Yes dear readers, we’re celebrating Pre-Wedding Day with a rather busy schedule of table set up, rosemary scattering, favor placement, ceremony rehearsal, post bachelor party recovery, catering direction, weather watching, and some scattered thunder-shopping.

I’ve done a few weddings myself, so I’m assuming that I’m stitch higher than your average shade-tree wedding observer.   Standing on the edge of this Destination Wedding weekend, I’m very impressed with what I see. 

The groom’s mother is a vision of complete order in the sea of what could’ve easily become chaos.  She’s on call to entertain 100+ out of town guests on the beach this evening, honor her son and new daughter-in-law and keep her assorted “in-laws and out-laws” in line so as not to permanently damage the family’s fine, old and genteel Southern reputation.

Of course there’s been much advance planning.  After the Christmas Eve engagement in front of family and friends, The Mothers set into Planning Mode post haste!  As was the Bride’s wishes, the wedding would be a mere 6 months away at the beach, where she’d enjoyed many a vacation basking in the warm glow of her extended family.  She is an only child of an interior decorator and her successful husband, so we all knew it would be grand.

The first stab at planning revolved around the resort “Watercolor”.  Tiny rooms were booked at $500 per night, event planners from the resort consulted and, once both of the mothers got a good whiff of the “snootery” surrounding the whole mess, not to mention the large and growing investment required, they quickly gathered their wits and decided twice the fun at half the price was within their reach!    So Watercolor was un-booked, houses were rented, detailed plans made, items purchased in advance from home without the pain of resort-hostage pricing, and a lovely weekend began to take shape!   Such brave souls (and smart!).

Here’s a sample of why they chose not to use Watercolor:

Request:   “Since the Bridesmaids have a full schedule of manicures, pedicures and hair on the Wedding Day, we’d like to have the luncheon around the pool.  You know, something casual, funky and fun.   In bathing suits!”

Watercolor response:  That won’t be possible.  Since all of your invitees are not staying at Our Property, they will not be allowed around Our Pool.  We must protect Our Guests (from what?).  We can offer you our “___room” for $49.95 a plate (menu consisting of a scoop of chicken salad, a lettuce leaf – iceberg no less – 6 grapes and 1 strawberry, with a brownie square for dessert).  Prepaid in advance, of course.

I think you catch my drift. 

The Bride’s family chose a wonderful house directly on the beach, with a strip of lawn at the edge of the sand perfect for a big, white rented tent.  10 bedrooms and a rooftop bar!  Sweet!

The caterer was a friend of the Groom’s family, who also rented a house and brought down her crew from Birmingham.  She gave them a two day vacation on the beach, then put them to work making beautiful food for the occasion.

The Groom’s father and two brothers set up the rented tables and chairs, spread the tablecloths and set up the electricity and PA system early early in the day.

The tables were dressed with some amazingly full and colorful foliage compliments of Home Depot, of all places – lovely baskets of mixed flowers in full, healthy bloom!  And the favors, of course, compliments of me!

I put childhood photos of the bride and groom into the adirondack chair frame/placecard holder and set them around the tables.  We also scattered these precious beach ball bottle stoppers around and burned some of these precious little sand castle tea light holders, while keeping some wrapped for “take-homes”.  They were great conversation starters and, not surprisingly, nary a one was left on the table at party’s end!

It was a lovely evening!  Everyone casually dressed on the beach, under the tent, enjoying the food and the comraderie.  Not a care in the world, with much laughter, fun and toasts to the bride and groom.

The menu consisted of a cold, fresh green bean salad with sweet grape tomatoes and fresh crab, Hoppin John salad over jasmine rice (if you have to ask, you aren’t Southern), orange-glazed ham with the best herbed biscuits I believe I’ve ever tasted and a fabulous Caribbean pickled shrimp salad with jalapenos.  A Low Country boil provided andoulle sausage, corn on the cob and boiled new potatoes, all served with a fine selection of wines, beer kegs, water, and sodas.

Oh!  There was a Children’s Table with homemade macaroni and cheese (recipe at the end – it was GOOD), fresh fruit and chicken fingers.  And yes, you’re right.  They called it the Children’s Table, but you’d never’ve known it from the line of adults waiting their turn!

My favorite toast of the night?  Well, among the teary-eyed sorority sisters (“Even though we all know that Ole Miss has fully prepared us for life…”), uncomfortable uncles and slightly inebriated groomsmen, there were two.  One from the aunt: “He was always such a good child when he came to visit, but my sister just told me he was kicked out of the Boy Scouts?”.  The other one was from his paternal grandmother:  “You are getting my very best first grandchild, and I want to end this with an old Irish toast – May the mouse never grow hungry and leave your pantry”.  I’m thinking she misspoke, which is understandable given her age, the heat, and the wine.  I’m thinking that was an old drunk Irish toast.  Seriously – I wish you happy mice in your pantry?

Here are a few more pics…..

          

Next post – wedding day.  And please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

 Macaroni and Cheese for the Masses

Preheat oven to 350.

Ingredients:  1 disposable aluminum turkey roaster pan, 2 lb. tube macaroni, 1 gallon whole milk, 2 sticks butter, 2-3 eggs, 15oz ricotta, block of Velvetta, 1c Parmasan cheese, 4-5 c sharp cheddar cheese shredded, corn flakes.

Half cook pasta but don’t rinse.  Place pasta in roasting pan, pour melted butter over the top. 

In a large bowl, beat eggs, fold in ricotta and blend, add some milk and parmesan and blend some more, add some milk and cheddar, stir and pour over pasta.  Add milk until just the tops of the macaroni shows.  Chop Velveeta and scatter over top.  Top with crushed corn flakes.  1 hour in the oven at 350 degrees. 

Thank you Kelly!

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