In Halifax, it might be the slurp of fresh-caught oysters. In Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake chef Stephen Treadwell showcases roasted heirloom veggies and fine local cheeses. In the Okanagan valley, a bride holds a bouquet of blooms handpicked from a nearby farm in the wee hours of her wedding day. In 2013, a BDC study of consumer trends found that a “majority of Canadians now make an effort to buy local or Canadian-made products and some are willing to pay a premium.” So it’s hardly surprising that this trend is hitting one of life’s biggest celebrations – weddings.
Meagan Carder, of Toronto-based Toben Food by Design, says, “I find people these days are a lot more conscious of supporting ‘local’ and being aware of what’s being put in their food.” The benefits of going local begin with freshness and quality. Sarah Densmore , marketing co-ordinator for Local Source Catering in Halifax, agrees that local food “tastes much better. But it also helps the local economy, is a healthy choice, better for the environment, and connects you and your guests with people in your community. Local food is grown with passion and dedication and loyalty. And these are some of the greatest qualities that are found in a successful marriage – so pairing local food with your wedding just kind of makes sense!” And on top of that, industry insiders see a unique romance to going local. Darquise Patenaude is a floral designer and co-owner of Blue Sage Farm, a flower farm in Kelowna, BC. Couples walk through her gardens to choose their wedding flowers. Darquise says, “They get married here and they get flowers from here and it just makes the whole experience so much more intimate and precious.”
If you want to add a local note to your celebration, here are some tips from the experts:
Meagan Carder, Sarah Densmore and Viviana Kohon at Blast Events, Toronto, agree:
- Plan ahead. Give yourself time to nail down the details because the key with having a farm-to-table wedding is the planning.
- Start by doing your own research. Learn about which farms and purveyors are best to deal with.
- Note that there can be additional planning required when you choose a farm venue or other outdoor location. Consider tenting and rentals, for example, and you may discover it’s a bit more complex than you originally thought.
- Ask a caterer for a tasting dinner to preview your meal.
- Establish a budget and discuss it with your caterer. While locally sourced food can add some cost, a good caterer should be able to work within your budget.
- Plan your menu around the season. Check what is available for the date you choose. Asparagus might be perfect for mid-summer and squash ideal in September.
- Use a caterer to help plan a winter wedding. A farm-to-table event can be developed, even for a winter event.
- Keep an open mind because sometimes things can change closer to your wedding date. You can plan a menu and then the crop that year doesn’t work or doesn’t yield as much as you want or it’s not available or there’s a storm.
- Give your guests wedding favours of local crafts or products such as maple syrup or honey.
Originally published in Today’s Bride magazine, Spring/Summer 2015.