Barbecue Digest: And the bride wore BBQ sauce
June 27th, 2012
11:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: All summer long, the Southern Foodways Alliance will be delving deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. Dig in.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered in this post to celebrate the union of love and barbecue.

With the summer wedding season in full swing, love is in the air - and it is increasingly followed by the perfume of burning wood and smoking meat. Once confined to the South, more and more wedding rehearsal dinners and receptions across the country feature a barbecue-laden feast. Recently, as I was leaving his son's wedding, a Colorado barbecue man - by way of Opelousas, Louisiana - gave me a parting gift of some alligator meat to smoke.

Some couples go whole hog for efficiency by holding their ceremony and reception at a barbecue restaurant. Texans seem to do this the most.

Aside from these examples, which suggest barbecue as love ex post facto, how does barbecue spark love? Ophelia Pinkard Taylor, in her 1984 oral history of the Juneteenth holiday in Texas, offered this: "Tradition has it that no maker of a good barbecue sauce will give the recipe to outsiders (those who are not family members). It has been noted that marriages are arranged so that the recipe can be passed on to a family seeking it."

I leave you to decide whether such counts as a shotgun wedding.

Today's installment comes courtesy of Adrian Miller, a culinary historian, certified barbecue judge and author of an upcoming book about soul food. Follow him on Twitter at @soulfoodscholar.

Delve into more barbecue goodness from the Southern Foodways Alliance blog

Previously - Getting squirrelly over Brunswick stew and What if the couple doesn't eat meat?

soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. blessedgeek

    If invited, I would attend the wedding if it was fish fillet and bean patty barbecue. And breaded banana fritters barbecue.

    I just can't stop imagining the dead cow (or pig) honking at me in my dreams (or nite mare).

    July 9, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  2. Lynzer

    We had our Oregon wedding catered by a local BBQ joint and the food was delicious! Everything was prepared elsewhere and then delivered to our reception venue. The table settings and other decorations were still classy (colorful paper lanterns, floating candles in lotus vases on the tables, etc.) and everyone seemed to enjoy the setting and the food. As the bride, I just doubled up on napkins and enjoyed the amazing meal!

    June 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  3. Mildred

    @brian who said I'd prefer to have people stare at me for 4 hours and drink tea...

    Since my wedding will have quite a bit of dancing (English Country, Contra, waltzing, international folk dancing, modern/pop dancing) and musicians jamming (including myself on drums/hand percussion), I think the wedding will be a bit livelier than that...

    I don't mind re-purposing the dress (I do a bit of stuff involving costumes so my own dress when I get married will probably turn into a steampunk outfit), but I don't get trashing it with food stains, burning it, or doing other things that will make it impossible to re-purpose (turn it into a cocktail dress or costume), sell (because let's face it – these dresses can get expensive and if you're not planning on wearing it again you can at least get some of the money back) or donate (which is a great idea if you're in the financial position to do so, and it may let someone else have their dream dress for their day).

    Come to think of it, swimming may not be quite as devastating if you can get it to a cleaner.

    June 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  4. Thinking things through

    Can't say I've been to one yet. I don't see why not, however. I've been to backyard weddings, as well as formal affairs. I go to weddings for the PEOPLE I love and want to celebrate with.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  5. Funtagious1

    My fiance and I will be having a bar-b-que style wedding in my backyard. We are planning on having an actual pig roasting, with horseback riding and four-wheel and dirt bike riding. Both of our families are really huge and what's the best family gathering: a bar-b-que.

    June 28, 2012 at 12:27 am |

    Well, it depends on the wedding, but if it's all smokey then I wouldn't go because I don't want my best clothes all smoked out. However, if it's cooked and smoked else where then no problems, I'd go. Getting my suite dried clean is expensive and BBQ smoke is hard to get rid of, but I might reconsider if it's a really really good friend or family member.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      It is likely that a BBQ wedding won't require you to wear your best suit or most formal gown. Just something nice.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Clyde

      If you are going to a wedding serving BBQ, I'm willing to wager you haven't been asked to wear your nicest duds.

      June 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  7. Lew

    I can't believe some people said, "No, and I wouldn't go to one". I'd say, 'good'. I wouldn't want you at my wedding if your only concern was the food. On the other hand, I wouldn't really care for a wedding in a restaurant, unless that's where they met, first date, etc. They should throw their own BBQ. Either way, I would go because I would want to share in the occasion and I love BBQ.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  8. czar44

    Never been to a Barbeque wedding sounds good; but I have been to a bologna wedding. Yes BOLOGNA !!!
    A famly member's sister had a wedding a year befor her's. It was at a very nice Knights of Cloumbus Hall, good roast beef dinner, the next year when her sister got married; they had it at the same place, but they served, BOLOGNA, hard-rolls and pink-tomatoes lettus that was turning rusty-yellow and they had a cake, that was it!!!
    I learned a good lesson that day, my one Aunt opened the card and pulled out the check and replaced it with a $5 bill.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  9. Cris

    I'll be serving all vegan at my wedding!

    June 27, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Johnny Johnson

      that sounds horrible.

      June 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Lew

      If you do, include some fried veggies that meat eaters might like, for instance falafels and tempura would be great for all and hummus makes for a great snack, but call it dip because the word hummus can be a turn-off for some.

      June 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  10. Drew

    Our wedding BBQ was great. Everyone loved it and it allowed us to keep our wedding on a budget. It blows my mind how people are willing to pay $10,000, $20,000 or more on their wedding.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Valerie

      Food at wedding halls usually suck anyway! I am sure the food at your reception was AWESOME!!! : ))

      June 27, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  11. larrymicke

    I had a BBQ for my rehearsal dinner and it was great. I would welcome a wedding with BBQ. It would certainly beat tasteless chicken and fish which was at the last wedding I attended. Probably at a fraction of the cost, too!

    June 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  12. chelsea

    I've been to some and they were nice but it would never fly where I had my wedding. Things need to change because my wedding cost about 20x what a bbq wedding does and both brides were just as happy :)

    June 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  13. Lupe

    We served a traditional brisket barbecue at our wedding. It saved us money and was delish!

    June 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  14. quacktaculaura

    We did my wedding on a budget. It was too expensive to cater, so we decided to make our food for the reception ourselves. Barbecue pork was a cheap and easy way to go. Guests seemed to enjoy it.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Matt D.

    We had one and the guests raved about it, and we're from and live in Northeast Ohio!

    June 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  16. Hammer

    Apparently the minority of people who responded to this poll are not from Texas.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  17. CT

    So the headline calls this a "saucy" trend, but the picture shows a sandwich with no sauce. Weird.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Clyde

      The original picture was a bride getting guests to put BBQ handprints on her dress, but too many anonymous internet trolls mocked her weight and so they switched pictures. That may be why the sandwich doesn't seem to match.

      June 28, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  18. LeighVA

    There is just something very 'piggy' about it ~ well, for a wedding dinner/reception. Maybe a BBQ party would be ok for the wedding rehearsal dinner sometimes done after the run through practice of the Big Day. While I love BBQ, (and maybe it's just me being more than a bit prissy), I think it would be awkward to host something like that ~ but I guess for Texans, it would be fine, and be in the realm of their culture going on down there. BBQ's are for Memorial day, cooking out over the spring and especially summer, the 4th, and Labor Day Weekend. I guess I prefer something with more savior-faire for a wedding reception ~ like Oysters Rockefeller, fancy o'dourves, cute little desserts, and fine wine. BBQ just ain't gonna do it. LOL.

    June 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • whorhay

      It sounds like you just need to find a style of BBQ that suites your tastes and serve it in a formal fashion. We did BBQ at our rehearsal dinner/party the day before the wedding. Although the cooking was all done before the guests started arriving. My family is all from the north while her's is from the south. So we wanted to focus on making it as casual of a gathering as possible so that our families could more freely mingle and get to know each other. It's hard to be formal when you are gnawing on a spare rib. But ribs aren't the only kind of BBQ, you could do brisquet, pulled pork or chopped pork. If you've got people that prefer fish you can even do smoked salmon.

      June 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • bill


      June 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Lew

      I've never been to a wedding that served Oysters Rockefeller and truly fancy entrées. Of course, everyone I know is 'middle class'.

      June 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Rupert

      Yikes, I feel bad for the guy you finally corner into marriage. The reality is unless you are quite wealthy you cannot afford a wedding with oysters rockefeller, tiny desserts and fine wines for 300 people. Unfortunately you will demand this, and either strain your father to the limit or saddle you and your capture husband with a mountain of debt from the start of your marriage. I give you an over under of 3 years, and I'll take the under.

      I am going to a wedding in a couple weeks that is $160 A PLATE. 50 grand just on food. My entire wedding cost less than a quarter of that (and yes we had barbeque at the reception), and in the end they'll be just as married as we are.

      June 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  19. larryb

    I can't believe there was a category of "no, and I would not go to one"...aren't wedding about the union of two people???
    you straight people have destroyed marriage. bet you would have gone to the kardasian fiasco

    June 27, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • ABQTIM

      Well, it depends on the wedding, but if it's all smokey then I won't go because I don't want my best clothes all smoked out. However, if it's cooked and smoked else where then no problems, I'd go. Getting my suite dried clean is expensive and BBQ smoke is hard to get rid of.

      June 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
      • Funtagious1

        I wouldn't care if my outfit did get smoked. It will probably be the first and last time I wear it anyway. I never remember the clothes I wear, just the occassion.

        June 28, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  20. Leah

    I have been to a BBQ wedding and it was awesome! The bride and groom had it catered by the place where they went on their first date. The entire wedding was very personalized, and if you did not know the meaning behind something there were plenty of people around who explained why they did some of the things they did. I hope to have some similarities at my own wedding, and have even contemplated the BBQ (but for different reasons than they did, of course).
    I think people nowadays spend way way way too much money on weddings...if you want BBQ, more power to you! Im sick of chicken and caesar salads! lol

    June 27, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Susan


      June 27, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
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