Edible Monterey Bay

The D.I.Y. Wedding


The D.I.Y. Wedding

By Kathryn McKenzie

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 4.22.46 PMThere aren’t too many couples who can say they built the tables and grew the vegetables for their wedding reception. But Monterey residents, Emily Paddock and Luke Gardner, found it was a way to make their celebration this past June more personal and meaningful.

“It all started with the tables,” says Paddock, an idea they got from friends who did the same thing. “It was a cool project. We liked the idea of creating something together.”

As luck would have it, Paddock’s father, cattle rancher Gerry Paddock, already had redwood logs that he had been saving since the 1980s, and it was those logs that they split to make long picnic tables that would seat 170 guests. 

The wedding projects began to snowball. Paddock and Gardner planted potatoes, carrots and beets for their wedding feast on the Paddocks’ September Ranch in Carmel Valley, where both the wedding and reception were to be held. They even built a cupcake stand out of old wagon wheels that Paddock’s father pulled out of the river.

And they enlisted the help of family and friends.

Paddock’s uncle married them; her cousin, an event coordinator for Jeffrey’s Grill & Catering in Carmel Valley, helped plan the wedding. Paddock’s mother, Marjorie St. D’Agneaux, made all the cupcakes for the reception.

Just about everything else was kept as local as possible—something that Paddock and Gardner wanted to do for Gardner’s family, who made the trip to the Central Coast from Australia.

“We wanted to share our favorite things,” says Paddock.

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Emily Paddock and Luke Gardner amid their vegetables

So the PigWizard, Jonathan Roberts, barbecued lamb, pig and tri-tip, and local band Red Beans & Rice played. The couple served heirloom artichokes from Castroville, Monterey Bay abalone, selections from the Carmel Cheese Shop, California wines and beer from English Ales Brewery in Marina. Strawberries topping the cupcakes came from Driscoll’s in Watsonville, where Paddock works.

As this issue of EMB went to press, the couple was preparing to start hosting other people’s weddings and events at the family ranch—after all, now they have more than enough tables.

Farm and Vineyard Weddings

Vineyards, ranches and farms are now in demand as venues for weddings and other events, and there’s no beating the beauty of some of these places.

However, rural settings often mean a few extra considerations when it comes to making guests comfortable.

Wearing the right heels can make all the difference, says Leticia Hain of Paicines Ranch in San Benito County, which hosts weddings and other events, as well as holistically raising grassfed beef. High heels and uneven ground don’t mix well: “If you have to have height, wear wedges.”

If the event will be outdoors, people need to dress accordingly, said Joscelyn Boudreau of Bridgewater Farm in Scotts Valley. “It can be cold in the evenings, so dress in layers,” she notes, although Bridgewater provides heaters.

Hain also suggests that hosts can provide sunscreen and bug repellent for guests, or guests can be prepared and bring their own. For daytime events, umbrellas and hats are also recommended.


Even party cakes and sweets can be reasonably virtuous if they’re made with ingredients that are healthful for people and the planet.

Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting and Black China Bakery, both of Santa Cruz, bake their special occasion cakes and cupcakes with locally sourced, seasonal and organic ingredients, and they also offer gluten-free and vegan alternatives.

Kara’s Cupcakes in Monterey bakes their wedding cupcakes in green-certified bakeries with local and organic ingredients—and even delivers them with ultra-low-emission vehicles.


Finding organically grown flowers is a tougher proposition than or- ganically grown food because few commercial flower growers have given up pesticides. But there’s no question that they’re better for the environment and the people who grow them.

“Most flowers are sprayed with pesticides that are more harmful than those used on food,” says Jenni Anderson of Thomas Farm in Cor- ralitos, which sells its sustainably grown cut flowers at local farmers’ markets. Everett Family Farm is another organic grower, selling flowers at its farmstand in Soquel as well as providing arrangement services on request.

Florists such as Burst + Bloom in Carmel and Botanical Floral in Santa Cruz seek out sustainably grown blooms in making their arrange- ments and bouquets.

Burst + Bloom’s owner, Lauren “Lolo” Orman, is committed to using only seasonal and local flowers, and sources them from wild fields, MEarth Habitat and the flowerbeds of several Monterey Bay master gardeners.