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Saying “I Do,” Then Saying “Let’s Eat!”

A month ago, I hopped a plane to California to celebrate the wedding of my dear friend and partner in mischief, Garrett McCord, in the golden hills of Sacramento County. As he’s documented, Garrett and his husband Brian planned the entire event to the nth degree, but because they’re both good eaters, they let the food do the talking for most of the reception.

Friends pitched in to make homemade tamales and salsas, cure their own olives, compose a cheese plate, bake cookies, and brew a special wedding beer with a little vanilla and orange peel—and Brian and Garrett somehow squeezed in time to make and can three different kinds of jams as favors for all the guests in addition to working, writing, adopting an adorable and derpy Corgi, and keeping tabs on everything else.

sacramento taco truck
To top it off, the guys got a full-on taco truck wheeled onto the insanely photogenic property for the night, where the grill masters from Tacos Los Tres Hermanos piled our plates high with carnitas. Their inspiration for the theme? “The taco truck is just one of our favorite places to go eat. It’s usually parked in a parking lot of a dilapidated and almost empty corner strip mall, but the food is good and cheap and it reminds us of our various trips to Mexico,” Garrett said.

Snarfing down plates of food with a few too many glasses of hefeweizen, I felt a little guilty that our wedding was almost a complete 180 from Garrett and Brian’s spread. When Dan and I got married seven years ago, there were no Pinterest mood boards to make, and as an anti-wedding girl, I’m not sure I would have bothered. We did get married at a restaurant where we could also hold the five-minute ceremony (hey! one stop shopping!) and let guests pick at a constantly replenished buffet of appetizers instead of sitting down to a multi-course meal.

Our reasoning? More time for everyone to boogie to the oldies and less time focusing on the fact that we weren’t doing formal introductions of the (non-existent) bridal party, cutting a cake when people could wander over and grab a cupcake, or even having a first dance. Who needs a boring slow song when you could be stuffing your face with penne vodka, tortellini Alfredo, and steamed crab claws?

(I could have sworn I had a picture of me digging into crab claws, but found none. Content yourself with the sight of my husband eating his pasta directly from the buffet spoon.)

eating pasta at a wedding
Maybe it’s the crowd I roll with these days, but I’m impressed by how creatively people use the food and drink at their weddings to tell the story of their life as a couple. From subbing in cherry and blackberry pies or carrot cakes for the traditional wedding tier to including family recipes on the menu, chicken on a plate doesn’t cut it with these kids:

Bryan Furze and LeeMichael McLean, whom regular GFS readers know from their many contributions to the site (and stories of our annual New Year’s Eve parties), chose two of their favorite, though not necessarily crowd-friendly, foods—monkfish and lamb—as dinner entrees at their wedding reception. “As a result, three guests independently crossed out the selections on the invitation,” LeeMichael said. “Ever accommodating, we sent a friend to Wendy’s just before the meal was served and those guests received plated Wendy’s food for dinner. Sadly, they were thrilled.”

wedding table setting
Bryan and LeeMichael got married at the Boston Public Library, so they made these table cards

Lisa Cericola and husband Dan Browne share a love of Cuban food from their South Florida upbringing (a subject Lisa has also covered here on GFS), so it made perfect sense for the two of them to serve a gut-busting spread of Cuban dishes like sweet fried plantains, rope vieja, satisfying black beans and rice at their deco-riffic West Palm Beach wedding. You can get just about any food you want in Brooklyn, where Lisa and Dan live, but sometimes you need to go home to have the real thing.

Similarly, the food at Christina Kim and Ben Arnold’s wedding was influenced by their geographical location. Because the couple had been living in India in the months leading up to their wedding, they chose the buffet selections based on what they were craving after their stay abroad. “We had as much meat as possible on the menu,” Christina said. “We had been living in India for so long and all we had been eating was chicken or vegetarian options so we went crazy carnivore.”

Dan and I greeted our guests as they arrived with a fresh glass of Champagne to get the party started, but that was the extent of our involvement with signature cocktails. Chef Emily Peterson and her husband Mark chose The Painkiller as the specialty drink for their beach wedding, as it was the saving grace of their vacation the summer prior: “We drank gallons of Painkillers when all of our luggage was lost for the duration of our trip to the British Virgin Islands,” she said. “We survived on the kindness of strangers and knew then that we could survive anything.”

Learning the stories behind the meals served at each wedding makes me want to hear more, so I turn it over to you: what did you serve at your wedding that was special to you? Or what would you want to serve if you had the chance?

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12 Comments

  1. Sounds absolutely wonderful! At my mother’s insistence we had a caviar with buckwheat blini and I loved that we got to serve fresh lemonade in mason jars garnished with all kinds of herbs, mint, lavender….its all about the small, personal touches.

    1. Irene, somehow I missed the caviar entirely! How did that happen? Was I too busy being astonished by your beauty? Thankfully, I was able to get get my hands on the lemonade AND the traditional shot of Russian vodka.

  2. If I had it to do over again, I would serve traditional Texas fare at my wedding – brisket, beans, rice, tortillas – the lot. We considered it, but James thought his family would freak out, so we went with a traditional roast beef dinner, buffet style. A nod to his English heritage, though there were no Yorkshire puds. Funnily enough, those are hard to come by in San Antonio.

    One thing I do not regret is the chocolate fountain. It kept our guests entertained while we took photos, and at the time, was a truly new thing. To this day, people that attended tell me how much they loved that and made the party memorable. Besides, who can say no to strawberries and marshmallows dunked in chocolate?!

  3. I got married 23 yrs ago and there weren’t as many options! I don’t remember much about the food except that I didn’t get a single hors d’oeuvre what with the receiving line and getting my train buttoned up and we had an amazing spice cake that we still talk about to this day.

  4. Believe it or not, some version of tater tots was a must have durring our cocktail hour 40+ years ago!

  5. As a wedding photographer, I have the privilege of eating wedding meals all the time! I love it when the couples make the meal personal – so much better than just picking off of a catering menu. I love a good food story!

  6. I truly regret that we were a victim of the catering menu nearly twelve years ago. It was a requirement of the venue and without a lot of time between engagement and marriage, I had to do it. I am also sorry that I gave in to my husband’s desire for wedding cake over my own inclination towards cinnamon rolls (we were married on a Sunday late morning). We could have been trendsetters!

  7. The food at your wedding was awesome Casey! But it was still sad that your limited number of allotted appetizers forced you to forgo the “Smoked Franks in Puff Pastry”

    1. I know – it’s tragic I couldn’t have “franks and beans” at the wedding. But I’m glad your experience was unforgettable.

  8. What a great party. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Garrett! I’m thrilled to get all the juicy details on what you ate and how they wooed you all with their great taste. Yay!

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