When the big day finally arrived for me and Lynn to tie the knot at Sand Rock Farm in California, it was a moment we had been planning for eight months. Were these months filled with easy decisions, minimal family influence and uncontrollable laughter? No, that’s not what wedding planning is; however, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Before we get to the big day, let’s back up a little. This is my first wedding, and I think I have good ideas on strategy (but until my third or fourth, I won’t really know – kidding, of course!). I recommend that every soon-to-be-wed couple figure out what your wedding priorities are; this will help you stay focused.
The most important thing for us was to make the wedding an event. We wanted to spend time with our guests for multiple days, because one night is just a nicely dressed gathering. Many days – now that’s a party! We also decided to really focus on the details, because that is what makes the wedding memorable. How many weddings do you actually remember more than the ceremony, the bar, the flowers and general flow of the event? Unique details are what make the occasion truly special.
At our wedding, we wanted our favorite things represented for everyone to enjoy. We decided we would be married at an old farmhouse bed and breakfast under a giant redwood tree. We wanted to dine in a wooded meadow and dance in a former wine barrel-aging cellar, overgrown with moss and strung with glowing ivory-colored Chinese lanterns.
My groomsmen wore grey tuxes, and the bridesmaids wore navy dresses. Lynn picked our flowers; they were orange, pink and ivory, with green things, which looked pretty good with our outfits and the setting. Lynn tells me her wedding gown was Ivy & Astor (tailored by Susan Ruddie, a seamstress in Brooklyn known as theweddingdresser). The bridal veil was handcrafted by Susan and team as well, and her accessories included a beaded capelet by Ivy & Astor, a small diamond pendant necklace, and a rhinestone hair comb.
I gave out daypacks with fifths of Jack Daniels inside to my groomsmen (note: these would later become highly prized possessions once the specialty cocktail had run out.) The bridesmaids received gold pendants hand-engraved with their initials on a gold chain.
We found an antique mirror on Etsy that we used to create a large-format menu display, which we hung from the rafters at the front of the buffet line. We also made the craft paper table assignments, edged by “lace” Martha Stewart paper punches. We displayed the table assignments on a clothesline with mini wooden clothespins. For our place settings, we used mismatched antique china. Matching craft paper table numbers were held aloft on hand-made birch holders (inspired by Etsy, made by my dad).
For dinner we blended American comfort food and Vietnamese cuisine. We served passed hors d’oeuvres and had an artisanal cheese station, a variety of sandwiches and salads (including Banh Mi, Green Papaya slaw, and Bo Luc Lac), and macaroni and cheese.
For dessert, we knew we didn’t want a wedding cake. We contemplated cupcakes and pies and having an assortment of cookies/brownies or ice cream sundae bar. Then it came to me: the only thing better than cake is fried cake dusted with sugar and frosting and sprinkles and nuts and chocolate! We love doughnuts, so we designed a delicious doughnut forest of birch doughnut “trees” that matched the table number holders.
Another sweet treat was the colorful candy bar a friend assembled as a surprise for me, featuring all of my favorite candies, especially Now and Laters. Guests could eat them anytime during the wedding and take some home in little clear bags. An uncle of mine later concluded that one of the reasons the wedding was so fun is that every grown-up had been served his or her fair share of cocktails and that every kid was on a sugar high.
The night wrapped up with a shuttle bus to the after-party at the local Best Western, where we joined up with another wedding reception and the high school reunion of the Class of 1982. It couldn’t have been better – it was the best, most memorable party of our lives, and every day since has been better still. Lynn says if we could do one thing differently it would be MORE DOUGHNUTS!
All photographs by Celeste Duran Photography.