by Denise M. Watson
Hunter Gunther and her fiancé, Tyler, were looking for something more interesting than candles or personalized M&Ms to gift as favors at their 2019 wedding, so the Hampton couple turned to the latest in portable sweets to set their nuptials apart.
Seafoam Cotton Candy of Virginia Beach, which uses a pushcart to serve gluten-free, organic spun treats, whipped up cotton candy in flavors of birthday cake, butter pecan and strawberry champagne at their June wedding. “People thought it was fun,” Hunter says. “We had quite a few children at the wedding and they all loved it.”
Increasingly, couples are turning to “hyper-individual” experiences to set their weddings apart. One of the more interesting examples of this trend is pushcart vendors.
Monica Gilliam, who started Joysicles Gourmet Pops in Virginia Beach four years ago, says she is working more weddings these days and has found that couples appreciate her use of local ingredients to produce gluten-free dishes that offer hashtag-worthy novelty.
Gilliam, who grew up in Brazil surrounded by tropical tastes and dynamic combinations, offers made-to-order pops, as well as standard flavors like peaches and jalapeno, Mexican chocolate, and lavender rose lemonade. And if you want booze in your pops, she has that too.
She can personalize the experience further with stickers and sticks with the couple’s wedding date or in their specific colors. “The popsicles are a nice way to offer the nostalgia, the elements that made people happy in their early years,” Gilliam says. “Guests will remember the treats and unique flavors for a long time.”
Carla Hesseltine of Seafoam Cotton Candy spent more than a decade creating flavors through her Just Cupcakes boutique bakery. The cotton-candy cart, though, has become a conversation piece. “It’s a novel idea,” Hesseltine says. “Couples want to make an experience for themselves and their guests.”
She’s made cotton candy “poufs” for use as wedding bouquets and has even used glow sticks as holders. “Something happens when the music starts and the glow sticks come out,” she says.
Debra Miller of North End Gelato started working weddings 30 years ago, making custom cakes through her Virginia Beach-based Incredible Edibles bakery. She branched into gelato a couple of years ago after her son opened a juice bar in Richmond. Her Italian street cart with attached bike seat and umbrella canopy became an instant hit as a backdrop for wedding photos.
“It’s something refreshing after the meal and getting sweaty on the dance floor,” Miller says. “Not many ice cream companies can bring that indoors.”
Miller’s most popular flavors are double Oreo, basil mojito, raspberry hibiscus, and prosecco, with its pink hue lending itself to summer weddings. She can also punch up the gelato with spirits. Miller says couples haven’t ditched wedding cakes yet, but her cart gets a lot of traffic at receptions. “Given the choice, people will storm the gelato cart every time,” she says.