As promised (long ago), I've got the photos of the invites sorted here. They aren't great photos but you get the idea (and you saw the copy in detail here).
Aaaaand so many more photos up as well. The best of them are here, and I'll share on the blog as I go along as well. Where shall I start?
Obviously, we'll start with the food! How did we choose our caterer? Well, that was easy. I've enjoyed B&C BBQ at the Nashville Farmers Market for a couple of years now, and was eating it (mmm, brisket) the day we had lunch in the Market House and decided that's where our wedding would be. Of course, we know now that wasn't meant to be. But after doing a bit of research I learned that B&C is short for Bacon & Caviar, and they do much, much more than BBQ catering. Luckily for us (and our budget), barbecue was right in line with our vision for our wedding dinner, so it all worked out awesomely, and I came out of it with a good buddy as well. Paul was a champion for us throughout the entire process. He answered the phone when I called, his demeanor was always warm and helpful and he totally "got" the atmosphere we were trying to cultivate without ever pushing back at our budgetary limitations.
What do I mean by that, the atmosphere we were trying to cultivate? Well, for the entire planning process, we really worked hard to eliminate every wedding "requirement" that had no meaning to us. This is pretty much explained in list format here. Instead of going through all the traditional paces, we were hoping to recreate the dinner parties that we love to host in our home. They start with visiting, usually over snacks while we finish cooking, then we have a big feast, then we end up dancing in the kitchen. That's a standard night in our home, for serious. Our friend Nick told Austin during the reception, "It's like you guys eschewed everything that sucks about weddings, and only kept the awesome parts!" Thanks, Nick! That pretty much sums it up. In reading back over that list from November, we pretty much got away with it! The only thing we didn't do is take a cab home. My car was at the venue, so we drove it home at the end of the night. Very romantic and very "us."
So, back to Paul. As I mentioned before, he was the one who finally made the call that Plan A was a no-go. His voice of sanity and reason was so appreciated and reassuring. He didn't blink an eye when we plowed through Plan B and right onto Plan C, and honestly I don't remember if I even went through the new venue with him before the wedding. I just knew he'd be fine. He handled the entire transaction with our rental company, Liberty Party Rentals; all I had to do was provide basic direction (white chairs, white linens, clear glass plates and glasses, simple silverware). I didn't go through a catalog, I didn't even have to think about it. It was handled, and beautifully.
Throughout the planning process, one of the ideas I was majorly hung-up on was of a seated, family style dinner. From a catering perspective, I know this is a nightmare. Buffets are the easiest thing for parties over 100, and we had 240 guests expected for our shindig. Early on in our discussions, Paul encouraged me to consider a buffet, and had wonderful suggestions on how to make it user-friendly for our guests (I was adamant that no one should have to wait in line for food). As soon as he could tell how important the family-style supper was to my vision of our party, he completely went along and, obviously, pulled it off incredibly well.
One of my ideas for how to ease the process of serving that many people at one time was to have a plated salad already laid out before folks sat down. We alternated at each seat, a spinach salad with a black-bean cake or a spring greens salad with a salmon cake. I love the idea of alternating plates, it sparks conversation and sharing (I hope). I'm allergic to raw spinach, but that's the salad I got, so Austin traded with me (our first act of shared property rights). He wanted the salmon cake, so we switched cakes and both LOVED our salads. Ali poured some of the white barbecue sauce on hers, thinking it was ranch dressing, and said it was awesome (ha!). There were already baskets of corn muffins and tubs of whipped honey butter on the tables as folks were sitting down, so it felt very much like family supper; just sit down and dig in!
I think this picture captures it best (and I love that I'm running my mouth right in the middle of it). The incredibly cheerful and warm staff of servers that Paul brought in kept the goodies coming all throughout supper. We passed big glass bowls of pulled pork, pulled chicken, cole slaw, baked beans, marinated cucumber salad, baked macaroni and cheese (easily the hit of the night) and chipotle corn salad. We brought home a big vat of the leftover corn salad and I swear Austin ate it every day for the next week. We had dozens of wedding guests tell us, that night and since then, that it was the best wedding food they'd ever had. Seriously, that's music to this foodie girl's ears!