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, but 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.