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A Wedding Does Not have to Cost a Fortune

We went to a wedding yesterday, 14 June 2014, that would have to be the happiest wedding I’ve ever seen. At times the bride and groom danced in the wedding. They did not have traditional Christian music, they danced to the song “Lean on me”. They held hands and laughed many times throughout the service. There was over 400 people there and the church only seated about 250 but it did not matter, it still worked. They took out some pews at the back, put them into the hall on the other side of the foyer, set up a big screen in the hall so that those who could not fit into the church could watch it there. Many people stood around the edge of the church where the excess pews had been removed from with the taller men at the back and the shorter women in front so that all could see. With so many people there, it would be hard for the bride and groom to speak to everyone, one thing I loved but didn’t expect was the groom greeted everyone at the door as we arrived. He didn’t do the traditional thing and just wait at the front with the groomsmen. The bride and groom were not young; the bride Naomi, had been a missionary for many years in Africa, she worked at some stage for Tear Australia, the groom Andrew Chua is an ordained minister and psychologist aged about 45, he has been involved with Boy’s Brigade for the last 25 years and has mentored many young people. They had so many friends they did not want to choose who could come and who could not, it was a Facebook invitation to a wedding and the reception that most people accepted.

It was a very different reception, no way could everyone be seated, everyone could not even fit into the hall. While photos of the bridal party were being taken on the front lawn of the house next door, the pews in the church were stacked to the side, tables were brought in and placed on the other side. Paper cups and bottles of soft drink and juice were put out, chips and nibbles were passed around. The church kitchen could never heat enough food for 400 people so friends asked people they knew near the church to heat the food in their kitchen and then bring it up to the church at the right time. Some young people along with some of their friends helped put the food on the tables. They had bamboo boat shaped plates with bamboo forks on the tables for everyone to help themselves from the smorgasbord.

The food was delicious, there was rice and casseroles, some of it kept hot in slow cookers, lots of other finger food like mini pizza’s, unusual thing’s wrapped in rice paper, even a sausage sizzle cooked on the barbecue outside the church. Friends had volunteered to supply food for about 50 people and all of it combined easily fed 400 people.

It was interesting, different and it worked well, with one small exception, the catering for vegan’s existed but it was only brought out towards the end of the meal being served and there was no sign there to indicate that it was actually vegan food. There was of course a little bit of salad that they could eat but there was no cutlery on that table for people to find to eat that with and no signs to say whether the dressings included dairy. There were mini spring rolls, boiled rice for the meat casseroles and later little balls covered in breadcrumbs that probably had vegan risotto in the middle of them, but as I said no sign to tell anyone who is vegan that they could eat it. I know this because my son Adam has been vegan for a year and his partner Natalie has been for three years. They just ate two spring rolls each and some rice, then one of the vegan balls each after I found them. They had enough to eat and totally enjoyed the wedding, but I can understand their desire to have a vegan reception if they ever get married. Also after eating vegan food a few times at a wonderful little restaurant near Koorong Christian Book shop in Sydney, I would totally support a vegan reception.

I feel the need to explain that to Adam and Natalie and other young adults, the word partner is a perfect substitute for the word girlfriend or boyfriend, to them it never implies they are living together which they definitely are not. They prefer the term partner because it is gender neutral and believe it implies a very long term relationship, which is what they hope to have.

The food was served in both the church and the hall allowing everyone to spread out and mingle. After the first course everyone came back into the church and either sat on some seats, sat on the floor or stood around the back while the speeches were made. During that time lots of sweet cakes and finger food were laid out on the tables in the church and the hall, there was far more than everyone could eat.

Before arriving at the church for the wedding, I had to go shopping for the food to cook for our own church the next evening.[1] All up it cost me $206 to feed a roast dinner to 70 people. So you can cook a roast dinner for a wedding if you want to, provided you have a big enough oven. [2] Then serve up some delicious desserts afterwards for very little money.

When I delivered the groceries to the church there was a family there setting up for their daughter’s 21st. I did a careless thing, I locked my handbag in the boot thinking I had my keys in my pocket but it was the church keys. I had to get the RACV to break into my boot so I could get home. I told Mark and Jo at the church about my problem and that I was going to a very large wedding. They told me that they’d had 600 guests at their wedding but to make it possible they had an afternoon tea in our big church hall and foyer for their reception. Jo’s dad had organised for anyone who wanted to help, to bring a plate to share. It was a great day which worked well, at least they did not have to choose who could come and who couldn’t, but they definitely could not talk to everyone that was the only let down.

When I got home I found my two kids had been trying to get me to buy a new microwave but because my phone was in the boot they hadn’t succeeded. I was in a hurry to put the clothes I wanted to wear to the wedding into the tumble drier but it did not work either it just hummed and tried to turn over. I checked the microwave, the light would come on and it turned but it did not heat anything up very much at all. I checked all the fuses and the residual current detector but they were fine so I rang the power company to report a fault and found that one of my neighbours had too. I had been told before this can happen when a transformer on a power pole becomes faulty and the amperage drops. At least I didn’t waste time and money buying a new microwave but I couldn’t get my clothes that I wanted to wear dry in time for the wedding. However even though we had to walk a fair way because there was not enough parking for 400 people at the church, we still got there in time, and as I said before it was the happiest wedding I have ever been to.

The groom had been really organised and scheduled photos to be taken inside the church before the reception started of the bride and groom with all the different groups of people who were there. They will have those photos to remember a truly wonderful day which they shared with all their friends.

His speech was a bit different, he started by saying that this wasn’t the best day of his life, some of the best days were when he first became a Christian, he went on to explain some bad days. I think it was mainly tell some funny stories. He spoke about the scar on his face which he got when he was given the job at the age of five of holding the Rottweiler dog, while his dad and his brother let off fireworks. Gradually he got to the point he wanted to make; that the best days of his life were still to come as he shared his life with his bride.[3]



How to Cook a Roast dinner for $206 for 70 adults:


[1] * I went to a wholesale meat supplier, purchased four large boned legs of lamb  which weighed in total 11.5 kg and a piece of bolar blade weighing about 1.8 kg this cost $135. I then went and bought the veggies, 10 kg of potatoes, 7 kg of pumpkin, 5 kg carrots and I should have bought 2 kg of beans and 2 kg of peas but I actually bought 6 kg in total of those and I had far too much green veggies to feed 70 adults. Of course I bought a packet of Gravox, mint sauce and oven bags, plus 2 Sanitarium Veggie Roasts from Coles and cooking oil. The next evening when we served this meal I controlled the amount of meat that was dished up on each plate. I decided that next time I would buy one more leg of boneless lamb if I really wanted to serve 70 adult meals that were big enough for even the hungriest male teenagers. I would also not recommend allowing people to help themselves to a roast that will just feed everyone at a wedding because you could run out of food and that is disastrous.

[2] I needed three 50 x 30 cm trays for the potatoes, two trays for the pumpkin and veggie roasts, and two more for the five pieces of roast meat which were all in oven bags. I had to cook the meat for 2 ¾ hours on 175°C initially then bump it up to 190°C once the potatoes went in. I like to boil the potatoes that had been cut into large pieces for 22 minutes first before basting them in oil and roasting them for a bit less than an hour. The pumpkin needs to be roasted for an hour with very little oil on it. You can get caught out with the frozen beans they take ages to heat up, but once they are heated you have to get them off the heat very quickly or they go grey and soggy, they need to be closely watched. Keeping the food under foil as you serve helps keep it warm for the late comers, or in the oven on very low or a cheap $20 slow cooker from Kmart set to high is even better.

[3] While I was editing this book Alana told me about a wedding she and her fiancé witnessed recently. The bride arrived in a casual long white dress with a bouquet, the minister wore his robes, the only others in attendance were the groom, a flower girl, and two older women she assumed were the mothers. They arrived in a good looking red car and stood in the secluded alcove very close to the picnic table on Mornington Beach which Alana and her fiancé were sitting at. After the wedding party left having taken a few photos themselves, Alana’s fiancé commented “Wow! That must have been the cheapest wedding ever!” But Alana described it as lovely and believes the bride and groom just wanted to make their future together acceptable to all including God.

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