A Tale of Two Weddings
On the biggest days of their lives, the Gauthier brides decided to pull out all the stops.
When Jennifer Gauthier became engaged to John McEachern, she knew immediately where she wanted to be married. The romantic young woman had dreamed of having her wedding on the family farm ever since she was a little girl.
Last summer, her dream came true.
Jennifer’s parents, Willa and Rip Gauthier, had purchased the picturesque horse farm, poised on the Caledon-Erin border, more than 30 years ago. As a fulfillment of their own dreams, they called it Someday Farm, and Willa says, “It has become the heart and soul of our family.”
Just three years before Jennifer’s wedding, on a beautiful August day, her older sister Kelly had married Alun Ackery on the same sweeping lawns surrounded by rail fences and towering maples. The sisters’ decision to hold their ceremonies at home was also a poignant tribute to their father who had died a few years previously.
On the morning of July 17 last year, a light rain began falling just minutes before the ceremony was to begin. Willa recalls a panicked last-minute meeting with the wedding party and the caterers: “There was a quick discussion about plan B. Then we prayed a lot, watched the sky and, lo and behold, a wind came up, blew the clouds away and the sun emerged – spectacular!”
The mother of the brides knew from experience that the weather was in the hands of fate, but for the menu she wanted no such uncertainty. For Jennifer’s wedding, as she had for Kelly’s, Willa turned to chefs Gilles and Adriana Roche of Gourmandissimo in Caledon East.
Deciding on a menu for the well-travelled couple, who live in London, England, required a flurry of emails and eventual meetings to come up with a menu that reflected the tastes of both the bride and the groom. The hors d’œuvres included lightly battered zucchini flowers, a favourite of Jennifer’s, as well as refreshing veggie spring rolls with a Thai dipping sauce.
In recognition of their adopted home, Willa surprised the couple with an ice sculpture of London Bridge to hold the cocktail shrimp. Recalling the success of Kelly and Alun’s wedding feast, Jennifer and John decided on the same kind of semi-formal, sit-down dinner. When the couple met with the caterer to discuss the menu, John, a self-professed foodie, bashfully mentioned that he loved Jell-O. So Gilles and Adriana created a one-of-a-kind intermezzo course of rosé Champagne gelatine with rose petals. For the main course, they offered a choice of roasted beef tenderloin or black cod. The meal ended with a red velvet cake with cream-cheese frosting, another favourite of the groom’s.
As a tribute to Jennifer’s late father and John’s mother Luci, both single-malt Scotch fans, the couple decided to add a Scotch bar to the festivities. “We were unsure of how well our guests would enjoy it. But to our surprise it was a big hit with quite a number of our guests,” says Jennifer. The partying continued into the wee hours and guests were thankful for a late-night snack of pulled pork sandwiches and fish and chips.
Jell-O with rose petals, ice sculptures, a Scotch bar, midnight snacks. These are the creative personal touches from which wonderful memories are made. Jennifer’s older sister Kelly’s August 2007 wedding followed a different but equally original blueprint for success.
This young couple knew they wanted the menu to have as much variety and as many distinct flavours as possible. “When I meet with a bride and groom,” says Adriana Roche, “I always start with this question, ‘What do you like to eat?’”
At the reception Kelly and Alun served ice-cold lemonade alongside a cool, sparkling Prosecco. The hors d’œuvres ranged from seared tuna tataki and Moroccan lamb skewers, to crispy sweet potato pancakes with smoked salmon and dill sauce.
When the 225 guests sat down to the semi-formal dinner, they started with spiced shrimp on jicama slaw, greens and smoked duck. The refreshing intermezzo course was a dish of hand-peeled, frozen grapes. This special request from Kelly was a spectacular success, although Adriana admits that peeling all those grapes “was definitely not an everyday job for us!”
The main course was beef tenderloin, and for dessert, chocolate truffle cake and berries. Later, the guests danced the night away nourished by a late-night snack of grilled cheese sandwiches and crisp French fries in paper cones.
A wedding lasts only a few glorious hours. All that planning and preparation: the rural setting, friends, family, the high emotions, the flowers and, most of all, the food. Was it worth it? Oh yes, because Jell-O and ice sculptures may not last forever, but the memories go on and on.