Wedding, Part 7: Final Wedding Preparations

Once Robin and I arrived back at the house with all of our rental items, it was time to get to work. Steve and I moved tables around to the back of the house while Robin took charge of arranging all the chairs for the ceremony. Next, we pulled out the decorations stash from the storage area and discussed what would go where. I thought that we should wait a few hours to put out the tablecloths but Steve thought that now would be as good of a time as any. I told him which jars we were using to decorate the table and suggested that some rocks would make a good accent and just turned him loose.

Ceremony setup

While Steve was outside decorating the tables, Robin and I started getting things ready to make my bouquet. We started by making stems out of some of the succulent blooms to mix in with the roses we bought at the grocery store. (I’d decided to just take whatever flowers I could get and used a dozen white roses and a dozen blush roses.) Robin was quite the pro at making excellent stems. Since she was so good at wiring the succulents, I put her in charge of F’s boutonnière and my mom’s corsage.

Robin working on flowers
Bouquet making
Bouquet making. (Amanda Summerlin)

About this time, Jolleen got back from town and insisted I have a bagel (she even toasted it and put butter on it for me). Then she set to work making a tie to go with her class As; it turned out quite well! You’d never notice it wasn’t the official tie. (She’d lent her black tie to her husband and it never made it back to the uniform bag.)

As I was eating my bagel, I wondered outside and was absolutely delighted by Steve’s decorating job. He’d built a small rock tower as a centerpiece to the tables, scattered the candle jars around super artfully, and found great places to use more rocks to hold the tablecloths down against any wind. He’d also put some candles on the pie table and put out the log rounds for pie stands. (F cut the tree for the log rounds on our property.) Everything looked AMAZING. (And I didn’t have to do a thing.)

Steve at wedding
Steve relaxing with his handiwork in the background. (Amanda Summerlin)
Steve’s masterpiece

Next, Robin and I assembled my bouquet. I don’t know what I would have done without her! She’s much more artistic than I am and was great about seeing where we were getting holes, where a succulent should go and what color rose we should add next. I just did a lot of bouquet holding while she did the arranging and wire wrapping.

Around this time, Stacia and Andrea returned from visiting Arches (sounds like they had a great sunrise visit!) ready to help. I handed copies of the lasagna recipes to Jolleen and Stacia and away they went. They turned into a regular lasagna making assembly line while I jumped in the shower. Jollene mixed up the ricotta mixture while Stacia and Andrea assembled them in the crockpots. Meanwhile, Robin made sure that all the dishes were being done.

Lasagna Making
LLasagna making assembly line (Amanda Summerlin

Just as they were finishing up, the boys got back from their motorcycle ride. This is when time started going fast for me. F, Jason, and I took some time to go over our ceremony in the front yard and it was then that I realized I was nervous. Jason asked for our input on something and whatever I said must have either sounded stressed out or weird because F just looked at me and said, “Calm down.” I proceeded to put my arm around him and stand there while he and Jason hammered out the last minute details.

Just as we finished up with Jason, Stacia finished washing Sprocket and was heading out for a walk. Since it was time for me to get dressed, I suggested that when she got back, she should bring him upstairs to the apartment where he could hang out with the girls and I could keep an eye on him so he wouldn’t go find some red dirt to roll in while he was still damp (because he absolutely would).

I had a quiet few minutes starting to put my hair in hot rollers before Stacia and Andrea burst in, Sprocket in tow, with two cans of Coors Light for “old times sake.” Andrea even brought in a bowl so I could share my beer with Sprocket. Since I was sort of struggling with the rollers (it’s hard when you can’t see what you’re doing!), Stacia decided to help me out. Fortunately, Amanda made an appearance about then and was able to capture my bridesmaid working wayyy out of her comfort zone. Soon, Jolleen joined us and they worked together on finishing up while Andrea opened a bottle of champagne.

Wedding 20120922-38
Group hair effort. (Amanda Summerlin)

While we were waiting for the curling iron to warm up (we’d run out of curlers for my thick hair), I did my makeup. Sandi and Ashley joined us for some champagne and Ashley helpfully did the final curls and helped me take out the rollers. My mom, aunt, and godmother arrived just in time to help me get into my dress. We all finished off our champagne as Jolleen went to find out where our first look would be and if they were ready.

Sandy and Ashley joined us for the finishing touches.
Me and my mom
Veil adjustments
All smiles.

When she came back upstairs to tell me that we were ready, I felt this big sigh of relief. F and I originally hadn’t planned on seeing each other before the ceremony but I wasn’t nervous exactly, just more a big bundle of energy and being beside F sounded like the place to be.

Ready for the first look.

Wedding, Part 6: How to use Crockpots to Self-Cater A Wedding

We were really conscious all the way through our wedding planning of what was really important and let that guide how we spent our money. One of the big ticket items for a lot of people planning their wedding is food. Catering is expensive wherever you are but we didn’t have many choices in Moab and our wedding wasn’t even going to be in town. I did some checking around to be sure and the final answer was, “Yup, won’t be paying someone to cater!”

Pie and wedding dinner ingredients

Instead, we decided that self-catering was going to be the thing. While there’s a lot of information out there on the internet about how “self-catering” your wedding it seems like even more sources talk about how it’s a lot of work. They also warn you that if you don’t really like to cook and haven’t ever cooked for a crowd that your wedding is probably not the time to start. I really don’t like cooking. And I’m not particularly good at it. Given budget goals, the location, and the relatively small guest list we decided to do it anyway. (I rationalized to my mother that we have fed more people for Thanksgiving…)

Our menu wound up looking like this:

–Crockpot lasagna
–Garlic bread
–Caesar salad

We made two big crockpots and two smaller ones worth of lasagna and it was about perfect for 27 people. For the Caesar salad, we used 5 heads of romaine, also about perfect. For bread, I think we had four loaves. The lasagna went together really fast and if you had access to more crockpots this could absolutely be scaled up to a little bit bigger wedding.

Before the wedding, I tested the lasagna recipe to make sure it was okay in the refrigerator overnight and accidentally found that it was okay to make two days in advance (we forgot to eat it the day after I made it). Between pie baking and relaxing, the lasagnas didn’t get made in advance but Jolleen, Stacia, and Andrea threw them together pretty quickly on Saturday. They also buttered the bread I’d picked up at the grocery store that morning and put it in aluminum foil for heating.

I’d talked to Tasha several weeks before the wedding and asked her to be in charge of wedding meal logistics. Basically this involved putting the bread in the oven to warm, tossing the Caesar salad, and taking the whole lot out to the serving area. From what she told me it was pretty easy to get everything on the table, especially when Vanessa jumped in to help.

 Bottom line? This was a totally workable solution for us. I have really no complaints or things that I’d adjust. And since Tasha doesn’t either and the food got rave reviews, I declare this a major success.

Dishing up food.

Crockpot Sausage Lasagna

Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution

8 curly-edged no-cook lasagna noodles broken in half
15 oz. ricotta
1 1/4 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c. minced fresh basil
1 large egg
1 1/2 jars pasta sauce (I use whatever’s on sale.)
1 lb italian sausage removed from casing
4 c. shredded mozzarella (1lb)

In a bowl, mix ricotta, 1 c. Parmesan, basil, egg, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.

Spread 1/2 c. tomato sauce in slow cooker.

Arrange 4 lasagna noodle pieces in slow cooker (overlapping is okay, make them fit the best you can.), then dollop 9 rounded tablespoons of ricotta mixture over noodles. Pinch off one-third of sausage into tablespoon-sized pieces and drop over ricotta (yes, raw…it cooks, promise). Sprinkle with 1 c. mozzarella, then spoon 1/2 c. sauce over top.

Repeat layering of lasagna noodles, ricotta mixture, sausage, mozzarella, and sauce twice more.

For final layer, arrange remaining 4 noodles in slow cooker, then top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzerlla and remaining Parmesan.

Cover and cook until lasagna is heated through. About 4hrs on low. Let lasagna cool 20 mins and serve.

Just a random note since this post gets found by Google fairly often (hi, Googlers!), I also did this for a big family meal after my dad’s funeral and it worked out really well. I assembled everything the night before in crockpots and started them when we left for the service. Lasagna is a real crowd pleaser so this makes for an easy way to serve a big crowd.