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Food | Manolo for the Brides - Part 6
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Keeping it simple

Picture from British Cosmo Bride/Photo by Nick Scott

Unless you’re going to city hall to tie the knot, your wedding will probably be anything but simple. Hosting a party for 50 or 100 or 500 people is always going to be somewhat complicated. Your favorite venue may not be available exactly when you want it. The caterer you adore may not normally offer the vegan options that will placate your mother’s side of the family. And it can sometimes feel like everyone from your bridesmaids to your FFIL can’t make a single decision without consulting you!


The good news is that while weddings are almost always chaotic, you can take steps to make yours a little less so. Here are a few tips that may help you stay sane as you walk boldly toward wifehood (or husbandhood, for that matter).

Pay your own way
Taking gifts of matrimonial money from loved ones often means taking their input under consideration as well. Just like too many cooks ruin the soup, too many meddling relatives can ruin a wedding. Footing the bill yourself means that you can do your own thing without feeling an ounce of guilt. Of course, you should say no nicely, but by all means feel free to say no!


Once Upon a Menu

When you head to either your friendly neighborhood caterer, your own cookbook shelf, or your favorite group of church ladies to work out your wedding reception menu, a great many concerns will affect your final choices: price, personal taste, known food issues among your nearest and dearest (allergies, moral or religious dietary restrictions, cousin Wendy’s legendary phobia of Brussels sprouts), cultural expectations, etc.

But there’s one thing that most likely won’t even enter your thoughts: availability.

We’re spoiled for choice today. If strawberries aren’t in season, we can get them from another hemisphere or an agricultural concern that creates the correct circumstances for strawberries to grow all year round. If we want lemongrass, it doesn’t have to grow nearby. Freezing techniques allow us to have duck, venison, or lamb whatever the time of year. Corn on the cob in December? Not a problem.

Back through the mists of time, though, what you ate depended far more heavily on where you were and what time of year it happened to be. If you wanted oysters but lived inland, you might well be out of luck. If the only fruit trees in the local orchards were apple and peach, then good luck coming up with oranges. Oh, and if you wanted a cake, it took much stronger arms to whisk the ingredients since you wouldn’t have a nice stand mixer to whip the butter and eggs for you. Excuse me for a moment while I go pet my KitchenAid.


Pretty As a Picture and Good Enough to Eat

I know, I know, NtB just wrote a great article on centerpieces, and here I go copying her again. Well, not quite. I think this is more continuing on a theme. After all, she talked about using tea tins as containers…well, this is about using actual edibles as part of your centerpiece.

After all, there’s no law that says you have to limit yourself to flowers and candles on your table. There are dozens of edible things that are as pretty as they are delicious. For instance, I find myself wishing I’d thought of this for my outdoor, summer wedding:

Not only is it bright and festive, but the fresh scent of lemons (or oranges, or limes, or grapefruits) is delightful in the air. Oh, and this is easy, too. If you’re interested in trying it, the instructions can be found here.


A Finger-Lickin’ Good Barbecue Wedding Reception

Many a USian will bust out (and dust off) the ol’ barbecue today, if they haven’t already done so. I was invited to at least two Memorial Day eatstravaganzas, but I declined both invitations for reasons I’ll likely talk about over at Manolo for the Home. Nowadays, I tend to just “stop by” most barbecues because I don’t eat meat and man cannot live on sides alone. But once upon a time…

The Beard and I weren’t always vegetarians. Our original intention was to have a DIY barbecue wedding limited to family only. That bit was scrapped when it became clear that my ginormous family would dwarf his tiny one. Then we started adding friends to the barbecue wedding guest list — first his, then ours, then mine — and the whole thing just plain fell apart.

Questions rained down upon us from critical loved ones. Who would man the smoker while a hundred people waited for their meat? Would there be enough time to whip up sides in the days and hours leading up to the wedding? The first element of our reception plan to go was DIY… all of my relatives who’d for years waxed poetic about how they were going to pitch in when I got hitched were suddenly nowhere to be found. Like Twistie recently said, help is a big (and usually necessary) part of successful DIY wedding.

We were frankly surprised to find that the catering menus of local barbecue joints weren’t all that cheaper than other restaurants, so we decided to shop around before settling on any one kind of cuisine. A few months later we stopped eating meat, found a catering company with an awesome veg menu, and that was one more item crossed off the pre-nuptial To Do list.

She made an OOPS
Image by soozums

So how does one have the perfect DIY barbecue wedding? I’d say that the first thing you want to do is order yourself some bulk napkins because sauce is a crafty beastie that will find some way to hitch a ride on clean formalwear. Oh, and don’t forget to solicit some assistants.


Have your cake and mail it, too

I love anything one can buy without having to schlep one’s tush to the store. In fact, while planning my wedding, I looked for any and every opportunity to shop from the confines of my office…then I wrote a book about it! I do understand that there are some folks who get a real kick out of going to the mall or exchanging pleasant banter with shopkeeps, but I’m guessing that for every one of them there’s someone like me who’d rather not spend their Saturdays braving the retail gauntlet.

Some things are just designed for online shopping–faux flowers, dresses, paper goods, and favors come to mind. Other things don’t fare so well when squeezed into a cramped mail truck. Thus far, all of my efforts to find fancy iced wedding and shower appropriate cake were for naught. Sure, you can buy cheesecakes and petit fours and rum cake, but the rigors of shipping heretofore demanded some degree of cakey stability, ruling out varieties commonly associated with nuptials.

Until now, that is…

Why’d I see this first thing in the morning? I’m going to be jonesing for cake all dang day now!

Fat Daddy Bake Shop takes cupcakes to the next level, packaging them in little canning jars for easy delivery via airmail. At $65 for ten 1/2 pint cupcakes–or should I call them jarcakes–it’s unlikely you’ll be sending your wedding guests home with sweets ensconced in glass. That price point does, however, lend itself to serving them to bridal shower and bachelorette party attendees or giving them to attendants as part of gift baskets.

And, happily, the flavor selection lends itself to NOM NOM NOMing. Were I to choose five, I’d pick the butter cake filled with coconut and layered with cream cheese frosting; banana cake with butterscotch chips and golden butterscotch frosting; brown sugar butter cake blended with toffee bits and topped with chocolate buttercream; vanilla cake with coffee, chocolate chips and layered with vanilla buttercream, and dark chocolate cake filled with chocolate ganache, caramel and walnuts, topped with caramel buttercream and nuts. Then I’d lapse straight into a sugar-induced coma because I have absolutely no willpower to speak of.

I want candy, doo da doo doo da doo doo do!

I don’t regret much where my wedding is concerned…you know, other than the fact that my dress was a smidge too big and I gave out fans as favors on the windiest possible day. Oh, and the fact that I didn’t round out my vegetarian buffet with a candy bar.

Sweets for the sweet on the sweetest possible day

Parties by Panache put together the mouth watering candy bar you see above. it looks like it’s full of the candy I remember from my childhood: candy dots, Smarties, taffies, and butterscotch suckers. Not my favorites, but they’ll do when I’m craving a little sugar.

Being that the lack of candy at my reception is a regret of mine, I plan to make it up to myself by having the most spectacular candy bar at my book release party. If you had a candy bar at your wedding or have enjoyed a candy bar at someone else’s wedding, hit me up (and by extension, everyone else reading this) with pointers. What’s the best candy to put in a candy bar? What’s the worst candy you could encounter?

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