Fully accepting that we were lost, we eventually found a gas station and some helpful locals who told us to turn the car around and drive a short spell up a hill. We weren't that far away after all. We quickly thanked them and hopped back in the rental car. I didn't have time to ask them what they did for fun, as the wedding was about to start any minute. After a few harried turns down a winding residential road, we rounded a corner and came upon what appeared to be a county fair, and saw Megan walking down a hill on the arm of her father. At that point, we started running. Me, in heels, down a gravel path.
I've been to quite a few weddings, including my own. Each one is completely unique, a reflection of a couple, their taste, their faith (or lack of), and their families' expectations. There is also food, which is equally revealing. When Dan and I got married in South Florida, we wanted food that reflected the area and the Cuban restaurant where we re-met. There were mini Cuban sandwiches, marinated pork loin, and margaritas. Fried plantains and black beans and rice. Miniature Key lime pies and chocolate cupcakes. I took more care and interest in planning the menu than choosing my dress, or the flowers. In my eyes, my wedding was the biggest dinner party I had ever thrown. Even though I wasn't doing the cooking.
Megan and Butch's wedding was an old-fashioned hoe-down in a pasture, obviously inspired by the area. They hired a bluegrass band, set up a music station complete with jugs and washboards, and draped red, white, and blue banners around the fenced-in area. I sat on a bale of hay, which is something you don't see very often. Or, ever. Hence the photo.
Dinner was just as thoughtfully planned. A local restaurant made a Southern-style buffet of pulled pork sandwiches, chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and hush puppies. And, happily, a lot of barbecue sauce options. I love barbecue sauce. Everyone lined up and loaded down their plates, eating at picnic tables and homemade checkerboards as the sun went down. The food was very good--homey and filling, especially the mac and cheese. Eating outside with a plate on your lap always tends to make food taste better.
But my favorite part of the menu came later. On a long table, there were dozens of cupcakes made by Megan herself. There were so many that they filled the entire table, tray after tray of hand-frosted lemon and vanilla. How she found time to bake hundreds of cupcakes days before her wedding (and go canoeing, and introduce her parents to her in-laws, and set up a music-making station, and get her nails done, and probably remind Butch of a dozen odd things he had to do, the list goes on and on) is beyond me.
Megan is a great cook and baker, and the cupcakes were absolutely perfect--all soft, airy cake and sweet buttercream. I took my time eating one, not my usual way of eating cupcakes, but I wanted to really enjoy it. I wanted to savor it all, really. Being in the middle of nowhere, seeing my friend all dressed up and kicking her heels to the band, dancing under the stars with strangers and old friends.
Amy Sedaris' cupcakes
Megan said she used a recipe from Amy Sedaris, author of the awesome I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. The story goes that Amy started selling cupcakes to pay for food and supplies for her rabbit, Tattletail. The cupcakes became so popular at New York City bakeries that she expanded into cupcake (and cheese ball) catering with Dusty Food Cupcakes, a company named after her second rabbit, Dusty. If you know anything about Amy Sedaris this won't sound strange at all. Some of the cupcakes were vanilla, others were lemon with bits of lemon zest in the frosting. To get the lemon flavor, I'd estimate using the juice of one lemon in the batter, reserve the zest for the frosting.
(Makes about 2 dozen...or 18, if you are Amy.)
For the cupcakes:
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk
Beat the butter and sugar, then add the other ingredients. Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, 'cause I'm doing something wrong.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 box Domino confectionary sugar
¼ cup half-and-half
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whip for a while, color if you want.