Hats off to newlyweds Matt and Angie, who pulled off something I would never, ever consider doing if it were me: having an outdoor wedding reception in Texas in July.

Outdoor wedding receptions pose a lot of problems simply because they're outdoors... It may rain, it may be hot, it may be chilly, stray animals can wander in, bugs fly around the food and let's not forget how soft the ground can be under a folding table with a 40-pound wedding cake on it.

My fond hopes for a freak cold front were dashed as the morning of the wedding dawned bright and sunny and hot, with a forecasted high of 98 degrees. Angie's cake was designed to withstand the heat and the potential pitfalls of having invited Mother Nature to the party, but I admit I was more than a little worried about Matt's.

Matt is a recent graduate of firefighter training, and his red velvet groom's cake is easily my favorite one, ever. A totally cool Franklin Mint fire chief's car was purchased for the top of the two-tier, chocolate covered cake. Chocolate-dipped strawberries were all around it, and a buttercream-covered cake sculpture of a dalmatian puppy went in front of it.  But nothing about it was heat-proof. Angie, on the other hand, ordered five fondant-covered tiers, switched from fragile fresh flowers to a fondant bow, and ordered a mix of champagne and strawberry cake to have the flavors she wanted without having to order heat-sensitive fruit filling. Thanks, Angie!

All three of us went on this delivery - my husband; my son, who is now my strawberry guru in addition to my awesome website dude; and me. I was very glad to have them all along for the project, as the area was not completely set up by the time we got to the site, and we needed to scramble. The tables had not been dressed, there was nothing under the table legs to keep them from sinking into the ground, the bridal cake table was not level, and the tablecloth for the groom's cake table was torn. Uh-oh... I knocked on the door of the house and Angie's family was kind enough to let us scavenge their garage for wood scraps to put under the table legs. The silver plateau for the groom's cake would allow guests to see the tears on the tablecloth, so we skipped it and covered the tears with the cake board. The silver plateau for the bridal cake was not used either, because I worried that the added height under the already-tall cake on the iffy table would be too much of a risk. The family okayed my thoughts, which I really appreciated, and we went to work setting up the cakes.


Matt and Angie

Jim, propping up the legs of the bridal cake table to level them and keep them from sinking into the dirt.

I started stacking the bridal cake while James went to town on the groom's cake. What a relief it is to have him handle the groom's cakes for me once we get to the venues. He knows what he's doing, but is always ready to defer to me when I tell him what to do. What's not to like about that?

This is our "exit photo" of the groom's cakes. There's over 6 dozen strawberries there! Yum!

Angie's cake is a favorite of mine. Elegant without being fussy, and attractive even when sliced.

Once we were all finished, we got the cakes inspected by family members, got the hand-off papers signed, and cleaned up to leave. Cute little girls in wedding finery came out to admire the groom's cake and ask if the puppy was really cake. I totally love it when that happens.

The following photos were taken by Ann Beck Photography and are used with her permission. The flowers were provided by the incomparable Dianne France.

This is a good view not only of James at work - he looks great in a chef's coat, by the way - but of the puppy's face. He's got a strawberry that's made to look like he's stolen it and taken a bite of it, plus a strawberry stem from the one he supposedly has already eaten.

Me, putting the flowers on as fast as I can.  I was looking forward to getting back in the air conditioned car and taking off my chef's coat. Those things are hot, especially when it's already almost 100 degrees.

Angie's cake. Champagne and strawberry, how can you not love it??

Congratulations, Matt and Angie.  May you have a lovely, happy life together.  Thank you for letting me be a part of your special day.