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Prime Time | Evan Hazard: Everyone pulled out all the stops

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Last month, I left you hanging, mentioning a “groom’s dinner.” What groom’s dinner?

In early 2011, Stuart’s daughter Anna, a junior at the University of Minnesota, met Sam Caldis, a senior. They hit it off, and Carol told me last spring to save a date, Saturday, Aug. 18. She arranged to put several Hazards up at the Cathedral Hill B&B in St. Paul, within walking distance of Summit Manor.

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Everyone pulled out all the stops: Friday’s groom’s dinner at Sam’s parents’ home in St. Paul was a scrumptious backyard buffet with beer and soft drinks. Sam grew up there. Sam’s sister and his cousins and his aunts and corresponding males and high school classmates were numerous. Only five Hazards were there, besides Anna, but we felt totally at home. I was introduced to many, but the name that sticks in my mind is Theresa, Sam’s mom, a gracious host, and perhaps the creator of a delicious chocolate gluten-free dessert. When Stuart left to pick up Kathryn and Rick at MSP, he took food so they wouldn’t miss that part of the groom’s dinner.

The weather gods smiled favorably on this couple: fair with highs in the 70s all weekend. The outdoor wedding was at Summit Manor. It featured a skilled wedding photographer who was at all the crucial places at the right times; a professional soloist (Bryan Wells, a high school classmate of Anna’s); a top-notch preacher (Stuart’s elder brother Brian, a Methodist pastor); a bride’s mother with the proper level of anxiety that all be done right and on schedule; a splendid buffet dinner with seating in rooms on the mansion’s first floor, by the complementary bar downstairs, and on the front porch; a dance band with a vocalist dressed as a 1920s flapper; and a staff of cooks, servers and such possessing just the right combination of skill, professionalism, and friendliness.

“Dressed up” women needn’t wear as much as men, which is delightful. But many (not all) leggy young things feel they must wear insanely high heels at posh events. Summit Manor is full of steps, including the occasional one step down between rooms. Nobody turned an ankle or broke anything, to my knowledge, but a lot of sandals and bare feet showed up before dinner and later, and none of the girls looked worse for it. It was a podiatrist’s nightmare or dream, depending on his/her motives.

After cake-cutting, it was toasts time. Stuart was first; like his dad, he prepares a typed text. It was proudly parental and nicely done. Sam’s dad was next, off the cuff but fine. A bridesmaid who had grown up with Anna and a groomsman who had grown up with Sam also both did well. These people were not in cahoots, but one theme came up continually: each newlywed consistently puts others first. It bodes well.

I left about 9:30, but the party lasted longer, and we weren’t done yet. Sunday at 10 or 11 a.m., depending on whom you asked, was a gift-opening brunch at Stuart and Carol’s Minneapolis place. The Hazards had a substantial 8 a.m. B&B breakfast and arrived a bit after 11. Most gifts were opened and some people had already eaten and gone. My gift was a small, flat envelope that didn’t even contain a card.

There was still plenty of food, which was fortunate: I brought a party-crasher. Remember Natalie, the ’80s BSU alumna and white-water kayaker whose home and tortoiseshell cat Elaine and I tended in July ’09? She lives nearby, where I later headed for two nights to wind down before returning home, so we stopped by, and she soon drove over. She and my kids hadn’t seen each other for ages, and now she also knows Anna and Sam. Then my family went their various ways. Among other things, the wedding was our 2012 family reunion.

Natalie worked half days Monday and Tuesday, so we had plenty of quality time. Nat’s a good cook, and we had guava-marinated chicken plus wheat cooked in homemade pesto sauce for Sunday supper. I lunched Monday in her lovely backyard before she got home: leftover guava chicken plus steamed veggies gleaned from the fridge. Took her to supper Monday at True Thai on Franklin, after which she treated to dessert at Izzy’s Ice Cream Parlor in St. Paul. My Tuesday breakfast was reheated curry plus a dollop of nonfat plain yogurt; True Thai’s notion of “mild” is a tad strong.

On Tuesday, Central Avenue was back to four lanes. On the way home, I checked out King’s Korean Restaurant in Fridley: sterling food and friendly, helpful service. Doggie boxed half for supper Thursday.

EVAN HAZARD, a retired BSU biology professor, also writes “Northland Stargazing” the fourth Friday of each month.

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