Many a USian will bust out (and dust off) the ol’ barbecue today, if they haven’t already done so. I was invited to at least two Memorial Day eatstravaganzas, but I declined both invitations for reasons I’ll likely talk about over at Manolo for the Home. Nowadays, I tend to just “stop by” most barbecues because I don’t eat meat and man cannot live on sides alone. But once upon a time…
The Beard and I weren’t always vegetarians. Our original intention was to have a DIY barbecue wedding limited to family only. That bit was scrapped when it became clear that my ginormous family would dwarf his tiny one. Then we started adding friends to the barbecue wedding guest list — first his, then ours, then mine — and the whole thing just plain fell apart.
Questions rained down upon us from critical loved ones. Who would man the smoker while a hundred people waited for their meat? Would there be enough time to whip up sides in the days and hours leading up to the wedding? The first element of our reception plan to go was DIY… all of my relatives who’d for years waxed poetic about how they were going to pitch in when I got hitched were suddenly nowhere to be found. Like Twistie recently said, help is a big (and usually necessary) part of successful DIY wedding.
We were frankly surprised to find that the catering menus of local barbecue joints weren’t all that cheaper than other restaurants, so we decided to shop around before settling on any one kind of cuisine. A few months later we stopped eating meat, found a catering company with an awesome veg menu, and that was one more item crossed off the pre-nuptial To Do list.
Image by soozums
So how does one have the perfect DIY barbecue wedding? I’d say that the first thing you want to do is order yourself some bulk napkins because sauce is a crafty beastie that will find some way to hitch a ride on clean formalwear. Oh, and don’t forget to solicit some assistants.
After the napkins and the help are taken care of, it’s all about location, location, location. Full disclosure: When I was being interviewed by my local paper because I’d generously sent them an advanced copy of iDo, I proudly told the reporter how much money I’d saved by holding my own wedding in my grandmother’s back yard. I was humbled when he then said, “But isn’t it easy to save money on a wedding when you have an expansive waterfront property abutting a house with four bathrooms at your disposal?” Point taken, Mr. Reporter!
That’s not to say your barbecue wedding has to be an outdoors affair, but things are probably going to get hecka saucy. Right now is the time to get on really good terms with someone who has a big house and big backyard that you can borrow. If that doesn’t sound like anyone you know, call your local parks department to find out if nearby greenspaces allow outdoor cooking. If not, plan for a pit barbecue type menu (as opposed to sauce barbecue) that will retain its flavor at room temperature, and designate someone with a roomy car the official Meat Master, i.e., the guy hauling the food.
This is not the time or the place for hifalutin food — you’re looking for ease of prep here, because who wants to stress over smoked sausages on the morning of their wedding? No one, that’s who. Real Simple recommends a menu that includes barbecue beef brisket, pork spareribs, smoked sausage, barbecue chicken, beans, coleslaw, potato salad, green salad, corn, and bread.
The Pigs On the Run recommends going “whole hog” in their post detailing how to save money without looking cheap:
Very often, if you talk to a farmer, they will have a hog they need to butcher, and they will sell it to you very inexpensively. Then you just have them take it to a local butcherer. Tell the butcherer what you want the meat for. They will make nearly the whole thing into rolled roasts or whatever. You will have to pay for the processing, but the price is inexpensive when you consider how much meat you will get.
There’s always your traditional pig roast, but that kind of defeats the purpose of aiming for simplicity. For those who are curious, there’s a reeeeaaally comprehensive step-by-step How To over at 3 Guys from Miami. Roasting an entire pig is definitely a DIY project that requires audience participation.
As far as sauce goes, Astray Recipes has a recipe for “Shotgun Wedding Barbecue Sauce” that was sourced from a mythical elderly couple who provided meaty matrimonial morsels in the 1950s. Presumably, one cooks up all the ingredients in a pan until the flavors meld:
1 bottle catsup
2 tablespoon vinegar
2 dashes of tabasco
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon mustard
½ cup water
If this sounds like your ultimate wedding, you may want to invest in some personalized barbecue sauce favors from Beau Coup Wedding Favors. But whatever you do, don’t forget to have lots of filling veg-friendly foodstuffs for those who don’t eat meat or can’t eat meat. We get hungry, too!