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Money may not grow on trees, but theme decor does. Case in point: For an October military wedding, North Tonawanda, N.Y.-based Tiddledybinks Catering collected thousands of leaves to bring fall indoors for the event's "enchanted fall forest" theme.

Tiddledybinks literally went out on a limb in its quest for faultless foliage, scaling ladders up into sugar maple trees all over western New York. "The leaves for the dinner plate decor had to be perfect," notes Jennifer Binks, event coordinator/designer and co-owner together with her executive chef brother, Steven, and her mother, Mary, Tiddledybinks administrator.

After handpicking the harvest, Binks and crew cleaned and sterilized the leaves, then tucked them between sheets of wax paper and preserved them "in lots of books" for a couple of weeks, Binks explains. She then hand-sponged half of the leaves in acrylic gold paint and painted the tips with bronze glaze. She covered the other half of the leaves with a clear glaze to showcase their vivid natural colors.

The leaf motif sprouted up in various other spots throughout the venue, including wine labels and place cards-even the individual butter portions were leaf-shaped. The Tiddledybinks team also scattered leaves around the floor of the wedding venue, a historic military armory in Buffalo, N.Y.

Keeping with military tradition, a bagpiper moved the guests from the reception area to the Grand Court of the armory for a six-course dinner for 175 guests.

Executive chef Steven Binks incorporated fall elements into the menu, from curried squash soup served in acorn squashes with puff-pastry leaves to the salad with edible fall flowers to the individual wedding cakes topped with edible gold fondant leaves.

Tiddledybinks had also hired a horse-drawn carriage that offered guests rides through nearby Prospect Park. To enrich the experience "we provided champagne and roasted chestnuts to take along, and we put up luminaries that lit up the whole path of the ride," Binks notes.-T.M.

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