A Locavore’s Wedding

I’ll be the first to admit, my wedding was certainly non-traditional. My husband David and I got engaged in October 2014 and decided we wanted to get married on St. Patrick’s Day, 2015. Originally, we had thoughts of eloping, but knew our parents wanted to be there. So, we opted for something in between a wedding and an elopement. We created a small, unique wedding and invited just our parents. My best friend Michelle was ordained just for the occasion. That brought the total number of wedding guests to five. Yep. Just five.

sara_cooking The other part that people found shockingly non-traditional is that I decided to make my own wedding dinner. Most people didn’t know about the small guest list when they first heard that I was doing this. They heard, “I’m making my own wedding dinner,” and pictured me plating salad after salad or cooking searing steaks and chicken for hundreds of guests.

Once people found out I was cooking for a grand total of nine people, they were less shocked and more understanding. I could tell that some people still thought I was crazy. Most people assumed that I chose to make my own food because of the cost, but that’s really not true.

s&d-forever-always-0942I chose to make my own wedding dinner because I’m passionate about local food and I am an avid cook. I’ve spent the last few years photographing and writing about local food and farms. I’ve worked as a farmhand at MorningSide Farm and I was the assistant manager for the Countryside Conservancy Farm Markets. Local food has been my passion. It was important to me to include it in one of the most memorable meals in my life—our wedding dinner—because this is who I am and what I love. Honestly, it was less stressful for me.

S&Dforever-0688Since we were getting married on St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make corned beef, of course. It’s also easy, and just needed put in the crock-pot the morning of the wedding with some beer, carrots and onions. My friend Kelly, the market manager over at Kent’s Haymaker Farmers’ Market, had made her own corned beef, so I asked if she would be so kind to do this for me. Ami, of Breakneck Acres, supplied the grass-fed brisket that would be dry brined and prepped by Kelly for the main event of my wedding dinner.

s&d-forever-always-3In addition to locally-sourced corned beef, my St. Patrick’s Day wedding menu included my famous Vegan Potato Leek Soup made with Yukon gold potatoes from Red Basket Farm and leeks from Infinite Garden Farm, kale chips from Ms. Julie’s Kitchen; plain, asiago and pretzel with pickled onion croissants from Summit Croissants; a wedge salad with many locally-sourced ingredients including bacon from Curly Tail Organic Farm;

table-setting-tychLake Erie Creamery goat cheese pearls; ranch or roasted garlic blue cheese dressing from a new favorite, Darby’s on 59, which is right around the corner from our new home in Cuyahoga Falls; roasted Brussels sprouts (that I saved all winter) from Huffmans’ Orchards; and roasted fingerling potatoes and herbs from MorningSide farm.

Friends were a huge part of making this plan work seamlessly. My dear friend Laura helped me make an initial “to do” list and together we crossed off line by line until it was all done. She also did my mise en place while I decorated the space. Without her this DIY wedding could not have happened. (Thank you, Laura!)

s&d-forever-always-0507So with my best friend officiating, David and I got married in front of a red treehouse with a picture perfect stained glass window. Red Gallery Photography captured it all. It was sunny, but cold —that’s St. Patrick’s Day in Ohio for you—but it was a beautiful day.

After the ceremony, we enjoyed a truly amazing dinner filled with memories of the friends who had helped me make it and all of the hardworking people who grew or raised what we served.

If making your own wedding dinner is not for you, that’s ok! It is my belief that any meal you make with ingredients from people you know is special because it reminds you of the connection of having shared a laugh, an anecdote or a hard-earned beer. You appreciate everything a little more knowing the care that was taken to bring that quality product to you; knowing the person who made it and the work that went into it.  For us, food is a big part of that connection, so it was important to me to include it in my most special day.

s&d-forever-always-0973Having a small wedding let us have the wedding we really wanted and the wedding meal I really wanted. We stayed true to ourselves. Had we had the traditional big wedding, we probably couldn’t have done this. When it comes to planning this special day everyone will have an opinion, but only you know what’s right for you.

By Sara Graca Cooper