Thursday, October 14, 2010

Time & Preparing for a Wedding

Time is slippery.  Just when you think you have a hold on it, before you know, it's the morning of your friends' wedding, and you're going over details in your head, trying to get everything done.  There's champagne and snacks for the bride and her nephews, there's snapping photo after photo, praying you get a couple of good shots, because, let's face it, I'm more of a got-lucky photographer than a skilled one.

Is it just me, or when you help a friend plan her wedding, you don't realize what you've signed up for until it's over and people have told you that you did a lot?  That happened last night at the reception and I started shaking my head before I thought about it.  It was fun, and I did it because I love the couple, but now I wonder how I did it all without going crazy.  She's the most laid-back bride I've ever known and that made it more of a pleasure working with her.  I was more high-strung about the whole thing.  I needed Xanax, but turns out, people hand you full glasses of champagne and wine and then you forget about the to-dos and the stress.  And you giggle and smile, and chase kids, coddle babies, calm the bride's nerves and soldier on.

S. and I hosted the engagement party.  Our friend C. was going to do this, but was told a couple of months ago that he and his friends had to vacate their apartment.  Apparently the owner wanted to move back in.  So, just like that, we lost a great space with a huge grassy next door lot which is pretty rare in Chicago.  Panicked, I asked S.'s friend C. if we could use his home.  After securing that, we prayed for good weather.  And our prayers were answered.  Eighty degree weather, sunny, in October, in Chicago.

I am only posting food photos here, to respect the privacy of the couple, but I'm sure you understand.

Outdoor snack and beverage spread.

Indoor spread.

Nappa and Apple Slaw.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Roasted Garlic Dip.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Polenta with Roasted Crimini and Oyster Mushrooms, Truffle Oil.

Terrarium Cake
Spice Cake with Maple Buttercream, Meringue Mushrooms, Popcorn Shoots, Praline Grains, Chocolate Soil

I believe the Fairies are hiding . . .

The cake came to me at the last minute, meaning about 1 1/2 weeks out.  I didn't want to make cupcakes, which I am famous for, and I tossed around the idea of making a buche, but that didn't really grab me.  Then, the bride's best friend mentioned in a conversation (she helped plan from Seattle) that they were making terrariums for centerpieces for the wedding.  I got excited and looked them up online to see if I could come up with ideas to help.  I went to sleep and a few days later, something clicked.  Why not make the cake look like a miniature self-contained ecosystem?  Then I started planning.  The rocky part of the soil layer were the praline grains, and, of course, the soil was made with almond flour, cocoa powder, etc.  Researching micro-greens online, I decided on popcorn shoots, partly because they were sweeter, not spicy like other greens.  The photos I saw online showed more of a pale green shoot, and not this bright yellow that we got in.  But it worked, I mean, after all, it was a fall wedding, and the leaves are turning yellow, so . . .  following me here?  Unfortunately, the glass dome that came with the cake stand was too small for this cake (10"), so, lidless, you don't get the feeling of plants and mushrooms growing under a cloche.  But it worked, the couple loved it, guests were amazed, and that's what matters, right?  Not bad as a prototype and I can only improve from this point.

I made salted caramels, tea caramels, and nougats for their favors.  Placed in moss-lined baskets, they were adorable!
Fanciful Favors!

Vanilla, Chocolate, Salted Caramel Buttercream, Ivory Pearl Dragees.

Did I tell you the story about the cake?  Bride and Groom come to pick it up to take it to Cafe Brauer before the rehearsal.  I ask S. to take it out of the fridge and help Groom get it on the board for travel.  I go over last minute deets with Bride-the flowers will be there in the afternoon for me to put them on just before things got started-so I took my eyes off of the cake for a minute.  What happens?  S. has placed his thumb in the cake!  At least the couple got to see it before it got marred, and flowers are decorative and cosmetic!

At the reception, I felt a sense of accomplishment.  Everything was a success, the couple was very happy, and I survived, even if slightly inebriated.  Lots of smiles, dancing, and fake mustaches, it was great.

And tears.  Yes, there were tears.  But I can't think about that now, the Kleenex is too far away.

Helping with the planning, making favors, cakes, entertaining, shooting the action, sometimes I had to remind myself that I was part of the wedding, put down the camera, and enjoyed moments of being just the bridesmaid, and a guest.  Having multiple hats is thrilling, fun, and exhausting, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

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