One of my favorite parts of our wedding was the few minutes that Ryan and I were able to sneak away, exchange gifts and let everything set it. Ok, I'm not going to lie...I was also SUPER EXCITED to finally be able to give my gift to Ryan. On a scale of 1 - 10 of sheer awesomeness, I would rate it a 10. Ok, wait, maybe a 9. Exchanging vows would have to get the 10.
Anywho, about 3 months before our wedding I decided that I wanted to get Ryan something special for the big day. And since he was taking care of the top secret honeymoon, it had to be uber special. Also, since I was one broke a$$ bride at this point, it had to be relatively affordable. So i got down to business and thought about Ryans #1 pastime...cooking. Coincidentally, my number #1 pastime is eating. We are totally MFEO (made for each other).
Back to the subject. So I thought long and hard, and decided I would make Ryan a cookbook....but not just any cookbook. I would use my super stealth Jack Bauer skills and get tons of recipes from friends and family members. Mind you, I had just moved 2 hours away from all of our friends and had just started a new job, so I had some serious panic attacks about whether or not I would be able to pull this all off (along with keeping everything a secret from Ryan).
In order to keep everything as simple as possible for the recipe writers, I mailed out a poem explaining what I was trying to do, along with a recipe card and a pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelope so that mailing everything back would be easy-peasy.
Here is how the poem went (incase anyone else wants to do something like this):
The wedding is getting closer, and very soon it will be July
But first I need your help, so please take the time to reply
I want to give a surprise to Ryan, for when we say "I do"
Something that is from the heart, instead of something shiny and new
I know I'm a very lucky girl, because Ryan loves to cook
So what I'd like to do, is make him a special recipe book
Please take the time to tell us how to make your favorite meal
You can even include some wishes if you want to sweeten the deal
Family and friends mean the most to Ryan, your words will mean a ton
Especially since when I try to cook, he tends to want to run
I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to be so sweet
If you visit us after the wedding, we'll make sure to cook you a tasty treat!
p.s. please keep this a secret
Somehow the stars aligned, and the responses I got were beyond amazing. So many friends and family members went the extra mile with their recipes. A lot of friends provided recipes passed down from generation to generation in their families, and some family members provided recipes in the original handwriting from our grandmothers and great grandmothers. A couple people even wrote VT Fans or Hokies in the "serves" part of the recipe card (way to get into the spirit!). I can't even begin to tell you how overwhelmed (in a good way) I was by the responses. In short, we gained a little bit of everyone's family in one little book.
Now onto the gift opening! I was originally planning on having my brother deliver Ryan's gift to him, but both my mom and the MIL protested and insisted that it had to be done in person. And, like the typical wise women they are, they were right. I'm so happy that I have pictures of this moment.
Ryan's gift- In typical 1st child possessive behavior, I began referring to Ryan as "My Ryan" shortly after dating....
Completely surprised that Ryan had gotten me a gift too (the even bigger surprise came the next day when I found out he planned our honeymoon to Anguilla)
Checking out my new, beautiful necklace
He was the perfect gentleman, and opened his card first. Unlike me...I turn into wolverene at the first sight of wrapping paper (instert wrapping paper claw marks here).
Close up of the card. I had it made here on etsy. I loved it so much that I've had it made for other weddings too!
Pointing out a recipe from my grandfather. He personalized a quote from House Beautiful, Feb. 1957 "How, Where and Why to Read a Cookbook." Again, I'll include the quote which you can also personalize if you're ever making a cookbook for someone:
" Ryan cookbook is not just for cooking...his cookbook is for inspiration, for lifting the spirit and freeing the mind, for brightening your outlook as well as for parties and table conversations...for the understanding of people and places, for the revelation of the past and for the interpretation of the present...for culture, education, for inviting the soul, reliving memories, reliving experiences. Ryan's cookbook, like poetry, is for the intensification of precious moments. Where except in cookbooks and in lyrics, does one find so much emotion distilled, charted and recollected in tranquility."
Wrapping paper scraps and shoes :)