Entertaining

Why I Loved (and Ate Lots Of!) the Food at My Wedding

June 15, 2016

Even though I’m a recipe nut, cookbook author, and proud Food52 brand ambassador—when my now-husband Mike and I started planning our wedding, we put food as a #3 priority, behind DJ and “decor/vibe.”

This is because I didn’t think that people ever really remember wedding food, and I also didn’t want to peg my happy wedding day dreams on a catered dinner planned from across the country—it seemed like a risky proposition. I even tried to angle for casual tacos or barbecue instead, but that proved to be a terrible idea (because of all the set-up and breakdown and servers and bartenders and everything else that wedding caterers take care of).

Photo by Melissa Ergo

But our wedding dinner was not only the best wedding food I’ve ever had, it was some of the best food I’ve ever had, period. A lot of our guests, dumbstruck, said the same. It had very little to do with us, and everything to do with our dream caterers, Amy Padilla and Heidi Schlecht at Feel Good Foods in Santa Cruz, California.

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Nonetheless, I’ve over-analyzed what I think worked so well, and thought I’d share my menu (and my notes) with you. (Please tell me your stories too!)

The Menu:

Welcome drinks

  • Strawberry lemonade
  • Cucumber water

3 passed appetizers

  • Grilled olive bread with roasted dry-farmed tomatoes, burrata, lemon oil, pink peppercorns, and marjoram (some vegan without burrata) (1)
  • El Salchichero bacon-wrapped dates with Point Reyes Bay blue cheese (some vegan with tangerine marmalade, pistachios, and orange water) (2)
  • Ahi poke with avocado, sesame, and fried wontons (3)

At the bar

  • Lemon and rosemary whiskey sours
  • Plumline Santa Rosa syrup, basil, and lime with vodka (4)

Family-style salad

  • Arugula, Chioggia beets, citrus, Brokaw avocados, citrus-date dressing, edible flowers (5)
  • Gayle’s bread and salted Strauss butter

Pretty salad from Saturday's wedding #redwoodweddings #fernriverresort with @bigsurweddings @melissaergophoto @miglorious

A photo posted by Amy Padilla & Heidi Schlecht (@feelgoodfoodscatering) on

Family-style dinner

  • Lemon-thyme marinated chicken with feta, salsa verde, and grilled summer squash (6)
  • Grilled porcini rubbed tri-tip with grilled oyster mushrooms and chimichurri
  • Gigante bean salad with French filet and yellow wax beans, cherry tomatoes, and basil (7)
  • Potato, tomato, olive oil, caramelized onion, and herb gratin (8)
  • Spring vegetable salad with sherry-shallot vinaigrette (9)

Cooking up some fava beans and squash blossoms #springvegetables #organiccatering #santacruzwedding

A photo posted by Amy Padilla & Heidi Schlecht (@feelgoodfoodscatering) on

Coffee and tea with service of dessert

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Great call on the tri tip. That's my favorite boneless beef cut, but hardly anyone east of the Rockies understands how fantastic this cut is. Also Point #11: yes, focus on what's in season RIGHT NOW. The past few years have been really awesome for my dinner plate, I'm focusing on the stuff that's *REALLY* in season. This past weekend, Blenheim apricots made their first appearance at my town's farmers market, I'd say about three weeks earlier than normal. Their season is only about three weeks, you can't plan for their presence on any given day. If you want the best, some of these virtually need to be gameday calls. Good on you for being open to that flexibility. A lot of couples I've seen married slip into that "control freak" mentality and certain things don't work as well because everything has been outlined in a predetermined spreadsheet.”
— cv
Comment

Dessert (10)

  • Choose one of the two cobblers, whichever fruit looks best at market, chef’s choice (11)—strawberry-rhubarb cobbler or peach-blackberry—with whipped cream and ice cream options
  • Ice cream float bar with root beer, ginger ale, Penny Ice Cream vanilla ice cream, and raspberry sorbet, whipped cream, housemade strawberry and apricot syrups (12)

My Footnotes:

1. Amy and Heidi planned flexible apps that could be remixed easily for any dietary restriction our family and friends threw their way.

2. A nod to this party-starter. But fancier.

3. To help us stick to our budget, Amy recommended serving seafood in little portions (like these crunchy wontons with scoops of poke) instead of as a main. Plus, Mike freaked for these at our tasting.

4. Heidi also has a preserves company called Plumline Jams—including the syrups for the bar and ice cream floats, and the roasted tomatoes on the crostini. Like I said, dream caterers.

5. This salad was the perfect way to set the tone for a surprising, seasonal, gorgeous, damn delicious meal to come.

6. This is how to squelch any fear of sad, dried-out grilled meat—and cook it ahead for a big crowd: a) Pick tasty, not-too-lean cuts, like chicken thighs and tri-tip steak (a California Central Coast tradition!). b) Coat them with brilliant, herby green sauces like feta salsa verde and chimichurri.

7. These gigante beans with summery vegetable friends were a swing dish—a main for the vegetarians and vegans, a side for everyone else.

8. Amy and Heidi pitched a potato, tomato, and caramelized onion gratin as a vegan side and I was intrigued, but the day before the wedding, Amy emailed: “We wondered if we could do some of the gratins with Parmesan and cream?” The answer was "SURE, YUM" (and the biggest hit of the night).

9. This ended up like a big warm pile of fava beans, zucchini flowers, chubby little carrots, baby turnips, and all kinds of other stuff. Even my self-declared super taster brother-in-law was all over it.

10. The biggest, best decision Mike and I made about the food was to nix the wedding cake. Mike wishes all cakes were pie; I love them equally, but something less fancy and more playful felt better. We couldn’t imagine anything happier or more summery than ice cream floats and warm fruit cobbler.

11. We knew that the very best fruit cobbler isn’t an objective call that can be made a month ahead—it’s gotta be made with whatever is perfectly ripe right now. We trusted Amy and Heidi to find it. (Peaches and blackberries won.)

12. …plus 4 cases of It’s-Its, which I’d picked up at the factory store for our welcome dinner and then completely forgot about. They seemed to all fit together just right, because they led to this:

Photo by Melissa Ergo

And this:

Photo by Melissa Ergo

What's the most memorable wedding food you've ever had? And was it at your own wedding our someone else's? Share your stories in the comments below!

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18 Comments

Alanna June 21, 2016
Congratulations, you two! That menu sounds and looks AMAZING! Floats and cobbler trump cake any day, in my book. Definitely looking into these guys for my next event.
 
booglix June 21, 2016
Sounds like it was all delicious! The food at my wedding was excellent too - and, like yours, it was due mostly to having a wonderful caterer who found ripe, in-season, gorgeous ingredients and prepared them with love, artistry, and skill.
 
Sarah E. June 21, 2016
These are just about the best wedding photos I have ever viewed, ever.
 
Sarah E. June 21, 2016
ps, congratulations!
 
Rhonda35 June 20, 2016
Best wishes for a long, happy, healthy life together!
 
carlahaibi June 20, 2016
Hey Kristen, Awesome celebration, so personalized and loved reading all the details...First and last pics of the article are my favs...Congratulations and Cheers to happy /yummy days ahead ;)
 
mcs3000 June 19, 2016
LOVE THIS. Congrats, K+M!
 
aixpat June 17, 2016
This is beautiful! I love a laid-back wedding. Who made your awesome dress?
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. June 19, 2016
It was totally laid-back and wonderful. Lindsey Thornburg's crew sewed my dress in the basement of her shop on the Lower East Side in NYC and yes, they were awesome. (Stacey in particular.) http://www.lindseythornburg.com/ (Sorry for the delay—I forgot to mention we're still on our honeymoon in Iceland!)
 
cv June 15, 2016
Excellent looking menu.<br /><br />Great call on the tri tip. That's my favorite boneless beef cut, but hardly anyone east of the Rockies understands how fantastic this cut is. <br /><br />Also Point #11: yes, focus on what's in season RIGHT NOW. The past few years have been really awesome for my dinner plate, I'm focusing on the stuff that's *REALLY* in season.<br /><br />This past weekend, Blenheim apricots made their first appearance at my town's farmers market, I'd say about three weeks earlier than normal. Their season is only about three weeks, you can't plan for their presence on any given day.<br /><br />If you want the best, some of these virtually need to be gameday calls.<br /><br />Good on you for being open to that flexibility. A lot of couples I've seen married slip into that "control freak" mentality and certain things don't work as well because everything has been outlined in a predetermined spreadsheet.
 
HalfPint June 15, 2016
Looks like everyone had a wonderful time! That was my main goal at my wedding. The food was so eclectic (Sunday Brunch). A little of something for everyone (all 150 people, 120 of them were family). The favorite for everyone was the shrimp cocktail. Seriously everyone loved it even the kids. That and the mimosas. We actually ran out of orange juice during the cocktail hour! If I had known, I would have nixed the smoked salmon and doubled the shrimp and OJ ;)
 
catherine M. June 15, 2016
Perfect.
 
Cristina S. June 15, 2016
Awesome! Beautiful, Kristen. <br /><br />Food at the top of my list, but I worked (obsessed? nerd-ed out?) with the caterers to create an original menu that was a) seasonal and b) would hold up for a crowd. <br /><br />See our menu here (http://www.greatperformances.com/the-dish/cristina-sciarra), and more photos of the food here (http://theroamingkitchen.net/the-wedding/). I hope these links are useful to someone getting married in the NY-area!
 
Aliwaks June 15, 2016
two great food weddings, a large Italian wedding at a catering hall in Queens that possibly had all the Italian food I could ever think of in the same place during cocktail hour before dinner was actually served ( The Shells and Sauce (stuffed shells), the CalamAH (calamari salad), stuffed clams, prosSHOOT & melon, saUSEECH and peppers, lasange, fried calamari, cold shrimp, cheeses, caprese It went on and on) other than that we started with cheese & homemade pickles then had piles of fried chicken and perogies with onions & sour cream + a roasted Brussels sprout & bacon salad and a arugula/date salad my wedding, we had a Cannoli cake + salted caramel cupcakes & goat cheese lavender honey cupcakes everyone was so happy to find them selves face to face with as much fried chicken as they could ever want.
 
Aliwaks June 15, 2016
Oops-- what happened to the edit comment button - the fried chicken wedding was mine
 
Frederique M. June 15, 2016
YUM! We decided to do the cake, but I am hopeing our caterer can be as amazing as your's was!
 
Alexandra S. June 15, 2016
What nzle said! Love this post, but that first photo is so perfect. Looks so dreamy, Kristen!
 
Nozlee S. June 15, 2016
Had to take a break from reading this excellent article to shed a happy tear at that perfect first photo. <3