Sarah & Javier's foodie winter log cabin wedding

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Photos by Daniel Finucane

The offbeat bride: Sarah, Banquet Chef

Her offbeat partner: Javier, Catering Chef for the Film Industry

Location & date of wedding: Club Paesano (or Cedarville Park) Gresham, OR (Basically, a giant log cabin.) — February 19th, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: We planned our wedding with our guests in mind. We wanted everyone to eat, drink, dance, play games, and just enjoy celebrating with us. Food topped our list of priorities, as we met cooking and still continue to cook, whether for work, family, or just for fun. Food brought us together, and food needed to be showcased at our wedding. I knew we needed to save money in this category, so we took on a crazy project. We cooked our own food for 250 people.

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Many warned us about the insanity of this idea, but we didn't care. We ended up paying just over a thousand dollars for a delicious Mexican buffet and extensive salad bar, including the labor of seven servers and three cooks! Chicken tinga, carne asada, carnitas, rice, beans, tortillas, and a build-it-yourself Mexican salad bar. All that plus chips, salsa, and Javier's famous guacamole.

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Javier and his friends started cooking at 5:00 a.m. the morning of the wedding, while my family, friends, and I decorated the giant log cabin venue. I am a bit of a control freak, but I knew I would have to let go that day. I packed all my DIY decorations by table, labeled and numbered them, gave a demo, and focused on just having fun.

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The whole place ended up decorated with a foodie/winter theme. We had a combination of fryer baskets filled with pine cones, foam snowflakes from the dollar store, and other random items that caught my eye at vintage and thrift stores. I found both the DJ and photographer on Craigslist and all others else involved in the wedding were friends.

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The DJ played acoustic guitar and sang before, during, and after the ceremony. He then seamlessly switched to dance music, and the floor filled with my crazy family and friends. The beer and wine flowed, and kept the dance party going.

We skipped toasts and a bouquet/garter toss, and did a married couple dance where I presented my grandparents with the food-themed bouquet (purple and red flowers set off by artichokes, mint, basil, fiddlehead ferns, and purple kale).

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My graphic designer sister made all the invites, the giant menu-themed program, and all the food labels for the buffet. My brother set up the slideshow that ran throughout the entire day. Everyone was amazing and allowed me to relax.

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Tell us about the ceremony: A trombone trio consisting of my youngest brother and two of his friends played "Edelweiss" as the immediate family was seated. My grandparents used to sing me that song when I was little, and my mom said my grandmother sang the song throughout the trombone performance.

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A neighbor of my parents married us to vows he wrote himself. Javier's niece and nephew were jingle-bell ringers, but two-year-old Eric got scared and ran back halfway down the aisle! Three-year-old Emily stopped, turned around for one second, then scoffed at his silliness and continued by herself. My brother walked his grinning, eight-month-old daughter/flower girl down the aisle. She held onto his fingers and practically ran up to the front, she was so excited.

My dad walked me down the aisle to my favorite song by Matt Maher, "Set Me As a Seal." We actually started the ceremony on time, and I guess some people didn't expect that, and arrived after we were already back down the aisle. Short and sweet, the way we wanted it, as neither one of us really enjoys that much attention.

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Our biggest challenge: Photographing my mom's family! She wanted a photo of the whole group. Did I mention she is one of 16 kids?! And most of them have four, five, six, or seven kids of their own. It took a while to get set up, but we made sure this was the only photo we had to take after the ceremony.

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My favorite moment: Dancing with my dad to a song that we used to listen to when I was little,"Where Are You Going" by John McCutcheon. We spun around on the dance floor while he quietly sang the words.

Javier danced with my mom at the same time, as his mom is in Mexico and was unable to attend because of health reasons. Also, I loved seeing my little brother playing "Edelweiss" on the trombone. I was supposed to be hiding for my walk down the aisle, but I had to see that!

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My funniest moment: My aunt kept asking the DJ to play "The Electric Slide." I think he had doubts about the level of interest the rest of the group would have, so he put off playing it for about an hour.

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But when he finally started the music, I could not believe how many people ran to the dance floor! We also danced to some salsa music, or actually, Javier spun me around a lot as I have two left feet in the dancing department. No one could see my feet anyway!

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The food! We ended up having plenty of food for everyone, plus enough for seconds and thirds for anyone that wanted more. But not much leftover after that, so it seemed like the perfect amount.

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My advice for offbeat brides: If you have a vision, just go with it. But let go if something is really important to a family member. There were several things I could have fought with my mom about, but I chose to give in when it wasn't something on the top of my priority list. I definitely wasn't going to relent and play "Here Comes the Bride," but I let her reserve the venue for earlier than I thought we needed it, and boy did that help out.

I also highly recommend postponing the honeymoon for a different time. We stayed from the beginning to the end, and got to relax afterward at a cozy, local bed and breakfast. No rushing for a plane, no luggage hauling, and now we have something to look forward to once the wedding high wears off.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Prepare, prepare, prepare, and then make sure to make time to relax. I had everything so organized that I could delegate and then sit back and watch everything get done. Hire the right people and enough of them. I got to control the things that were important to me, and hire professionals to do the rest. I do not regret any of my DIY projects or any of my vendors.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Invites and all things graphic design: Diana Judge, my sister and graphic designer
  • Photographer: Daniel Finucane
  • DJ/Musician: John Ross
  • Dress: Bridal Gallery
  • Officiant: Family friend and pastor JR Roper
  • Cupcakes: My aunt and personal chef Kelly Lucarelli! Her tiramisu and brownie cupcakes were beyond amazing, and exactly what I wanted.
  • Florist: Lisa from Thriftway (where my mom works!)
  • Rentals: Thriftway and The Party Place
  • Outfits and shoes: I let my bridesmaids choose their own outfits in dark purple and told the groomsmen to wear dark jeans, dark purple shirts, and suit jackets. Javier wore jeans too and a jacket and shirt from Men's Wearhouse.
  • Bed and Breakfast for the night before and after the wedding: Forest Spring Bed and Breakfast. I would highly recommend this place to anyone staying in the Gresham, OR area. So affordable, beautiful, and Patrick is an amazing chef.
  • Venue: Cedarville Park. Derek, the one and only person we communicated with from the beginning to the end, was amazing. He helped direct parking, clean up, and was just helpful and friendly the whole time. A very flexible and affordable venue.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I loved reading about all the family influences throughout your wedding and all the personalization too! The pictures look like it was a fun one!

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    • I love that you noticed that. We had no choice but to have a big wedding, as family is very important to us, and we both have huge families. It was so much fun, but I am a little biased! 🙂

  2. Beautiful! and an amazing bouquet!
    spectacular that you fed 250 people for >$1000 and that includes servers.
    I think I need a recipe for tiramisu cupcakes now…

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    • I will have to ask my aunt if she will share the cupcake recipe! It is nice to work in this industry, because you make a lot of friends and learn lots of money-saving tricks.

  3. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! I love food!
    Does anyone know the name of that swirly plant in the bouquet?

  4. "Dancing with my dad to a song that we used to listen to when I was little,"Where Are You Going" by John McCutcheon. We spun around on the dance floor while he quietly sang the words."

    This made me tear up and go "Awwwww" really loudly. My mom and I have always sung this song together since I was a little kid and she loved it too when I showed her this part of the profile.

    So sweet!

    • You are so sweet! I am surprised that someone else has special memories of that song, no one else I have met outside of my family has ever heard it. My dad has always loved that song, I have so many memories of him humming and singing along to it. He isn't an emotional guy, but that song gets him every time!

  5. Ooh I love the veggie bouquet! And seeing that you've pulled off self-catering for 250 makes me feel much more confident about doing it for 50 🙂

    • Good for you! It is so worth it, and so much more special. Get as much help as you can, the clean up at the end is always the worst part. Every time I cater a wedding, I just want to leave all the dishes and go home! That doesn't work so well though. 🙂

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  6. Thanks! We had to have great food, and we knew that with our budget, the only way to accomplish that was to cook it ourselves. I am so happy we did!

  7. A Mexican Buffet at your wedding? I am JEALOUS! Your wedding looked incredible, congratulations! I am new to wedding planning and I'm just enjoying looking at your photographs. Have you heard of Jes Gordon (Bravo, Party Like a Rockstar, Event Leadership Institute)? Some of her TV show focuses on weddings for foodies and i thought maybe she helped inspire you.

    • Thanks! I haven't heard of Jes Gordon, I will have to look her up. I got most of my ideas from Offbeat Bride or just from my own experience attending weddings.

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