Friday, June 1, 2012

Wedding Weekend at TradeWinds Island Grand Resort (St. Pete Beach, FL)

Our wedding took place just under two weeks ago at TradeWinds Island Grand Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida.  The venue was a no-brainer - it was, afterall, the very place where R. and I met, and there is no other place more special to us than this.

In honor of our wedding, TradeWinds had a little surprise delivered to our suite: Chocolate- and nut-covered strawberries and a bottle of champagne!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries at TradeWinds
Chocolate- and nut-covered strawberries

Champagne at TradeWinds

Champagne at TradeWinds
We shared the bubbly the next evening with friends
and family.

The weather forecast on our wedding day had been somewhat ominous, predicting a 40% chance of thunderstorms in the late afternoon.  Luckily, the clouds stayed out of the way, and our beach ceremony went off without a hitch!  It was absolutely perfect!  (The rain came later after the outdoor portions of the event had concluded.  Can you say perfect timing??)

Hors d'Oeuvres

While we had our photos taken and the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, our guests enjoyed an hors d'oeuvres reception by the beach.  Although I did pick out the items from the menu, I didn't actually get to try any of it, let alone have any pictures to show.  The menu included lobster pot pie, petite beef wellington, baked brie with pear and almonds in phyllo, vegetable spring rolls with plum and sriracha dip, cheese and fruit tray, vegetable crudite with spring herb dip, and a sushi display.  I did hear great things about the food, however, especially the sushi, so I was pretty happy with how it went.

Dinner Reception

The dinner reception had six courses, three of which were dessert courses. :)  Dinner started with an Organic Greens salad with Dried Tomatoes, Frizzled Shallots, Goat Cheese Strudel and Red Wine Vinaigrette.

Organic Greens Salad at TradeWinds
Organic Greens

(No, I didn't take photos of the food at my own wedding reception, silly!  These photos were taken during a menu tasting last year.)

The second course was a Shrimp and Lobster Bisque, with cognac and crème fraîche.  Yum!

Shrimp and Lobster Bisque at TradeWinds
Shrimp and Lobster Bisque

Guests then had a choice of one of three entrees, all of which I had tried and approved. :)

The first option was Herb Roast Chicken Breast with potato gratin, haricot vert, and chive mustard sauce.

Herb Roast Chicken at TradeWinds
Herb Roast Chicken Breast

The second option was Wild Salmon with herbed roast potatoes, garden pea puree, baby squash, and blood orange hollandaise sauce.

Wild Salmon at TradeWinds
Wild Salmon, shown here with gnocchi instead of potatoes

Herb Roast Potatoes at TradeWinds
Herbed Roast Potatoes, which impressed me so much during the tasting that
I just had to use it in our reception menu somehow!

The third option was a vegetarian one, an Open Face Spanakopita with spinach sauté, feta cheese, dried tomatoes, and fennel tarragon hay stack, which for some reason didn't end up being open face during our reception, but I decided not to be a bridezilla about it.

Open Face Spanokopita at TradeWinds
Open Face Spanakopita

Kids also had the option of getting chicken fingers and French fries instead of the "adult" meals.

The dessert courses were quite epic, if I may say so myself.  First, there was the chocolate fountain with fresh fruits.  I didn't get to try this at our reception, but I've had it before and know how awesome it is, which is why I ordered it.  Guests definitely liked it as well!

A second dessert course consisted of my absolutely favorite ice cream in the world:  Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams from Columbus, Ohio.  I had arranged to have six half-gallons of Salty Caramel shipped to TradeWinds so I could make this happen (and thanks to TradeWinds for their flexibility as well!).  I have to say, this was really a wedding dream come true.

And then there was the four-tiered wedding cake by A Piece of Cake, with three different flavors: Chocolate cake with chocolate caramel salted crunch, pineapple cake with Hawaiian macadamia nut, and vanilla cake with dulce de leche.  Unfortunately, I never got to try the cake before ordering it, as the cake vendor I had originally booked with went out of business just a few months ago and I wasn't going to be in St. Pete Beach again until the week of the wedding, so I basically had to go by my wedding coordinator's suggestion and hope for the best.  Luckily, the cake turned out to be exceptionally moist and tasty, and I heard some great comments from our guests about the cake, too.  We somehow ended up with the top two layers in our suite after the reception so we ate a lot of cake the next day!

Gift Bags from Pittsburgh

As I got more into planning this wedding, I really wanted to bring my new home Pittsburgh into it somehow. We had already decided that we would plant trees in honor of our guests as a wedding favor, but since we also had a few games planned for the reception, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to feature Pittsburgh in the prizes.

I had already talked about getting teabag favors from Tupelo Honey Teas in a previous post - these were part of a gift bag that also featured coffee beans from Coffee Buddha, our favorite coffee shop in Pittsburgh, whose owner helped me grind and package the Black & Gold house blend coffee beans into little magnetic spice containers I found at IKEA.

Coffee bean from Coffee Buddha
Black & Gold blend from Coffee Buddha

Gift bag consisting of Teabag from Tupelo Honey Teas and Coffee Bean from Coffee Buddha
Gift bags from Pittsburgh

A second gift bag featured handmade soy candles and soaps from Scentral Station in Southside and prepackaged coffee beans from Brown Dog Java, which occupies a cute corner booth inside the Pittsburgh Public Market on weekends.

Brown Dog Java
Brown Dog Java

Brown Dog Java
Prepackaged coffee beans from Brown Dog Java

We had something special from Pittsburgh for the kids, too: Sarris Candies. :)

The Weekend

We had stayed at TradeWinds for a few days, of course, so I did a lot of eating inside the resort that weekend.  My absolute favorite of the four eateries at TradeWinds Island Grand is the Flying Bridge.  It's a casual, breezy open-air bar by the beach serving good food with decent prices and even better drinks.  The service is also top-notch.  The day before my wedding, I had to rush off to an appointment and only had 20 minutes to eat, so I asked our server, Linda, for a recommendation.  She suggested the Vegetarian Wrap, which she also expedited for me.  And yes, I made it out there in 20 minutes. :)

Vegetarian Wrap at Flying Bridge at TradeWinds
Vegetarian Wrap at Flying Bridge

On the day of our wedding, I decided to grab a delicious Crabcake Sandwich for lunch.  Linda was our server again, and when she found out I was getting married that day, she brought out a drink for me.  How sweet. :)

Crabcake Sandwich at Flying Bridge at TradeWinds
 Crabcake Sandwich at Flying Bridge

Island Escape at Flying Bridge at TradeWinds
Island Escape at Flying Bridge - Banana liqueur, pina
colada, melon liqueur, light run, and Chambord.

On our last night at TradeWinds, we met up with friends a family at the Flying Bridge where I got some tasty Fish Tacos.

Fish Tacos at Flying Bridge at deWinds
Fish Tacos

I also had the Sunday Brunch buffet offered at the more upscale Palm Court.  It was so popular that the indoor seating was full, but I preferred sitting outside anyway for the sake of better photos. :)  There was so much food I didn't get to try even half of it, and what I did have was amazing!  How's that for pampering yourself the day after your wedding? ;)

Brunch Buffet at Palm Court at TradeWinds
Brunch buffet at Palm Court

Brunch Buffet at Palm Court at TradeWinds
Brunch buffet at Palm Court

It was a weekend to remember, and certainly some of the happiest days of my life.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. :)

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Flying Bridge Beach Barge on Urbanspoon Palm Court at Trade Winds on Urbanspoon