by Jay Reed
They say God has a sense of humor. He definitely thought it was funny when He was planning the weddings of my children. This scenario isn’t always the case, I realize, but generally speaking, when you have both a boy and a girl of marrying age, there are less expenses on the groom’s side than the bride’s. (Generally.) Unless you have a worldwide pandemic that happens to find its way to Mississippi. Then it’s complicated.
Son got engaged in February 2020, just before the Corona hit the fan. They got the planning done from mostly 6 feet apart, as far as you know. The wedding was in November, when things weren’t quite so panicky, but restrictions were still abundant. The ceremony was in our church chapel instead of the main sanctuary, which limited them to about 75 guests and meant the rehearsal dinner guest list was nearly identical to the reception list. But despite all the crazy the pandemic thrust upon this party, we still ate well.
Their reception definitely took the cake. Well, somebody took it - the wedding cake was in fact a stack of glazed and blueberry cake donuts, carefully staged on wooden tiers designed and built by the bride herself. The groom, a Tolkien fan, requested a red velvet cake in the shape of The Hobbit (the book, not the creature), which the baker placed on a tree stump (more cake!) with the couple’s initials carved into it. And for the main meal: breakfast for dinner. The best kind of dinner.
Another unique tweak to their reception was the coffee. Son and Daughter-in-Law collected coffee cup sleeves to commemorate dates. Son was nerding out on coffee gadgets. So it was perfectly natural for them to include the magic elixir in their wedding. Southbound Coffee in Columbus (the site of a coffee class date) came and did a coffee bar, and as favors, everybody went home with a pack of custom-labeled 2020 blend.
A little under two years later, it was Daughter’s turn. Masks were still floating around, but most of the other restrictions – especially when it came to catering – had disappeared. They could invite as many people as they wanted: this ceremony was in the big sanctuary. The rehearsal was a barbecue feast from Moe’s. Son-in-Law scored big points with his father-in-Law-to-be with that choice. I even got to attend a couple of tastings in the decision process.
At the reception the caterer definitely … catered … to her. Daughter is traditionally a picky eater. Chicken nuggets and Easy Mac were staples of her childhood. Suffice it to say that her reception reflected that childhood. She also loves big soft pretzels, and asked if she could have a pretzel wall, much like the trendy donut walls. Lo and behold, Zachary’s designed a pretzel distribution device – I can’t call it a wall, because it wasn’t that simple – rather, it was a rolling rack of black pipes, with hooks where the big soft pretzels hung. It was impressive.
On the sweet side, the bride had a multi-layer cake, with multiple flavors. The groom, however, wasn’t sure he wanted a cake. Instead, he got chocolate covered strawberries decorated to look like footballs (thanks, Aunt Marti!) Not to be outdone by brother’s coffee, all the guests got personalized tea bags and honey straws, because the Bride digs tea.
And now a word from the sponsor of these weddings, about his own. A Mississippi boy met a Florida girl in North Carolina, and the result was a marriage. I was determined to have barbecue and catfish at the rehearsal dinner. The Wife, with roots in upstate New York, thought I was crazy. I was not. We threw the catfish back but went whole hog on the barbecue. We took our idea to the caterer, and she thought it was fabulous. (“Told you so,” may have escaped my lips at that point.) My folks transported Little Dooey pulled pork on dry ice all the way to Asheville. There, the caterer fancified the trimmings: tri-color slaw, roasted potatoes, etc., and our party loved it. We ran out of barbecue, which is traditionally a terrible thing at a rehearsal dinner, but at least we know they liked it.
The reception was largely vegetarian. The Wife was a vegetarian herself at the time, so we had lots of veggies. And cheese. And hummus. (Just an average menu in Asheville.)
All in all, we had a coffee wedding and a tea wedding. A donut stack and a pretzel structure. Breakfast and barbecue. Carnivores and vegans. Isn’t it great how weddings bring people together in all kinds of ways? Follow Jay on Facebook.