Why We Made Biscuits & Gravy on Our Wedding Day

Marriage is a piece of dough.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

The first wedding we planned was small—I was set on that fact from the very beginning. Like many late 20-, early 30-somethings, I had attended my fair share of weddings in the years prior. But rather than fill me with daydreams of what my own special day would look like, they instead firmly planted a single idea in my mind: that if and when I got married, the only requirement was that I didn’t want to be stressed out about it.

I had already carried the stress at some weddings I’d attended: running around at the last minute to make sure every tea light was lit, and organizing a last-minute run to a nearby gas station to pick up a couple of much-needed bottle openers. As a bridesmaid, I’d also witnessed the even more terrifying stress radiating from the bride firsthand. All of this to say, when my longtime boyfriend, Derek, proposed to me in Paris after a picnic comprised almost entirely of cheese, my first thought was “I want a stress-free wedding—but how do we get there?”

Back at home (and riding the engagement high), I started to plan the first iteration of our wedding, a small ceremony on a hillside in the Hudson Valley, where we met. But it didn’t take long before I was met with the same problem as many who dreamed of a “just right” wedding: It’s really hard to have a small wedding. Our initial plan was to have about 20 people, some close family and a handful of friends. But it’s hard to leave anyone out, even when they’re understanding of it all. For example, I have three older brothers, all of whom have significant others, plus kids. The realization that I may have to pick and choose between them hit me hard, and brought one planning session to a screeching halt. 20 seemed like it was going to become 30 or 40, which meant altering everything we’d already decided on, and I felt like I was back at the starting line.

Video by Mark Weinberg and Dave Katz

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Top Comment:
“It was a special day with very little stress and a lot of excitement. We remarried again in a church wedding the following August with family and friends that his parents hosted at their home. It was another wonderful day. We have been happily married now for 42 years. Loved your story. Thanks for sharing. Adele ”
— AdeleK

But square one isn’t a horrible place to be if it ultimately helps you find the solution. I can’t remember which one of us suggested eloping first. But after that first discussion, I felt the weight lift off my shoulders, which is how I knew it was absolutely the right decision. Then, I sort of wondered what had taken me so long. I had wanted something simple, inexpensive, and low-stress, yet the obvious solution was to cut everything else out of the process, and make it just about us.

So we planned our elopement, and it was so easy. Each detail we sorted out helped another element fall perfectly into place. Because our wedding date was just after the New Year, we decided to skip a destination and stay close to home. We also decided that since no one would be attending our wedding, we wanted to document the day a little more fully so that our family and friends could still be a part of it.

Photo by Mark Weinberg
Photo by Mark Weinberg

On the morning of, I woke up after a perfectly sound night of sleep, made myself a cup of coffee, and started my hair and makeup. Derek rolled out of bed a little while later, and shortly after, our friends, photographer Mark Weinberg and videographer Dave Katz, were at the door. To have close friends be the folks behind the lenses of our big day was a serious plus—it made us more comfortable,like we could really just go on with the day and truly enjoy it (and they were just along for the ride).

It takes at least one strong cup of coffee for Derek to become a functioning human in the mornings, and after he finished his first, we started making breakfast together. For me, this was one of the highlights of the whole day. Our friendship had begun years before, largely surrounding a shared interest in food and cooking, and when we started to date, it was such a huge part of our life together (and still is). He kept our knives sharp and taught me precision cuts, and I helped him get over his fear of all things baking. Many chapters of our romance contain food memories.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Our first year together, he taught me to make kimchi, and we gingerly tended it as it fermented for weeks. By the next year, I had taught him how to bake pies, bagels, and biscuits. On our third anniversary, he recounted a story about the first meal I ever cooked for him—it was so beautiful that it actually made me weak in the knees. Someone was always in our kitchen, whipping up everything from weekend brunches to late-night snacks to 10-course dinners for two. I’m cooking for him, he’s cooking for me, or we’re cooking together. So it felt really right—normal, even—to cook together on our wedding day.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

I started to make a batch of buttermilk biscuits, while Derek sautéed onions and browned sausage for gravy. Our dog Brimley smelled the sausage and nestled himself near the stove in hopes of an eventual fallen taste. We moved in sync, weaving in and out of the corners and workspaces, completing two separate tasks on our way to making one breakfast. It didn’t take long to come together—maybe 20 minutes—but it felt so wonderful to slow down and do this familiar, comfortable activity on what was such a special day.

Photo by Mark Weinberg
Photo by Mark Weinberg

There were dozens of other perfect moments: when our number was called at the marriage bureau, the precise moment he said “I do,” sharing ice cream in Washington Square Park, the musicians who played for us, and the strangers who cheered for us as we walked down the sidewalk.

But there was no moment more perfect than our breakfast together. We sat in comfy chairs in front of our fireplace wearing regular clothes, eating piping hot food we’d made ourselves. It could have been any other day of our lives up to that point—and that’s really what was so special about it. This day wasn’t the day, or the only day. It was just a day. A day when we got to celebrate spending our lives together, part of a journey that had already resulted in five beautiful years.

We held hands and jumped into the next chapter. There was no stress—just biscuits and gravy.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

What did you do on your wedding day? Share your story in the comments below.
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I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!


Diane M. May 12, 2019
This was so lovely!
Katie May 11, 2019
I watched your wedding video on loop the day you posted it on Instagram. Absolutely beautiful!
Elise L. May 10, 2019
I looooove your story! So many times I have heard the sentiment “Let’s just elope!” The stress, the money, the overblown spectacle of it all has eclipsed the importance and significance of this simple moment. My wedding was modest in size by a lot of standards, (77 people, including bridal party, parents, siblings and family) but Ed and I did as much as we could to keep it simple and manageable.
We met, got engaged and married in the same year ( why wait, when you know it’s right?). I hitchhiked (!!) into the local town known for bridal shops, and came home with a sample that fit perfectly right off the rack for $100. I ordered a hat (a new thing back then) for $77. We had minimal attendants, and I picked the most reasonable dresses that looked good on our two sisters and my cousin. The tux for my dad was part of a package that came with photos, flowers, thank-you notes, and “favors”: printed matchbooks and stirrers. We had a luncheon buffet at a sweet little caterer, $11/ head for buffet, wine and beer. My mother-in-law paid for the music, which was a band of buddies who worked at Newsday. We didn’t trust them with our wedding song, so we brought the 8 track tape of Gordon Lightfoot’s Beautiful for our first dance. Ed ordered our invitations from the printer he worked for at the time. So within a month, the only thing left was for us to get an apartment and wait for RSVP’s. The night of the wedding, we slept at the apartment, packed up a weeks worth of essentials into the VW bug the next morning, and just drove...first to Mystic, Conn., then to Boston and finally to Oswego, (Ed’s alma mater) before coming home. From January 25 to April 8 to August 17, for the rest of our lives. Simple and perfect, which is just what we wish for you!
Erin J. May 10, 2019
Love, love this!! Thanks so much for sharing ❤️
Elise L. May 10, 2019
Eric K. May 9, 2019
This made me so happy this week, Erin.
Krista L. May 9, 2019
I teared up reading this. How beautiful, Erin! <3
Erin J. May 10, 2019
Thank you so much, Krista!
AdeleK May 9, 2019
I must say your day sounds a bit like ours. My future spouse after 3 years of spending most of our free time together, called me at my office on December 31st. and said let's get married. He had ask me to marry him over Christmas at his parent's house. I explained I couldn't since I was wearing a red dress, but that did not detain him, so we drove to a location in Miama, Oklahoma that had all the fixins for a quick wedding. Then we drove home to Tulsa and attended another (formal wedding of my friend) that evening. It was a special day with very little stress and a lot of excitement.
We remarried again in a church wedding the following August with family and friends that his parents hosted at their home. It was another wonderful day.
We have been happily married now for 42 years. Loved your story. Thanks for sharing.
Erin J. May 10, 2019
And thank you for sharing yours!!! Love it!