A Deep South Wedding...Or the Day My Yankee In-Laws Melted

I love weddings.  They are such a big Pageant and you know how us Southern girls love our pageants! I even decided, that for my wedding, I would be wearing a tiara attached to my veil...but I did forego the sash!    I always loved going to weddings.  They are so emotional.  No matter who was getting married, I cried. Sometimes I have to admit I cried because it was taking too long and I was salivating for the fried catfish and hush puppies!  "Come on y'all, just say you will and kiss that girl so we can eat!" Wedding food is unreal in the South.  Peach Cobblers and Red Velvet cake, Cheese balls and sausage balls, rum balls and cocktail weenies in grape jelly and chili sauce...mmmm.   I just realized I am eating a lot of wedding food named Balls and Weenies...surely, no pun intended!  Can barely stand talking about it all, it makes me so hungry!

And then being a bridesmaid, yes that was exciting too. The blue dress that made swishing and scratching noises, and knocked over small children as I walked.  The Giganimous blue bow that sat on my shoulder like a peacock.  To this day I have no idea who I walked down the isle with.  I never saw him.  Never mind that I was thinking, why in the hell are you marrying this jackass anyway, as I smiled and helped carry her 12 foot train, Bless her heart.

But nothing compared to the day I was the bride!  I was marrying my Yankee and that in itself made for an...uh...interesting event.  And just to be especially sweet, I chose the HOT, sauna-fied month of JULY!  OK Y'all....just to help you FEEL the moment..JULY in Tuscaloosa, Alabama ...imagine being dipped, in winter clothes, in a bubbly hot jacuzzi, and boiling, soaking wet with your wool scarf tied around your neck, hot steam rising up for a week....without a cold drink.  It is MISERABLE, unbearable, and suffocating.   Welcome to the South, Yankees....we gonna have us a PAGEANT!  UHhhhh...Wedding.




Me and my Yankee
All the festivities leading to the big day began several days earlier...just so I could make sure the new Yankee family  would need to be here in my fair city not for ONE day, but for three, and they all FELT the wet heat and would never ever forget it...READ...never, ever, want to return. Not really, but it seemed to work out that way.  Since most of them expressed to me at one time or another that they could barely breathe, I was certain I could not even PAY them to visit us...awwww, that's too bad.  I'll miss y'all.
To make sure my wedding was an experience for my new Yankee relatives, I thought it would be a good idea to relive  GONE WITH THE WIND. Yes July , and formal tuxes with tails for an afternoon wedding should do the trick.  And TWO hoop skirts for me, and don't forget the corset!  No, Miss Scarlet would have nothin' on me!  All of the pre-wedding events were held in old Southern historic homes in Tuscaloosa, and several of the original pre-civil war buildings on the University of Alabama campus. The reception took place in the Gorgas House on Campus.  It is one of the four original structures that was left standing after Federal Troops burned the entire campus !  I was so proud to offer my Yankees such a rich history lesson!  Oh, and at the time, the Gorgas house had no air-conditioning.  Nothing but the most authentic re-creation of GONE WITH THE WIND for MY new relatives. No sir-ee!  We served the Southern meals in the historic homes, decked out with fried chicken, peach cobblers, and fresh watermelons.  I had to teach them all, of course, that the proper way to eat a watermelon is with a salt shaker.  Why, the poor dears never heard of such! We had the bridesmaids luncheon at the University Club and just the grandeur of that old home overwhelmed my new Yankee family.  It was meant to.  Miss Scarlet could live there.
"Oh we all live this way down here, didn't y'all see GONE WITH THE WIND?"

 And Lordy, don't get me started on the ability of our fine Northern neighbors to understand the sweet music of the Magnolia lilted accents....what accents?  Why, we don't have an ac-ce-unt!  I will never forget the time my very northern bred Mother-in-law had a flat tire while down South and she went into the mechanics shop to pay....here is the conversation.  TIRE MAN:  "I ain't never seen such a mess as that there tar...it was pure ol' D shredded.  That is one 'spensive tar so that's a gone cost ya 'bout fitty I'd say."  MOTHER IN LAW:  while looking at me with teeth and jaws clenched together so no one could see her mouth moving, like a ventriloquist...."I cannot understand a single word he just said...help me please."   TIRE MAN:  "M'am I ain't deaf.  Just cause you ain't a movin' yor mouth, don't mean I can't hear yew.  I spoke slow as I could....what yew need me to repeat?"  I stepped in and saved the day.
ME: "He said the tire is a shredded mess and will cost fifty dollars for a new one."  TIRE MAN:  That's jes ezack-e-ly what I jes say-ed....waddin it?"  Everyone just stood in the heat of the shop and stared at each other with an uncomfortable painful smile.  Add that to my new job description as wife of a Yankee....Translator!




In the gardens of the Gorgas House....
my Miss Scarlet Picture, on the lap of my Yankee
For the most part, the wedding went off without a hitch. If you don't count the fact that I got wound up with the photographer taking fantasy "Scarlet" pictures of me and my Yankee and was late to my own wedding by a whole half hour.  And my matron of honor's brand new baby insisted that her precious vocals become a memento for all posterity on my wedding video.  My long time priest had an emergency at the very last second and was a no show, and the priest that showed up had breath like a hundred year old rhinoceros who had just fed from a poop puddle! With every "H" and "P" sound , I thought I might faint.   Yep, other than that it was pretty smooth.  Then came the reception.

With the humidity hovering over us like the breath of a big dog, we arrived at the Gorgas House and of course the top of my mind was the pictures, all outside on that historic old beautiful staircase. Outside.  It was 99 degrees and 100% humidity.  With no air-conditioning.  And a bunch of light-headed, lily-livered Northerners needing a cool cloth.  And me in my double hooped lacy long train climbing up and down those stairs for the photographer.  While I was living it up as Miss Scarlet, my ice sculpture was rivaling Frosty after the mean magician stole his hat and locked him in the Green House.  Oh well, I knew it was my one and only day to be the bride and I wanted to live in the moment.  The poor men in their long tails were beat red and all volunteering to help remove the ice sculpture before it flooded onto the cakes.  ANYTHING to get out of the tails of the monkey suit and hold that ice nice and close.  "Is it always like this, one of the Yankee groomsman asked me.  Like what?  Hot?  Silly boy...I said, why, it IS July!



The wedding party
on the steps of the Gorgas House

When the Union and the Confederacy finally became UNITED was when all the men in the party got together to "decorate" our get away car.  Someone, surely a soldier/ groomsman from the Northern side thought it would be a fabulous idea to outfit the car with raw SARDINES!  Stuffed into the air vents, and all over the motor so they would fry up nice and aromatic for us as we drove all the way to Birmingham for our flight to the Bahamas!  Yes, it was quite unifying when we started the car and the smoke of the sizzling pungent fish began to cook on my engine! They all enjoyed it, pointing the fingers at each other shouting .."It wasn't me" as the smoke trailed through the humid air. They had also covered all the door handles in vaseline!  Those boys were all hugging each other and laughing and slapping high fives....yes is was tear jerking really...to see such family togetherness and a final unification of the North and the South!



Before we realized our getaway car
had been "sardined"

We missed our flight.  But had a terrific wedding night in the bridal suite at the Hilton in Birmingham.  Got out at 7am the next morning. And I will always take credit for doing my part to help unify the factions and teach those Yankees a thing or two about the South... IT's   H O T!!!!!  And yes...we do talk pretty!