Catering Your Wedding with No Regrets: Part 1

Dear Thriving Bride,

It is 34 days before my wedding, and I want to talk to you about the food at your wedding.  When we first started planning our wedding, my future mother-in-law told us not to worry too much about the food because most of our guests would not care much about it.  She might be right, but the thing that matters most is that WE REALLY CARE ABOUT FOOD.  It’s not exactly in our bloodlines, but it’s definitely part of our shared history.  You see, PJ and I both lived in California and cooked professionally while living there.  He worked in some pretty well known restaurants and I was a personal chef.

Even before I cooked professionally, I was always fascinated by how food brought people together and how one simple ingredient could change a whole meal.  I am gushing about food today because a soon to be bride requested that I talk about it and because we had our tasting with our wedding planner and chef.  It was incredible to see the menu we collectively  created.  It was even more amazing to have the opportunity to savor the flavors, to be cautious to not finish all  of the margarita samples in order to walk out of there in a straight line, and luckily we did!  The food was wonderful, but most importantly it was representative of who we are.

Throughout this planning process, we’ve found the following things to be true: if we stick to the essence (and not the form) of what we want and what is important to us, it usually works out quite perfectly.

So far, the food journey has looked something like this:

1.We thought we were having the wedding at  local hotel, and we loved the chef there because he did things according to some of the ideas that were important to us: local, organic and well executed food.

2. When we decided not to have the wedding at the hotel, we felt disappointed that we would not have the chef,  but we stuck with the important ideas we wanted at our wedding and told our new wedding planner about our disappointment.  Note: Being honest with whomever is helping you plan your wedding (wedding planner, friends, relative, etc) is extremely important.

3. She suggested we meet with a local woman who is a Mexican culinary cuisine expert, who had also worked as  personal chef and had worked with some celebrity chefs.  Now, here’s where the gold was.  We thought that we just might get what we wanted, or something even better.  This is where we got to see our vision come together without losing what we always wanted.

Kirsten West  describes herself as a “Culinary Explorer in Mexico”, and we were very excited to have her help us come up with a menu that we could then present to our wedding planner’s chef (she has a catering company) and he would execute the menu.  Note: The most exciting part of all of this was that we got to talk about our wedding, but we also got to use our past experiences to create a new experience, which was utterly wonderful and tasty!

Eat (and serve) what YOU want. It’s YOUR WEDDING.

So, we’re still getting what we wanted: Mexican fine dining cuisine with local and organic ingredients that creatively includes our intercultural celebration.  The former chef turned culinary consultant has also worked with one of my favorite celebrity chefs Rick Bayless, who is known for his ability to execute exquisite Mexican dishes.  Now, it does not get much better than that!  Who says you can’t have a soup with three colors that represent three different cultures?    You can!

Basically, I am urging you to stick to what’s important to you and it will be hard to go wrong. It’s also important to trust the process, even when you feel disappointed.  Stick with your vision, but be open to how it manifests.  Kirsten West was a big gift that we received because we were honest and open with our wedding planner.

The one thing piece of advice I can give here that is most is essential is this:  It is extremely important that you TRUST YOURSELF IN THIS PROCESS.  So what if you mother thinks Mexican food is not a great idea?  She will most likely forgive you, but you might have a hard time forgiving yourself if you do what she wants and not what you want.  YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO SOMETHING YOU ARE GOING TO REGRET!

Some people may say that weddings are about what other people want and it’s also a time to make sacrifices.  In some ways this may be true for you, but everyone knows that a resentful bride is not much fun.  I’ve been perusing other blogs (and comments) related to wedding planning, and it seems like it’s pretty normal for family members to bring all their issues out on the table during this time.  That’s just fine. Everyone gets to be who they are, but you Dear Bride get to set the tone of this day and the rest of your life.  Remember that you are officially moving on from your family of origin and starting your own family.  The food and what you decide to do is really just a metaphor for so much more.  It is a way to say that what you think and value matters, and it’s a great way to imprint that idea in the minds of everyone involved.

Are you dying to have the taco truck come to your wedding or rehearsal dinner?  Just go for it!  Again, think about the essence of what you want and make it happen.  If you can pack organic local ingredients into a taco, then why not?  As I keep telling you, it’s the essence that matters.  Now, that’s what you’ll feel and remember for the rest of your life.

Stay tuned for  Part 2 and my interview with Kirsten West!