Lunch At The Wedding Cafe

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - September 05, 2007
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Tanna Takekawa, Tessa and Bryson Dang
Tanna Takekawa, Tessa and Bryson Dang

If anyone had any doubt that Tanna Dang, co-owner of The Wedding Cafe at Manoa Marketplace, has chosen the right profession, you should know that she started planning her wedding when she was 6 years old. “I always wanted a big wedding,” she says with an infectious smile,” I had everything planned for years.” Husband and business partner Bryson agrees. “I sometimes think she just put my name in the blank,” he laughs.

I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of a lunch surrounded by wedding albums and three-tier cakes, but the café is much more than a place for giggling girls and showers. There’s a nice selection of sandwiches, salads, teas and drinks, along with an impressive range of resources for weddings of every budget. And the café welcomes everyone. “We have a lot of UH students and teachers who stop by, and local people who are shopping at the marketplace enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and the food,” says Bryson.

Operations are evenly distributed between Tanna, Bryson and Tanna’s sister Tessa. “It worked out really well, ” says Tessa, “I was in culinary school, Bryson had always wanted to get into food service and Tanna just didn’t like the idea of chopping romaine.” So Tanna plans, Tessa cooks and Bryson takes care of the guys. “Mostly people are happy when they come in here,” he says of the business that makes dreams come true, “but if the guys don’t seem too enthusiastic, I point out we have a great pastrami sandwich and they soon turn around,” he says.

Certainly the resources are impressive. Personally, I hope to never plan another wedding, but I did sit down and have a long look through the photos, letterhead, floral options and locations. Certainly it beats driving through traffic and spending days meeting with hotel coordinators, and there’s a certain voyeuristic pleasure in seeing the prices some people are prepared to pay for their dream day. “They pay how much for flowers?” my husband said when I told him that some wedding bouquets cost more than our entire reception.

“People in Hawaii are into weddings more than anywhere else,” says Bryson, “We have a wedding culture here - it’s all about family.”

Once a month there are classes on everything from spa treatments to hair and makeup demonstrations, entertainment ideas, wedding cake and wine samples, and florists. “We try to make sure that we’re one stop for anyone planning a wedding,” says Tessa.

But you don’t have to be planning a wedding to enjoy this hidden secret in Manoa Marketplace. Stop by for lunch and enjoy a great spicy tuna sandwich, pumpkin crunch and a fabulous pineapple iced tea. Once a month, on Sundays, there’s an island style, afternoon tea. “We wanted to take the traditional idea of afternoon tea and give it more of a Hawaii touch,” says Tessa, “so there’s salmon ceviche in cucumber wraps, curried chicken sandwiches, Greek wraps in summer rolls and Big Island lavosh with strawberry butter as some of the choices.” At $22 a head, the teas are delightfully presented, and can be booked for showers and private parties.

All The Wedding Cafe seems to be lacking is a flat-screen TV where guys can settle down for the afternoon and catch a football game while their brides are hard at work. A pastrami sandwich, a leather couch and a football game - who says wedding planning is just for girls?

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