The Dinner Party Wedding
When I was engaged (and I was engaged for many, many, many years before it became painfully obvious that we were never moving on to the next stage), we would lie awake and make plans about how amazing our wedding would be.
But it wasn't going to be a wedding others were used to.
I tired of going to so many weddings where the church was less than half filled while the reception was filled to the gills. I felt sad that the thank God that's over paved the way for a night of drunken chaos and debauchery. I did not want "remember when Ryan got so drunk he got in a fight with your niece's date?" or "can you believe Doug tripped over the ice sculpture and puked all over the dance floor" to be memories at my wedding.
The idea that all that primping and prepping for a seventeen-minute church service that would make us legally and emotionally connected until death. do. us. part. followed by two hours of photos and cold chicken for dinner seemed, well, off balanced to me.
Here's what I envision:
A Friday evening event. I don't want people taking off work. You'll have plenty of time to get ready before arriving at 7:00 pm. Also, you're not bringing gifts. I'm an adult who has lived her life and has every kitchen utensil I need and lots I don't. You're not paying me to come to my event. You are my guest. I want you to feel special. I want you to know how important you are in my life. I want you to be here because I want to share this important event with you, not because I'm obligated to invite you. (Plus, I'm already happy because I'm marrying the man of my dreams!)
I want a Friday event because you have your life and I don't expect to take your entire weekend. Don't worry, we won't be out too late. You'll be able to do whatever you want on Saturday.
There will only be about 30 of us. I'll actually try to whittle that down because I want to be able to talk with and spend time with all of you. (It would take me all night to say hello to 250 guests and I'm not the type of person to ignore them while I go bounce it on the dance floor while you wonder whether I only wanted you there to feel obligated to purchase my overpriced knife set off the Target app.)
We will greet you when you arrive, my fiancé and I. I'll be in a nice dress, you'll be dressed nicely, too. Because I like getting fancy. I'm talking black tie and floor-length gowns fancy. You can wear white if you want. I'm not wearing it. (I am far from a virgin; I have the children to prove it.) I've been married before and I wore a wedding dress and a wedding dress a marriage it does not make. You'll feel fancy, I'll feel fancy, we'll all be giddy at how fancy we are. I'll joke about this is the closest we'll ever get to being royal. And we will feel royal.
The event will take place in a historic building. Of course it will. My nerdy love for all things architecture and pre-1900's makes this an obvious choice. Bonus points for exposed brick! And old wooden floors. And floor to ceiling windows. Are you swooning? I'm swooning.
There will be hugs and kisses for greetings and cocktails to socialize before you are shown to your seat and this, ladies and gentlemen, is where the magic begins, because we are about to eat dinner.
I love food. Good food. Amazing food. Incredible food. I also have celiac and can't eat gluten which means most dinner parties are filled with things I have to go without. That will not happen at my wedding. I will hire the best chef to prepare the meal of a lifetime. My budget will primarily be spent on food. Seven courses minimum: hors d'oeuvre, soup, appetizer, salad, main course, dessert, and mignardise. All gluten-free.
In between each course there will be an element of the traditional wedding ceremony.
After cocktails and once everyone is in place, there will be a few words of (formal) welcome, thanking guests for bearing witness to our union.
Then the hors d'oeuvres will be served.
Next, the officiant will share some words on our love story and what marriage means to us.
Then the soup will be served.
From there, we'll include some readings while the soup settles, and the wine glasses are refilled.
Salad time! And we continue to chat and laugh and share and enjoy each other while we eat.
After which the officiant will discuss the responsibilities of marriage and the sanctity of the vows we're about to take. This is seriously the most important part of the ceremony to me.
Now it's time for the main course. It will be to die for. It will be savory and bursting with so much flavor you won't know what to do with yourself. Ginger braised beef, pistachio crusted halibut, and Kurobuta pork belly. Parmigiano roasted fingerling potatoes. Wild mushroom ragoût and lobster mash.
You guys. This is what I want to share with you.
After the incredible main course has been shared, the two of us will rise from the table and take turns reciting our vows. Your bodies will be filled with food and your hearts will be filled with the witnessing of love promising to cling and claw its way through hardships.
We will return to the table for dessert. Close to the finish of dinner... close to the finish of our ceremony. Hours of thinking about what marriage truly means. To get in the mindset of what is about to happen: a commitment like none other.
After dessert, lighting of candles or some other symbolic scene. I thought about having someone sing, but they'll be way too full of food to be able to do that.
And then the mignardise. Perhaps a meringue or pavlova. Light. airy. A pastry to remind us that life is sweet and even sweeter among friends.
We will lean back, smiling at each other, looking over our guests on each side of the table we have been sharing. The officiant will ask you to raise your glasses of champagne that had just been poured as we walk toward each other, each taking steps toward our final act of the ceremony. He will announce that indeed, we are now husband and wife. "You may now kiss your bride, the one woman you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with."
The champagne will be swallowed, and coffee will be served, and a chai tea latte placed in front of me. We will move to the seating vignettes and talk and take photos and laugh and tell stories with soft music piped through the speakers because it's all only ever been about friendship and food.
We will, of course, spend the weekend in a historic Bed & Breakfast in a quiet town before heading to our honeymoon... perhaps Old Old Québec or Annecy in southeast France, or really any English village in the Cotswolds. Anywhere, really. There just needs to be great food.