Getting married with Katharine Hepburn

The Philadelphia Story is about a film about a backyard wedding. You know those wedding films…probably there are many little girls out there who aspire to a wedding where reporters and photographers drop in unannounced, the bride realizes she too suffers from human frailty, and the groom switches place at the last minute. No? Well, maybe they’d be interested in 506 guests who send room upon room of wedding gifts (mostly silver omelette pans—or “ommelete” as spelled out loud in the film), the counting of which appears to be the only pre-wedding necessity. Oh, and drinking too much champagne. 

That is pretty much what I was up to in the days leading up to my own backyard wedding for a much smaller crowd. Happily my sister was in support of the whole thing, though sadly she never did sing us a rendition of “Lydia the Tattooed Lady.” 

If you decide you would like to organize and prepare much of the food for your wedding, you’ll soon find that no one else thinks that is a very good idea. Nevertheless, with a great many helping hands here and there, that’s what we did. Who doesn’t want to make giant bowls of brownie and cake batter? Or spend the morning of the wedding receiving generous good wishes from the farmer’s market vendors? Cooking for one’s own small backyard wedding is like opening a restaurant where there is only one seating, everyone eats the same thing, and no one complains to the chef-bride. 

Though the wedding was family only, Katharine Hepburn stopped in for the reception. While Tracy Lord doesn’t seem to put much effort into her own wedding, Hepburn put a hell of a lot of work into The Philadelphia Story. According to Wikipedia, after starring in the play on Broadway Howard Hughes bought her the rights. Hepburn sold these for a deal to MGM in exchange for maintaining control over who produced, directed, wrote and starred in the film. She did rather well on all accounts—the film’s somewhat oligarchic message may be a bit heavy handed, but the acting is superb. Hepburn broke the stigma of being “Hollywood poison” and went on to such films as Adam’s Rib and The African Queen. All of which makes throwing a wedding seem not so difficult after all.

As for the food, a couple of the dishes were a bit too California contemporary to pass muster in the 1940s (Kale Salad hadn’t quite begun its meteoric rise). But as luck would have it, the one dish I seem to have a picture of is also the most lovely. Sitting on the table in the middle of all those beautiful people is a stone fruit caprese salad made with freshly picked peaches, plums and nectarines, fresh mozzarella, white balsamic vinegar, California olive oil, finely sliced basil and crunchy salt flakes. Even the Lords would approve.