By CHEF RENEE MORGAN
Ain’t love grand? A few weeks ago, I met a couple named David and Danielle, who are just the cutest! They are young, in love and made for each other. Like many young couples just starting out these days, money is pretty tight. So even though they were engaged and wanting to get married, they lacked the financial support to make a wedding happen. Furthermore, David hadn’t quite worked up the courage to speak with Nana, the matriarch of the family, about marrying the lovely Danielle. Isn’t it refreshing to see a couple in this day and time who still think it’s important to consult with family for such an important decision?
Anyway, the week before Easter, David confessed that he and Danielle have decided to move forward with getting married. In fact, they plan to simply do their wedding vows in our Pastor’s office the following Sunday, Easter Sunday.
That’s when I opened my big, fat mouth.
Knowing me the way ya’ll do by now, I bet you can almost guess what happened next. Honestly, I didn’t think it would really turn into such a big deal. See, we were planning to have a few friends over after church for Easter lunch and maybe an Easter egg hunt for the kids, so what’s a couple more?
“Hey kids”, I hear myself say, “we’re having some friends over for Easter. Why don’t y’all just come over and get married at our house?”
Did I talk to adorable hubby about this? No. Did I talk to the Pastor about it? No. I actually heard myself describing the yard to them, selling them on the idea. They loved the it! My first thought was….yea!, followed by….oh, crap!
Over the course of the next week, my little gathering of about 10 people grew to be about 70. Let me break it down for you. The first thing I failed to take into account was this: if the Pastor was coming to marry the couple, he wouldn’t want to be away from his family. Add 16 to the guest count. David and Danielle, of course, had family and friends that was important to them to be there. Add another 14. A family I’d already invited asked if their adult kids could come. One of them had a girlfriend who wanted her parents to come. Not wanting anyone to feel left out, I finally just made an announcement at church that everyone was invited. See how it snowballed? Just like all weddings, no matter how long you’ve had to plan. But we only had a week to plan this one.
Here’s how it’s done. First of all, like every event in my life, it’s all about the food. The first thing I did was to get on the horn with my buddies, Rodney and Betti, who just happen to own a BBQ pit that would rival most competition pit masters. Yes, they were happy to help. They’d be over on Saturday to set it up.
Next, I hopped on over to check out wholesale suppliers to see what meats were on sale. We ended up with a case of chicken, a couple of briskets and a pig. Sweet!
Time to turn my attention to sides and desserts and I know just the ladies to call. When you’ve got to pull off something like this, you’d better have several good friends. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Each gal was thrilled to help and I began a list of what everyone was bringing. Then my friend, Deby, said coyly, “Chef Renee, what were you planning to make for dessert?”
Now, Deby doesn’t call me Chef Renee unless she wants me to cook something and she had a strategic reason for asking about dessert. Can you guess? Yep, a wedding cake. Just as I was about to tell Deby not to volun-told me, she sweetly said, “I’ll make the bouquet and if you borrow that arbor from the church, I’ll decorate it, too.” Well, heck let’s just go whole hog.
How could these kids not have a great wedding? A chef and event planner (if I do say so myself) to cook and pull it together for them, a floral crafter to rival Martha Stewart, a BBQ pit master, and I even found a guitarist and photographer amongst our group. Adorable hubby (my ever faithful crew) spent Saturday putting up canopies and borrowed tables and chairs.
Easter Sunday arrived, the bride is beautiful in her white eyelet dress and sunny yellow cardigan, the groom dapper in his suit with a yellow silk tie to match the bride, the arbor is set, everything is cleaned spotless, the food is cooked (the smoked meats are OMG! to die for), and everyone starts arriving. And then it happens. You remember Easter Sunday, right? Yep. A downpour. Nobody panic. Stay calm. I convince the bride and groom that rain on the wedding day is good luck. Then adorable hubby and I sent up a quick prayer. There we are, hanging out on the front porch, watching the sky, when all of a sudden the sky cleared and the rain stopped. Guess we’re pretty well connected. It’s go time! Everyone quickly moved into place, the guitarist began to play and here comes the beautiful bride. We had the sweetest little wedding ever.
And then, celebration, mud and all! No worries. That’s why we have tile floors. What is it about celebrations that require food? It seems like it’s a universal and world-wide truth and this celebration certainly did not disappoint. The chicken, pork and brisket were tender to falling apart. We had scalloped potatoes, cajun red beans and rice, baked beans, deviled eggs, green bean casserole, salads, lemon meringue pie, Mississippi mud cake, cookies, and of course, wedding cake. I can promise you one thing. Nobody went away hungry.
Folks hung around, visited, ate, laughed, sang songs, told stories and ate some more until late that evening. What a perfect day! I even got the biggest hug from Nana, thanking me for making the day happen for her granddaughter. As you can see, I didn’t make it happen alone. I had lots of help and that really is the trick. You can make almost anything happen, even if it seems impossible, with enough help and the bribery of food.
Our congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. David and Danielle Tyler! May you have a lifetime of happiness together. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of hosting your special day. What better way for our new home to be christened?
I’m taking a big risk here, including a meat rub recipe in a community that excels at BBQ as much as Liberty Hill does. This one was shared with me by my friend, Rodney, and works well for me on most any meat. It is the one we used at our Easter Wedding Extravaganza. I hope you enjoy it.
Willy Wonderful Wub
3/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons course salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard powder
Mix all ingredients together. To marinade the meat, first coat the meat with yellow mustard and then the rub. Allow to sit overnight before cooking.