Planning a wedding is hard. If you’ve planned one you know, and if you haven’t you’ve probably heard a bride (or groom!) complain about it. Although I consider myself to be highly organized and a pretty chill bride, there were definitely moments when I wanted to abandon the whole project and just head to the courthouse with my fiancé. Luckily though, my now-husband, Dave, and I are vendors at a few San Diego farmers’ markets. Being a part of the local farmers’ market community was a life line! Once I wised up and enlisted the help of some of my vendor friends, I started checking wedding to-do’s off left & right. Wedding decisions depend on a variety of things: your budget, familial obligations, and personality. Since a big part of my and my husband’s life is spent at the farmers’ market, we pulled in a few specific elements that made our wedding feel down-to-earth, DIY, and very us. We were also able to save a lot of money by working with independent small business owners and hiring friends. Develop relationships with your customers and fellow vendors and your business can benefit even as you help to make their special day perfect. Here are just a few ways that my local farmers’ market helped me plan my special day:
Choosing a caterer
This is easily one of the most difficult aspects of planning a wedding. If you are going for a traditional wedding reception, generally the dinner is a center point of the whole event and will influence the schedule of the entire evening. The format of the meal (individually plated, family style, buffet) will impact what party rentals you need or the venue you choose. And all of this will of course impact your wedding budget. Feeding your entire guest list can get very expensive, very fast. On top of all of that you’ll have to consider dietary restrictions and food preference of your friends and family. As a market vendor, offering a variety of options from ready-to-serve trays to delivery to full-service catering means maximizing your market days by booking extras that create customers for life. For our wedding, Dave and I hired one of our favorite prepared food vendors to be our caterer. We knew we loved his food because we frequently ate at his booth! We also knew we could rely on him to be on time, cook for a large group of people, and be friendly to our wedding guests based on our experience with him at the farmers’ market. Our vendor was perfect for a buffet-style dinner and his Mediterranean cuisine satisfied both our meat-eater and vegan guests.
Deciding on Flowers
If your wedding Pinterest board looks anything like mine did, it’s likely full of images of larger-than-life, perfectly arranged floral bouquets covering every surface of your wedding venue. Months of my life were spent daydreaming about gigantic bohemian bundles of flowers and Pinteresting my little heart out. I set aside a decent amount in my wedding budget and thought I’d be good to go for my blossom-covered fantasy. As it turned out, the amount I had budgeted for would only buy me about 4 dozen roses! After recalibrating my budget and expectations, I did some research and found my answers at the farmers’ market. Rather than looking at wedding blogs and magazines, I started to pay close attention to the flowers at my favorite growers’ booths. Once Spring came along, I took pictures of the flowers that I liked most. I asked the local flower vendors about what would still be in season in June and how best to purchase in large quantities. Being open to those kinds of questions can expand your business from bouquets to Big Time. Based on advice from local flower growers, I chose mostly wildflowers that were in season and easily accessible in Southern California. Also, instead of using blossoms for all the decorations, we filled out the table centerpieces with eucalyptus (which was almost free) and built a balloon arch to get married under. It turned out more beautiful than I could’ve imagined!
Booking a Musician
The old “live band vs. DJ” debate was never a debate for us. We knew from day one that our wedding would have quality live music. My husband Dave is also a musician and he sets a high bar. We booked a band for the reception, but were stumped when it came to music for the ceremony. We needed someone who could set a sweet, welcoming, romantic tone for the whole day. Then we remembered Eliza, the beautiful singer-songwriter we befriended while she was performing at the Pacific Beach Farmers’ Market! We gave her a list of a few cover songs to learn and she teamed up with my brothers. She was perfect!
For some dessert may be an afterthought, but not for me. I was thinking about wedding cake from the get go. It just so happens that our dear friend (and accomplished wedding cake baker) Melissa offered to bake us our cake as a wedding gift. She pushed our farmers’ market wedding to the next level by creating a cake depicting our company’s logo. Also, since not everyone likes cake, we ordered a few dozen cookies from yet another fellow farmers’ market vendor. The Cravory makes outrageously delicious cookies that look super pretty too. Don’t assume that only cake bakers can benefit from wedding orders.
My final piece of wedding planning advice is this: take full advantage of the resources around you. The farmers’ market is full of talented and creative people who know their stuff. Chances are, if you can find something made locally, it will be more unique and often more affordable! When you feel yourself falling down that Pinterest rabbit hole, take a break and wander through your neighborhood market. You’ll probably find much more inspiration there. My advice for farmers’ market vendors? Listen to your loyal patrons’ questions and help create ways to serve them on their wedding day, and they’ll never shop anywhere else.