Candy bars bring confections to wedding receptions
Lyrics to James Taylor’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” can often be heard at wedding receptions. Now, another sweet moment is appearing at nuptial gatherings — candy bars. Spreads of candies in every flavor, shape and color that a bride and groom can conjure up, often displayed in varying sized fancy glass jars, are bringing guests back to their childhood with sugary indulgences. Fox Cities chocolatiers and candy shops are contributing to this personalized trend with their own twist.
Around the world
Paul and Kristin Zaal, co-owners of Sweet Confectionary in the Fox River Mall, sell 52 different kinds of sweets from European and continental candy makers, including Germany, Spain and Holland. What people gravitate to “really depends on what the occasion is,” says Paul.
He’s found chocolates and gummies, especially the bears, to be his most popular items. “They’re coming up with new shaped gummies all the time,” he adds. Milk chocolate peanuts, Brazil nuts and brittle also are sought-after items. Sweet Confectionary only sells bulk, non-wrapped candy.
“It depends on what the colors of their weddings are and we can match it,” he adds. White gummy grapefruit and yogurt pretzel balls have been recent inquiries for receptions.
If Sweet Confectionary doesn’t have the item available at the kiosk, the shop can likely order it with proper notice depending on the item and quantity needed; most candies require a minimum order of 3 to 5 pounds.
“It’s a happy item that makes people happy,” says Paul of the candies he sells.
“We do sell candy for candy bars all the time,” says Liz Garvey, promotions for Wilmar Chocolates, who notes that the appeal of having a bar or buffet is likely “the idea of so much candy in one spot.” “When you come in here, what we want to find out is if you’re going with a specific color,” she adds.
“Often, the candy bar is an extension of the bride and groom,” shares Lisa Garvey, Wilmar Chocolates’ retail manager. She notes that the discussion with couples often also includes budget, number of guests, venue, timing, adults versus children attending, food concerns and special interests.
“Food tends to be a part of the celebration, part of the tradition so it’s fun to incorporate,” Lisa adds. A candy bar could feature a traditional family favorite in addition to the likes of the couple, or chocolates with a personalized label. Wilmar offers the opportunity to “Build Your Bar.” The speciality chocolate bars contain ingredients that are made to order and one of a kind.
The chocolatier has worked with couples who opt to do buffets of just chocolate or dessert platters, including Wilmarvels — handmade vanilla caramels over freshly roasted cashews — instead of having different types of candies. Foil-wrapped chocolate shapes like Christmas stars, leaves and hearts also can be popular with seasonal ceremonies.
“If they’re looking to do a candy bar, it does require as much planning as the cake,” notes Lisa. “The more time we have, the more detail and personality we can do. … You don’t have to follow the rules. You can do it your own way.”
From white on white treats to loads of color, options abound. Lisa recently worked with a couple who chose to use baskets for their candy to enhance the country, woodsy feel of the big day.
“It added to the whole theme,” she shares. “This really can extend the whole feeling.”
Mary Kelley is crazy about candy and beginning to venture into the world of weddings with her College Avenue shop, Crazy Sweet.
“What we’re planning on doing in the corner is having samples of bits of color,” the shop owner explains.
Jelly Belly jelly beans, which is one of the candies Kelley sells, come in an array of colors, but she is now working with a candy company that can match colors in the Pantone color palette to provide colored malt balls, among other treats. “You can match someone’s dress!” she notes. “We’re excited about doing weddings. That will be fun. Who doesn’t love to dress up a table?!”
Around her shop she has a variety of candy ranging from bulk options in bins to nostalgic to newfound sweets.
“People ask for all kinds of things,” Kelley says. “Some people want the experience of the candy, not just the color.” Candy corn, no matter the time of year, remains a top seller. And, whether it’s the fizz of a Zotz or the sour notes of Cry Baby Tears, everyone has a favorite pick. If you don’t see yours, Kelley can likely get it with proper notice.
“Some parents are so fun with their kids and explaining the thrill they had with the candy when they were a kid,” Kelley shares.
Vande Walle’s Candies continues to build on the history of candy making that began in the family more than 75 years ago by extending its sweets to couples who are starting their own traditions.
President Steve Vande Walle finds customers coming in for gourmet caramels, Holland mints, Jordan almonds, meltaways, pecan turtles and English toffee. With enough lead time, mints and almonds can usually be located in a particular color and chocolates can be wrapped in a coordinating foil. Vande Walle’s has 32 different colors of foil, which isn’t even enough to cover the 38 types of filled, egg-shaped chocolates they make at Easter. The chocolatier also has a variety of molds to make different chocolate shapes and bars, and can imprint initials into bars as well.
“It’s nice to have four weeks to work with people. It’s usually the packaging that throws a wrench into the system,” says Vande Walle. “They (couples) like the chocolates because there are papers around them. It’s kind of like their own little carriers. They want to have that little something extra, that little special thank you to their guests.” Some orders may require minimums.
“The bride says, ‘Oh, I love this candy so we have to have this.’ But, the groom says, ‘I like this,’” says Vande Walle of the selection process. “You give them a little bit of direction and then the lightbulb goes on.”
He typically begins by asking the couple what their favorite candies are and to imagine if they were a guest what type of candy they’d like to see on the candy bar.
“They’re all bubbling with enthusiasm. It’s fun to work with them,” shares Vande Walle.
Designing a display
While these businesses don’t offer the jars or containers for the buffets, most craft and department stores, along with online specialty shops have them available for sale or rent.
“That would be our advice to anyone,” says Liz. “You can get all shapes and sizes.”
Whatever your selection, area candy and chocolate connoisseurs agree, sweets will always be a part of weddings.
“There will always be chocolate or candies,” says Liz. “They are forever.”