Monday, April 20, 2009

Vas and Lori's Wedding

I’ve now been to weddings of two close friends. Each one has had a unique way of doing things and reflected the personalities of the people involved extremely well. Vas and Lori’s was no exception.

I was surprised when I found out that Lori would be planning most of the wedding alone. She did an excellent job too. Just in my task alone (cooking for the wedding) there was no stone unturned and no fact overlooked. I couldn’t do much of the prep because I was busy with work, and Lori arranged for her bridesmaids (thanks Chanelle) to do all of the prep. That’s not an easy undertaking and I’m extremely thankful they helped out. Cooking was just one small part so multiply this by every single task and it’s extremely daunting. Lori and Vas did an excellent job.

I remember sitting there with Vas in Dallas as he looked at the weather and saying, “man I think it’s going to rain.” That was really the extent of the worry and it almost seemed planned with how well everything was taken care of in the way of tents and tarps. All the groomsman, bridesmaids, and Vas and Lori worked together to get everything set up. It looked really great. The bamboo gazebo was a little shaky after the initial downpour, but Chris held it up during the ceremony and it really added to the tropical atmosphere.

The rain seemed to stop just at the right moment and allow for everyone to comfortably get to and from the ceremony. May did an awesome job of leading it and Sean’s solo was exceptional. I don’t think that anyone could have asked for anything more perfect. Lori wore a dress that was totally unique and looked beautiful going down the aisle. The sincerity and love that they showed during the vow exchange was moving.

Right after the ceremony ended I ran as hard as I could to the tent through the light drizzle. When grilling with charcoal the set up time to cook time takes the longest. I had set up two chimney stacks, two charcoal pyramids, and was ready to start as soon as I walked in. The humidity was extremely high and the paper that I had for kindling for the chimney stacks was already slightly damp. The paper barely lit and immediately I knew that I would need to go with lighter fluid. I doused the two pyramids and the chimney stacks and after much coercing they finally started to light up.

I got called in for pictures so I had to run back to the sight of the wedding with my shirt back on and then come back. Almost right as the ceremony and subsequent pictures were over the rain started coming down in torrents and the tent begun to fill up with 20 or more people who were escaping the down pour. It actually worked out well cause then I had a crowd to talk to a little bit. I was just starting to get some food on as people walked in. Slowly yet surely as the grills heated up we started getting off kabobs. After about 30 minutes the kabobs started finishing in droves and we began pouring through them.

Once the rain died down for a moment everyone left the tent and headed to the cabins, but David and I. Periodically people would come in and out and bring back trays of food (thanks Stayten and Mike and whoever else ran for me). We finished most of the kabobs; then I ran in for cake cutting and ran back to cook the fajitas. At this point the grills were well heated and the coals were roaring with spares in the chimney so this went much faster. I owe a huge thanks to John, Chris, and Lindsey for stepping in at this moment. I had to cut most of the steak as I wanted to do it London Broil style to make it as tender as possible (you cut the meat against the grain and at an angle to shorten the meat fibers and make the meat more tender). Lindsey took out most of the chicken and Chris developed a genius spice station to ensure flavor quality was maintained (another trick to tenderizing fajitas is to add lime juice as it causes the mouth to release additional enzymes making the meat appear more tender). John came in and asked if we needed any help. I asked if he had any grilling experience he said, “no” so I briefly explained how to cook chicken on a grill and put him in charge of cooking chicken on all three. He did an excellent job and made sure to temp check each one prior to serving to ensure it was properly cooked.

Not thanked above is David (my brother) who helped me out in a huge way and did a substantial portion of the work and monitoring. He brought some things that were severely needed from home (cutting boards, a change of clothes for me, knives, etc.) and sat through the hellacious weather to make sure the job got done. The success of the event is in large part thanks to his efforts.

All in all we cooked around 100 shrimp kabobs and I would guess about 30 pounds of meat. I was impressed by the quality given the circumstances. I would have liked to have more consistency on my shrimp kabobs, but the three grills not being fully heated when we began prevented that. If I were to do it over again I would have started the grills before the ceremony. That was my mistake.

During this whole process the weather was at times extreme. The wind direction constantly changed and sometimes rain was coming into the opening of the tent. At one point the tent was floating in the air and being held by stakes in the ground. The tent was large enough though as to prevent the food and grills from getting wet. It was exciting really to be in that environment and grilling.

The other memorable moments for me were the bands and Horn’s speech. There are just certain songs that connect our crew and that serve as a soundtrack to our friendship and it was awesome to get to hear those (H20- Thicker Than Water, Get Up Kids- Action + Action, Saves the Day- Holly Hox and Forget Me Nots). I don’t remember rocking out that hard since the party at Jack Sananikone’s in 2001. Horn’s speech while unprepared was very moving and at least for me made my eyes teary. I think this was most poignant (paraphrased):

“There’s a real short list of people that you would drive this far and tolerate this weather for. And all of you are here because Vas and Lori are one of those people for you.”
So true.

Vas and Lori have always done things in a unique and often exciting way. Their wedding was no different. It perfectly reflected their hearts and desires for the experience and allowed their friends to give of themselves what they really would have wanted too all along. Their time, their laughter, their sweat, and most importantly their love. I personally loved the challenge and the excitement of testing myself and will never forget this experience. I had so much fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday and I hope they feel the same.

To a happy and healthy life together!


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