Thursday, May 28, 2009

Our DIY Wedding

As much as you want your wedding to reflect your own individual thing, there are some truths you cannot escape. FACT: weddings are a ridiculous amount of work and then they go by so fast. Since my last blog post, I spent a frenzied week of preparation for the event and then needed a week for recuperation after. When spending so much time and energy on something, I felt as though I needed some time to go by before I really wanted to think or talk about it. But now I'm a bit more rested and its time to get back into the swing of things. Here's how the wedding went...

When planning for this wedding, Ira and I wanted to throw awesome party where we could honor all our friends and family who have supported us in, and around our relationship.
We came up with a list of must have things which we were unwilling to compromise on:
  1. we wanted to invite everybody
  2. we wanted a full open bar
  3. we wanted awesome food which we could do ourselves
  4. we wanted awesome music for a sweet dance party
  5. we wanted to party all night long.
All the rest of the details could be flexible to fit around these core details. We didn't want to leave anyone out, so we planned a two part reception which would allow us to invite everybody we wanted. We scheduled a 12 hour party with the ceremony and food for close friends and family in the first half. Then after about 6 hours, we opened the invitation up to all our extended friends so we could party until the wee hours of the night.

It was tough finding a space in the city which would fit in our budget ($1000-$2000), but finally hit upon Envent, an awesome warehouse space promoted as being a blank canvas for us to do with whatever we wanted. They would allow us to do our own food and bring in whatever we wanted in terms of decorations, flowers, alcohol, etc. The best part of Envent was they were willing to let us have the space all day until 3 a.m. with no additional fee.

Setting up the space before the ceremony.

Envent is a formal venue so the law required we hire special bar tenders with a liquor license, and although that added to our cost, it was number two on the no compromise list, so we went for it. We put the priority of our budget on the food and drinks so our guests would feel comfortable, relaxed and happy. When you walk up to a bar and you can get any drink you want, you're going to have a good time!

In my last post, I was talking about our food situation. Against everyone's advice, I really wanted to do my own food. I knew I was in for a challenge.

I came up with a sandwich buffet which would be affordable, would allow us to prep all the ingredients days in advance, could be served room temp, and everyone could make what they want of it guaranteeing a happy crowd. The sandwich buffet went well with a deli theme which allowed us to get away with using disposable tableware without appearing too tacky. This definitely cut the cost down from renting china and linens.

We wanted the environment to be casual and comfortable but still be fancy enough for our important event. Simple ingredients like prosciutto and fresh mozzarella lent a little more glamor to the deli staples of ham, turkey and provolone.

Simple tricks of adding wasabi powder to the mayo did a lot to up the ante. I oven-dried tomatoes with thyme which allowed me to prep the tomatoes days in advance, cut down on the mess of fresh tomatoes, intensify the flavor and make them appear a little more special then what you would find in a Subway counter.

Beside the roasted tomatoes, we also roasted zucchini, eggplant as well as red, yellow and poblano peppers. These looked beautiful, could be done weeks ahead and frozen and gave for more selections to our vegetarian and vegan friends. Here's a full list of the menu items we had.

Olives, roasted peppers, textured mustard and artichoke hearts among the things on the condiment table.

For sides, we again, went for deli classics. Assorted bags of Krunchers available as well as pickle spears available in either dill or sweet were available depending on your mood.

My mom and Janice (my now mother-in-law) wanted to be involved as well, and volunteered to make a few side salads. I was of course only too happy to let them!

My mom made a delicious Greek pasta salad (above) and Janice's simple garbanzo bean salad with tomatoes, parsley and vinaigrette was a big hit especially with the vegetarians wanting a bit more protein.

My aunt Karen and cousins Katey and Olivia are leading this line of stuffing their sandwiches.

These simple foods made for a wonderful classic dinner. We all got so many compliments on how great the food was. Everyone was able to take exactly what they wanted. I had initially been uncertain if people would be intimidated of making their own sandwiches, so I had come up with a sample menu of sandwiches with suggested ingredients for people if they were feeling uncreative. After dinner, I asked a few people what they put on their sandwich, they would just laugh and say, "everything!" I don't think anyone needed the sample menu.

Everywhere during dinner, people were jamming these huge sloppy sandwiches in their faces and loving every second of it. It was great! We were told by many of the guests it was the best wedding food they had ever had.

We started dancing in the early evening and didn't stop until 2. Ira and I put together a great mix of oldies, soul, rock, rap and pop which reflected our tastes. You couldn't help but get down! Around the time a lot of our family was leaving the second wave of friends arrived to keep the party going. Half hour before closing time, we rounded up all our remaining friends and enlisted their help taking down all the tables and stacking the chairs in the back room.

We chose to do so much of this wedding D.I.Y. and while it was doable, I never would have been able to accomplish this on my own. We really needed to reach out into our community to help us and they did. Our friend Amber did all the corsages and boutonnieres and my sister Emily put together all the bouquets. They both did a beautiful job.

Emily holding my bouquet. Photo by Stacy McKinley.

Ira's family along with Amber and our friend Sarah took the few decorative elements Ira and I had bought (this was not one of our priorities) and put together a magical scene of golden Christmas lights, flicker candles and beautiful flowers.

My Aunt Dottie, using greenery from her backyard created beautiful displays for the ceremony.

Our friend Malissa made a delicious wedding cake enough to feed 20 people which was served along side 11 different kinds of cookies made by my Mom, my Sister and Janice. (I forgot to get shots of the cookies- but they were absolutely beautiful!!!)

Our good friend Chris Dilts did an awesome job shooting the event and was a joy to have around. Check out the full gallery if you want to see more!

Most of all, we were aided all throughout the process of food planning and prep by my good friend Kirsten. She was indispensable in helping me plan, acquire and prep the food prior to the wedding.

Kirsten and Jon prepping food trays.

The day of, she along with a crew of wonder full friends, Malissa, Jeff, Alee, Stacy and Jon spent hours prepping trays for the food display and then cleaning up afterward. Without their help, we could not have done this.

Ira and I were both humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity and support from our community of friends and family who came out to help us put this together. Ira and I set out to create an event for our community and it ended up being the community which helped put on the event for us.

We all did it together, and Ira and I will forever remember it as being one of the best days in our lives. To all our friends and family who helped make the day so special: I had the time of my life. No, I never felt that way before. I swear its the truth. And I owe it all to you!


Trevor said...

Wow, it looks really great, and so inspiring. Congrats to you both!

gemma said...

Wow, great work! I am impressed. Looks like a classy affair. Congratulations to you both.

pomomo said...

everything looks amazing!!!

inés b. said...

Congrats from Argentina!

Janice said...

I know this sounds ridicules but tears are streaming down my face as I read this. Everything you write is so true. It WAS all about community supporting your wedding and you giving them the opportunity to do it. It was a great time!

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrea - looks like you had a great time. I love your shoes and the petticoats - you look gorgeous!

- Helen


SteveWalsh said...

We'd like to have you on air to talk about catering your own wedding, Friday at 11 a.m.

Steve Walsh
Host Producer WBEW 89.5 FM (312) 893-2977
“When you give up the need for power, reputation and money, you have the whole world open to you.” Walt Reiner

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