DIY Wedding Warriors: Laura and Brad

Laura and Brad were married in small ceremony on Baker Beach in San Francisco. They really figured out how to have their cake and eat it too—not only did they have a fabulous dinner at Town Hall restaurant following the ceremony,  they threw a reception closer to home for all of their friends and family two weeks later in Huntington Beach.

For the venue, they chose the Newland Barn in Huntington Beach. It sits behind the historic Newland House museum, facing a beautiful lawn, and offers both indoor and outdoor space for guests to circulate in.

Laura's vision was a very autumnal one: fall colors, fall food. Tables were beautifully and simply set by the bride with white and chocolate brown linens, lovely bud vases with wildflowers, miniature winter squashes and pumpkins, and tea light candles in mason jars. The tables were named for different San Francisco neighborhoods.

Laura and I settled on 3 passed appetizers for the cocktail hour, a plated salad course, and an entree buffet. I wanted to make the passed apps fun--there were lots of musicians and other creative types on the guest list.  In that spirit, we made mini fish tacos, mini grilled cheese sammys with truffle cheese, fontina, and fried sage leaves, and pork belly 'bahn mi' toasts.

[caption id="attachment_286" align="aligncenter" width="384"] Tempura battered fish tacos, cabbage slaw, crema, SF-style tomatillo salsa[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_314" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Pork belly 'bahn mi' toast, pickled veg, sriracha aioli, herbs[/caption]

Whoa Nelly is a big fan of including an individually plated salad course before a buffet-style service. It takes the heat off of the wait time to go through the buffet line, makes the guests feel less antsy, and is just a nice, personally attentive way to kick off the dinner. Ours was a fall-inspired salad of ras-el-hanout- spiced kabocha squash, dandelion and mizuna, pomegranate, fried pumpkin seeds, and feta.

The guests moved on to braised Niman Ranch beef short ribs with roasted tomato tapenade, a classic yukon gold potato puree, and roasted Weiser and McGrath Farms' baby carrots and parsnips with walnut pesto.

Let's face it folks, buffet tables are generally not much to look at. Chafing dishes generally don't inspire me, and buffet set ups can easily venture into the 'cheesy' category. Enter Beth, who created one of the best looking buffet tables that I've seen yet. She cleverly disguised the chafers with rustic-looking bricks, and used seasonal vegetables and fruits on the branch to make a really beautiful table. (You should have seen us walking through the farmers market with our 5 foot long branches of persimmons 'on the hoof' from Penryn Orchards..talk about hard to fit in the car!)

Beth has a really special touch with cakes. She believes that wedding cakes need to taste as good as they look—that means no fondant here. The cakes for Brad and Laura were arranged in three separate single layers atop natural wooden boards and decorated with flowers, mini pumpkins, and seasonal fruits. It all made for a beautiful, woodsy and rustic presentation. The three flavors were a german chocolate cake with coconut praline, café au lait with caramel-espresso buttercream, and my favorite, triple chocolate with white chocolate-cream cheese icing. We received so many compliments on the cake that night—people really couldn't believe that a wedding cake could taste so delicious.

Brad and Laura's reception was truly fun. It was elegant, very personal, and had all the makings of a great party. We were so happy to be a part of it!

Congratulations to Mr. And Mrs. Davis!!

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