"So what kind of ceremony were you planning to have?" asked Kate, my and Fiance's friend and wedding planner. A tall brunette with librarian's glasses and a designer's wardrobe poignantly market with Kate Spade (natch) I watched her mentally tick off various aspects of the big day as she took stock of what then, depending on our answers, needed to be done.
"Um, just a short one I think?" Kate gave me a rather concerned glare. I looked to Fiance who had conveniently turned away and proceeded to examine the rather impressive and near-to-scale and intimidating recreation of Stonehenge that our host, John, had built a few years back on a gardening whim so as to appear unaware of the question. I turned back to Kate, "Like, ten minutes long. Or so?"
"Yes, but what kind? Like a sand ceremony or what?" she queried harder, hoping her example would spark some kind of flame in my nuptial noggin. Sadly, her flint was weak. Or, more likely, I lack the tinder.
"Kate, I have no idea what the words you are saying mean."
"Okay, how about a chocolate and wine ceremony?" The C-Word got Fiance's attention but he didn't know the question. We met her, this time together, with blank stares. She sighed and rubbed her temples. "Okay, it's a ceremony that uses chocolate to symbolize the bitter times and wine to celebrate the sweet times. Very fun, very unique, very foodie. I'd think you guys would like it."
Fiance and I exchanged looks, nodded, and gave our assent to the planner that yes, that sounded lovely. She then began to talk about processions (we'll have a short one), corsages (just for me as Fiance will be in military dress), wedding party (none, it's a guest list of 50 for Christ's sake), and so on. The bulk of the exchange was poor Kate lobbing darts at the board of our collective likes and dislikes and seeing what stuck.
I began to suspect that my lack of answers to apparently the most basic questions about various wedding considerations was beginning to exasperate her. The entire concept of planning a wedding to us is probably more confusing to us than reading sanskrit, contemplation of the universe and our place within it, and Michele Bachman. Still, she just mostly smiled through the whole thing and like a mother leading a toddler through a crowded place delicately made sure I knew what I was doing and that Fiance and I made sound decisions that would be right for us.
Who knew so much went into one of these hooplahs?
Lucky, we do have Kate, a professional wedding planner and good friend of ours. I actually met her through the blog during the first year I was writing it. I was giving away a batch of zucchini cupcakes to a local winner. Kate, one of my readers, won the cupcakes. We hit it off rather well and have been close friends since.
When she found out about the wedding Kate insisted that her gift would be herself. She would be our wedding planner, free of charge.
I couldn't have asked for anything better because holy balls I don't think I would have considered one-tenth of the crap she was talking about until the day before. Who considers things like walkways lights in the garden for when it gets dark besides a planner or the number of servers you'll need or sound system placement?
Of course, it isn't just Kate helping us put this wedding on. The whole thing has become a rather communal event. There is no registry for gifts. Instead we're asking people to bring themselves and their craft.
We asked my old baking teacher, Elaine Baker, to make the cakes for the wedding as a gift. As long as there was no fondant involved she was thrilled to be asked. Assuring her that, no we hated the stuff because - though pretty - it was absolutely horrid in flavor. Plus, how effectively can you fondant a vanilla bean cheesecake?
Our friends Blair and Scott, who work at wineries in Healdsburg, are getting us some champagne and wine at cost. Food blogger Amber Stott, a fine gardener if there ever was one, has pledged to grow plenty of tomatillos and a variety of other delightful fruits and veggies in order to craft some fantastic salsas.
So on and so forth.
We've been particularly blessed by our friends Peg and John who have opened their incredibly beautiful home in the mountains on Lincoln, California and allowed us to have the wedding in their Lemon Garden, a beautiful Italian-style palazzo overlooking hundred of acres of California wilderness.
We simply cannot wait.
Unfortuneatly, however, we have to trough through the other stuff. Like the design for the wedding invitations (which will be sent over e-mail via paperless post), and questions from Kate like,
"So how are we doing cake and music?"
"Um, there will be some of both? Is that the right answer? We like cake and music," Cue me looking for Fiance who is now happily talking to John about how awesome tamales are and how excited they are to have them at the wedding leaving me to stare and Peg and Kate in total dumbfoundary.
Fiance and I did have a few things already pinned down. For example, we have a favor in mind for all of our guests come The Big Day. We're busy at work making jam. Lots of jam. All in adorable 4-ounce jars that will be charmingly labeled somehow or another. Something unique, edible, memorable, and totally us.
We do so love to make and can jam, you see.
We already started with a delightful batch of cranberry jam laced with vanilla bean and tarted up a bit with some orange juice. Scarlet and fragrant, it's a delightful jam that will make for a unique flavor to have on toast or with ice cream come August when people receive them.
We feel rather blessed to have all these amazing people in our lives. People who want to be a part of an important moment in our lives. The wedding is partially for us, but it's also to share something with them.
The reason we want to do this wedding is so we can tell each other we love each other in front of our loved ones, and then have a real rockin' party with them afterwards.
But, of course, a few dozen spots of jam always helps.
36 ounces cranberries (3 bags)
16 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 vanilla bean, seeded + the bean
1/4 teaspoon butter
Combine all the ingredients together in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat for about 20-30 minutes. Halfway through mash up the cranberries with a potato masher. The mixture will get very thick very quickly. Ladle into sterilized jars and process in boiling hot water.
Makes 14 4-oz jars.