That Perfect Wedding—Southern Style!
By Lynnette Austin
In the South, we take our weddings seriously—which doesn’t mean we don’t have fun with them. While writing theMagnolia Brides series, I’ve immersed myself in all things wedding and called it work. Honestly now, could anything be more enjoyable?
So. A Southern wedding. Those three words conjure up elegance and grace, live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, magnolias and camellias. Even more, though, those words imply tradition. Sometimes, however, its tradition with an edge. Whimsical boutonnieres and bouquets made of cotton bolls.
If you’re a Southern bride, remember that this is your wedding. It’s not your mama’s (although her input is invaluable) or your future mother-in-law’s (but do consider how many years you’ll sit with her at Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas brunch before you nix her every suggestion). It’s not Meemaw Birdie’s or Aunt Tilda’s wedding. It’s…ahem…barely the groom’s.
The wedding can take two very different paths, formal or informal. It’s so much more fun and memorable, though, when elements of both are included. Regardless of which the bride chooses—and, again, let’s acknowledge right up front, it’s the bride, not the groom who steers the wedding ship—there are essentials that have to be included.
The venue is the wedding’s foundation. In my Magnolia Brides books, Magnolia House, a beautiful and painstakingly restored antebellum home, is the perfect site for formal indoor weddings, while its rose garden and sweeping lawn host the informal ceremonies. There’s even a rustic barn for those who want to go that route.
Yes, I know, outdoor weddings in the South means hot, hot, hot and humid along with the possibility of torrential summer rain. But aren’t those live oaks dripping with Spanish moss worth it? If you do decide on an outside affair, tents large enough to accommodate that dance floor are an absolute necessity…along with a backup plan.
Here are a few more quickies to remember for that perfect Southern wedding:
1. Problematic relatives. Put someone in charge of Uncle Harry if you know he’ll drink too much and start pinching butts.
2. Beverages. You have wonderful choices to fit every taste. In fact, it should be downright illegal not to include sweet tea, lemonade, and Coca-cola. Mint juleps and bourbon. And speaking of bourbon… Don’t forget the tradition of burying a full bottle of it upside down exactly one month before your big day. Where? At your wedding venue. Why? To ward off that rain we talked about earlier.
3. Mason jars (unless you’ve chosen to go formal). Use them for centerpieces, candle holders, mini-dessert dishes, and beverage cups. In the South, Mason jars are a must.
4. Attendants. The only thing you need to remember here is that the more, the better!
5. Did I mention pearls? A woman simply cannot get married without her pearls. Or her meemaw’s pearls. Often they’ll be your something old or maybe that’s your engagement ring, the one that’s been passed down over generations. Again, traditions. For your something blue? Why not try blue polish on your toenails? Remember, this day should be fun!
6. Food. I can’t even go there today because, in the South, food is revered. I’ll need to come back another day to talk with you about that. Let’s just say that besides the cake, you must have cheese straws. Period. If you’ve never tasted them, you’re in for a real treat.
I could go on and on. A Southern wedding is a thing of beauty. While paying homage to the past, it shepherds in the future, celebrating it and promising years of happiness. Most of all, a wedding, when done right, is personal and reflects who the bride and groom are, both individually and as a couple.
P.S. In case you’re curious about those cheese straws, here’s a very simple recipe so you can make your own. Cheers!
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 pound block cheese, shredded—use sharp Cheddar (If you’re feeling lazy or just short on time, go ahead and use the pre-shredded in a package. I won’t tell.)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons ground red pepper or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (Don’t use both, though.)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
4 cups all-purpose flour
Beat the first five ingredients at medium speed until blended. Gradually add flour, beating just until combined.
You have two ways to go from here, depending on how fancy you want them to look.
You want pretty? Then use a cookie press with a star-shaped disk to shape mixture into long ribbons on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cut the ribbons into 2-inch pieces.
Plain is okay? Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into strips, then cut those into 2-inch pieces.
Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Every Bride Has Her Day by Lynnette Austin
Magnolia Brides, Book 2
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
About the Book
CAN LOVE REVIVE A WILTING HEART?
Cricket O’Malley can’t wait to plant roots back home in Georgia, where she’s returned to restore an abandoned flower shop to its former glory. The only blemish? Her neighbor’s house is even more neglected than her old flower shop, and its occupant seems as surly as he is darkly handsome.
Devastated body and soul after a tough case went south, New York City detective Sam DeLuca thought he’d have no trouble finding solitude in the quiet Georgia town of Misty Bottoms, but his bubbly neighbor seems determined to shine happiness into Sam’s life. Sam is equally determined to close himself off, but his heart says otherwise…
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About the Author
The luxury of staying home when the weather turns nasty, of working in PJs and bare feet, and the fact that daydreaming is not only permissible but encouraged, are a few of the reasons middle school teacher Lynnette Austin gave up the classroom to write full-time. Lynnette grew up in Pennsylvania’s Alleghany Mountains, moved to Upstate New York, then to the Rockies in Wyoming. Presently she and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
A finalist in RWA's Golden Heart Contest, PASIC's Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers' Maggie Contest, she’s published five books as Lynnette Hallberg. She’s currently writing as Lynnette Austin. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody...and all their business, for better or worse. Visit Lynnette atwww.authorlynnetteaustin.com.
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