fireflies and cottonwood

our wedding blog

Things to Do in St. Louis: Places to Eat October 18, 2008

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Stepanie and I have, since very early in our courtship, always cooked together a lot. Neither of us ever has too much money, so we don’t eat out terribly often, but still we have a number of places that we would clearly recommend, and from which we have many fond memories. For this list, I didn’t include any chains, though St. Louis Bread Company, Starbucks and Qdoba would have to rank highly in any honest accounting of where we actually spent our food budget.

Dewey’s Pizza – Right off the bat, I am breaking the “No Chain” rule, but Dewey’s doesn’t really feel like a chain. Stephanie and I had our first dinner date here. They have wonderful pizzas, with crusts that are just the right mix of thick and chewy and thin and crunchy.

Blackthorn Pizza & Pub – There is nothing balanced about Blackthorn’s pizza. It is Chicago-style deep-dish, bubbling over with cheese and chewy crust, spicy sauce and generous helpings of toppings. This place is clearly a pub that also serves delicious pizza – there is little space in the ovens, and the wait for a pizza (which you have to order at the bar) can be well over an hour. There are many pub games (shuffleboard, air hockey, darts, etc.) to keep you occupied while you wait. When they call out your name, and you grab your enormous pizza and paper plates, it is all worth it.

Schlafly Tap Room & Bottle Works – These are clear favorites. We have been to each a number of times. We went to the Tap Room after Tom Peteet’s speech at the Old Post Office, which was the first time we went together. Notably, we went there for Burn’s Night, and, of course, we will have our reception there. It is an old converted mill building, with an English Pub theme. The Bottle Works is in a converted grocery store. It is much more sleek and modern in decor, with a menu heavy on locally grown vegetables. My parents first met Stephanie at breakfast here.

Dressel’s Pub – This is just solid comfort food. We love the rarebit here, and the chips with malt vinegar, and they have some of the best fish and chips I have ever had. We have eaten here together several times. I fondly remember eating with Bob and Beth on the patio out front, and eating with Chris before Tom and Mya’s wedding. The downstairs is decorated on one side with poets and writers, and on the other with composers and musicians, and I have a favorite photo of Stephanie in front of their portrait of Herman Melville.

Mangia Italiano’s – This is a wonderful Italian place on Grand. I’ve only eaten there twice, both with Stephanie, Bob and Beth. The first was just a chance for us to meet up with them, and the second was downstairs at the reception for their wedding. Both times, the food and atmosphere were great.

Pho Grand – This was an old standby for me. I would sometimes get it from work, sometimes I’d get takeout to carry home. Stephanie and I ate here several times, once we met Bob and Beth here, and I fondly recall sitting on the floor of my apartment eating takeout and watching Horatio Hornblower in the wintertime. They are cheap and very tasty – Vietnamese food, specializing in soups and noodle bowls.

Fitz’s – This is a really cool place. Fitz’s is a popular root beer brand in the St. Louis area, and they have a diner-style restaurant with a glass wall to see their bottling process. They have great desserts and solid food.

McGurk’s Irish Pub & Garden – I’d been here once before Tom Peteet’s birthday, when I was called on a school night to come out and join a gathering where I was fortuitously (through intricate unspoken maneuverings) seated next to Stephanie. We talked well past my normal school night bedtime, and the next day we began to e-mail each other, quickly getting to a two- or three-a-day rate. McGurk’s is very close to my old apartment, so we went here often afterwards. I particularly remember meeting Larry and Crystal here a couple of times. The food is really good, and the outdoor seating in the garden is lovely.

MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse – This isn’t really a restaurant, and their coffeehouse food is all pretty basic, but it is right by Tower Grove Park, and we went here several times for a little nibble and some coffee after or before walking around the park.

Soulard Coffee Garden – This is a short walk from my old apartment, and they have a nice breakfast menu. The upstairs room is nice, with murals on the walls and mismatched furniture. Another place we would stop by when out walking.

Blueberry Hill – This is a St. Louis landmark. Chuck Berry plays here monthly, and the owner of Blueberry Hill is the driving force behind the U-City Loop. The restaurant is decorated with his collectibles and souvenirs, mostly from the history of rock and roll and pop culture. The food is good, but it’s not what I remember of the place. It is just a good place to sit and look around and soak it all in.

India’s Rasoi – Stephanie’s favorite Indian restaurant, we went here once or twice together. The food is good, even the buffet (which I am normally not a fan of). They recently moved, and Stephanie says the new place is fantastic looking.

Crown Candy Kitchen – I already wrote about Crown Candy, but it clearly belongs on this list.

The Google Map, showing these locations, together with pins for my old apartment and the infamous Essex House.


More rehearsal dinner! September 28, 2008

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So, once I get started thinking, I get started looking for images, photographs, and ideas to inspire me.  I can’t remember how Matt and I started talking about the rehearsal dinner this weekend…but once we got going, the ideas happily flew.

Of course I returned to Style Me Pretty, but in the meantime I’ve also discovered Hostess with the Mostess, who has darling themed party ideas.   This first inspiration board is from a “real wedding” from SMP–obviously very different, as they are on a beach, but I like the details.

I especially like her dress, and the fancy soda.  Somehow things like fancy soda, or special candies, always make parties more festive.

Hostess with Mostess put together a theme of “Double Happiness.”  I know a lot of couples use this for weddings, or showers.  I love the paper lanterns and bright colors.  We have a great idea already for centerpieces…but we can’t tell, because it will be a surprise for our guests.  

Imagine little colored take-out containers, for the actual take-out and for the treats for our guests…  I even have a darling handbag that is shaped like a Chinese take-out container, but with gold and gilded fabric.

Now, some images from Pho Grand, and India’s Rasoi–two or our most favorite St. Louis restaurants.

Here’s a pretty photo of an “informal” rehearsal dinner buffet.

Finally, I can describe Emmanuel’s parish hall.  (I’ll have to check with the office this week to see if this is even possible.)  It’s a large room, with a commercial kitchen off to the side, and the kitchen has a long window that opens to a counter.  There is a small stage at the front, that small children love to climb upon.  Matt and I were thinking of projecting a series of photographs from my laptop to the wall throughout the dinner, and having music.

We would also have readings.  The BCP does not allow for secular readings, and some of my favorites are from poems and novels.  I definitely want to include this sort of reading, and allow friends and family to participate in this way.  I know that Matt and I will also take this opportunity to toast our families and friends, and perhaps receive toasts.

Logistically, we can have gotten and placed wine, beer, and soft drinks in the kitchen ahead of time, and can send uncle-type people, or friends not involved in the rehearsal itself, but coming to the dinner, around to pick up the food from the restaurants.  Matt’s mom suggested Panera, which I think is an excellent addition, especially for the kiddos.

And, with potentially seventy or more guests at this little shindig, it might turn out to be a mini-reception.  But I’m still not going to be a “two dress bride.”


The Rehearsal Dinner September 27, 2008

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Stephanie and I were talking today about what to do about the rehearsal dinner. We have so many people coming in from out of town, and it looks like we will have such a large wedding party. We could have 60 people just for the rehearsal dinner. We want to give everyone a good time, and thank everyone for coming in to see our wedding, and for making the wedding possible. But, we are not rich.

The idea was: we could have the wedding at the church’s reception hall, and just get takeout from a few of our favorite restaurants. We could bring in beer and wine (but no hard liquor), and appetizer platters, and get some food from Pho Grand, Blackthorn Pizza, and Rasoi (just to name a few options). We could do the serving, perhaps with the help of our wedding party. I really like the possibilities…


Location, location, location August 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — girldogtorch @ 8:52 pm
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After much thought and discussion, we’ve decided on having the ceremony at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, in Webster Groves.  This is my church, and has been for nearly ten years.  Matt also loves his church–right up the street–and we first struggled to visualize our wedding in both spaces, and to try to articulate what they meant to us.




The Episcopal service goes by the Book of Common prayer.  I have been worshiping with this liturgy since I was seventeen.  One of the wonderful things about it is its constancy: I can go to an Episcopal or Anglican church anywhere in the world, and immediately fall into the familiar liturgy and cadences of the prayers and patterns I recognize.  Once, I was in a church in Prague–I knew none of the words, but followed along in my own way.  Suddenly, during Communion, the liturgy was sung in the exact same tune as the tune used for Communion when I was a freshman at University of Illinois.  I hadn’t heard it in years, but it suddenly came rushing back to me–a flood of familiarity in the most of foreign of places.


Emmanuel in particular is a huge part of my life.  My college is across the street, and I walked across the church lawn countless times, on my way to class.  I sang in the choir, and rehearsed every Wednesday night with years.  I taught Sunday school, and then was head of Parish Family Life–planning parish-wide events throughout the year.  In the year before I left for New York, I trained new acolytes.  It gives me joy and pride to imagine that some of the kids I trained will get to by acolytes at my own wedding.  Finally, some of my most dearly beloved friends are there.  That church community has supported me in so many ways, and I grew as a person and came into myself there.  I still miss it, many a Sunday.


When we were just beginning to date, Matt came to Emmanuel to hear me sing.  I was the cantor for a small, formal evening service: Evensong.  I was the cantor, accompanied by the organ.  I was very nervous: all of my roommates, as well as my dad and another colleague, had come to see the service and hear me, but I was most nervous because it was the first time Matt would hear me sing.  In fact, afterwards, I wouldn’t let him say anything at all about the service, and could barely look at him.


As for the reception, it was relatively simple to choose the Tap Room, or Schlafly Brewery.  Again, we have many, many good memories there.  I often went there with my family, including my Grammy and my late Grandpa Hughes, and my dad loved to go there with me.  I remember at least one Thanksgiving there with my dad and sister.  Matt and all our community of friends went there often, and we have one hilarious story from our courtship that took place there (again, I was deeply embarrassed, and pacing outside with my roommates trying to discern whether Matt could tell if I liked him…while Matt cooly played pool and controlled the jukebox…)

Also, the food is great.  So is the bar.  And the upstairs room is lovely, and very St. Louis.  I was tempted to have an outdoor reception, but once we moved it to summer, we wanted it inside, so people could dance and make merry comfortably.






We’ll post menu options from the Tap Room later, but hopefully, we’ll get to share some meals there with family friends before the end of the year…and decide in person which options are most delicious.