I looked at my mom’s face, then my dad’s, then my fiance’s. It was raining in New Hampshire. I’d hoped for a sunny day for our wedding venue hunt, but clearly, I hadn’t gotten my wish. After 4 hours of driving from place to place, tromping through party rooms and lodge lobbies and summer camps, we were all soggy and exhausted.
Later that night, back in Boston, my mom looked at me over a plate of gnocchi at our favorite local pub, The Glenville Stops. “What do you really want to do?” she asked.
Let’s back up so I can tell you that I’ve never been a wedding girl. I didn’t grow up thinking about my wedding. I hate being the center of attention. I’d only ever been to a few weddings before my own, and even at those parties, I could never imagine myself up in front of all those people, wearing a crazy dress. When we started planning our wedding in 2015, I decided that I’d “go chill.” I bought a low-key wedding book. I figured we’d rent out a summer camp or a big lake house in New Hampshire, and get married there. Simple, right?
If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you’re probably already shouting: “NOT SIMPLE.”
First, consider that Sean and I have big families. At a bare minimum, our wedding guest list was topping 150. Second, consider travel. I’m from Seattle, he’s from Western New York. New Hampshire is close to no one. Third, consider costs. I thought we could keep costs down… and then I looked at the actual numbers. Weddings aren’t cheap, even at summer camps where the guests have to sleep in rooms of 8 in bunk beds (but that’s another story for another post).
Skip ahead to that rainy New Hampshire day and now imagine the looks on our faces: We were pissed, because our plan was not working. It was not cheap, not easy, and most certainly not chill. As such, my response to my mom’s question that night was a no-brainer. Two glasses of wine in, I practically shouted: “We’re not doing this anymore! I want to get married in Cuba.”
My mom clutched at my dad’s hand under the table. My dad made a comment about how Cuba has cool cars. Sean grinned ear-to-ear. “Yeah!” And that was how we ditched our big wedding plans.
Clearly, Cuba wasn’t feasible at that time, but Puerto Rico was.
Three months later, we were there. We were officially married by a Justice of the Peace at the Newton, MA courthouse, followed by a fancy dinner with some of our favorite Boston friends. 4 days later, we flew to Rincon, Puerto Rico where we surfed and practiced yoga. We rented a giant villa on the beach. We danced at a beach club every night. On the second to last night, we were married for real (at least, mentally) at a ceremony on the beach. We wrote the ceremony ourselves, and in front of 28 of our closest family and friends at sunset, we said “I do.” After our honeymoon, we came home and threw receptions in our respective hometowns for all the folks who couldn’t come to Puerto Rico.
Ultimately, I was glad I didn’t ditch the wedding thing altogether (because believe me, there were times when eloping seemed like the best option). In the end, we just had 4 parties. We got to see most of our favorite people in a bunch of different settings. We got married in a place so beautiful that we didn’t need decorations. We stayed within our budget and I got my simple dress, plus an acoustic guitarist, a villa on the beach, a bonfire, and a catered dinner.
Now, I have lots of little mementos in our apartment that remind me of the patchwork quilt that was our wedding. One of the best? A KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker attachment. I know, I know — it sounds like a silly ad. I originally thought registries were over-the-top, but now some of my favorite wedding items are the things I put on our registry for my kitchen. What I love best about this ice cream is that it can be tailored to individual preferences. Isn’t that how a wedding should work, too?
Basic Vanilla Ice Cream with Infinite Mix-Ins
8-10 servings. Adapted from this All Recipes post.
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 t salt
- 2 t vanilla
- Mix-ins: Peanut Butter cups; toffee; mashed fresh strawberries, raspberries and blackberries; butter finger; mini-chocolate chips; etc
Mix milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla in a bowl, whisking until combined (the sugar should be dissolved). Pour into an ice cream maker, following the directions for your particular machine. If you’re using a KitchenAid attachment, pour the mixture slowly into a cold bowl and let churn for 20-25 minutes.
This ice cream will look looser than you expect before it’s frozen, but that’s okay. After it’s churned, pour it into a bowl or container and lightly fold in your mix-ins. Put it in the freezer and let it sit for at least 4 hours, ideally 12.
Vanilla Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Make the vanilla ice cream batter as explained above, then stir in chopped dark chocolate peanut butter cups (we love the Trader Joe’s brand) and freeze.
You can easily make this with other candies – we love Butterfinger and toffee. Stay away from marshmallow candies, though. They don’t freeze well and will break your teeth!
Strawberry Ice Cream with Mini Chocolate Chips
Make the vanilla ice cream batter as explained above, but add 2 cups mashed fresh strawberries to the mix before putting it into the ice cream maker. Churn until done, then stir in mini chocolate chips before freezing.
You can easily make this with other fruits — we’ve only tried it with other berries, but go wild! Peanut butter and banana could also be good.