Food is more than a passion for Linda Hjerth and Gavin Kaysen; it literally brought them together. A top chef at the Rancho Bernardo Inn's El Bizcocho restaurant in San Diego, where the couple lives, Gavin was completing a culinary internship in Switzerland in 2003 when he met Linda, a Swedish student. The menu quickly became a major factor in planning their August 7, 2005, wedding, to take place in Gavin's home state of Minnesota. The groom never considered preparing the 150-person dinner himself ("Linda would have killed me if I'd cooked," he says), but the couple designed an elaborate five-course menu with the help of some culinary friends, and even flew back to Minnesota for numerous tastings at Minneapolis' Minikahda Club, where they'd be holding the reception. Ultimately they decided on such delicacies as seared sturgeon with fois gras ganache, lamb loin in a prosciutto-and-Cabernet jus, and a cheese plate served on apple-hibiscus geleé—all paired with fine wines. "Many of our guests had never had a tasting menu, so it was a new experience," says Linda.
The two-hour feast followed a late-afternoon ceremony at St. Alban's Church and a cocktail hour on the club's outdoor terrace, where guests enjoyed rabbit confit and salmon rillette hors d'oeuvres, and a view of the Twin Cities. Inside the neoclassical dining room, Linda, a designer, was able to express her other love: decorating. The reception colors revolved around the hydrangeas in Linda's bouquet and the antique table arrangements. "They remind me of summertime in Sweden," says Linda. "We had them in our garden growing up." The pale-blue hue was also reflected in the sash of her three-piece Monique Lhuillier ensemble and the fondant ribbon on their Meyer lemon–flavored wedding cake.
The reception began poignantly: Linda's Swedish father, who wasn't comfortable being in the spotlight because he doesn't speak much English, had mastered the introduction, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Gavin Kaysen." After the last mouthwatering morsel was savored, the newlyweds and their guests turned to dancing; a live band kept them going until the wee hours of the morning. Says Gavin, "It was everything I could have imagined and ten times more." That's a rave review.
Learn From Linda and Gavin
Cater to out-of-towners: Because a number of their guests had traveled from England, Sweden, Switzerland and France, the couple organized shopping, golf and other excursions for the days preceding the wedding, in addition to the bridal luncheon, groom's (rehearsal) dinner and send-off brunch.
Relish the meal: If food is important to you, separate the dinner from the other wedding moments. At their reception, Linda and Gavin arranged for speeches and dancing to take place only after everyone had eaten.
Put personal flavor into favors: As a special touch, the groom used his culinary skills to make the chocolate-covered almonds that the couple sent home with their guests, while Linda designed the labels and packaged the favors.