Faith & Mike’s Food And Community Wedding

I’m not quite sure I have words to express how I feel about today’s wedding, which turns out to be ok, because Faith (an editor at Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn) has all the words for me. What I will say is this: Faith has, in one page, summed up David’s and my philosophy around our own wedding better than I have ever been able to put into words. By the time I finished reading Faith’s post, I was a weepy mess from the enormity of love, beauty, and thoughtfulness poured into this wedding. I hope you like it a quarter as much as I do, because that would be very much indeed.
Mike and I were married last September in Columbus, Ohio. We really value our community of friends and family, and we wanted a celebration that would thank them for all their support in our journey, and acknowledge that marriage isn’t just a joining of two people: it’s more far-reaching than that.

I’m a food writer, so food and drink are crazy important to both of us. We lucked out big time with our caterer, Creative Cuisine. John, our contact there, is on the board of the Ohio organic and ecological farming association, and he was able to bring in some local ingredients. He was great to work with: I gave him my dream menu and he not only pulled it off but at a great price too.
Important words: We pulled out a few words to keep us anchored and centered during the process. Hospitality was one. I read once that a wedding reception is a bride and bridegroom’s first act of hospitality as a married couple. This drove a lot of the decisions we made: is this idea hospitable? Also, community. We have deep friendships with people all over the country, and we wanted to bring them together in a one-day reunion!
Being practical: A Practical Wedding was a big inspiration. I like the thought that being practical means doing what’s right for YOU – not just what the wedding industry or indie crowd thinks is ideal. This post also made me crow! So true.

We paid a little more for our wedding than we planned, but it was a deliberate decision. We wanted to serve everyone an excellent meal with great wine, and this is where the majority of our money went. It was 110% worth it. We were very frugal in other areas, but we also tried to be sensible in balancing creativity and time vs. the convenience (and sanity) of paying others to do things. We had a short engagement of about 4 months, so this was important.

Also on practicality and frugality: we had the wedding on a Sunday afternoon, which saved us quite a bit on venue. We also decided to keep our wedding party intimate: just our siblings and one good friend as the flower girl. I felt strongly about paying for my bridal party’s dresses – one thing that has always annoyed me about American weddings is the expectation for people to drop a ton of money on a dress they will of course, “wear again.” Keeping the parties intimate kept costs down, but the real reason was just that we wanted to stick with people that we know will be in our lives forever.

Being creative: It was so fun to think through ways to save money, be creative, and be hospitable to our guests.
– We created our invites ourselves. I commissioned a papercut from Cindy Fergusonwebsite, and I even used a bit of the sage leaves as a design on custom-printed linen for my dress. Also, I love letterpress, but we decided not to splurge on it. Instead we ordered a custom embosser (about $60) with this image and stamped it on our envelopes, menus, and other print materials. It gave that lovely raised feel without the expense. Type geeks will appreciate: We bought one classic font and used it across all our print materials.
– A talented friend made my dress. (I catered her wedding dessert reception the year before.) It was a combo of linen custom-printed by Anna of Food Flowers Style and really inexpensive silk I bought at a remnants shop. We kept it very simple: an empire shift, basically. I wanted something natural and easy to move around in. It wasn’t a princess dress, and even though this gave me a tiny pang, occasionally, it was so lovely and such a right choice for who I am.

– We used old glass jars bought on Craigslist for the flower arrangements. I had about 20 girlfriends over the day before the wedding for brunch, and we did the flowers together. It was a blast, and I was able to have the more offbeat flowers and greens that I love. I cleaned the jars out and now they hold grains in my pantry.

– We wanted a mix of urban, pastoral, and vintage in our wedding. We love the city, and our venue was an old former factory downtown. You can see the city and the highways all around, but there is a central grassy area where we held the ceremony.
– Vintage things were so fun; I used old library drawers to hold the escort cards, and vintage flashcards for table numbers. We wrote notes to each of our guests on the escort cards. Bringing our family history in was important. We displayed old photos on the guest welcome table, and we created mini family histories through wedding photos on the website.
– We did a photobooth, too, but we just used my own camera on a tripod and a remote. Friends brought props, and I printed up the photos after the wedding and included them in people’s thank you notes.
The menu: It was a September wedding, and I wanted to have a menu that reflected the seasons. Before the ceremony we had house-made sweet potato chips with rosemary, and a fizzy apple cider drink. After the ceremony, during the photos, there was a cocktail hour with white wine, deviled eggs with capers, and crostini with apple slices, brie, and honey. (Honey was a theme: I used beeswax candles on all the tables in little glass tumblers that are now at home and well-used in our kitchen!) Supper was beet coleslaw, focaccia bread, pasta with butternut squash and sage, roasted fall vegetables, and an herb-crusted pork loin. We set up long tables so everyone felt like they were at one big dinner table, and we passed the food family style.

– We bought the wine ourselves — two inexpensive but really great favorites. The leftovers all came home with us!

– I made two kinds of cake, as well as lemon ice cream. This was hectic, but totally worth it! (You can see more about the cake on The Kitchn.)

– I wanted my mom’s family to participate somehow, so I asked my aunts and grandma to bring sweets for another dessert table. This was a huge hit. (Also more about the family sweets table here.)

– We aren’t into dancing, much (hello! we’re rather geeky. No one wants to watch us dance…) but we love music, so we asked friends and family to play at a sort of open mic instead. A couple friends sang some of our favorite songs. Another friend played a hilarious Elvis medley, and Mike and his mom and brother played an old Italian folk tune. Then his mom played a surprise encore of “That’s Amore!” on her accordion, to great hilarity and group singing. There were a lot of kids there and they were all up and dancing during the music!
– We cut and served our own cake. This was by far the most meaningful part of the meal. We wanted to feed everyone from the time they got there to the time they left, and to serve our sweet cake together to all our friends and family was a good way to do a “receiving” line too.

Last words: No wedding is perfect. It’s just the kickoff to a marriage that also won’t be perfect, but hopefully both will reflect your spirits and your values. I know that not everyone has a religion or a faith connected to their wedding, but if you do, this is the time to put it front and center. We did a lot of things very differently, and dispensed with lots of purported wedding tradition (no unity candle!), but we did stick with short, simple, and old-fashioned words in our ceremony. We wanted to be connected to the longstanding supports of tradition, community, and strength we have available in our personal faiths. (No pun intended. Har.)
Also, we feel that our love of hospitality comes from God’s own hospitality towards us, and while we understand that not everyone has the same beliefs and traditions we do, for us it was such a deep pleasure to look down the rows of tables and see all our dearest friends and family enjoying one another with good food in community. For us, that’s one of the deepest expressions of what our faith means. After all the fun and creativity of a wedding is over, we are stuck with one another, and I believe we all need something — whether that is faith, friends, a common purpose — to help us remember our vows and love each other over the long haul. It’s what a wedding is all about, right? The more you can emphasize that unifying factor during that one shining day, the more memorable it will be. Our friends and that loaded table of food symbolize a lot of this for us, and those are the memories of our wedding that will last.

Photos: Bryan and Joleen Fenstermacher, photographers extraordinaire. Also, Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan (food pics) and our friend Bom Yi Kim.

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • A wedding reception is a bride and bridegroom’s first act of hospitality as a married couple.

    Oh, I love that. That makes me so happy : )

    I love how you served your guests the cake. I can imagine that being a wedding tradition in another culture… or perhaps even becoming one in ours.

  • Anonymous

    would you be so kind as to share the two inexpensive but really great wines you chose?

    I enjoyed reading about your cake and ice cream creations on apt theraphy. Great to see your wedding on another one of my favorite sites!

  • Beautiful! It’s great to see another Columbus wedding. The Smith Bros. venue is very cool!

  • i loved reading about her homemade wedding desserts on the kitchn a while ago – such an inspiration – and i’m so happy to see more of her wedding here! thanks!

  • Cheers to another C-Bus couple! That post just did me in completely. What I enjoyed the most was the genuine honesty found in her words.

    Just beautifully done and very well-said.

  • I second the request for wine recommendations. thanks!

  • i love it, thanks for sharing. i love the couple’s dedication to community and focus on what’s really important on their day.

  • LR

    Just amazing. This is everything I want for our wedding. For us to honor the people that are coming. We are having a very small wedding, with only our closest friends and family and I can only hope that our will be anything like this.

  • Thanks so much, everyone! The wines were both Californian: a 2006 Chardonnay from Pietra Santa, and a Zinfandel from Four Vines. (CBus peeps, the ever-distinguished Northstar Cafe has the Zin; that’s where we discovered it.)

    Both run about $10-15/bottle, but when you buy by the case you can negotiate down. Most shops give you at least a 10% case discount. Pietra Santa gave us a great deal, too. If you can pick up the wine yourself, that’s helpful, since wine shipping is a real kicker.

    If you read the kitchn keep an eye out next month; I just asked Mary if she would do a couple posts on good wines to buy by the case.

  • Love it. Simple, personal, exactly what they wanted without the fuss. This makes me happy.

  • what a great post! everything sounded so personal and thoughtful.

    “A wedding reception is a bride and bridegroom’s first act of hospitality as a married couple.”

    Love love that!

    I was wondering if you could share specifically how you pulled off the family style service. Did you need a lot of waitstaff? Thanks!

  • Cyd

    This is one wedding I really really would have loved to attend as a guest. Their whole outlook is just beautiful.

  • Anonymous

    thank you for that post — truly beautiful, and a breath of fresh air in the wedding blogosphere with its emphasis on the beauty of items rather than the beauty of love and gathering with family and friends. definitely the most inspiring wedding i’ve seen in ages!

  • Uhh…that was amazing. The paragraph at the end had me a little teary.I’m really glad you shared the wine names! I was wondering about those myself. Thanks!!

  • Yay! A Columbus wedding! Sometimes I feel like every wedding featured on the blogs is so far away. It’s good to see one from a familiar venue in my hometown. Thanks!

  • Desaray

    i love the idea of cutting and serving the cake ourselves. What a perfect variation on an important but stiff wedding tradition (the receving line.)

  • Great way to save money on invitations. I’m trying to decide how to make wedding invitations that look great but don’t cost a lot.

  • Thanks again everyone for the nice words.

    @karimichelle, family-style service didn’t seem to be too staff-intensive. It’s definitely easier than plated meals, and usually when you do a buffet you still need staff to cover drinks and such. The caterer seemed to imply that the issue is the serving dishes, and they already had these in stock.

    One tip on cake serving, if anyone does it this way: we cut the cake ourselves, but it would have been easier to let the staff actually cut it, then for us to serve it. They tried to do that but in my idealism I stopped them! Then after slamming hunks of cake on a few plates I thought I probably should have had a little more help. :-)

    And one last note on cheap invites: We bought really nice, heavy (printer-jamming) cardstock with rough edges. We ran it through a laserjet and used the embosser on the inner and outer envelopes. Here’s the paper:

  • oh, wow. Like everything in this post was so perfect, so genuinely you, so inspiring and so right on on what (we think) we want for our wedding, too… I can’t wait to show this to my fiancĂŠ! Thank you so much for sharing, it was wonderful so see a couple as invested in their community’s happiness as their own!

  • Val

    I loved reading this story, especially being from Columbus. I looked at the website of the Smith Bros venue and it appears that they will only deal with 2 caterers (Cameron Mitchell and Zuppa Catering). Am I just interpreting that wrong and those are the “preferred caterers� or did you have to get special permission or pay more in order to have the caterer of your choice? I love the location, but am interested in using a private caterer.

  • @Val – I don’t think the Smith Bros website is up to date. They had a couple other caterers on the list they gave us, too.

    If you are thinking seriously about using the venue (and it is a great location!) feel free to email me – faith (at) apartmenttherapy (dot) com. I would have a couple of comments on my experience there.

  • Sweet wedding! I love the addition flash cards for the table numbers, the old library card drawer and the mustache photo booth! Thanks for the post! Suzanne the Party Girl

  • Moz

    I know this wedding was ages ago but I hope you’re still subscribed so you get this. Your weddings is so beautiful and that picture of you just before that last paragraph is exquisite.

    Most importantly, congrats on your marriage xx

  • Pingback: hitchfest 2011 prepping: the goals || tea@elevensies()

  • LC

    I know this post is from awhile ago, but just wanted to THANK you for keeping up your wedding website! It is really inspiring me, and I love the details about your families. You have the perfect answer on the “registry” page – I might need to plagiarize!

  • Alexandra

    So awesome! Very nice. Food, faith, community: all great things. :D

  • Pingback: Cakes Made With Love: Our DIY Wedding Cake Table | Corrie Anne()

  • Hannah

    I can’t remember how I found this post, but it has been such an amazing blessing to me. First of all, it introduced me to APW. How can I describe how wonderful this website is to me? Fortunately I don’t have to, because all of you understand. I’ve basically put all other wedding-related internet browsing on hold and I am reading through every single post on this website. It sounds dramatic, but I really already feel love for Meg and all of you here at Team Practical. There is so much wisdom and love in this community, I feel blessed just to witness it. Secondly, this post itself has become my compass for wedding planning. Every time I start to become overwhelmed, guilty, stressed, I read over this post to ground myself and put the joy back into planning. Thank you Faith!