The Secrets of a Secret Marriage pt. 2

I’m approaching the ripe old benchmark of one month as a wife to my fabulous final husband, Aquil. I’m still tickled, delighted, a bit taken aback and in awe of the come up God provided us and the coup we pulled off…also known as The Secret Marriage. If you want to know the beginnings take a gander here: https://angelamooreblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/the-secrets-of-a-secret-marriage-pt-1

One of the frequent questions I’ve received is “how did you do it”. Not how did we do it as in how did we invite 55 of dear family and friends to a restaurant under the guise of a holiday soiree, prompting them all to be SHARP, then sending out a fake “secret” message from Aquil saying he was going to propose, only to have a faux holiday soiree, a fake proposal and a real wedding all in one night. No, the question I’ve received from those who know me well is how did we manage to coordinate it all in a month in a half, while I recovered from major surgery and pull off what looked like a million bucks for what probably equaled the monthly salary of some.

From the beginning we didn’t want and couldn’t afford, at this time, a big wedding, and wanted to position ourselves to focus more on a beautiful marriage. That fact made things simultaneously easy and complicated. The easy part was, whatever we had was what we had. Period. The complicated part was the daily dwindling list of guests knowing some wouldn’t understand their omission from the invite and still finding ways to express our sentiments toward them void of a little list. So with the fact of the matter at hand, we busied our hands and feet searching for deals.

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The Rings: Let me just say I *heart* JC Penney’s. Say what you will and think what you might but they are alright with me. A black Friday deal with extra online coupons was a blessing. They’re not traditional rings, and we’re not a traditional couple so that made the deal even sweeter.  I would tell you how much we paid, but you may not believe me if I did.

The Attire: My boo was fresh to def! Yep, I took it back to the old school because that’s how long we’ve known each other. His paisley inlaid, Cranberry-colored, velvet sports coat and our little or not so little guy Jordan’s tailored, designer suit jumped off the rack at Belk with, you guessed it, coupons and cost savings that would blow your mind. Would you believe it if I told you a pair of slacks was $6?

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My dress, well, let’s just say that Mr. Lauren, Ralph, that is, must have made that gorgeous gown with me in mind. The fashion fairies at Macy’s, with yet another sale on top of a sale, must have hidden that jewel just for me after weeks of disappointment trying to find something which whispered holiday party, but would end up screaming wedding, while masking my swollen, post-surgery tummy at the same time. My hair, not to be forgotten in this post, was Vivica Fox’s finest purchased from and styled by my girl Leslie at my fav Alabaster beauty supply store. I wanted lights, camera, action locks and Ms. Fox did not disappoint. Altogether, our digs were the perfect picks for about the cost of a fru-fru steak dinner for two, a few grown man beverages for the grown man, a hot appetizer and a warm chocolate dessert on the side.

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The Food: And speaking of food. Wow!  Tormeika and the staff at Grille 29 worked so professionally and patiently with us on the menu, honoring our budget and desire to celebrate those who had continually celebrated our love and individual lives. If you’ve not been to Grille 29 in Birmingham please do yourself a favor and skedaddle. They were Heaven sent after days of calling and emailing for quotes from hotels, event spaces, conference rooms and other restaurants. In fact, Grille 29’s total tab on EVERYTHING was the cost of what one small, Shelby County location wanted to simply rent the space. And the cake. Oh Baby! That three-layer Caramel-Pecan top, Lemon center, and Chocolate bottom cake from K&J’s Elegant Pastries in Alabaster, which mirrored one I found on Pinterest, without the price was perfect. Perfect, I tell ya.

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I was hesitant to write this post because I didn’t want to paint of picture of lack because the truth of the matter is that we’re firmly placed in a beautiful season of financial resurrection and that’s a great place to be. Before embarrassment creeped in about the temporary state of things my spirit screamed, “Girl, if you don’t tell these people what God allowed and encourage them to NEVER give up their dreams even on the strictest of budgets, you betta!” I could go on and on about how God reminded me of how much He loved us by showing that He truly is our Provider. In the words of a famous songstress and reality star, “He Did That!”. I could go on and on about my friends with gifts who stepped up to the call and wowed us with their talents to bring it all together…and I will in another post…coming soon.

@AngelaMichele316

The Secrets of a Secret Marriage pt. 1

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December 30, 2016 is a day I’ll never forget. It’s the day I said “I Do” to my best friend, my answered prayer and prayer partner wrapped up in one, my laughing buddy, my vision stretcher, my comfort-zone challenger, my cheerleader who needs no pom-poms, my personal couch pillow, my fellow foodie (whether he admits it or not), my proper “do over”, my own private kitchen and car dancer, my defender, my dude from way back in the days of Big Pun and Bun B, and my resuscitated heart’s cause for celebration and acceleration.

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Having both been married to others before, and with weddings far too big in hindsight, we opted to go “less” is more for this marriage. I specifically remember the pain of the lingering expenses which can come from a large wedding, and we both are undergoing financial reconstruction (do it Jesus!) so we decided the less we spent the more special the wedding would have to be. With thoughts of the marriage taking top billing to the wedding, in early October of 2016 we decided to get married soon. Fast-forward to November 1, 2016 and I awaken from major surgery feeling really “lovely” from my heavy meds and not so “lovely” from major pain to hear excitement in my mama’s voice as she said, “Aquil asked your daddy if he could marry you. He said yes!!!! I’m so excited!” With blessings from our parents we set in motion a plan which morphed into one of the most wonderful days in my life.

Thoughts of the living room, backyard, Courtyard (our favorite spot for hot wings) or courthouse had been tossed around for this simple ceremony. Now, let me be truthfully shallow. I was on a budget. True. But I must have a little bling even in on a budget and none of those first options defined the miracle from a MESS which transpired over the course of 19 years to get us to this point. So with a little praying and a lot of planning we chose to host our wedding at Grille 29, one of my favorite restaurants. The prices were amazing. The food is amazing. The location is amazing. The staff is amazing and again the prices were amazing when compared to the $25,000 spent the first go ground way back in the early 2000s. Yet still, something was missing.

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What was missing was the element of surprise. Literally. The wedding needed to be a surprise. I don’t prefer surprises, but boy, oh boy, do I love surprising. So the idea of keeping the wedding a surprise for our guests shimmied its way into our plans and found itself smack dab at the center of attention. My husband Aquil and I have been through a great deal collectively and individually. But by the grace of God and the wonderful people He surrounded us with we made it through. So we wanted the wedding to be our gift to some of our closest loved ones for them being such a tremendous gift to us. Being that I was in the midst of my 6-8 weeks of surgery recovery with no driving and no working, cringing while walking, sleeping a whole lot and on powerful pain pills, my physical capabilities were limited. Thank sweet Jesus from on high for internet shopping, a great mom, a super secretive sister, a wonderful boo who was as excited as I was and a fake theme of A&A Holiday Soiree to kick the ulimate plan of the sneakiest proportion in motion. How did we do it??? Great question.

Part two is coming soon…

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@AngelaMichele316

What the Duck?!?!

A fun-filled birthday celebration at Grille 29 honoring my bonus sister Theresa was already on level 10 before the exceptionally friendly server came out to announce the night’s features. Before even arriving at the restaurant I’d decided I was ordering the small grilled chicken Caesar salad, their addictive sweet tea with water on the side, and a warm sour cream cake to share so I wasn’t listening to what he was saying until he said gumbo. I’d experienced their gumbo before and quickly blurted out, “Oh, is this the chef’s special four meat gumbo?” To which he replied, “Nawwww, girl. This is his SPECIAL duck and bacon gumbo!” What the duck?!?!? Duck and bacon in gumbo? Duck and bacon in gumbo that I can actually eat because I didn’t run the shellfish “make my face swell” risk? Oh my goodness. I was immediately transported to a Donald and Porky wonderland in my mind and salivating mouth.

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I ordered the gumbo. As the teens of today say, “It gave me life”! Well, not literally, but the meat, sweet, and tender pieces of fowl mixed perfectly as the clear starring feature along with the pork was everything I could have imagined if I had the culinary courage to imagine duck and bacon together in a bowl with plump rice, strongly-flavored stock and all the Cajun  accompaniments required to call a stew in a bowl an actual gumbo.

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That dish, worth every bite, caused me to completely change my order from salad to braised short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes and sweetly sautéed green beans. (Don’t ask me why because I have no answer.) Others ate ginormous barbecue shrimp, perfectly prepared calamari with hidden treats of fried red peppers nestled among the squid, a delightfully fancy cured meat and cheese board, and lobster quesadillas as appetizers which we all sampled.

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The entrees ranged from more quesadillas, their famous Salad 29, Scottish salmon brulee’ with a caramelized onion almost as good as the seafood, more short ribs and other tasty treats.

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Regardless of what we eventually ate the clear star of the show was the duck and bacon gumbo, of which I had to reluctantly share with my sister who ate it off of a saucer with a fork and of which made us all break out into random acts of celebration include hands swinging in the air,  hips wiggling in the seat, lip smacking and across-the-table high fiving. It was THAT good!

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@AngelaMMoore316

Have You Tried Grille 29?

Have you tried Grille 29? If not, do yourself a favor and do so.

A Friday night friend-fest with two sisters I’ve known since high school ended up with a food experience etched prominently in our minds and mouths forever. Everything was special from the first course of four-meat gumbo cooked for hours with rice perfectly plump and enough meat to feed a small brigade to the closing act of cottony-soft, warm sour cream fudge cake and vanilla bean ice cream sprinkled with sugar and all things in between including the meal of filet mignon Oscar style with lobster macaroni and cheese and roasted asparagus….herb roasted, buttermilk marinated chicken with wild rice, green beans and garlic herb jus…and scottish salmon brulee crusted with brown sugar glaze and served with the most wonderful sweet potato hash I’ve ever had and a carmalized onion on the side.

As if this meal couldn’t have gotten more magnificent, the doting wait staff, cultured atmosphere, debonair manager (who looked as if he could easily be besties with Tim Gunn) and the personalized, tableside greeting from Chef Daniel Mitchell was exactly as their slogan noted…a sophisticated sizzle. I’d like to sizzle again soon! #sizzle

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Grille 29 is located in Birmingham, Alabama on the outer perimeter of Brookwood Village.

Grille 29 Birmingham

971 Brookwood Village
Birmingham, Alabama 35209
Phone: (205) 783-1295

Hours of Operation:
Sunday Brunch – 10am
Sunday – Thursday – 11am – 9:30pm
Friday & Saturday – 11am – 10:30pm

@AngelaMMoore316