Make your wedding reception an event that not only celebrates your loved one and yourself, but also the food, the land and the guests you are bringing to the table. Gone are the days of stuffy hotel wedding receptions with generic “American” fare—sure, we all love a good steak and potatoes, but the modern wedding is giving its food a bit more attention these days.
The farm-to-table movement, which hit restaurants years ago, has now made its way into weddings. Brides and grooms are ditching the hotels and heading to the countryside; they’re kicking off their shoes in the fields, working with the farmers to make a seasonal, local feast and giving their guests an experience almost as memorable as it will be for themselves. Here are 8 essential tips for making your own wedding reception a farm-to-table affair.
- If you don’t already have the food connections, reach out to local vendors, farmers and chefs in your neighborhood. Place an ad on craigslist in search of local farmers and vendors if need be. And ask your friends on Facebook and other social networking sites to spread the word—you’ll be delightfully surprised to discover just how many farmers, vendors and chefs are readily available right in your town.
- Plan the menu in accordance with the farmer, the locale and the season. Don’t go into your appointment with your farmer and chef expecting the usual wedding fare; instead, ask them which foods they have in season, which are freshest and which will keep best in the location you’ve chosen for your wedding. Simple comfort foods done with the freshest ingredients, such as chicken pot pie, apple crisp and homemade ice cream, can make your guests feel right at home before they get down and dance barefoot in the field.
- Save the scraps! Especially if you are hosting your reception at a farm or natural landscape, you can save the dinner waste and use it in compost. If you have hired staff to take care of the catered portion of the evening, make sure they know to separate animal wastes, oil and other compost no-no’s from the rest of the organic wastes. And you can even help to feed the animals on the farm with your wedding waste—just ask the hosting farmer how you can help.
- If you live somewhere that permits an outdoors reception, take advantage! Choose a location that integrates the natural landscape with the rest of the party, but don’t choose a place that’s so remote your guests have to drive or fly far out of their way to get there.
- If you live close enough to a scenic farm, consider using it as your reception hot-spot. Especially if you can connect with the farmer producing some of your foods, you can make the experience even more enjoyable by hosting your reception ho-down right there on the good, green land.
- Keep the décor au natural. You’re going farm-style for the reception, so opt for an elegant but simple boho-chic décor. Picnic tables, bamboo and natural dining ware, local flowers and potted herbs will all add a special touch to the locavore atmosphere.
- Invite guests that you truly want to be a part of this special occasion; don’t just aim for high numbers. Having an intimate party not only cuts back on your personal financial expenses, it also cuts back on environmental costs from traveling, disposable gifts/clothing and all food/drink materials.
- Introduce the guests to the farmers, the chef and even the farm critters! Inviting the farmer and chef to speak to the guests briefly about the meal can connect everyone in a deeper sense to the meal, how it was created and the land you are all partying upon. And when you bring out a few lambs, pigs or chickens to meet the guests, just listen to the ooo’s and aaw’s as people’s hearts melt when they connect to the lovely critters.
Image: Wedding Photography by Jon Day