Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Marriage of Foodies

I promised last post that I would write about Chef Reiton's and my wedding, so here it is for your amusement: a post about love and food.

Chef Reiton and I met at an interesting point in both of our lives: both of us had been separated for about 6 months and were in the midst of divorces.  Both of us were rediscovering ourselves (as all of you out there who have been divorced well know)—and one of the ways we both were finding freedom and consolation was through the education about and creation of food.  In fact, the first post I wrote for this blog was written the night after the third time we met—the first time where our meeting was actually planned.

Anyway, we obviously fell fantastically in love with each other—and each other's food—and this past winter we decided that we wanted to get married.  It being the second wedding for both of us, however, our priorities on what the wedding should be like were a far cry from the first time.  We agreed from the start that it would be 1) small, 2) DIY, 3) reminiscent of us and 4) home-cooked.

Now, Chef Reiton and I met on a plane—twice.  Due to the bizarre nature of meeting and then re-meeting each other in such a manner, we decided to embrace our serendipitous history and apply it to our wedding.  We made the invitations ourselves, designing them to be boarding passes, complete with a ticket folder from "Serendipity Airlines."

Our "airline ticket/boarding pass" wedding invitation

The setting for our day was to be the beginning of summer.  The ceremony would be held on a deck overlooking a large wetland lake at a local county park where we love to walk the dog, and the reception, both pre- and post-ceremony portions, was to be held in our backyard.  No renting of any buildings was required. The guests we limited to immediate family, as well as local family members and friends who are like immediate family.

The planning and preparations continued.  Chef Reiton ordered his clothes from L.L. Bean and looked dashing when he tried them on.  I bought a dress on a rush, hated it on me when it came in, so made myself a new one with the guiding hands and advice of my awesome neighbor, Heather, and the dear Mare at Nimble Thimble in Cambridge, WI.  It didn't look so bad, either! Definitely homemade, but the girls in the factory in China didn't do so great on the $100 dress I bought, so I didn't feel so bad about it.  And I LOVED my dress.  I should have followed my DIY gut in the first place.  It would have saved me sewing two weeks before the wedding.

Because our numbers were small, we were able to stick with renting just six round tables for the adult guests and two rectangular tables for the food.  We rented old wooden ballroom chairs from a church for $1 apiece.  For kids' seating, we set up the massive picnic table Chef Reiton built with brightly colored treat bags stuffed with candy, glow bracelets, bubbles, and water guns; the teenagers sat at a high top on the patio.  The adults were arranged on the driveway under a 30'x30' white tarp stretched tent-like between the garage and the house (an engineering feat by Chef Reiton).

For decorations, we kept it simple and classy but held to the theme (and all the dishes, linens, votives, and favors were bought online after scouting for hours and hours for the most inexpensive but quality supplies; I may be cheap, but I am anal).  The tables were covered in white linen tablecloths and set with square placemats (my eldest sister created them out of Chef Reiton's old runway maps and a variety of blue papers), white china plates, navy blue linen napkins, silverware from our own drawer and borrowed from family members, and glass "polka dot" tumblers.  The seating cards, also made by my eldest sister, were die-cut paper airplanes printed with guest names and their table number, strung on fishing line. Table numbers were "seat numbers," made from 8-inch kraft numbers and letters from Hobby Lobby, painted silver and hot-glued to a white-painted base.  A random mix of orange and white flowers (bought at Walmart) in small bud vases (bought at Goodwill) and blue votive candleholders were scattered across the tables.  Laying on each plate were the wedding favors: an individual bag of Terra Blue chips. Draped overhead were strings of white bistro lights, and hanging at the peak of the garage was a large 3'x4' navy blue sign with white letters that read "GATE C28"—the gate where we met the second time and knew it was Destiny.

My middle sister made my beautiful bouquet, which I allowed her complete artistic freedom.  I simply bought a bunch of flowers at the grocery store that I loved, handed them to her, and said, "Do whatever! Just keep it small."  She designed a small nosegay out of baby white carnations, orange tea roses, and tiny chartreuse pin cushion mums—a simple, modern and perfect bouquet for me.

My homemade grocery-store bridal bouquet, made with baby white carnations, orange tea roses, and chartreuse baby mums

And now for the food.  The kegerator was brought outside to the garage and the top set with a fun runner, a "borrowed" orange tray from the N.A., and an assortment of beer mugs and pint glasses. Nestled inside were a variety of home-brewed beers (several brewed just for the wedding, including my Old Fort IPA and Chef Reiton's Belgian wit).  The wine was set out on a navy blue spray-painted wood changing table that I found a few weeks before the wedding; it made a lovely wine bar.  Wine glasses from IKEA were stacked on the top shelf, each stem wrapped with a circular paper-and-metal hangtag on which guests wrote their name; a sign stood next to a cup of pens that read: "Label your glass! It's the only one you are getting!"  The bottom two shelves of the "bar" were loaded with red wines, and a round tub filled with ice water and white wines sat to the side.

Appetizers during the pre-ceremony reception were kept simple: I wanted yummy finger foods but with minimal prep work or time.  A variety of good cheeses from Sam's Club, as well as an assortment of nice crackers, were laid out on cheese slates and vintage pressed tin trays.  Snipped clusters of green and red grapes, strawberries, and blackberries were mounded on a platter.  Bacon-wrapped dates were piled onto a tiered plate stand.  Small clear plastic plates and fun cocktail napkins were provided for mingling purposes.

Dinner foods were prepared largely the days beforehand.  Pork shoulder and brisket were smoked by Chef Reiton and his brother, then shredded and sliced after they were rewarmed a few hours before the wedding.  Spicy barbecue sauce, baked beans, and cornbread muffins were all made ahead and either refrigerated or frozen.  Hebrew National hot dogs, our homemade kobas, and fresh zucchini, portobello caps, whole sweet peppers, and asparagus were all grilled during the ceremony (a friend of mine came and helped with the putting out of food and manning the last minute details while we got ready, mingled, and got married!).  Chef Reiton's youngest sister brought a huge green salad (she makes the best) to help pitch in, and purchased rolls were placed in a basket.  All the food was set out to form a buffet.

Then, there was dessert.  What an assortment we had! To keep with tradition and to give our reception at least one ceremonious act, my eldest sister made our wedding cake: a beautiful two-tiered creation with cloud-like buttercream swirls, topped with a JetBlue jet plane.  To commemorate Chef Reiton's and my first cooking experience together, the day before the wedding my two best friends and I made four tiramisus. To honor Chef Reiton's father who had passed, my new mother-in-law made a blueberry pie, as well as loads of yummy Mexican wedding cookies and pecan dainties. For the kids (and the rest of us!), two of my girlfriends made mass quantities of two amazing flavors of cupcakes: lemon-berry with pureed berry in the frosting and sunken brownie with bright blue and orange frostings (JetBlue's colors).

The night went on with a bonfire, giant sparklers, music, and lots and lots of laughter and fun.  We intentionally steered clear of all the wedding "traditions" (i.e. toasting, tossing, dancing, etc.).  We simply wanted everyone to be relaxed and just hang.

And eat.

And drink.

And that we did.

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