Thursday, October 18, 2012

DIY Wedding - Part 1 - The Food

Hello there people!  This is a post about our do-it-yourself wedding, shared here with the hopes of encouraging and supporting others who are considering something similar, and passing on a few pointers for avoiding a couple of key mistakes.

I'll start by saying this - the wedding was beautiful.  I'm immensely grateful for how well it all came together, for all the help we had, the guests who came, for the love in my life, and for a two week break from work spent in Kansas to make the whole thing happen.  It was aaaaaaaalllll gravy.  All bonus.  All fluff.  In today's world where unsuspecting people are getting gunned down by invisible drones, where many are enslaved by debt in jobs that stifle their souls, where at any given moment countless millions of animals are suffering the wretched reality of vivisection or the torment of psychological experiments,  a wedding is something to be enjoyed, not stressed about.  Context! Not to say I didn't get a little stressed or uptight during preparations, but the awareness of context certainly helped to keep things in perspective.

Basically we saw our wedding as an opportunity to have a big party and feed our friends and family.   We wanted it to be beautiful, breezy, and laid-back.  We wanted to celebrate, to share a bit of ourselves and our way of living.  It was only after we started writing our vows and designing the ceremony with our "celebrant" (that's what you call your non-ordained hippy-poet friend who's doing the ceremony) that we started to realize just how much this thing really was about us - but I'll get into that later.

With the big-breezy-party and feed-the-family ideas in mind, I very quickly decided that I would cater the whole thing, and the focus of the planning became the food.  Friends asked me if I was crazy, friends TOLD me I was crazy, and one friend even pleaded - "please don't plan to do your wedding food, it never works out the way people want."

I would not be daunted.  I was convinced it was possible and Philippe was on board.  We'd catered a low-key event of 110 people out of a tiny kitchen before, and figured this could be just as easy.  As long as I kept my focus on my-wedding-as-an-opportunity-to-serve and not my-wedding-as-a-big-day-all-about-me, I was in good shape.

In figuring out the menu, the criteria for the food was this:
  • Home-made.  I was not about to serve up a bunch of pre-made stuff from Costco, though I would be supplementing with some jarred items like roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, dolmas, and olives.
  • Room-temperature.  I was not about to be heating stuff up in a hot kitchen at the last minute, worrying about getting hot food out without over or undercooking it.  Too much stress and not good for the wedding hair.
  • Vegan.  This is a day of ideals, right?  And while I don't stick to a 100% vegan diet, I aspire to, and I think it's a beautiful way to eat.  No animals harmed for the food on the big day, and way less risk of food poisoning. 
  • Simply-prepared.  Have you seen my mother's kitchen?  It's smaller than mine.  So not only did I not have time for filo dough or fancy pants preparations, I didn't have much space for prep or storage.  I needed food that could be prepared in abundance and stored with little fuss. 

Now before I get into the menu or the schedule, I'd like to highlight the two mistakes that really burn me and that hopefully you can learn from.  Mistake Number One: I made entirely too much food.   There were around 50, maybe 55 people at this thing, and I easily made enough food for 100 (120?).  I went with my gut on amounts (I'll triple this recipe, and hextuple that one, and we'll need 500 loaves of bread...) rather than with math (I'll need 3oz of fruit per person, 2 oz of this spread, 4 oz of that...).  While this wasn't terribly dangerous during the planning stage when my mind was clear, as the wedding got closer I basically went crazy and lost all sense of proportions.  At the last minute I panicked and thought we might not have enough food.  I added POUNDS of quinoa salad and POUNDS of a zucchini/melon bruschetta thing that no one ate much of, and it was entirely too much.

This wouldn't have been too big of a deal had I not made Mistake Number Two:  No to-go containers.  This one doubly burns since I had the foresight to think about it, but never followed through.  I priced containers online, priced containers at a party goods store, reminded myself to get them several times, and then I just never did.  Why not?  Dunno.  No good reason.  So at the end of the night when people were starting to filter out, I wasted time that I could have spent dancing with my huuuuuuusband, running around trying to find containers so that I could force people to take some of the outrageous excess of food that was left.  If we'd had to-go containers, it would have been a breeze.  But hey, what can you do?  No one went hungry and we didn't have to order last minute pizza or call in a burrito truck, not that there's anything wrong with that.

The Menu:
  • Grapes / Strawberries
  • Sun Dried Tomato Pâté (triple batch)
  • Baked Almond Feta
  • Magic Sauce with Crudite (double batch)
  • Hazelnut Fig Log
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
    • Toasted Seeds and Fried Onions to garnish
  • Green Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Cherry Tomatoes, and Lemon Viniagarette
  • Zucchini Melon Bruschetta
  • Loads and loads of artisan bread from Wheatfield's Bakery
  • Quinoa Tabbouleh
  • Hummus from Alladin Cafe (courtesy of my lovely friend - Eva Lopez and her husband Yazen)
  • Vegetarian Dolmas
  • Antipasta
    • Roasted red peppers
    • Assorted Olives
    • Pepperoncini 
  • Lavender Cream Cheese (tofutti) and Almond stuffed Dates
  • And a few sticks of Earth Balance to fool people into thinking there was butter. 
I'll add links, recipes, quantities, and my preparation schedule to this list soon.  The food was by no means perfect, and I can't say that it converted any of the hard-core meat-eaters out there (my dad let me know that this was not his cup of tea, or can of beer as the case may be), but it was good clean fuel and I know the bride and groom enjoyed it.   It could have never come together without the last minute help of friends and family who plated everything and arranged it so beautifully.  Katie Nichols, you're a star.  Linda from the Blue Planet Cafe (more on that later), you knock my socks off.  And everyone else who lent us things (VICKI Wheeler!  Auntie June, Eva Lopez, Rick Martin), delivered things (Auntie June!), helped prepare things (Kate Hege, Aunt Suzie, Philippe, Michele, Germaine) - THANK YOU!  It takes a village, and it warms my heart just how much our little village came through for us that day.  We are so fortunate.


  1. many congratulations Lacey!
    love your blog, wish you all good things!
    your friend

  2. Because I was here for a wedding, I am not sure about their regular layout, but the wedding decor was just phenomenal. The dining hall was attached to a beautiful reception room.