Caroline sprang a novel first wedding anniversary celebration on her husband Ant: a surprise re-creation of their wedding feast.
"In planning our wedding we were very very focused on our guests and spending time with them. In the excitement of the day we didn’t really enjoy all the amazing food that our guests raved about!” Caroline recalled.
"So the anniversary plan was to recreate the menu for Ant, our parents and bridal party. Really it was my excuse to have the wedding cake again! It was a surprise for everyone because I didn’t want to risk anyone accidentally letting it slip to Ant. Janine at Ruth Pretty Catering’s events team helped me plot it all; she was amazing”.Looking back a year at their wedding, Caroline and Ant "wanted a wedding celebration that centred around family and the things that were important to us.
"For example, Antony’s brother is a Catholic Priest, and he came over from the Cameroon to preside over the ceremony at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Palmerston North. We were able to incorporate some Jewish wedding traditions into the ceremony, which was very special for me.
"The wedding celebration was held at my parent’s property in Feilding, where Ant and I spent a lot of time in our teens. We got back together again in our late 20s, and because it is so significant to us this was the only place we wanted.
"We wanted a worry-free day, and for our families to be real guests. We arranged buses for everyone to go from the Church to the family property, and then home again later and this helped in everyone getting to know each other as they enjoyed "bus snacks” provided by Ruth Pretty.
"During the photos, our bridal party enjoyed champagne and a hamper of delicious small tastes, all gluten-free so I could choose anything.
"It was important that there was plenty of beautiful food and wine, and amazing service, in our relaxed garden party setting. We were lucky with a beautiful September spring day.
"Creating a relaxed feel was a priority. We decided against a long head table, and went for a round table with our guests around us. There were nearly 100 guests, 11 of them children, and it was lovely to have the children there, with their own special menu."The family style entrée had a lovely feeling of people breaking bread together, and set the tone for the meal served to our guests.
"In choosing the menu, I wanted to experience and enjoy what everyone was eating. So the whole menu (bar Ruth’s famous Fish & Chips in Cones, by family request) was gluten-free. Several guests had dietary requirements, and Ruth met their needs seamlessly, as we knew she would.
"We included a cheese board for my dad who’s not a big dessert eater, and some tasty casual late-night snacks.
"For the main we wanted hearty delicious comfort food (Ant’s favourite). A gorgeous chocolate cake with white chocolate frosting was the feature of our dessert. The cake was actually gluten-free but it was so delicious no-one would have known the difference.
"When I look back on our wedding day, I remember the lovely relaxed no-pressure feel and the pleasure of being surrounded by people we love, in a beautiful setting surrounded by family. Even down to the napkin ribbons in the colour I chose,” Caroline smiled.
"As a regular at Ruth’s Toast Martinborough set-up at Ata Rangi, and after she and her team catered for my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary beautifully, we could not imagine anyone else doing our wedding.
"We knew with all the things we wanted in the wedding menu and all the special dietary requirements Ruth would be able to handle it all with no one knowing that there was anything different going on. Her event team, and the staff on the day, could not have been more helpful.
"And a year later, we did it all again to celebrate our wonderful wedding day. Re-creating the feast was amazing, although with just 10 of us we reduced the menu a little. The late night snack sandwich was such a hit we couldn’t leave it out, and had it as a passaround to start!”
Caroline and Ant say not only did they get the wedding they wanted, they got the anniversary as well and the chance to re-live their day, this time in their own home. Celebrating with family and close friends, just as they like.
Photography by Jono Tucker