Orlando Wedding

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A Farm-to-Table Affair

Bringing the Slow Food movement to your wedding day.

Decorative Mason jars (above) make ideal cocktail glasses for a farm-to-table event

JW MARRIOTT

There are more than 100 farms within a 100-mile radius of Orlando. Ten years ago, only a handful of people, most of them farmers, would care about that. My, how times have changed. Thanks to initiatives such as the Slow Food movement and books like The 100-Mile Diet, the concept of getting closer to our food has surpassed trend status and is gradually becoming the norm. Wander through a farmer’s market or into a trendy independent grocery, and it’s clear that the move from mass-produced food to fare provided by local farmers has major momentum. It’s no surprise, then, to see the farm-to-table movement make its way into the wedding industry.

 

Menu

“Weddings are becoming more and more in tune with local fare,” says Greg Smitka of Puff ’n Stuff Catering (puffnstuff.com). “We are seeing farm-to-table making its way onto event menus on a much larger scale than ever imagined four or five years ago. As a result, we have been able to implement the movement by strategically aligning ourselves with local farmers and purveyors of local farms.”

In the last few years, Puff ’n Stuff has increased its use of local farm products. “Five years ago we may have spent less than $500 on local farm fresh products, where as today its well over $30,000,” Smitka says. “We’ve even been utilizing local farmers for edible organic flowers as plate garnish, and for greenery for buffet and centerpieces.”

Big Wheel Provisions (bigwheelprovisions.com), an Orlando catering company and food truck, also sees the trend becoming popular. For the wedding of Gabby and Michael Lothrop, Big Wheel Provisions owner/chef Tony Adams utilized beef from De Leon Springs, mullet from Titusville, scallions from Kissimmee and blue cheese from Winter Park.

“We get requests from most of our potential wedding clients for local-inspired dishes, and we’ve done several weddings at actual farms,” Adams says. “I think a lot of couples are now passionate about being eco-friendly. That means local, seasonal and simple. They are showing each other and their guests that they are committed to local food.”

Adams recently did a wedding at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach. “We bought fresh pork from Pasture Prime Farms in Ocala,” he says. “We also included cured and smoked fish from Wild Ocean Seafood, as well as one of our signature hors d'oeuvres, which is made using Florida watermelon, Thai basil from our garden, and aged balsamic vinegar. We're using something local in almost everything we create.”

Florida lobster gougères (far left) from Big Wheel Provisions and Puff ‘n Stuff’s goat cheese lollipops (left), both utilize local ingredients.

Goat Cheese Lollipops: Gina Leigh Photographs 

Ideas for Your Menu
If you choose food from local farmers when planning your menu,
here are a few providers to consider:
Lake Meadow Naturals: lakemeadownaturals.com
Winter Park Dairy: winterparkdairy.com
Lake Meadow Naturals: lakemeadownaturals.com
Winter Park Dairy: winterparkdairy.com


Venues

Whisper Creek Farm
Designed to make the farm-to-table experience more accessible to Orlando couples, Whisper Creek Farm (left; grandelakes.com) sits on the 500-acre Grande Lakes property, also home to the JW Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. Surrounded by pineapple plants and citrus trees, this 7,000-square-foot edible garden with an adjoining 6,000-square-foot outdoor event space hosts everything from formal plated dinners to casual family-style meals set at communal tables. Whisper Creek Farm books events October through April, when pleasant Central Florida weather allows for ideal outdoor affairs. The menu selections pay homage to local food purveyors, and guests have free rein to nibble their way through the onsite garden.
 

JW MARRIOTT


 

Winter Park Farmer's Market
As the site of one of Central Florida’s favorite farmer’s markets, the Winter Park Farmer's Market (left; cityofwinterpark.org) is an ideal space in which to play up the farm-to-table theme. Air-conditioned and spacious enough to accommodate 140-seated guests, this former train depot remains a popular option thanks to its central location, rustic charm and affordability. Another perk: other than brick walls, the décor of the Winter Park Farmer's Market is minimal, which makes for a blank canvas on which to add your own special touches.

Heather Rice Photography

 

Decor

When creating a pastoral ambiance, the farm-to-table theme can be expressed by utilizing plants sourced from local greenhouses, says Brian Joyce of Flourish Floral Productions. “You can also use locally-made candles from Park Avenue Candles,” he adds. Bales of hay, corn stalks, mini citrus trees and fresh garden flowers such as roses, hydrangea, violets and lavender mixed with curly willow also can give an inviting, casual warmth to your reception.

Gary Bogdon

Heather Rice Photography


Music

Mud Flappers: Kristen Wheeler/KH Photographics

Nothing says farm country like a bluegrass band. Here are two local crews that can amp up the idyllic vibe and get your guests dancing:

The Token Gamblers
reverbnation.com/thetokengamblers
Banjos and guitars highlight this band’s folksy bluegrass sound.

The Mud Flappers
reverbnation.com/themudflappers
This seven-piece band (left) combines jazz, bluegrass and folk music to create a sound the group calls “Floridana.”

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