“We’re goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married,
“Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married,
“Yeah we’re goin’ to the chapel of love.”
— Love song made popular by “The Dixie Cups,” 1964
My middle son was married in Indianola this past June, so I felt it necessary to take a brief sabbatical from writing to fulfill my duties as the Mother of the Groom, if by chance any of you have been missing me.
I should have been dubbed “Queen Mother of the Entire Wedding” because I was the only member of the wedding party that actually lived in Indianola. I took on duties that I did not know even existed in the world of weddings.
Two weeks before the festivities began I found myself searching for hotel rooms for the band, meals delivered to said band, lunch for a skeet shoot that I was unaware of the day of the wedding, a hair-do lady for the bridesmaids, and my personal favorites were to locate a piano player and a new photographer.
“Oh, and also could I arrange travel vans for everybody from the hotel to everywhere, or did I have the phone number for Uber in Indianola?” the little bride asked me.
“Hmmm, Uber in Indianola?” I thought to myself.
This sweet couple has been engaged since last July and I am supposed to pull all of these little details together along with the regular list of things to do as the Mother of the Groom?
The rehearsal dinner was my domain, which was well under control due to my diligent planning at Heathman Commissary.
Heathman Commissary is quite beautiful, rustic and very large. Large being the operative word, especially when you are certain that you, and only you, are the only one on the planet that can bring your ethereal vision of a rehearsal dinner to reality.
So I did what I always do. I got it done, almost killed myself on a rope elevator, and thanks to some very gracious friends, brought it all together as I had envisioned.
We dined on broiled oysters, stone crab and jumbo shrimp. For dessert we ate warm bread pudding with Tennessee Honey Whiskey Sauce. Gary Lott knocked it out of the park on all of the food. For weeks I had been brewing Homemade Limoncello, and we served it in frozen ice blocks on each table. The toasts were meaningful and short, and a good time was had by all. I loved every minute of it.
The young couple were married the next day on the front porch of the Eastland’s Chapel of Love on Bayou Drive, and honestly, it could not have been a happier day! It was perfect, it was fun, it was beautiful, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and love was in the air!
Young love is a beautiful thing to behold, especially since they had been such good friends for such a long time. Friendship between lovers just might be the key to a happy marriage. And then it was over and they zipped away to Costa Rica.
Of course the next day the rains came as the massive cleanup of Heathman Commissary and the Eastland’s Chapel of Love became a reality for the Queen Mother of the Groom. It took forever, and I prayed each day that my other two sons would elope. There were no prospects looming over the horizon, and no weddings in sight. I would say my prayers had been answered.
If you really want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans.
When you are older, say between 45 and 85, marriage is not really on your bucket list; especially if you have already done it, gave it your all, and for whatever reason, it was not forever. Friendship is better, and honestly a whole lot more fun.
I found a friend that thought of love the way I did, not something to fall into like a bed or a pit. It was not heavy or abstract; it was something more that happened in gentle waves. Waves on top of waves that washed upon the same friendly beach every day.
Then one day, without warning, the waves were overcoming; yet at the same time they were easy and kind. It felt more like floating blissfully on a puffy raft on a calm lake, holding a delicious cocktail and feeling totally content to be right where you are.
You want the rest of your life to feel just like this!
Eureka! Another wedding to plan! I knew exactly what to do and exactly what not to do.
We were engaged on a Sunday afternoon, headed to the Chapel of Love at the First United Methodist Church on the following Friday (with an Episcopal priest in tow) and invited a few besties for the ceremony.
I am old, my toe joints are new, the flowers were borrowed, and my veins are blue. I covered all of the important details quickly. Lynn Eastland passed out handfuls of imported Arborio rice that is typically used for making creamy risotto, and we left the Chapel of Methodist and Episcopal love in a snowstorm of expensive rice. I thought it was quite fitting for the occasion.
We headed for Key West for some sun and total chill, which was well deserved on my end for sure. Watching the sun set each day was our only goal. Other than visiting Ernest Hemingway’s home, which we finally did, but we only saw the outside of the yard, which was very tropical. There are 48 cats living on the property, and one of them has six toes. My new partner says he is allergic to cats, but I think he was really afraid of the six-toed feline.
We came home and there you have it. Two great ways to have a wedding, and both of them perfect!
1 bottle of vodka
3 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips. Using a sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels, and discard. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.
Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Refrigerate for up to one month.
Yield: 7 cups