Weddings, anniversaries and food memories

by Terry B on June 24, 2009

Food plays a major role in one of life’s biggest celebratory events. What wedding food do you remember—either from your own wedding or one you’ve attended? Share your story in the comments below.

cheesecake-lollipops-nyt

The night before our wedding anniversary last weekend, we ended up having dinner in a restaurant right next door to the one where we’d dined on the eve of our wedding. In fact, Red Rooster Wine Bar and Cafe, where we’d taken out-of-town friends on Friday, and its venerable sibling, Café Bernard [where we'd enjoyed a lovely, lively meal with family members and friends years before], share a kitchen and a chef/owner, Bernard LeCoq.

Marion and I discovered the wonderfully bohemian, wonderfully French Café Bernard when we were dating. It quickly became our go-to for romantic evenings out. So when Marion’s father asked us to choose a restaurant for dinner the night before our wedding, no other place even came to mind. I can’t remember a single thing we ate that night—the conversation and wine flowed quite freely—but it was a memorable, convivial evening.

To call our wedding small and informal is an understatement of heroic proportions. We were married in Chicago’s City Hall. Besides us and the judge, the entire wedding party consisted of Marion’s mother, father and sister, my mother, Marion’s best friend from junior high and his date. The flowers—a bouquet for Marion, corsages for the other women and boutonnieres for the men—came from our neighborhood florist.

Marion’s sister Lena was our wedding photographer. To make sure she got into at least one picture, we handed the camera to a passing police officer as we stood outside City Hall. The result was a beautiful shot of the brass plaque identifying the building as City Hall with a row of smiling faces along the photo’s bottom edge.

Our reception was as modest as the wedding ceremony. We held it in our lovely Lakeview apartment. Friends and neighbors swelled the crowd to about a dozen. The topper on our wedding cake, ordered from our favorite neighborhood bakery, towered over the diminutive cake. Marion made the handful of appetizers we served. I only remember chilled asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto, perhaps because we’d also laid in a bottle of champagne per guest.

By late afternoon, guests had departed. Marion’s parents were on their way back to Detroit. Only my mother, who was staying with us for the wedding, and Marion’s sister, who lived in the neighborhood, remained. And suddenly, we were ravenous. In a decision probably also affected by the generous supply of champagne, we decided to head over to our then favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner. Enchiladas, chips, burritos and margaritas were consumed with gusto.

Then we went barhopping. With my mother and brand-spanking-new sister-in-law. At some point, Lena peeled off, having to work the next day, but my mom hung in there. The three of us ended the evening eating scrambled eggs and chili at the sadly now defunct Mel Markon’s, across from the Lincoln Park Zoo. Although since it was 2:30 in the morning by then, I guess it was no longer technically our wedding day.

We’ve been to our fair share of weddings since—in churches, parks, backyards and apartments. We’ve been to some swell receptions too, including an amazingly opulent affair in the Empire Room of Chicago’s historic Palmer House Hotel. But there is not one thing either of us would change about our own wedding day.

The photo of the cheesecake lollipops above is one in a series of shots sent in to The New York Times from readers around the world. They were in response to “With This Burger, I Thee Wed,” an article describing how “brides and bridegrooms are taking a decidedly down-home approach” to wedding receptions, including the food served. Out with the caviar, in with the “grilled steak, sweet potato fries and Rice Krispie treats [not to mention the checkered tablecloths].” You’ll find the entire charming slide show of readers’ wedding food here.

Okay, it’s your turn. What wedding food memories do you have—either of your own wedding or a wedding you’ve attended? Leave a comment and share your story.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah June 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm

As I am only a third-year college student, I have no wedding memories of my own, but my favorite food memory comes from my cousin’s wedding. She and her husband held it at a summer camp in the Berkshires in MA, the dining hall was transformed and lit by candles and strung with garlands of white flowers – it was amazing.
But best of all were the hors d’oeurves at the champagne toast. They had set ten or so bowls of pickled fruits and vegetables – radishes, peaches in balsamic, blueberries, beets, classic cucumbers, and more – they were divine and I’ve always wanted to make the balsamic peach pickles since.

Christina June 24, 2009 at 10:39 pm

I remember you telling me an abbreviated version of your wedding story in a comment once, and I always wanted to know more details, so I’m glad you posted this. What a wonderful couple of wedding days it sounds like you had. Like you, I wouldn’t change a thing about my wedding. Isn’t it fantastic to have so much glowing positiveness to remember?

As for food memories attached to my wedding, well, let’s see. The afternoon before our wedding we had a big barbecue at my parents with lamb on the grill and garlicky tzatziki. That night, we all ate at the excellent restaurant Lambert’s in Taos. I swear, one cannot get a bad meal at that place. I had duck and lots and lots of good wine. And at the wedding, we had New Mexican classics: green chili, red chili, beans, stacked enchiladas. We had Texas barbecue on the side, and for dessert, Mexican Wedding Cookies. Mexican Wedding Cookies–oh my. I could eat a plate full of those buggers. Oh, and killer margaritas.

Anyway, I could go on and on about other weddings too, a Portuguese wedding I attended (after dinner and dessert, a whole tray of seafood was rolled out), an Indian wedding I attended (I’m still drooling over the flavors and textures of that one), and many others. But I’ll stop now because I’m talking ALL of your comment space.

What a fun post. Thank you for creating it.

Terry B June 25, 2009 at 12:49 am

Hannah—The whole wedding sounds wonderful! And you immediately had us looking for recipes with peaches and balsamic vinegar. The few peaches we’ve had so far have been delicious, a good sign that this will be a great year for them.

And thank you, Christina, for your stories! Having been to your neck of New Mexico, I can absolutely taste some of the red and green chilis.

Melissa June 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Wow! You’re wedding sounds so wonderful. That’s the way to do it!
We actually got married at my husband’s brother’s house in San Francisco. What really mattered to us was the food. I hate bad wedding food! I was working at Okno, a restaurant in Chicago that is now closed. We flew the chef from Okno, later a Food & Wine Best New Chef, in to cook. My friend Carol, who owns Milk & Honey, was going to cooking school there so she cooked too. I remember Kelly brought a tenderloin in her suitcase from the restaurant! They prepped the night before & then cooked up a buffet storm. We had salt & peppper shrimp, roasted tenderloin, of course & these amazing deep fried rissoto balls filled with smoked salmon & cream cheese. that’s all I cared about! I probably ate 1/2 a dozen of them! The night before as all our friends were helping to arrange the flowers we picked up at the wholesale flower market, my husband & his mother were making crab cakes & potstickers. (No matter how many crabcakes & potstistickers I have, I still love his the best!)
I also wouldn’t change anything about that day down to my bright orange dress made by my best friend!!

Terry B June 27, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Melissa—A purloined tenderloin smuggled in a suitcase—what a great memory! Everything sounds totally delicious and the wedding dress lovely.

The Kitchenette July 1, 2009 at 3:43 am

Both my husband and I are really into food, so the menu for our wedding, held at a vineyard in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was very important. I still remember that we had a delicious frisee salad with pecan-crusted goat cheese and red wine-poached pears. I also especially remember my brother-in-law asking me what “weed” was in his salad, and then asking “where the Taco Bell was,” which sent me into fits of giggles. And because my family is from Virginia, we served biscuits with honey mustard and virginia ham as an appetizer… the salad and the biscuits were probably my favorite part of the meal!

love the site by the way… I’ve been checking compulsively since I found you!

Terry B July 1, 2009 at 3:58 am

Thanks for the wonderful memories, Kitchenette! I think I may have some relatives somehow related to your brother-in-law.

evi July 8, 2009 at 1:24 am

I love your wedding story so much — and it is no surprise at all that it was small, informal and fabulous. Your wife is a lucky girl.

Terry B July 8, 2009 at 4:02 am

Thanks, evi! And we both think we’re pretty lucky.

new jersey photographer January 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

While we’re dabbling in the area of Weddings, anniversaries and food memories — Blue Kitchen, Even if you are only searching for a couple of easy portraits to document your special day, you’re going to have to find a photographer and book them well in advance.

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