The jam + preserves ready to go!
Way back in the planning process, I’m talking like 10 months in advance, I sent an email round to all my friends and family who did canning, was interested in learning, or had gardens at their disposal. What Alex and I wanted to create with our ‘country kitsch’ theme was a home town, relaxed affair that not only reflected a bit of good ol’ Americana but also my family as well. And one of the things about my family is that we ALWAYS has home-made jam in the house. Whether it was my mom, my g’ma or an aunt, home-made jam we had.
When I wrote my jam-request email, I only had two stipulations: it had to be red-ish and in a glass jar. It didn’t matter to us what size, what texture of glass, how many, what kind of jam or preserve was in the jars. I got a few responses to the email, but with it being so far in advance most people just let me know one way or another they were down to do some jarring and would let me know later what they’d do.
So much yumminess!
Well, let me tell you folks, my friends and family did an AWESOME job. They went above and beyond anything I expected from them. My g’ma made three different batches: her classic strawberry jam, red pepper jelly (amazing with cream cheese!), and stewed tomatoes (perfect for quick sauces). My friend, Kate, who works for Blue Chair Fruit Co. made strawberry balsamic jam in little 4 oz jar and collaborated with another friend, who grows plots and plots of heirloom tomatoes, to make early girl tomato jam (also super yum with cheeses–see her making it here). With the same tomato friend, Alex and I made big jars of salsa in her kitchen the week before the wedding and she threw in a few of her first ever batch of plum jam from her tree. Another friend Kate, who works on Green Fire Farm, unexpectedly brought a few jars of stuff she’d made from the organic produce she’d grown and picked herself, including beets!, and my aunt showed up with a box of random picks from her canning this year. We were blown away…
Once they were all collected at the wedding venue, the two Kate’s set to work decorating the undecorated jars (my g’ma had bought special fabric, ribbons and buttons for hers–you gotta love grandmas!) with labels, left-over fabric from the DIY fabric hoops and old jeans. It probably took them no longer than 45 minutes to do about 30+ jars.
Tell me these aren’t adorable, I dare you…
Now, the purpose of the jars (besides enjoying them later!) were two fold: they would act as our table decorations, and then favors that people could take home and enjoy while thinking of us. We briefly considered having a jar for each person (I had seen a wedding in Martha Stewart where each wedding guest got a little jar of honey to take home with them) but we figured that families could share so we estimated 1 jar for every 2 people (~130 guests = ~60-70 jars).
The jars would be joined on the table with a table name after a female country singer (think Faith, Reba, Patsy, Carey, Dolly, Wynonna, Martina, LeAnn, etc…) and a scattering of red buttons I bought in bulk from Etsy supplier TheStitchEnd. To compliment all this (we hoped), we picked out champagne colored table clothes and red cloth napkins from our rental place (we got all our silverware, glasses, and plates from them, too).
With table name placard…
Jam jars in action….
The other great thing about deciding on simple table decorations with the jars as the ‘center pieces’ was that there wasn’t really a need for flowers at all. In the UK, we were flower-minimal: Alex’s bouquet of only a dozen purple tulips, simple corsages for best men & family, and a single tulip on each table. In California, we were proud to be flower-free. We hadn’t gone to the greatest lengths to be super eco-friendly, but we did feel that cutting flowers (with all their transport, cooling, and short life-span) was a significant piece for us. Other eco-friendly (and budget) moves that were conscious on our part were buying the fabric and hoops second-hand; renting all plates/glasses/silverware with the exception of paper plates/cups/napkins used for the ‘pre-ceremony reception’ for apple cider and breads; borrowing Christmas lights; and making our wedding programmes the size of postcards, printed double-sided.
Overall, the jars were a hit! Alex and I have squandered some with a back to the UK and are joyously eating our way through them at any opportunity (case in my point, my toast this morning had early girl tomato jam on it!). And, we think having that home-made love instilled into the decorations were the best bit of all…
Photo credit: first four photos by Jam Kate, final photo by Rosie Chesney.