Category Archives: Camp Wedding

Part Two of Designing our Menu

Sorry for the non-creative title. I’ve been invaded by some kind of flu bug and it has debilitated my brain a bit.

A few days ago I started talking about our desire to build a local/organic menu. Here are the meals that will round out our weekend.

Cocktail Hour Saturday:
Sources: Veggies and Dip, Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato, Pita and Hummus, Fresh Fruit, Bruschetta

Of all the meals, the cocktail hour menu was the one that departed furthest from Indian Head’s initial suggestions. We moved from a microwaved/fried meaty hot menu towards a fresh cool light menu. Given the taco lunch and potential heat of august we thought this was a good call. We want people up and dancing, not down and digesting. It also helped bring down the cost of the menu and make it more local.

Sat Dinner
Sources: Baked Ziti with Spinach, Carved Meat, Yuengling, Roasted Summer Veg, Rice and Beans, Dinner Rolls, Mixed Greens, Roasted Winter Veg Unpictured: Green Beans Almondine (darn you flu-brain).

For Saturday’s dinner we wanted to provide one main meat dish and lots of vegetarian sides to choose from. We’re not sure whether to do beef or pork yet (have a preference? please let us know!), but in either case the meat will be free-range-grass-fed-organic and come to us from a local butcher. We haven’t made all of the alcohol decisions for the weekend, but definitely know that we will have Yuengling available with dinner (PA pride!).

Sunday Buffet:Sources: Scrambled Eggs, Beautiful Vermont Maple Syrup, Pancakes with berries, Homefries

We’ll finish off the weekend with Sunday brunch. By then, hopefully, everyone will be exhausted and stuffed.

Looking at our menu, and how full it is, its hard to imagine that we had to leave some things out. But just like how we had to make tough choices when coming up with our financial budget, we also had to make tough choices in our food-miles budget. Some of the big ticket items on our food mile list were: exotic fruits like bananas, mangos, and kiwi fruit; imported gourmet cheeses; coffee; tea; hot chocolate; asparagus; imported wine; rice; chickpeas for hummus; dried beans; and spices.

When possible, we switched these items for their local/ in-season counterparts. Melons and berries got swapped in for bananas and mangos, asparagus got traded in for green beans, gourmet cheeses were nixed for local varieties (like Cabot yummm…). We will try to stash a few bottles of NZ wine in our luggage, but other wines will come from Europe (which actually have a smaller eco-footprint than Californian wines for us East-Coasters).

There are some things that are important to us and will need to come from far away, no matter what. For these items, like coffee, hot chocolate, rice, beans, and spices, we will be sure to choose fair trade producers from as local as possible.

At some point I will do a calculation on the total food miles for our weekend wedding and convert that into carbon emissions produced, but since we don’t know the exact suppliers for most things, its a bit early for all that yet. Plus, honestly, I don’t think my flu brain would allow for it at the moment. But as far as I can tell about 90% of the food served will come from within the northeastern U.S. (Woo hoo!!).

Given the price of organic food (due to too many fair and unfair reasons to list here), it might seem like an organic local menu isn’t feasible on a shoe-string budget. But, we are paying the same price per head with our new menu, as we we would have with Indian Head’s original proposed menu. There are a few ways we made this possible:

1. Our menu is in-season. Almost all of our fresh fruit and veggies will come from local farms and markets. We have planned on cooking things that are generally in surplus in August in our region, which means lower prices.

2. Flexibility. Our cook is flexible. If a certain fresh item isn’t available in abundance in August, he is willing to switch to another local item, rather than importing the original item. This keeps costs low.

3. Hot breakfasts and hot hors d’oeuvres were substituted with cold items.

4. We planned our meals with creative ways to use leftovers in mind. Chili and salad bar from friday will become taco bar on Saturday.

5. We are forming a close relationship with our caterer and are offering to support him in researching local providers for specific items.

O.K., I’ve talked far too much about this for the moment (can you tell we love our jobs!). Would love to hear any suggestions for our menu, especially about the beef or pork toss-up.

Food- Creating an Eco-Friendly Menu

Although Mr. Veggie and I don’t agree on everything (really?), we did have a very sure vision of what we wanted in regards to our wedding menu.

Food is a big deal to us. On a scale of “happily apathetic” to “crazily vigilant”, we probably are just about a hair shy of the “c-v” mark, passionately vigilant perhaps? Food-issues including organics, growing, subsidies, transportation, ethical production models, the corporatization of food, packaging, and waste (to name a few) impact our every-day decisions. By no means do we do everything right. I do have a soft spot for Cheez-Its, which thankfully are not sold in New Zealand, because I honestly cannot resist their awesome deliciousness. But, we are organic veggie farmers and growing food is a big part of our life.

In our lovey-dovey first dating bliss, we had envisioned growing all of the food for our wedding, including raising any animals we might want for meat. That was before we started planning a wedding half-way around the world. I’m pretty sure they don’t allow halves of cows in checked baggage, and I’m not carrying that sucker on, so growing our own food is a bit out of the question. As they say though, when one door shuts…

Having realized that our geographic predicament prohibits us from growing our own menu, we became committed to supporting local organic farmers in the area where we are getting married. Based on this decision, we chose to hold our wedding in August, a time when there is an abundance of local produce.

Even though August is a time of abundance, there are certain things that simply don’t grow in the northeastern U.S., so our goal in designing the menu was to minimize or eliminate the use of these things, and swap them for more local options. Also, while we are not vegetarian, we eat a mostly vegetarian diet (meat about once a month), and are strictly opposed to factory farmed meat. We wanted the menu to reflect this. We also understand that while eating sprouts and hummus are part of our everyday diet, for some people this will be a very unique food experience, and we want our guests to enjoy the food too. So the goals became, local, mostly veggie, and super yummy. Luckily, Mike the cook, from Indian Head Camp, was more than willing to work with us to make our vision a reality.

We started with the standard menu that Indian Head uses for weekend events (That’s right our wedding takes place over the course of an entire weekend. That’s a lot of meals to plan out). Keep in mind that Indian Head is a camp, and their standard menu is for school, camp, and conference groups.

Here’s what we began with:

That menu was really nice, but didn’t reflect us. At all. So, we sent some suggestions, did some research into local and regional companies, and this is what we ended up with:

Thursday Night:

We all know that my home state has the best pizza ever in the whole wide world. Let’s hope we can find a local pizza shop that can come close to matching the skills of their garden state counterparts, because we will have about 30 close friends and family that will be working their butts off all day to get everything set up. And they’re gonna be hun-gry.

We’ve opted out of hot breakfasts all together. Hot coffee for Mr. Veggie, definitely, but with all the other food we’re going to have, hot breakfast seemed like overkill. So we’re going with yogurt, fruit, granola, and bagels with cream cheese. Breakfast is a meal that generally contains a lot of non-local products (think bananas, spices, cocoa, coffee, tea). We’ve chosen to say no to bananas, but yes to coffee and hot chocolate. Priorities.

Lunch Friday:

We’ve nixed the more traditional sandwich board, because of the many processed meat products, and gone with egg salad, tuna salad, and grilled cheese. We’ll also have an amped up salad bar with all the traditional fare, plus sprouts and Annie’s Organic dressings, and tomato soup. Who doesn’t love grilled cheese and tomato soup?

Dinner Friday:

Chili Cookoff and microbrew taste-test. We’re sending out a call for chili and microbrew competitors with our invites. Hopefully people will get into it and bring a batch of chili with them. If not, looks like we’ll be eating a lot of corn bread and corn on the cob.

Lunch Saturday:

Sources: Top: Left, Right; Bottom

Taco Bar. We will make use of the leftover chili from Friday night (if there is any!) and have a taco bar. Easy. Delicious. Fun for all ages.

All those food pictures are making me hungry. Time to go cook some dinner. In my next post I’ll walk you through the rest of the weekend’s food choices and talk a bit about the rationale behind the choices. I’ll also talk about about the food-miles associated with our choices and how all of this has affected our budget.

What do you think so far? Were there certain must-haves on your menu? Would you mind eating vegetarian for a weekend?

Inspiration 2.0

I have a problem. I really like inspiration boards.
That was an understatement.
I love them.
Well, let my addiction and source of hours of procrastination be your eye candy. I unveil Veggie Weddin-spiration Version 2.0.

Any ideas on where to use the amazing, yet prohibitively expensive fabrics? What do you think of having so many colors? Too much? Most importantly, is there a place in the wedding party for moustaches?

I am calm. Really I am.

I don’t know if you bees remember, but down here on the farm us Veggies were having a bit of a venue crisis. After much crying, and begging, and more crying, and supportive words from Mr. Veggie, it became clear that we were not going to get our date at our venue.

I tested out a mantra: “I am calm. I am at peace. All is well.”

We were left with two options, find a new venue or switch dates. I was a mess.

Should we stick with the same venue and move our wedding to September, even though this would be extremely inconvenient for our friends and family who work at prep schools? Or should we backtrack and try to find another venue even though I felt as though I’d contacted every camp on this side of the Mississippi?

At this point I was repeating that mantra like a full-fledged Buddhist monk.

Funny enough my biggest concern through all of this was our STD’s. In the back of my mind I was pretty sure we would find another venue or that somehow the date would work out, but I was absolutely distraught at the idea of re-sending out STD’s. I’m not really a crier. But we’re talking full-on tantrum here.

After a few days (weeks) of thought I think I’ve figured out why I was so upset.

It all goes back to me generally not being good at completing projects, and me seeming to attract little mix-ups like this, and most of all putting way too much pressure on myself to make the wedding perfect. I’m an ADHD over-achiever, with some serious self-doubts when it comes to the ability to follow things through. I was viewing the wedding as an opportunity to show off the detail-focused, budget and time responsible, grown up version of me. Resending the STD’s would flaw our perfect wedding image from the very start.

Of course, in the moment I couldn’t put words to any of that, but now that the venue crisis is over, I can say “Miss Veggie, chill out”. The wedding is a wedding, nothing more, nothing less. It’s an opportunity for us to be surrounded by people we love, eating good food, dancing, and listening to good music.

Oh yeah, did I mention that our venue crisis is over? O-V-E-R.

The Veggie crew far and wide pulled together once they heard that our venue basically booted us from our date. While Mr. Veggie and I were debating the possibility of changing dates and staying at the same venue, some amazing veggie friends and family sprung into action researching other summer camp options. For two weeks they (and we) called, emailed, and googled their little hearts out. And, in the end, it all worked out for the better.

I’ll unveil our new venue shortly. Mr. Veggie is afraid we’ll jinx it if we announce too soon, and I can’t say I blame him. So, I’m testing out a new technique… I think they call it patience. It’s a new one for me. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Double Booked

Sometimes life just isn’t fair… like when your computer breaks and then your fiance has to go away to a conference for a week and he leaves the same day that your monthly friend comes along and you have cramps so bad you can’t even stand up and then the wedding venue sends an email saying that oops they’ve double booked your venue.

Wait. What?

Oh yeah, I had a melt-down this week. Well, technically several meltdowns. One via Skype with little veggie sis, one via phone with Mr. Veg, and several on my own. These lapses in sanity were prompted by an email from our wedding venue letting us know that our date was no longer available.

Their timing is impeccable. I had actually sent out the last few Save-The-Dates that morning.

This post was supposed to be about our amazing Save-The-Dates, created by the incredibly talented Shari Amos. It was supposed to be about how I was so excited to send them out that I couldn’t sleep the night before. It was supposed to be about doing our first wedding project and having it come out perfectly and just how we (I) imagined. It was supposed to be about getting emails from people telling us what they were going to grow for our big day. But its not.

It is now about me trying to be a calm and peaceful soul. It is about me trying to roll with the punches. It is about being thankful that Skype is only video and not sensory, because I really would have pummeled that camp director in person.

What will happen? Where will our wedding be? When will our wedding be? Is it all ruined (like I was feeling yesterday)? Or is it just clearing a path for a better thing to come along (how I hope to be feeling tomorrow)? Stay tuned. Only time will tell.

Found It!

After months of searching camp websites and Skyping with camp directors at obscenely early hours of the morning (NZ time) I found a venue. Which means that I also know our wedding/ anniversary date. Hooray! Even just typing it I get giddy.

Drumroll please…

Here is the lake.

And the cute little cabins people will stay in.

And the beautiful lodge where we will hold the reception.All pictures from Camp Choconut Website.

Isn’t it amazing? We will have the whole camp for the whole weekend for around $4,000. We are planning on charging people a small fee for accomodation. We figure that they would pay for a hotel anyway if they were coming from out of town. We haven’t exactly worked out the logistics of this yet, but even if we charge $15 per person per night, we will end up getting our venue for “free” and have some money left over to spend on food for the wedding. What a deal!

Farm Wedding v. Camp Wedding

So, thinking about our wedding venue wishlist, I began to do some intensive googling. My keywords? “farm wedding”, “organic wedding”, “thrifty wedding”, “eco wedding”, “barn wedding”, “cheap wedding”. This was one of the first venues I stumbled upon. Organic local food? Absolutely stunning? I’m in love.

Mama Veggie: Umm… that looks kind of expensive.
Me: How expensive could it be? They’re farmers.

The answer: out of our price range for sure. Not just minimally, but way out. Onwards. Maybe I should emphasize the “cheap” keyword. Hmm… this looks interesting. “A Practical Wedding: Creative, Thrifty, Sane”. I like it. I especially like this one:

Mama Veggie: Ooh let’s call them right now.
Me: I’m already on the phone with them. Oh. They have a no alcohol policy. Thanks anyway, bye.

Not that we are big drinkers, but we like to have a good time. And I think Mr. Veggie might need a shot of something to get down the aisle. Onwards.

My search led me to many beautiful farms. Gorgeous farms. Stunning farms.

Source

And that’s just three of them. I must have found dozens of gorgeous farms with gorgeous people willing to host our wedding.

But…I just kept going back to that great camp wedding. Camps have big beautiful lodges, right? Camps aren’t used much after summer, right? We might even be able to find a camp that has a farm! Let’s see what we can find.

Ooh check out this $2,000 wedding!

Or how great is this lodge?

Ugh, decisions decisions. Let’s make a list.

Farm:
-Used to doing weddings so better service.
– Generally no need to rent things like linens, chairs, etc.
-More likely to have connections to local growers even if they don’t grow food themselves any more.

Camp:
– Everyone could stay there all weekend. Fun!
– Looks like it would be a lot cheaper.
– May be more flexible since they don’t do weddings as often.

Which would you choose?