When I got married last May, having great food and beverages was among my top concerns. Good food, good drink and good music make an event in my mind. We knew we wanted something unique for the food, but we weren't sure what. A chef friend offered to make the food for us—a perfect plan until we had to change our date and the new date (over Memorial Day weekend) conflicted with his work schedule. We were back to square one. Luckily, fate stepped in. I got a recommendation from a friend for Culinaria, a local caterer just started by a married couple. I called them up and scheduled a tasting, only later to realize my husband and I had known the two for years! They were eager to accommodate our wish list: A French country-inspired buffet of smoked fish, sausages, cheeses, nuts, mustards, jams, breads, roasted vegetables and more. We also wanted to go local as much as possible. The amazing Karen Keb Will (wife of Grit magazine editor-in-chief Hank Will) provided a bunch of her delicious homebaked bread, made in her Kansas oven the day of the wedding. Aaron (the chef half of Culinaria) got really into our menu: He made all these amazing chutneys, jams and sauces. He made chipotle-smoked almonds and a bunch of other specialty roasted nuts. The spread was delicious and everyone raved about it.
For dessert, we wanted cake, but I worked in catering at a historic hotel for five years (throughout college and a bit after), and I helped with a ton of weddings. That included cutting loads of wedding cakes, and the vast amount of wedding cake I encountered made me disdainful of the sugary sweetness that covered my clothing (and sometimes hair) by the end of an event. My husband decided to home-bake with his mother, one for every table! They made a bunch of cakes in advance, then mixed up a batch of buttercream and went to town the day before the wedding. We found 12 vintage cake plates, scouring our local antique stores for months, and bedecked the cakes with local edible flowers.
Choosing alcohol was an easy task. Our local brewery, Free State Brewing Company, is a favorite with all my friends and family, so a keg of one of their brews was an easy local answer. I also handmade a white and red sangria, using wine and fruit. We also had iced tea, water and lemonade, along with a bunch of champagne for a toast.
Finally, we had to figure out how to serve all this deliciousness in a responsible way. Having worked in catering throughout college, I knew there was just no way I could possibly process heavy, ceramic plates outdoors, on a farm with no staff. I considered renting plates or even buying a bunch of plates on Ebay, but I knew I didn't want my friends and family schlepping plates to a dirty bin that would have to be washed the next day. But I also knew there was no way I was going to serve my wedding food on wasteful, ugly disposable paper plates. I contacted the wonderful people at Bambu, and they sent some gorgeous "disposable" bamboo plates (though they can easily be hand-washed and reused). They were lightweight, fit the look of the decor and were lovely to look at. I also got biodegradable cups for beer from Ellie's Eco Home Store, and we rented champagne flutes, silverware, and cloth table linens.