{Our Wedding} The Rehearsal ‘Dinner’

Want to read the first part of the {Our Wedding} series? Find it here.

I’ve mentioned before that the rehearsal dinner is not a wedding tradition that is common in the UK, but we still wanted to honor the tradition in our own way. Also, because we knew we wanted to invite all of the wedding guests (instead of limiting the invite list to immediate family and those in the wedding party as is common with most rehearsal dinners), we chose to host a cocktail reception. With the resort being all-inclusive, we felt that everyone would be fine having dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants and then we would all meet up later on Friday evening.

We did have a very short wedding rehearsal earlier in the day dressed in our best swimming attire. This gave Silvia, our wedding coordinator, a chance to let us all know what would happen for the ceremony. It was also a good opportunity for our friend who was marrying us to give us a brief outline of his ceremony and to let those doing readings know exactly when they would need to come to the front of the ceremony space. (I tried to think of a better word for this, but couldn’t as we got married on a random spot on the beach.) It was absolutely hilarious because as we were gathered in a circle listening to Silvia an older gentleman in bright multi-colored Speedos joined in to listen. A friend of mine did catch this in a photo and posted it to Instagram with the caption of ‘Honorary groomsman,’ but I feel a little weird putting it on the blog even though I’m really tempted because I want you all to see how enthralled he was in what she was saying despite him having nothing to do with our wedding!

We approached our wedding coordinator, Silvia, with this idea of a cocktail and dessert reception, and she thought it was a great idea, but had to check with their chef about the dessert portion. She also knew immediately of the perfect location at the resort for the reception, which she showed us during our visit in November. That space is a terrace off the buffet restaurant that she planned to decorate with tiki torches amidst the tropical surroundings of the resort. We could truly picture it and it was exactly what we wanted. So, that was the plan!

carnivalterraceCarnival Terrace during the day

Then, Christmas Day rolled around and the Brit, myself, and our friend went to dinner at the Mexican restaurant at the resort — how’s that for mixing it up for your Christmas dinner?! Our waiter was absolutely fabulous, so fun, and kept calling us his ‘table of beautiful people!’ (I’m sure he has a new table of beautiful people every week, but we were loving it!) We enjoyed our whole meal immensely and he made it so much better. When Friday rolled around, he was the bartender at the swim-up bar and asked us where we were eating that night. We told him we had no plans yet, so when he said he would be serving at the Mexican restaurant, we thought, ‘Why not?!’ So, he was kind enough to reserve two tables for 10 in the back of the restaurant for us. There were 24 of us that all went to dinner together, so in the end, we did have a a slightly more traditional yet informal rehearsal dinner and it turned out to be great! Because there were so many of us at dinner, our meal took a little longer than expected so we were 20 minutes late to the cocktail and dessert reception, but it didn’t matter as everyone was on island time and not too concerned.

BRrehdin

table1rehdin

table2rehdin

The Brit and I finished our meals and raced over to the terrace for the reception. As we were approaching the terrace, the doors that lead out to it were opened for us and we were both greeted with a melon cocktail, which was the ‘welcome drink’ they created for us that night. The terrace looked absolutely perfect with the tiki torches lit and the moon shining down. Scattered around the terrace were high tables lit by candles for people to gather around. There was a bar at one end of the space and a table full of dessert bites at the other side. (I didn’t take a lot of photos as I was too busy enjoying myself!) A server passed the desserts around while people were arriving. There was a great mix of desserts ranging from cheesecakes to chocolate tarts, and the whole gathering was exactly what we had imagined!

BMrehdinMe with my beautiful bridesmaids.

Everyone mingled and those who hadn’t met each other yet were introduced. It was absolutely amazing to see all of these people we love – most of whom had never met before – getting along so well. I walked up to a table full of my closest girl friends just chatting away like they had always known each other. It made my heart burst and my smile couldn’t have been bigger. I think one of the incredible things about a destination wedding is that because everyone is there longer than just an afternoon and evening – as is the case with a more traditional wedding – then people really have an opportunity to get to know one another. It’s a pretty fun time, and I say that having been a guest and the bride at a destination wedding.

Months before, I had decided to say a few words that night because we planned to keep the speeches at the wedding reception in line with the English tradition, which include speeches from the father of the bride, the groom, and the best man (in that order). About halfway through the Friday evening event with time moving very quickly as we were having such a good time, the Brit pulled me aside and suggested I give my little speech. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t just fumble through it with tears streaming down my face, so I put thought and planning into what I was going to say. Not that I really had to be worried about being embarrassed in front of this crowd, but I wanted to be composed.

We managed to pull everyone away from the amazing time they were having with some shouts and maybe even a whistle or two, and I started off by thanking everyone for joining us in this celebration and expressing how touched we were that so many of our nearest and dearest made the journey to be there with us. I maybe then might have poked a little fun at my handsome groom before I went on to thank my incredible bridesmaids, the Brit’s parents, my parents, and finally, the Brit. I think it went down well, and I even had my dad and the Brit tell me I had stolen pieces of their speeches! The bonus of going first!

Soon after, we were kicked off the terrace and continued the celebrations at the lobby bar before a large group of us made our way to the night club. It was a blast, and I think our dance party gave us all a little insight into what a great time we would have as a group the next night! The photos, which include one of my brother and the Brit embraced in a hug on the floor and another of the Brit on our good friend’s shoulders, really paint a picture of the fabulous time we had. I can’t remember what time it was, but the Brit and I (okay, it was mostly me) decided it was time for us to go to sleep. We did have a big day ahead of us in a few short hours!

brosisrehdinUs with my brother and sister-in-law

And, in case you are wondering, we had planned to stay in separate rooms the night before the wedding and try to stick with the tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony, but we soon realized we would definitely not be able to avoid each other during the day of the wedding, so we just stayed together and it actually kept the whole thing so much more relaxed.

Next up, the WEDDING DAY!!

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{Road Trip} The Sunny, but Chilly Welsh Coast

This past weekend, the Brit and I decided we needed a little break from home and just some down time for life, so we escaped to Abersoch for an overnight stay. As you all know, it has been terribly dreary here this summer, so we had our fingers crossed for sunny days. Luckily, we got just that!

We arrived early on Saturday morning and settled in then decided to stroll into the village via the beach. This was a recurring theme throughout our 36 hours in Abersoch, as we managed to cover 10 miles walking on Saturday and 5 miles running and 3 miles walking on Sunday. It was so nice to stretch our legs and to not have to drive anywhere. There are some absolutely beautiful views in Abersoch. This visit, I mainly took photos of the coast in all its glory.

The other theme that ran through this trip was good food. So, I’d like to share with you what we enjoyed and where it was from should you ever find yourself in lovely little Abersoch. First, try the baguettes at Abersoch Deli. They are the perfect lunch and we made sure we had them both days. I really enjoyed the turkey cranberry and the Brit enjoyed the coronation chicken, and, yes, we both ordered the same thing both days – they were that good! The baguettes are perfectly baked and the toppings are added in just the right amount. As the Brit said, “I don’t think most people realize how important the bread is to the sandwich.” So, so true. On Saturday, we were lucky enough to grab a table outside, but as there are only 3 tables, we didn’t have the same luck on Sunday which was not a big deal to us at all.

After you finish your lunch, take a quick stroll across the street to the ice cream shack at The Vaynol for some Cadwalader’s ice cream. Yes, this was enjoyed both days as well! I highly recommend the vanilla with sprinkles (hundreds and thousands in the UK, but it was actually listed as ‘sprinkles’ on the menu here!) in a cone (or a wafer in the UK). This ice cream took me back to my childhood as it is a favorite combination of mine, that I obviously still enjoy as I approach 30. (No shame here, folks!) You won’t regret having this ice cream after lunch!

For dinner, we weren’t sure if we wanted a takeaway or to sit in at a restaurant. We wanted to try Zinc, but we didn’t act quickly enough and they were already booked up. (This is a good time to mention that Abersoch is very small, so if you want to eat out, it would be a wise idea to book in well in advance.) While we decided on our plan of action for dinner, we sat on the covered terrace at St Tudwals and enjoyed a couple of drinks…me on the Strongbow and the Brit on the lager shandy.

We settled on Thai takeaway from The Coconut Kitchen. (Because it is also a sit down restaurants, they get very busy and will stop taking takeaway orders if they are swamped, so plan ahead for this as well.) We ordered two curries – green chicken curry and red king prawn curry – and shared. Both of these were delicious! I can honestly say it was the best Thai food I have ever had. So, check out The Coconut Kitchen.

We ended our night with another walk back into the village for drinks. (I obviously wasn’t thinking as I wore wedges and nearly twisted my ankle jumping over puddles on the way…nice one.) We first went back to St Tudwals for one drink before heading to Zinc to split a bottle of wine. If you are looking for somewhere a little more upscale than a pub, then I recommend checking out Zinc. They have a great back deck which was full of people even though it had come fairly cool outside. We nabbed two bar stools along the railing and talked the night away over some Sauvignon Blanc. It was just a perfect weekend for us to relax with some sun and good food and drink mixed in!

A Traditional Dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding

(source)

One weekend in 2011, when I was still living in Washington, the Brit and I decided to fly to Pennsylvania and meet each other half way to visit with my parents and to see each other. Prior to arriving at my parents’ house, we had decided we wanted to introduce my family to a traditional English dessert (or pudding, as they refer to it here sometimes) and chose to bake sticky toffee pudding for my family, particularly for my dad, aka the king of desserts. 🙂 (Hey, Dad!)

I found a recipe for the dish, which had U.S. measurements, and we got to work. As you can see from the recipe below, it calls for a water bath. The water bath proved to be a bit of a pain that first time and then again when we made sticky toffee pudding for Mother’s Day dinner in England this year. (Mother’s Day in England was on March 18th. Father’s Day in both the UK and the US are on the same day though. Interesting.) I’m not sure if it is the water bath that is the root of the problem, but the suggested cooking time in this recipe is not nearly enough when baked in the water bath. I think we generally have to bake the cake part for at least 20 minutes longer.

The end result though is delicious and best served warm with the toffee sauce poured generously on top. It’s traditional to also pour custard on top of this dessert in the UK, but I prefer it with some vanilla ice cream. Neither of us had ever made custard before, so we all had a good laugh as the two of us tried to get the consistency and color of it just right before dessert was served at the Brit’s sister’s house! Thankfully, his mum came to the rescue by adding some boiling water to help thin it out and calm down the bright yellow color.

This is the recipe I used from Razzle Dazzle Recipes (please note these are US measurements):

For the cake/pudding:
1 3/4 cups packed pitted dates (about 10 ounces)
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan (2 inches deep), knocking out excess flour.

Coarsely chop dates and in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan simmer dates in water, uncovered, 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in baking soda. (Mixture will foam.) Let mixture stand 20 minutes.

While mixture is standing, into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating after each addition until just combined. Add date mixture and with a wooden spoon stir batter until just combined well.

Pour batter into baking pan and set pan in a larger baking pan. Add enough hot water to larger pan to reach halfway up sides of smaller pan and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove smaller pan from water bath and cool pudding to warm on a rack.

Make sauce while pudding is cooling.

For the sauce:
1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over moderate heat and add brown sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and stir in cream and vanilla extract. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool sauce to warm.

Cut warm pudding into squares. Serve pudding with vanilla ice cream and warm Sauce.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Dalvay By The Sea in Prince Edward Island, Canada