One of the things I was most worried about was the food. Although Catz has hosted numerous notable guests of honor and conferences over the years, I wasn't skeptical of the college kitchen's meal-preparing prowess. Sure, I had some enjoyable meals when I lived there, but would that work for a wedding? Thankfully, I was very much surprised. The food was AMAZING.
Here was our menu:
Salmon gravadlax with courgette muffin and creme fraiche
Buffalo mozzarella and Pesto Pastry with Tomato and Artichoke Salad (v)
Grilled sole fillet with Maryland crab cakes and lobster sauce
Wild Mushroom Soup (v)
Lemon and Thyme Sorbet
Beef wellington with madeira sauce
Roast Squash with Lemon-Hazelnut Risotto stuffing, Leek and Parmesan Sauce (v)
Warm Chocolate Pudding with Praline parfait
I honestly wish I had taken more bites of my dessert! The warm chocolate pudding was divine, but it was served right before I was about to give my speech and I was so nervous that my stomach was in knots. (In case you're interested, the placecards were made from a template sold by Etsy shop owner Swell and Grand - her designs are so sophisticated and chic! I printed these on paper sold by Paperchase)
For the favors, I wanted something of a high quality, but didn't want to spend too much. The nice lady at the Charbonnel et Walker (my favorite chocolatier in the world!) headquarters kindly let slip that they were offering a 10% discount in the month of May and that I could order it then and have it delivered nearer the time of my reception. I opted for a single pink champagne truffle cased in a mini-ballotin.
At our Seattle reception, I was so busy and exhilarated that I forgot to pick up any of the beautiful Godiva favors for myself or for John (luckily, my mom saved us some!). This time, I remembered to take a favor back to my room to enjoy while I opened our lovely cards. Unfortunately, John lost out. Oops. My bad.
Finally, decorations topped my list of worries. Catz is the most modern of all Oxford colleges. Architecture fans would find it interesting and unique - haters have gone so far as to describe it as "ugly". The Junior Common Room (also known as the "JCR") was where we were planning to hold the wine reception prior to dinner, as well as the dancing afterwards.
To make the room look "softer", I purchased 60 pom poms in varying sizes from eBay and matching streamers, and set my informal bridal party to work on the day of the reception. It took several hours and a lot of patience, but we managed to unfluff and hang all of the pom poms and streamers in the rooms, creating a lovely effect.
I highly recommend going this route if you have a lot of space to fill!
So even though we didn't have a traditional wedding, we still had a few lovely touches to see us through the evening - and now I'm a pro at unfurling pom poms.