Delicious DIY Small Weddings

By Kathy Patrick ~

Traditional wedding is one of those phrases that is becoming a bit old-fashioned and that’s a perfectly good thing. Today’s weddings are reflections of the couple’s personalities and style, and may well be as unique as the two love birds themselves.

Smaller weddings can be more intimate, allowing the couple to spend time with guests in a relaxed setting. As a personal chef, I’ve had requests to provide food for small wedding celebrations in the back yard, at a lake house, in an art gallery, and even a drop-in brunch where the wedding guests arrived and departed between their Saturday chores and children’s sporting events. All are great ideas that are fun for both the bridal party as well as the guests.

However you decide to celebrate your special day, here are some food and beverage suggestions for your unique wedding. When crafting your menu, consider foods that are easy to eat while standing and talking, are not messy, may be made ahead of the event, and can go without refrigeration for several hours. Enjoy your special time and make your gathering as exceptional as the two of you!

Cheese wheel wedding cakeCheese Wheel “Wedding Cake”

Here’s a fun twist on appetizers for your wedding party: make extra “cake” out of cheese. It’s pretty, it’s easy to put together, and its special presentation certainly takes cheese and crackers to a fun new level.

Find various sizes of round cheese wheels (brie, Gouda, cheddar, Edam, bleu, chevre, Stilton, Epoisses, or whatever you like) and stack them on top of each other in varying heights to mimic a wedding cake, or several different cakes. Use fresh or dried herbs, or crushed nuts, dusted on each layer to enhance the look and taste. To add height and stability you can carve out a center circle in one or more wheel and insert a jelly jar, glass tea light holder, or cake riser. You can top each “cake” with a cute sign or a tiny bridal couple, or label each layer with a toothpick flag so guests know what each cheese is. Use garnishes like figs, dates, grapes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, melon, mango, or edible flowers. A cake plate or footed compote as the base lend to the cake appearance, but make sure the cheese wheels are stable enough for guests to cut into the layers. Serve with crackers, baguette slices, or a round loaf of bread hollowed out with the bread cut into cubes and put back into the bread bowl.

Two pretzels on a blue background.

Pretzel Bar

Let your guests enjoy salty, sweet, and/or savory tastes with a fun pretzel bar filled with both make-at-home soft and store-bought crunchy pretzels. The soft and crunchy pretzels can be in varying shapes and sizes. Add a variety of mustards, fruit sauces, or sweet dips like chocolate or marshmallow crème and you’ve made pretty much everyone happy.

Soft Pretzels

Makes 12 pretzels

4    tsp. active dry yeast

1    tsp. white sugar

1¼ cups warm water (110°)

5    cups all-purpose flour

½   cup white sugar

1½ tsp. salt

1    Tbsp. vegetable oil

½   cup baking soda

4    cups hot water

¼   cup kosher salt, for topping

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in 1 ¼ cup warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, ½ cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450°. Grease 2 baking sheets.
  4. In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in 4 cups hot water; set aside.
  5. When dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes.

Meals on Heels Cherry Mustard

Makes about 1 ½ cups

This mustard is delicious on soft or crunchy pretzels as well as on sandwiches or as a garnish for pork or chicken.

2   cups dried cherries

½  cup beer (Dunkel or other German style)

½  tsp. brown sugar

Dash Worcestershire sauce

¾  cup mustard, coarse ground

2   tsp. brown sugar

  1. Place cherries, beer, ½ tsp. brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard in a saucepan and heat until cherries are soft.
  2. Place cherries (but not liquid) in food processor, add 2 tsp. brown sugar and process. Add liquid from cherries as needed to adjust texture. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
  3. Here are some scrumptious treats that are easy to make, easy to eat, and will hold well without refrigeration. Use some over-the-top serving pieces to make a delicious and gorgeous presentation!

Honey Lime Cantaloupe

Honey Lime Cantaloupe

Serves 8

For a more colorful presentation, mix honeydew melon with the cantaloupe

1    cantaloupe

2    Tbsp. lime juice, fresh

1    Tbsp. honey

Zest of 1 lime

2    Tbsp. mint, fresh chopped

Mint leaves, whole, to garnish

Toothpicks to serve

  1. Cut cantaloupe in half and remove seeds. Using melon baller, make melon balls.
  2. Combine lime zest, juice, and honey in shaker jar and shake well. Pour dressing over melon balls about 30 mins before serving, continue to chill, top with mint and garnish with mint leaves. Serve with toothpicks.

Note: The melon can be cut the night before and the dressing may also be made ahead, just don’t combine them the night before.

BLT Bites

Makes 12 mini sandwiches

If you plan to leave food at room temperature for more than 30 minutes skip using the mayo or use mayo that doesn’t require refrigeration after it’s opened.

6    slices white sandwich bread

¼   cup mayonnaise, optional

6    cherry tomatoes, halved

3    slices bacon

Handful of baby lettuce or romaine leaves torn into small pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Toothpicks, for serving

  1. Preheat broiler to medium.
  2. Cut each slice of bread into quarters, or, if you want crust-less sandwiches, use a 1½ inch round cookie cutter to cut 4 rounds from each slice of bread. Place the cut bread on a cookie sheet and toast under broiler, 1-2 minutes per side, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
  3. Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add bacon and fry, turning so both sides crisp. Let the bacon drain on a paper towel-lined plate. When cool, cut each slice into 1 ½ inch pieces (you should get 4 pieces per slice).
  4. Spread mayonnaise (if using) on half of the toasted bread, then add a piece of bacon, a halved cherry tomato and a piece of lettuce. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Finish with another piece of toasted bread, if using, and secure with a toothpick


Serves 8 to 10

1    cup fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish

3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled

5    Tbsp. pine nuts

½   tsp. sea salt, or to taste

½   cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional as needed

½   cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1    lb. cherry tomatoes

Fresh ground pepper

  1. Place the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt, olive oil, and Pecorino in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. If the pesto is too thick for your taste, add a little more olive oil.
  2. Cut the tops off the tomatoes. With a small spoon (I use an espresso spoon), scoop out the seeds and pulp, taking care not to puncture the skin. Flip upside down on paper towels to get excess moisture out. Fill the tomatoes with the pesto by piping it in with a pastry bag (or cut a small bit of the corner off a sandwich bag to use as a pastry bag) and serve at room temperature. Garnish with basil leaves scattered on plate and top with fresh ground pepper.

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