Though weddings might look a little different this summer because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, chef Gabe Bertaccini is actually a fan of the scaled down nuptials many couples have been forced to have in light of the health crisis.
In fact, the culinary pro, who is advising engaged couples on the first season of Netflix’s new reality show, Say I Do, prefers more intimate gatherings to big bashes. “I had to move 12 different weddings that we had basically from March until October and we had to either cancel them or postpone them to next year,” Bertaccini told Us Weekly exclusively in an interview on Sunday, July 28. “It’s interesting because this situation is having a long-lasting effect on what a wedding looks like or what a wedding means to people. And at times, it really, actually, kind of forces the bride and the groom to reconsider their big day and kind of move it into a more intimate, sometimes just family-and-really-close-friends gathering.”
The Italian chef added: “We’re going really back to what a wedding is, which is a showcase of love, commitment and union in front of the people that you really love and care about, which is fantastic.”
Still Bertaccini knows that it’s been tough for couples who have had to reschedule or alter the nuptials because of the coronavirus pandemic, so he shared some tips on how to honor a lost wedding day and noted that he’s encouraged his own clients to take a different approach to their own festivities, which now have much smaller guest lists.
“I said, ‘Listen, there is no point in doing this whole crazy expensive day. Let’s hold on on that, and just do something that means a lot to you,’ which in this case was a beautiful backyard wedding, and we created this beautiful long table,” he explained, pointing out that the “fancy” menu still worked. “We had filet, we had lobster, we had caviar, we had oysters, we had sea urchins and so forth. It became something completely different. It became a family-style affair, [with a] beautiful long table.”
And since the large floral centerpieces you might find at a wedding at a more typical venue were out of the question, Bertaccini and his team got creative with their surroundings. “It was beautiful to incorporate what they had in the backyard. They actually are very lucky to have these amazing olive trees … and we really created this beautiful garland, going from one end to another, of olive branches and then some really stunning tall candles all night.”
Though the pandemic has pushed Bertaccini and his team to think outside of the box, he told Us that he’s actually a fan of using one’s surroundings to liven up a tablescape in any circumstances.
“My suggestion for anybody that is looking to spice up their dining table is to bring the space on the table. So, if you are in the backyard, then try and use whatever you have in the backyard and use it on the table. If you’re having it in a beautiful vegetable garden, create a beautiful centerpiece with the vegetables that you are actually using in the menu.”
As for why he got involved with Say I Do, in which one half of a deserving couple surprises the other half with a wedding thrown together in just a few days, Bertaccini told Us it was all about bringing joy to others. “For me, it wasn’t about doing something that showcases my trade. It was something where I could use what I do, and the passion and love I have for cooking, to give back,” he explained. “Being able to give back to these couples that have been through the wringer in their lives was something that truly, I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Say I Do is available to stream on Netflix on July 1.
With reporting by Travis Cronin.