Diana’s I Do’s: A Weekend Plan-a-thon

Diana and Ben take one weekend to deal with several wedding issues in one fell swoop—from menus to drinks to entertainment for the guests.

Everything we’d experienced thus far at our venue, Antrim, was delightful, but the one thing we hadn’t tried yet was the food.

Antrim is a bed-and-breakfast with a renowned restaurant called the Smokehouse. Of course we read all the reviews first about chef Michael Gettier’s skills, but we needed to taste for ourselves. Part of planning an Antrim wedding is visiting with Chef Gettier to construct your menu, and then going out for a complimentary dinner at the Smokehouse.

Because Antrim is a little more than an hour from our house and it was two weeks before Christmas, Ben and I decided to take a little time away to have a full-on planning weekend. Keith, the on-site wedding coordinator, gave us a discounted rate on a room at Antrim, and we met with Chef Gettier to plan our menu. Admitted foodies, Ben and I got our list of potential dinner-and-appetizer combinations and felt like kids in the proverbial candy store. Did we want chèvre-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon? Yes, please! How about a little tuna tartare? We’ll take it! Chocolate-covered strawberries? Yes! Each item sounded better than the next, and before we knew it, we were both drooling.

Keeping our salivary glands in check, we agreed on garlic-crusted Alaskan black cod accompanied by a risotto. The final menu became a choice between the garlic-crusted cod on top of a crab-and-leek risotto with asparagus, and sliced sirloin with the same accoutrements. Ben and I exhaled a joint sigh of happiness and thought our menu fun was finished. How wrong we were!

Next, we met with Sia the sommelier, who helped us pick our bar options and signature cocktails. He asked us about our wedding colors and beverage preferences and whipped up three cocktails to sample. The first was a pomegranate martini. While it was delicious, I thought giving our guests martinis before they’d eaten dinner could lead to some unexpected and potentially embarrassing toasts later on. Next up was a pomegranate-and-wine cocktail. This was amazing and refreshing, perfect for an August evening. Last was a pomegranate mojito. I have a special place in my heart for mojitos, so this one was a shoo-in. To my pleasant surprise, Sia didn’t stop there.

He gave us samples of gin, vodka, tequila, and rum, and I learned there’s a difference between Tanqueray and Beefeater’s gins and between Absolut and Hangar 1 vodkas. I discovered that I liked Appleton’s rum better than the ever-friendly Captain Morgan. Who knew? By the time I got to tequila, my notes were starting to get on the sloppy side. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet. Next was wine selection.

We tasted a few reds and whites that Sia thought would complement our menu choices. Ben and I dutifully sniffed, swirled, and sipped our way toward our final wine selections. I held up my little notebook of illegible writing and grinned lopsidedly at Ben. He gave me a thumbs-up as he swayed on his stool. After thanking Sia, Ben and I called our parents to tell them our menu selections, and then we decided a nap was in order before our delicious dinner.

I started with butternut-squash soup, while Ben selected the crab-and-wild-mushroom cheesecake. For our mains, I got Chilean sea bass, and Ben selected braised lamb. We enjoyed every succulent bite. By the time the dessert samplers came around, we had big smiles on our faces as we imagined what our wedding dinner would be like. We couldn’t wait!

The next morning, our mission was scouting hotels for our guests.

Taneytown, where Antrim is located, is about 30 minutes south of Gettysburg, so we thought our guests might enjoy having a historical weekend and poking around the battlefields. Before our planning weekend, I’d looked on Tripadvisor.com to check out the ratings of the hotels in the area. In each one, we asked to see a standard room, what the discounted rates were, and how to reserve a block of rooms. After our fifth hotel, we chose our top three based on location, price, and quality of rooms. The winners were the James Gettys Hotel, Historic Gettysburg Hotel by Best Western, and the Quality Inn.

Next, we investigated restaurants for a rehearsal dinner. Because most of our guests are coming from outside Washington and staying at Antrim or in Gettysburg, it made sense to have the rehearsal dinner nearby. After scouting three places, we decided on the Sheppard Mansion in nearby Hanover, Pennsylvania, where chef Andrew Little creates a seasonal menu with local food.

After dinner, it was time for Ben and me to head home. The weekend plan-a-thon had definitely paid off: We got a lot done and had a great time together. Granted, we probably gained a ten pounds combined from our foodie foray, but these are the little adventures we’ll remember when we look back on this crazy year, and that’s what being engaged is all about.

Read Diana's story from the beginning, here

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