A Custom Micro Wedding with Local Flavor

A Custom Micro Wedding with Local Flavor

On the way to creating a photo shoot about micro weddings – one that would highlight local resources – this art-imitating-life replication morphed into an actual marriage ceremony for Beth Anna Raynock. As the chef and owner of Bethlehem-based Local Mama Catering, she had seen requests for downsized weddings gain traction in recent times and wanted to promote this option. 

Although micro weddings, typically from 20 to 40 guests (with wiggle room at both ends), have been in existence long before health-based social restrictions began to impede matrimonial plans, the advantages of these intimate events have secured them a solid place in wedding culture. Less planning stress and more flexibility, especially in budgeting, are significant advantages – and with fewer attendees, menus and other elements might be upgraded to higher levels of indulgence.

After securing a photo shoot locale, Raynock then moved on to selecting a variety of vendors to feature. When it came time to cast models for the happy couple, her long-time partner Frank Pavlick declared, “I want to be the groom!” Together they made a spontaneous decision to tie the knot themselves, which took the photo shoot planning in a far more personal direction. 

In early 2020 Raynock and Pavlick had traveled to Finland, the homeland of her maternal grandmother. While the culture, traditions, and stark beauty of the Finnish landscape in winter were entrancing, the chef found lasting inspiration in the country’s cuisine. She began experimenting with classic dishes at her business and designed a Finnish-inspired menu for her wedding. 

For openers, she and her team prepared Finnish Salmon Soup with Rye Toast, with the bread supplied by Arctic Swan Bakery in Easton, and Handmade Flaky Beef Pasties, a puff pastry specialty requested by her grandmother. The entrée featured Brown Butter Elk Ribeye Steak – the requested reindeer steaks were not a legal option, but Saylors & Co. meat purveyors in Hellertown found an appropriate substitute – served with Primordia Farm mushrooms, lingonberry reduction, and tri-color butter dill potatoes, also locally sourced. The meal was served on disposable and biodegradable palm plates with a wood-like appearance. Huma Usmani, owner of Cake As Canvas bakery in Bethlehem, crafted a stunning gluten-free and low-glycemic Almond Cardamom Cake layered with lingonberry filling and buttercream frosting. Black River Farms, an estate vineyard and winery in Bethlehem, supplied wines, and their in-house Wardog distillery furnished spirits.  The venue, Fox and Finch Studio, provides a one-of-a-kind and highly adaptable setting for micro weddings of up to 40 guests. Located in a one-time garment factory in Fountain Hill, the 1,500-square-feet of space available for events boasts a rustic character, with abundant natural light, high exposed ceilings, naturally distressed brick walls, and vintage plank flooring. A wide and eclectic selection of furniture and props, including several church pews, that are stored in-house can be used – free of charge – and arranged to your liking. And there’s plenty of room for dancing. Since food and drink are not among the studio’s amenities, a list of the recommended caterers familiar with the space (including Local Mama Catering) can help plan and execute a customized and memorable wedding repast. Another recommended supplier, Allium Floral Design & Event Styling – located conveniently in the same building as the studio – created Raynock’s bridal bouquet as well as a wedding wreath.  

Of course, weddings of all sizes rely on a spectrum of specialists to produce an ideal day. Raynock looked to Stone Hill Paperie in Skippack to design handsome invitations, and Jupiter Crush in Easton was chosen for her hair and makeup. An elegantly simple Dior-style dress, made more than twenty years ago by Raynock’s late paternal grandmother, received a few tailored tweaks by the owner of Lara Bly Designs in Bethlehem. The groom chose to look sharp in a high-end blue suit from Edwing Joseph and Sons, another Bethlehem business. The all-important assignment of capturing the beauty of the day went to Lauren Driscoll Photography, which covers locations across southeastern Pennsylvania, and Meris photographer Ryan Hulvat – a personal friend of Raynock – was selected to shoot the food. Another friend made candles as guest favors.      

Donna Forsythe, who operates Lehigh Valley Celebrants – a team of certified wedding officiants – spent time talking with Raynock and Pavlick in order to shape a ceremony that would truly represent the couple and capture their vision. “It blew everyone away as to how brilliantly beautiful and touching our wedding ceremony was,” the
bride attests. 

Although the wedding took place this past August, the couple wanted a wintry aesthetic that would be reflective of their visit to Finland. To that end, they gathered birch and pine branches as decorative accents and filled the studio with warmly glowing candles. Fresh cedar garlands with bright red berries produced a dramatic and woodsy tablescape. And Raynock was proud that her Finnish grandmother was able to preside as the table’s matriarch on her (micro) wedding day. 

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