a drip/display pan with clear hose that goes to a bucket beneath the table and fluorescent lighting. (I do not include the bucket.)
Starting at $500 I can carve the ice right in front of your guests’ eyes. It makes for a fun cocktail party and takes an hour or less. See an ice carving demonstration.
Once you have secured the services of an ice carver, let your caterer know that your carving will be delivered to either their freezer or directly to the table. Most caterers will let you know they can not be held responsible if the carving is damaged ahead of time in the freezer, but they should be willing to have their staff set it up for you. A carving should be in place half and hour to an hour before the room is open to allow it to loose its surface frost from the freezer.
Determine with your table layout where the ice carving will go, and make sure it is indicated on the room layout design. Plan on not moving the ice carving once it is set up. If your reception is outdoors, avoid direct sunlight. I tell folks an ice carving will be in good shape for three or four hours, but the slow melting is also part of the elusiveness of the medium. Wings and fins can look better and better as they melt, so birds and fish are often the subject matter for ice carvings.
Ice carvings do not have to be just stuck on the buffet.
More info about ice carvings at weddings:
Walk-in ice bar at Damenti’s Restaurant, Mountain Top, Pennsylvania. Photo: Bill Bywater.
And take a look at this: Oh, Martha Stewart, THIS is an ice bar
Contact Bill Bywater.
Bill Bywater is a professional commercial sculptor. His talents are often applied to architectural restoration projects, and he has sculpted sets and props for Broadway shows and movies (his name is one of the ones you see racing by at the end of movies). He turns his talents to creating unique ice sculptures for weddings and corporate events through his company, Bywaterworks.