How I Pulled Off a Surprise Wedding

This Valentine’s Day I married my white knight. When we started posting on social media, our friends and distant family were shocked. You see…no one knew this was coming…especially THE GROOM!

This blog tells our story.

Wrecker and I have been together for almost five years now. Both of us came from some pretty shitty romantic circumstances and were ripe for emotional attachment. This was the first relationship I had that started with complete brutal honesty and a well-developed friendship. He knew early on marriage was in our future, and he has been asking me for the last 4 years to become his wife. I was a bit more skeptical about love, having been burnt so many times before, and I kept signing him to 2-year contracts with an option to walk away if we found it was no longer working for us. (See. Brutal honesty.)

But around October of last year, I came around. I realized that our partnership was for keeps. He makes me a better person and complements me in so many ways that I would be dumb not to grab on to him and hold on tight. It came to me in an epiphany that I had THE perfect opportunity to pull off the most rarest of occasions: a SURPRISE wedding. I mean how many people have the opportunity to do that???

…And he would never suspect it happening on Valentine’s Day given my tenuous relationship with all things love.

To set up the scenario, I had asked him in early January to take Valentine’s Day off of work because I had big date night V-day plans, and he would get info on a need-to-know basis. (I have pulled off many a surprise in the past, so this was not out of the ordinary as far as he was concerned.)

The first and most important thing I needed to address was the license, so in early January I started suggesting a late February elopement. (You see this is marriage #3 for both of us, so formality was already out the window.)  And as he struggled with the idea of leaving our parents and children out, I already knew the plan was to include them all.

Throughout January, I was compiling all the things that make a wedding a wedding. I found the dress, made the bouquet, located the perfect decorations, bought baking supplies, and planned out the timeline to each detail. I created a Private Facebook event where I was feeding information to our clan.

I was also strategically feigning concern over the details of our supposed Feb. 25th elopement, but asked him if we could put off thinking about it until after his Feb. 14th date night surprise. Make no mistake here, I deserve this year’s Oscar.

Before I knew it, Valentine’s Day had arrived, and here is how it all unfolded.

Early on Valentine’s Day, we headed out to get our marriage license. We were the second couple that day. Yay, love.


16728995_1371349416258702_168580446772077979_n.jpgSo by 10 A.M., legal paperwork in hand, I wanted to avert any suspicion of evening plans, and we grabbed a romantic breakfast at our favorite chain, First Watch. After breakfast, we stopped to get him a fresh haircut and to exchange our outdated Time Warner modem for something more this century. (As he sat giddily telling the hairdresser about the mystery evening, I bore my eyes intently into my phone and tried to keep from smiling and blowing the entire plan. If only she had known…)

In fact, the entire morning I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. You may not be able to tell from this pic, but my insides were quaking, and I feared any slight slip-up that would ruin the surprise.

After our errands, we returned home where my parents were supposed to call with a distraction (i.e., a favor) in the late afternoon.

Around 2 P.M., my mom asks me to call her via text. (Remember, she is supposed to call us.) She wants to know if they are supposed to call at 3 or if they are supposed to keep him distracted until 3. (Oh, moms…lol)

The plan she says is to say that dad “may” need help cutting a limb down out of the tree, and that they would call him to come help. Minutes go by. More minutes go by, and no call back to his phone. I’m getting antsy.

“Maybe you should call Mom and see if Dad needs help,” I suggest. “I’m a little worried he may hurt himself. Mom didn’t sound too good.”

He calls, and Mom confirms they need him. “We’ll be right there,” he says before hanging up.

I lower my eyes. “Well actually…I forgot something for our date tonight and need to make a run to the store before I start getting ready. You got this?” I look up as straight-faced as I can muster.

“Sure. Trying to get rid of me,” he says as he leaves. Am I busted??? I panic, but realize I have no time. I have a wedding to throw.

I wake the youngest (my cohort in this shenanigan) as she worked the night shift. “IT’S GO TIME!!!” I shout. “WE HAVE A WEDDING TO THROW!”

As she gets ready, I run to the basement refrigerator where the cake and cupcakes I baked just days before were ready for transport.

I run to the second floor for the helium tank and our clothing for the ceremony and Day After.

The rest is in the car and has been all day. He had no clue as we drove to get the license and ran about our errands.

After the car is packed, I return to the Master bedroom where I lay out his attire for the evening along with a few clue cards I had prepped the day before.

I slip Clue #2 into his pant’s pocket.


It reads:

By the way, I love you for who you are and who you will become.

Today is a trail of clues. Feel free to take pictures along the way and share them with our friends. The end of the trail is where it all begins.


I place his pants inside his jacket, arrange the rest of his attire and place Clue #1 on top.


It read:

You know how I love a good surprise. Now take your time, get ready to shine, and meet me at Hueston Woods Lodge at 6:30 P.M. sharp.


Check in at the front desk.


Here’s a photo from his perspective:


Meanwhile…out at Hueston Woods Lodge…


Two girls were having a quick celebratory drink,


Or two…


at an impromptu Bachelorette party.

Then, while she practiced the song I asked her to play for our ceremony, I was decorating the Honeymoon Suite for the anticipated “consummation.” (wink wink)


The giant card I got at Walmart, the pillow at Charming Charlie’s and the rose petals from Amazon.



I made the cake beforehand and added the edible red rose accents I got at Michaels once it was set up. The champagne flutes also came from Michaels, the champagne to fill them from Kroger, and the cake topper was personalized from a merchant on eBay. The adornments under the cake stand are ones I brought from home and came from his Valentine’s Day present from last year.

Soon after the room was set up, I began to dress while the photographer friend of the family we know, Thomissia Robinson, snapped some of these great setting-inspired shots.





As the sun set on the evening,

IMG_1998 - Version 2.jpg

My crew of accomplices (a.k.a., our families) began to arrive.


The Fireside Room needed very little decoration with the wide open view of lake and the large fireplace that was already lit and setting the evening’s mood.


We just added a little fireside decoration,




some last minute touches,


And the scene was set.


To a table on the side of the room, we welcomed guests and displayed the cupcakes and champagne for post-ceremony celebration.




On two of the chairs, we framed pictures of those not able to be with us. My biological father is on the left, and his father is on the right.


As the rest of the families arrived, there was nothing to do but wait…


and wait…


And wait…


And, hey– you guessed it…


You see we were waiting for him to arrive, check in at that front desk and receive this last clue, which read:

So they welcomed you in, but you now must descend down the spiral staircase behind you.

Come meet me at FOREVER.


Every movement at the top of stairs caused my heart to leap.


And then finally…


What’s that in his hand you ask? My Valentine’s Day card he was going to give me over dinner.

“No, you didn’t.” was all he kept repeating.

(The card was beautiful by the way.)


After some boutonnièrage


(As a side note: I must confess that I had to call in for backup on this one. I was shaking from nervous energy and my fingers won’t do what I wanted them to. Thanks to my bro for coming in for the save.)

and a quick kiss,


I walked him around to where our families were ready to greet him. This even included a surprise for us both as his oldest daughter had flown his son in, who resides in Florida, for the ceremony.


My youngest daughter opened it with an acoustic version of Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Going to Lose You,” and we were wed by our officiant, B.J. Stahl. For those of you lucky enough to know her…well, how lucky are we??? Ironically, she is also my ex mother-in-law and remains still one of my closest friends.


She greeted us all with a beautiful and meaningful opening statement. We exchanged our vows (which involved cardboard boxes and a zombie apocalypse), placed rings upon one another’s hands,


his youngest daughter read the poem, “Love” by Roy Croft, where I clearly lost it,


and oh yeah, you remember that 2-year contract that kept being renewed??


We tore that sucker up!


A first kiss as husband and wife,


and we were wed. The thing was done.

After the ceremony, we took pictures with our parents (his by my side and mine by his),


our seven children and six grandchildren (one was still in Florida…boo!),


and our officiant.


With the short ceremony over, we moved over to celebrate with champagne/”kid wine” toasts and cupcakes.


My Dad surprised us with a touching speech about how he loved seeing me happier than I had ever been, and he welcomed his new son “officially”– although those two have one of the strongest bro-mances I have ever personally witnessed, and I think this welcoming occurred at the first time they met, or at least when Dad lended him his first tool.


Wrecker’s Mom followed suit welcoming me into their family officially,


and then my brother,

and then his youngest daughter.


She talked about how when her mom died all that everyone wanted was for her Dad to find happiness again. It wasn’t until I came along that they saw him smile. Of course, I  became the tear-filled bride at such a touching moment.


It was a day of extreme highs filled with honest emotion, and the occasion was true perfection. We were so happy to be surrounded by the love and support of our family and touched that everyone could be there to share it with us.


There was one last step however before we were truly “official,” so we sat down to finish the formalities.




Then some more serious photos,





and some not-so-serious ones…



After the ceremony, I had made reservations for the special Valentine’s menu at the Lodge’s restaurant and reserved a King Suite for the night for our honeymoon.

Over dinner, we had several couples come up to congratulate us. They had been watching the ceremony from the balcony apparently, and many were there on their own anniversaries celebrating their own Valentine’s Day marriages so many years ago. One couple even bought us some chocolate-covered strawberries. (If you are reading this, we truly appreciated your gesture of generosity.)

For us, this love story has only just begun. We can only hope it will be as full of surprises as its beginning, and we hope that all of you find happiness like we’ve found.


RECIPE: Baked Apples, or Apple Pie Filling

by Pitmaster Jimi James

As summer winds down, and is cooler than any August I can remember, I decided this week to start looking toward Fall.


When I think of fall, I think of desserts.

When I was young and wanted apple pie, my mom came up with baked apples instead. She was trying to prolong summer, and she didn’t want to spend her summer making pie dough from scratch. From-scratch dough was for when it was cooler outside and a reason to get the fireplace going and listen to stories about my granny (my mom’s mom).

This recipe is for my mom’s apple pie filling.

Now, pre-heat that oven to 350 degrees.


What You Need: 

  • 5 to 6 apples, of course. I use Granny Smith, Braeburn, and Jonathan apples. You can use just one kind of apple if you like or add some variety like me.
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. of All-purpose flour ( If you can find it, try using tapioca instead.)
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg


First, you’ll need to peel the skin off the apples.

Apple Peeler

Next, you’ll need to take the core out of the apple. You can do this with an Apple Corer or just slice the apple in half and cut the core and seeds out.  Make sure you watch your fingers though.  Safety first.  The Apple Corer makes it a bit quicker, safer, and easier.

Apple Corer

Once you have the apples peeled and cored, slice them into quarters about the size below and put all the apple slices in a bowl.

Cut Up Apples

Then, we’re going to add your lemon juice, sugar, flour or tapioca, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the apples. Stir all the ingredients into the apples. Make sure all the apples are covered with the mixture.

Let the apples sit like this for 10 to 15 minutes as the lemon juice and sugar with start pulling the water out of the apples. As the apples bake, the water mixes with the juice and sugar and makes a thick filling.

Spread the apple mixture into a casserole dish. A 9×9 or 9×13 is good.

You can take a quarter of a stick of butter and slice butter to put on top if you like. . . OR just leave it how it is.

Apples in Pan

Now, cover the pan with parchment paper and aluminum foil. The reason you use parchment is that the apples are acidic and can react with the foil.

At this point, you are steaming the apples. Now, put the covered pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes is up, take the pan out and take the parchment paper and foil off. Put the apples back in the oven uncovered for another 20 minutes.

Pull the apples out and check the apples with a fork.  If they are still hard, bake another 5 minutes. You want the apples soft, but not falling apart.

As fall sets in, this rough-and-tough Pitmaster can’t help but think of all the times I spent with both grandmas and my mom. These women are my heroes!!!!

It’s just around the corner. . . Stay Hungry My Friends!!!!!

RECIPE: World’s Best Goulash!




by Pitmaster Jimi James

As a youngster, my Grandma (my mom’s mom) always had great food. Our heritage is Swedish, German and Native American. With that being said, Grandma made meals that were in bulk and would feed 10 or more people at a time. Our Swedish ancestors were heavily influenced by Italian cuisine, so our Great Grandma from Sweden added her own twists on Italian dishes.

Now, in case you don’t know anything about goulash, it is NOT an Italian dish. Goulash is actually a stew or soup that is from Hungary.


If you were to travel to different regions of America, you would see just how different dishes, like goulash, can get– depending on family background and favorite flavors. Goulash can be like different variations of chili around the country. You will see ground meat, chopped meat, veggies, and sauces. It can be sweet, savory or even burn your face off hot!!!



Here is how my family makes our Goulash. (Guaranteed to keep your face in tact.)  Give it a try.

As always, let’s start with what you’ll need.



12     ounces of elbow macaroni

2       lbs ground chuck 80/20

1      45-ounce jar of tradition spaghetti sauce

2      14.5-ounce cans Italian stewed tomatoes

2      4-ounce cans drained mushrooms

1      large onion of your choice, diced fine

2      Tbsp Sweet Basil

2      Tbsp Oregano

2.5  tsp Garlic Powder

½   Tbsp to 1 Tbsp sugar *** OPTIONAL to take tartness off tomatoes

¾   cup Parmesan-Romano cheese

1      10-ounce can tomato soup

1    cup water, plus water to rinse out tomato soup can



1.  Start off by browning the ground chuck and draining it.

2. While that’s going on, dice your onions and open all your jars/cans.

3. In a 5-quart pot (or larger), put 6 cups water and 2 teaspoons of salt. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add your macaroni noodles. Cook about 7 minutes, drain and wash off with cold water to stop the cooking process.

4.  Now once meat is drained, put it in a large pot.  Add all ingredients– except the tomato soup, water and macaroni noodles– and make sure you combine and mix well.  Let this come up to a good simmer on a medium-low to medium heat. Once you start seeing little bubbles in the sauce, it’s time to add the last 3 ingredients.

5.  Add the one cup of water and stir in.  Let temp come back up (until you see little bubbles again).

6.  Now add the can of tomato soup, and– this part is very important!– you ONLY want to put enough water in the can to rinse what’s left of tomato soup so the can is clean. Put that in the pot and let it come back up to temp.

7.  Lastly, add the macaroni noodles, and in 15 to 20 minutes, you’ll be ready to chow down on my family’s Italian-inspired GOULASH!!!!!

8.  Enjoy!


Stay Hungry, My Friends!!!!

INTERVIEW: Madam-Ofeelya Redd

It’s our first official interview here at Libidacoria Magazine and who better to kick it off than one of my friends and a talented performer.

Madam-Ofeelya Redd

Madam Ofeelya Redd

Photo by Provocatique

What do you do:

Burlesque Sing & Fling

Columbus, Ohio Performer

What was your moment—the moment you realized you “made” it?

Don’t  know that I’ve made it, but I suppose it would be when Circus Columbus Bar and Restaurant offered me my own show.  One show a month is just enough for me to balance home and performing and hopefully make ‘em want more.  In the past, I performed several times a week, but now that I am getting paid in one show what I made in a month performing other locations. One show is just fine.  I am not looking to become famous or make a career out of burlesque.

How did you find yourself here?  What’s your story?

I am a mild-mannered computer support trainer and technician during the day, and if I am not working on a new number, you will find me reading or sewing.  Sewing actually led me to burlesque.  A friend from my Reality Theatre days introduced me to a local burlesque performer as a possible seamstress for her costumes.  That led to auditioning for a troupe, and two troupes later, I am enjoying the freedom of being an independent performer.

How do you juggle your “racy” side with your “home” side?  And do they ever merge together?

My partner of almost a year knew I performed and loved attending my shows as we were dating.  Now that we are engaged, and because I have an impressionable teen daughter, I am scaling back performing and doing more tease and less reveal.  Family comes first.

Describe your life in one word.


What’s your guilty pleasure?

Coffee and cigarettes…

If one band could play your life soundtrack, who would you pick?

Grateful Dead.

What song captures the essence of your being?

Grateful Dead – Touch of Grey

What’s your preferred drink?

Coffee, of course.

Any awkward moments where people recognize you?

Not awkward, but at The Alley, the girl helping me buy a corset knew me by my stage name and was excited I was shopping there.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Bad drivers – tailgating and not signaling.  I drive five over, but if you ride my bumper, I will go the speed limit…grr.  And it seems like a lot of the really expensive cars have defective signals or something…

When you “perform”, are you in character or yourself?

Definitely in character.  I am a tremendously dorky and a geek off-stage.  I dig burlesque, because it gives me a creative outlet, but it is on my time.  Instead of having to go to nightly rehearsals, as one would performing in a play, I can rehearse when needed, and when I choose.

What’s your cure for creative blockage?

When I sew or work on a number, it is usually something created over a period of weeks or months.  Rarely is my initial idea the finished product.  If I find something isn’t working, I set it aside and wait for inspiration.  And that is why I often have many different sewing projects going at once.  I hoarde fabric awaiting the day it calls to me to be cut and stitched into something splendid.

Legs and Eggs featuring Madam Ofeelya Redd

Photo by Provocatique

What’s your next project or step?

Legs and Eggs is a monthly brunch burlesque show running the 4th Sunday of every month at 11 A.M. It’s held at the Circus Columbus Bar and Restaurant featuring Vivian Von Brokenhymen as emcee with performance by myself. Each month we will feature two new performers.  Hoping to keep the numbers more to the true burlesque style with lots of tease and legs.

How does one get  into this profession?

Check local papers and bars for burlesque shows and troupes.  Sometimes they audition for new members or offer classes or an amateur night.  If you join a troupe, be careful.  While there are many honest, kind and supportive members of the community, there are also jealous, mean girls too.  Don’t let anyone pressure you into revealing more than you are comfortable with, or let anyone push you towards an image that isn’t you.  Burlesque is about tease.

What is a nerdy thing about you? (i.e. are you a Star Wars buff? Do you know a stupid amount about a particular book, period of history, or hobby?)

What isn’t?  I work with computers all day.  I read a lot and used to teach at-risk high school English.  I sew.  I wear glasses.  I do not tan and avoid direct sunlight.  My stage name is a Shakespeare pun.  I like cosplay.  I love Dr. Who and ghost hunting.  Enough said.

All-time favorite movie line, go. 

“My name is Inigo Montoya.  You kill my father.  Prepare to die!”


You can find out more about Madam-Ofeelya Redd by visiting her facebook page.  You can also find her soon on

And go check out her amazing voice, incredible body and her ability to truly, TRULY entertain!

All photos were taken by Provocatique.  You can find them on facebook here or visit their website for more information.

Madam Ofeelya Redd

Photo by Provocatique