My friend Annie does not wear shocking pink nail polish often. Only, it seems, when she lets her mom pick the color for her wedding day.
A day picked a week or so before, when the groom casually called to say they would be in Chapel Hill, North Carolina the following weekend and had decided to be married. Like the bride’s elegant upswept hair, the couple’s circle swirled into town to celebrate these two we hold dear.
I’ve known the couple since they first started dating in college seven years ago, when they used their shared prowess in typography, content curation, and editorial direction to shepherd the most interesting campus publications to glory and legibility.
It was a perfect occasion for all of those skills, from the bold ‘A’ for both their first names on the wedding programs to the thoughtful compression of the service itself, officiated by the groom’s poised sister Caroline.
And while Andrew waited in the sitting room,
Annie’s mother attached the pearl clasp upstairs,
the best friend since grade school zipped up the dress,
and we followed the path of candles outside.
Andrew strode in with his parents under the soft, hanging lights;
Annie navigated the steps with her parents.
And throughout the service where the two read the vows they had written (Andrew’s full of energetic, scientific metaphor, Annie’s an honest and straightforward promise) and the family read literary pieces that did inspire (Andrew’s father also read a sonnet he had written long ago), all of us couldn’t stop smiling.
Caroline gracefully took us through the service, pronouncing Annie and Andrew married.
The couple kissed, and Andrew’s brother Xander played us into the living room (in the foreground, his parents look on).
I assembled family for pictures, as you do,
pulling all the guests in for the big, crazy shot.
We toasted to the couple,
and ate delicious things (the bride’s mother makes quite a sausage roll bread!) Pictured at left.
then we ate more delicious things at favorite local restaurant Crook’s Corner,
all of which led to toasts around the whole table, each of us standing to say how we knew the two would support each other, as they always have.
They bring out the silly in each other (more evidence from Andrew’s 2009 talent show birthday party),
and they love each other something fierce.
Congratulations, you two. Thanks for letting me photograph your day. It felt, like everything you do, magic to be part of.
If you’d like to support the couple, both work in education and care deeply about issues of literacy. Andrew is currently running the Read, Write, Rock project that you can learn more about on the RWR site.
The theme was peacock feathers. And so the programs being powdered (before embossed with a special gun) were cut into feather shapes, secured with a fastener, and then decorated so they could function, cleverly, as a fan in the extreme summer heat.
That night, a few days before the wedding, my youngest sister Kassandra, returned to the house, filled with her amazing friends from all corners of the world wrapping the wedding hotel guest gifts, to regale us with stories of her own about her recent adventures with her fiancé, Sean.
Surprises dictated the week, as a dear family friend continued to cinch the wedding dress in tighter for the big occasion.
The bachelorette party, 14 strong, each shared a story over dinner; Kassandra defended, Sierra winced, and David covered his face.
Until Sierra took her turn and almost made the bride fall out of her chair with laughter.
The bachelorettes called Kassandra ‘The Tay,’ and that became the bride’s codename for the week, adorning cupcakes for the bowling party that followed dinner,
where their bowling warm-ups revealed how many dancers were in the mix.
And how many performers.
We all wore our pink sashes proudly; Kassandra has surrounded herself with a group of individuals that are delightful to be around bowling, dining, or wielding embossing guns.
(Kat took this picture and many below. I’ll indicate her photography underneath; one of her many talents is a very fine way with the camera).
And the following groggy morning (dancing continued late into the night), we all gathered at Kassandra and Sean’s beautiful new house to picnic and toast to the two days ahead.
and then dashed off to meet the talented musicians: Amber, who was also the Mistress of Reception Ceremonies (and who you will recall from family holiday videos), and my handsome Facebook husband Stewart Pillow who composes and sings. The two sing well together, which is another happy happenstance of the weekend.
Soon, it was time for Kassandra to take up her bouquet of vintage brooches that our aunt Pamela Aiken created,
The dancing went on and on, as it will in a room of dancers and instructors, and the couple ran through sparklers (note Kat’s choice of alternate fiery accessory) to pull away in a beautiful vintage car.
Happy wedding, and happy marriage, Kassandra. Know that no matter what, your bridesmaids are here for you as your special police detail…in sickness and in health, as long as we all can steal mirrored sunglasses off boys…
This story begins with biscuits and blackberry jam, and then eggs and bacon and sausage and hash brown casserole,
all at the Loveless Cafe, which I cannot recommend unless you are with a friend so wonderful it almost doesn’t matter where you go on a food road trip.
In the drizzling rain, I drove from seeing old friends Michaela, Stewart, and Michael who live in Nashville to Jackson, Mississippi, where I picked my friend Laura up from the train station, and we drove off the mapped roads onto a gravel one,
that led us to dogs, and an annual family reunion that we secured an invite to, showing up just in time for fiery conch salad from the Bahamas (the most wonderful people from the Bahamas bring it to the event every year), and a little later, a pig that had been roasting for 48 hours.
For this occasion, many of the extended family sleep in little tent rows dotting the back yard of the five-acre propery,
lined with magnolias and near a grove of two hundred acres of uncut forest.
The next morning began my first Crawfish Boil, and a stunning sequence of food throughout the day started with biscuits and savory country ham that is colloquially spread with jam.
Out back, everyone was looking into three kiddie pools,
where 335 pounds of crawfish were doing the wave as they danced and were watered into the afternoon.
Our friend Yann’s dad Alan wielded the Cajun Crawfish Paddle with skill, letting the initial boil brew simmer and reduce,
as the guys shucked ears of corn ready for the enormous pots.
There was time for playful crawfish racing,
to admire Laura’s new battle scar from an old bike injury surgery,
and in a flush of excitement, everyone followed the first batch of crawfish onto the table earlier than usual,
where they were covered with newspaper and allowed to steam and rest briefly.
Yann’s brother Ky taught me the correct technique for eating them: loosen the tail, pull it off, push the meat up, dip it in Tony’s (saltier) or Old Bay (less salty) and then – “Don’t cheat,” he admonished – crush and suck the head juices.
It is incredible experience, as everyone is drawn to the table, eating their fill and laughing and wandering away, only to return for a later batch.
Pictures were taken on all kinds of cameras,
and bubbles filled the long driveway,
stories were told around the fire,
and our friend Yann was one of the last at the table, as the Captain of Team Peel (completely peeling the remainder of the crawfish to bag and use later as opposed to my team of tail poppers, also known as Team Progress).
Thanks, Yann, for letting me be an honorary member of your amazing extended family. And thanks to Laura for getting me into yet another adventure.
The music started as the crawfish were sealed into containers and continued into the night, with spoons and drums,
and an accomplished singer-songwriter serenading everyone crowded into the kitchen in a moment too perfect to record.
I realize it was my first, but damn, are Yann’s parents Sandi and Alan ever the lovely hosts, and my, but is a boil a perfect way to bring family together to stand beside each other at a table…
I have spent the spring impatiently waiting for warm weather in New York, hopping a flight in late March to wander sunny Barcelona streets,
and its long stretches of parks, and the elaborately encrusted Sagrada Familia,
with its Gaudí figures and ornamentation,
including a Magic Square on the outside of the unfinished basílica.
The inspiring inside is filled with light from the stained glass playing off itself and the organic columns, and ushers in a curious sort of local and tourist reverence.
In nearby neighborhoods, there are plazas also filled with light and the sounds of guitarists practicing before standing just outside restaurant patios,
and in April, chocolate shops filled with Easter houses (characters sold separately).
Visiting for a few days, I started a wonderful habit of Cava and Jamón ibérico from the nearby La Boqueria on our roof deck, reading into the late afternoon before meeting friends for very fresh fish and crispy Pan can Tomate.
From Barcelona, we went to Cannes, where I discovered Margalet, a cheese much like Camembert, at the fabulous Ceneri – the sort of cheese shop you feel you cannot make a mistake in, the selection is curated so thoughtfully.
A perfectly ripened cheese makes for such quiet happiness.
While in Cannes, we were part of a small but determined expedition to the famed Colombe D’Or, the restaurant with early art from those later collected by museums. The trip there and back was just as entertaining (hairpin turns!) as the witty conversation at the table, and we were the last to leave the dining room and walk back through the picturesque town.
And a few weeks ago, back stateside, we celebrated a family birthday on the charming boyfriend’s side in New Orleans, that city where the trees grow beads in season,
and where it is possible to source a glittery birthday cake on short notice.
Near our hotel in the Warehouse District, I walked to Cochon for an Abita and a glance at the menu, watching as the heat melted the butter for the rolls,
and unable to resist, I ordered their Cochon de Lait that arrived on top of braised cabbage and with a cracklin’, a good omen for a snappy city I try to wander through on my travels as often as possible…
More pictures and stories from these trips in the next issue out this summer of a food magazine I’ve started called Saucy. You can buy the first issue (it used to be called Culinaesthete) on Magcloud in print or digital formats. Your support of the magazine so far (hello, new Australian friends!) means the world to me.