Welcome to Boise Weekly's Guide to Getting Hitched
Ever cursed having to go to one more cookie-cutter church wedding, dreaded having to sit on uncomfortable pews and hated having to make small talk over a rubber-chicken dinner before the DJ plays "The Electric Slide" or "We Are Family"? Have you ever counted years by the number of weddings you have attended?
If so, facing your own impending nuptials can be a bit disconcerting. But there's no need to go all Bridezilla on those who love you. BW is here with the first Guide to Getting Hitched to help you find your way to a one-of-a-kind event that reflects your personality—as twisted as that might be.
We humbly offer you suggestions for food, the ceremony and even common mistakes to avoid. Browse through to see if you can find any inspiration, but if you take nothing else, remember this: Avoid "The Macarena" at all costs.
The Crazy Person's Guide to Wedding Catering
When we asked local cake-maker and caterer Pamela Hoevel of Pamela's Bakery about do-it-yourself wedding catering, she had a one-word reply: don't.
With all the dancing, drinking and schmoozing to be done, what sane bride- or groom-to-be would dare tackle stacking smoked salmon canapes and braising beef Wellington, as well? The crazies, that's who. And here at BW, we like to encourage insanity, in all its myriad forms.
After scouring the Web and finessing some expert advice out of Hoevel, we compiled a brief guide to DIY wedding catering. What follows are some straightforward tips on how to treat your guests to an awesome spread while saving some serious coin (and hopefully a smidge of sanity).
The first thing to take into consideration—before you start dreaming up the perfect menu—is to make sure your reception venue allows self-catering. Many reception rental spots include stipulations that food must be prepared in a kitchen on-site or by a professional caterer. All of that icky fine print can be avoided by securing a less boring—see: private garden, friend's back yard or secluded rooftop—reception destination.
Next, it's time to make sure you have plenty of pals who like you enough to put in some serious time on the big day. Remember, you'll need help with everything from food prep to set-up to serving to clean-up. "Somebody needs to be in charge of the food and the bar and the beverages and know what's going on; know which utensils go with what," explained Hoevel.
Now comes the fun part: the menu. Most Web sites recommend that you not self-cater a party larger than 50 to 100 people and that you also not attempt a fancy seven-course, sit-down meal. It's all about keeping it simple and serving it up buffet style. "You're going to want to make it more homey," noted Hoevel. "Like maybe do a do-it-yourself barbecue with potato salads and stuff like that." There are tons of rad food blogs out there with amazing free recipes. Check out foodgawker.com and scroll through the tasty food porn to get a few good ideas. Make-your-own-sandwich stations are always a good option, as are dips and spreads with an assortment of homemade crackers.
After you've got your menu squared away, it's important to plan out a manageable prep schedule. Download a comprehensive checklist from diybride.com, which includes a catering budget worksheet with spots to plan out everything from the number of platters you'll need to the number of trash bags. The free download also features a menu supply list from which you can total up all the food items you'll need to buy. Not sure how many pounds of pot roast to budget per person? Head to lotsofinfo.tripod.com and check out the "Amounts to Feed 100" chart. Apparently, it takes 25 pounds of wieners, 5 gallons of scalloped potatoes and 3 pounds of butter to feed 100 folks. Yum. And according to Hoevel, it never hurts to make more: "Make extra, especially if you're not having somebody serve the food because people always tend to take more if it's not being served."
Finally, it's important to make sure you have ample space to store the items you've prepped ahead of time before the big day. Have any friends/neighbors/relatives with extra fridge space? Hit them up. And while you're at it, see if they'll also cart the items to the reception space for you. Voila.
To get a good look at what a successful DIY reception can look like, visit forkable.blogspot.com and click on "Our DIY Wedding." And remember: When in doubt, keep it cheap and keep it classy.
Beyond the Church and White Dress
Just like Marie was a little bit country and Donny was a little bit rock 'n' roll, a trashy couture wedding combines the best of both worlds: comfy casual down-home feel while looking fabulous. Picture a stunning custom wedding gown worn while getting ready inside an Airstream trailer parked in an open field. Think traditional with a twist: invitations printed on handmade paper with fun personalized logos; use wildflowers for bouquets and plants in Mason jars as centerpieces; comfort food served on fine dinnerware. And, rather than the stuffy, staged formal photographs, try setting up a photo area with a funky backdrop, where guests can gather in random groups. Even better, give them a few props to pose with like a small chalkboard to write short messages on. Provide boas and sunglasses and a hat or two for your guests to play with, but keep the dress code fairly formal, because nothing sets off a black suit like a pink feather boa. Furthering the idea of juxtaposition, stage the whole event out in a field or in a barn, but keep the layout simple and elegant. This idea is all about keeping a wedding a true occasion, while leaving the stuffiness at the local reception hall.
Thrift Store Wedding:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to put together an entire wedding from things you find in thrift stores. Seriously. Ever wondered what becomes of those bridal gowns from not-so-successful marriages? More than a few of them find their way to the racks in area second-hand shops, just waiting for someone to give them a happier ending. But don't stop there. Hit the racks for bridesmaid dresses (who said they have to match?) as well as shoes, jewelry and assorted accessories. Need decorations? There's no end to the array of treasures you'll find among the knickknack-filled aisles of the local thrift store—just as long as you're OK with an eclectic theme for your decor. Need cake toppers? How about those only slightly chipped Precious Moments figurines? Buy up the stock of mismatched dishes and flatware to serve your wedding feast on. The only aspect of the event we suggest you get brand-spankin' new is the food ... just a thought.
Vowing "until death do us part" seems a whole lot more meaningful while tied together on the edge of a bridge spanning a gaping canyon. And "in sickness and in health" takes on new significance when said while entering a Class IV rapid. There's a myriad of opportunities for the adventure lovers and thrill seekers in the world. More people are combining the things they love the most to create weddings that are truly personal. Try taking your closest friends and family (and legal officiant) down the river for a few days, pick your favorite spot on the shore, or stay on the boat, and make things official whenever the moment seems right. More into hiking? Take the crew on a backpacking adventure to your favorite backcountry location. Pack a white fleece, grab whatever blooms are around and bust out your freeze-dried wedding feast around the fire. If you're looking for a few more creature comforts, various outfitters, guides and even lodges are willing to work with you, packing the non-essentials in to a predetermined location and even setting up, letting you do what you love without making Mom and Dad sleep on the ground. Look into renting a backcountry yurt or U.S. Forest Service cabin as a homebase, then go from there. If you're into winter sports, imagine saying your I-dos on the top of a mountain (arrived at via helicopter or snowcat) and then marking your first moments of marriage with an epic backcountry run through fresh powder. Talk about happily ever after.
The days when Mom and Dad could be expected to pony up for a big fancy church wedding and country club reception are over. Besides, do you really want a country club reception? Weddings can be damned expensive, and unfortunately impersonal, so why not kill two birds with one stone by creating the minutiae of your wedding yourself? Know a great seamstress? Offer to provide the material for a handmade dress. Rather than forking over big bucks for ostentatious floral displays, plan ahead and grow your favorite blooms to use for the big day. Combine your need for decorations with your need for something to do at a bridal shower: Get your guests to help craft handmade decor in the form of paper flowers, lanterns, balloons, candles, or whatever your clever little mind can come up with. Your guests will probably be expecting food of some sort, so make it a group activity to assemble a reasonable amount of munchies the night/morning before the big event. We do recommend keeping the menu simple/reasonable, because while your friends and family would probably do just about anything for you, abusing their kindness is probably not the best way to start a marriage.
Creativity doesn't have to end with the event planning. For those with creative souls, the entire wedding can be an inspiration for creativity. Think about it, your friends and family are already brimming with happiness, why not help them direct that emotional overflow into a form that will provide you lasting memories and some wall art for your little love nest. Try lining your venue with either blank canvases or sheets of butcher paper and provide a ready supply of paints, markers, crayons or colored pencils for your guests to use to express themselves whenever the urge strikes them. Save on table linens with the old restaurant trick of using that same butcher block paper on the reception tables. If you're really feeling into your art, you can always ask your guests to wear clothes they don't mind destroying and make the event one giant painting party by lining every possible surface with paper and letting everyone go to town. Once everything is done and dry, frame your favorite creations for the ultimate keepsake.
Dreading wearing that monkey suit to your wedding? Well, what if it was an actual monkey suit? Want to feel like a fairy princess on your big day? Why not look the part? Anything goes with the costume wedding, where not only the wedding party but the guests get to join in the spectacle by donning whatever flight of fancy strikes them. We're not necessarily talking about a Renaissance faire or
Star Wars wedding (unless, of course, that floats your wedding boat, in which case, may the force be with you). We're talking about some truly creative fashion. Just imagine looking out on a sea of happy faces in the form of 18th century French nobility, ballerinas, goths, cowboys, kilt-wearing Scots, superheroes and Southern belles.
Keep the decor simple, remembering that your friends and family will create a unique and outrageous backdrop. All you have to do is to let your guests know that anything goes, from tutus to Tarzan. It's even better if you can get the official members of the wedding party to play along. Just think of the stories you'll be able to tell about being married by someone dressed as Mr. Spock. Besides, you can only imagine how much fun the reception will be when the guests are already feeling adventurous enough to come to the ceremony in costume.
Saying "I Do," But Making it Legal
Anyone who's ever thought it would be fun to jump on a boat to be married by a ship's captain better: A) head to another state, or B) find a ship's captain who just happens to be a member of the clergy, a mayor or a federal judge.
If you actually want your nuptials to be legal, it might behoove you to do just a little bit of research on just how to get married in the Gem State.
For starters, don't forget the license. According to the Ada County Clerk's Office, between 3,000 and 3,500 marriage licenses are issued in the county each year. Last year, roughly 3,100 couples were married, down a bit from the 3,400 in 2008.
Compared to some states that require you to give blood (literally) for the right to wed, getting a marriage license in Idaho is relatively easy—just grab your betrothed, head to the County Clerk's Office, know your Social Security numbers and pay $30 (cash only, thank you). Of course, if you're a believer in young love and are only 16-17 years old, it's going to take a parental signature on an affidavit of consent.
A marriage license can be bought in any Idaho county for a ceremony performed anywhere in the state. After the deed is done, licenses are returned to the county where they were issued.
If you're planning to run off for a destination wedding overseas, remember there may be some complications with getting your records from whatever country you tie the knot in. While the union will be recognized back home, if you want to ensure easy access to legal papers, you might consider a small legal ceremony stateside before a foreign event.
But beyond that little sheet of paper, you've got to pay attention to your officiant. According to Chapter Three of Title 32 in the Idaho Statutes, you can legally be married by:
"A current or retired justice of the Supreme Court, a current or retired Court of Appeals judge, a current or retired district judge, the current or a former governor, the current lieutenant governor, a current or retired magistrate of the District Court, a current mayor or by any of the following: a current federal judge, a current tribal judge of an Idaho Indian tribe or other tribal official approved by an official act of an Idaho Indian tribe or priest or minister of the gospel of any denomination."
Sadly left off that list are county sheriffs, county commissioners and ship's captains. We find the sheriff exclusion hard to believe in a good Western state like Idaho, but maybe the captains thing makes sense, considering the whole landlocked thing.
And while getting hitched via a clergy member may be the most common avenue, more people are sidestepping the religion thing by asking friends or family members to get a quickie online ordination. Greg Heightman, senior field coordinator for the state's Vital Statistics office, said this is legal and meets the clergy definition "in a broad spectrum."
Some online services offer ordination for between $29 and $200, including laminated wallet ID cards, framed certificates and, in some packages, handy dashboard "Clergy" tags. But, if you don't want to drop the cash on the extras, the Universal Life Church, Universal Church of Life and Spiritual Humanism all offer free online ordination.
Because nothing says "happily ever after" quite like a confirmation e-mail.
The Wedding Dr.'s Nontraditional RX for a Successful Wedding
Brad Rowen is a familiar face. He starred as Rot Wyler KNIN's promotional commercials when the station first started airing in Boise. He's hosting ETV, an entertainment show on Channel 2—in conjunction with BW and Citadel Communications—which began airing on Jan. 28. And as DJ One One, Rowen has been providing the music for a couple's most important day for nearly two decades.
In the 18 years that Rowen has been leading wedding parties in the choreographed dances of "YMCA" or "The Macarena," he has learned a thing or two—or five—about what makes a wedding successful. He's a wedding consultant and is currently in the process of writing a book to share that information with brides-to-be. He shared the five tips he says guarantee the day people get hitched will go off without a hitch.
No. 1: Food is the payoff. "As a rule, nobody will leave a wedding until they've eaten," Rowen said. Unless, of course, they are bored to tears (see rule No. 3) or are faced with a mile-long line (see rule No. 2). Instead of one long table, try splitting the food into stations on small tables throughout the room, he said, which not only gets your guests to the payoff faster but also gives them a chance to mingle. If you insist on a large buffet table (see rule No. 5), try to make sure there is only one line per 75 people. And speaking of lines ...
No. 2: Lines are bad. "Nobody likes standing in a line. Especially when they're hungry," Rowen said. If you have 300 people at your wedding and they are all waiting in line for the buffet table (see rule No. 1), it's going to take them nearly two hours to get through it. The people who have already eaten are going to get bored (see rules No. 1 and No. 3) and are going to start looking around for the exits. And receiving lines aren't fun for anyone. Your grandmother may be excited to meet your friends at first, but by the time the 50th person shakes her hand, her arm will be tired, her feet will hurt and she might start to resent your extensive guest list. Angry grandmas are no fun.
No. 3: Pictures before the ceremony. Period. "Again, food is the payoff," Rowen said. People may not leave until they've eaten, but once they've dug into the chafing dishes and had their fill of meatballs, scalloped potatoes and green bean casserole, they're ready to go. If you serve the food immediately after the ceremony but you're off taking pictures for two hours, your guests are going to get bored to tears (see rule No. 1) and you're going to come back to an empty banquet hall. The idea that it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding is as outdated as the tradition that only virgins should wear white. Speaking of tradition ...
No. 4: Tradition is a guideline not a hardline. "We didn't have texting 300 years ago so why are you following traditions established back then?" Rowen asks repeatedly. His point is that following a rule that applied to brides in the 16th century makes no sense for a modern-day bride. Do what feels right for you and your wedding. That includes everything from your dress, to your vows, to centerpieces, to the food, to the music, to the location, to who stands up with you during the ceremony. Rowen said there's one question every bride needs to ask herself: "Does this make sense for me?" (See rules No. 1 through No. 5.)
No. 5: Don't be a reluctant bride. "You don't do this for a living," Rowen said adamantly. "So hire people who do." It's that simple.