I’m in that traumatic and stressful stage of any bride, young or old, of trying to make a decision about the wedding cake. In a reception hall, I would most likely go traditional with the three tiered wedding cake, but we’re not being very traditional.
We’re having our wedding on Halloween weekend, on the beach, with a hippy theme, costumes and all. Our celebration isn’t even being called a “reception” but rather a “Gathering.”
That means I’m free of tradition’s restraints, but it also means my choices are literally limitless. Even so, I do want somewhat of a traditional experience for us (the wedding couple) and our guests (friends and family.) That means cake, and lots of it, and not just your average bake sale variety. Our budget also means that family and friends will help with the cake issue, but what do I want?
The logistics of transporting a traditional cake have given me a headache. As my adult daughter would be in charge of this cake, and she lives about an hour’s drive away from the wedding site, she’s got to transport the cake. I realize that professionals do this all the time, however, they don’t drive a Dodge Charger, won’t have a 1 year old assistant, and probably drive much slower than my daughter and her significant other. I have visions of the cake receiving damage, my daughter being upset and angry, and me stressing out because she’s traumatized because something happened to the wedding cake.
It isn’t a pretty picture.
That means a solution must be found that is easier to transport than a 3 tier cake, is easy to serve, even in sand, surf, and wind, and is delicious enough that we don’t have leftovers (unless we hide them on purpose!)
I’m thinking a small single layer cake using the same wedding cake style recipe that I have included in a previous blog, decorated however my daughter decides, and featuring the wedding cake topper. This will be our “official” sort of cake, the one we cut and feed each other, and serves as the centerpiece for our Gathering and celebration. The bulk of the cake, however, will be multiple flavors of cupcakes with wonderful tasting frosting instead of the fondant that both GM & I despise the taste of. In short, they’d be the little cakes to die for, focusing more on flavor and textures than appearance, as they’d be much more simply decorated and frosted. They’d also travel to the event safely riding in cake boxes with cupcake inserts, and for our guests, boxes would allow them to take home cupcakes as their wedding favors.
Being ecologically sensitive has eliminated the formal wedding invitation, and the majority of the paper products used in the traditional wedding, although disposable cups and plates would still be used…they are going to be simpler and less wasteful in nature. (We’ll also have a couple of trash cans to allow people to easily deposit their refuse rather than letting it become airborne debris on the beach!) I still have to come up with an ingenious method of confining the unused paper products in the normally breezy location of a beach wedding though! Right now, the use of “milk crate” containers is looking highly likely, simply because of the lack of another viable option.
Food service is also tricky. We won’t have power, and we don’t have anyone dedicated to the fussing over the food. Everyone is to be free to build sand castles, play in the water, converse, play games, and generally relax as they find their inner child and indulge their need to play. (We’re admittedly more than a little “New Age-y”, I suppose!) That means easy to serve, easy to eat, and easy to keep warm or cold foods are necessary.
Thank goodness for a long history of do-it-yourself feeding of large numbers of people at family events in my family–it means I have a conglomerate of experience to draw upon for inspiration! Some things, like the pit roasted goat…just won’t work. But…one method of keeping hot food hot for hours involves nothing more than an inexpensive rack to hold a disposable steam table tray which is then heated with small disposable alcohol burners beneath it. The full size tray has water added to it, and then small half-size trays holding the foods to be kept hot are set into the full size tray, and the entire tray system is covered with heavy duty foil. By using regular camp stoves (we’re a camping bunch, so we have plenty of those!) to reheat refrigerated foods to appropriate serving temperatures, we can then put them into the trays to stay hot. On the reverse, for cold foods, the system is similar, except the full size tray is filled with ice, and then the smaller containers of cold foods are nestled into the ice, keeping them safely cold.
Our wedding is scheduled for the end of October, but that doesn’t mean we’re anticipating cold weather either. Typically, daytime temperatures can be in the lower 80s, although sometimes it can be a downright chilly mid-50s range too. We have to be prepared for a wide variation in weather conditions, including blustery rain and cold wind.
For the wind/rain situation, we are sending out pleas to Mother Nature, but we will sport several canopies which will have our tables beneath them. We will also be prepared to erect wind breaks, if necessary, to protect the guests and the tables from the continual onslaught of the winds from the Gulf of Mexico.
Our food choices are as undecided as the cake choices though. Considering the season, we do have some top contenders though. Pulled pork sandwiches and chili are among them, with side dishes varying according to what we select as the main course. Obviously, cole slaw and potato salad are likely to be served alongside pulled pork, along with a selection of barbecue sauces. For the chili, crackers and tortillas, tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole, and tossed salad are likely options. Tamales like my family has always made in Arizona and New Mexico are also under consideration for the wedding feast. We have also talked about possibly making fry bread but since that would need made immediately before serving, I’m not decided on that particular side.
Nothing about our wedding is intended to be ostentatious or formal, and the entire event is planned to allow everyone to have a lot of fun with a “beach day” rather than feeling like they are attending a formal wedding. Our services are planned for 2 pm, allowing several hours before dark for fishing, swimming, playing, and socializing. I’m really looking forward to a fun wedding!