Archive for the Texas Aggie Weddings Category

“And They Will Throw Rice at Your Wedding”

Posted in Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! with tags , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by djscottshirley

I write a lot about traditions. I have posted about ethnic traditions, school traditions, family traditions, yachting traditions, and weird traditions.

At Texas A & M University, the big joke is that if you do it twice, it’s a tradition. Their Traditions Council has recorded the origins of some of their long-standing traditions. But the origin of many traditions is often lost to the mists of time.

Do you remember the last time anyone threw rice at a wedding?

Newlyweds were once pelted with rice when they left. Now birdseed seems to be the weapon of choice.


It was the tradition for many years for guests to throw rice as the Bride and Groom made their honeymoon getaway. The origin for this is vague, but it is supposed to symbolize wishing prosperity and fertility to the newlywed couple. In other cultures, guests might throw dates or figs.

In America we stopped throwing rice, in favor of birdseed, due to fear of harming birds. Seems the birds would eat the dry grains of rice, which would expand in their stomachs, ultimately causing the poor bird to explode. Everyone now “knows” this, and it is simply not PC to throw rice any longer.

Turns out it’s all nonsense.

Why aren’t there stories about exploding birds? Because it doesn’t happen.

Pigeon shrapnel!

I always suspected this. I recall driving through the rice fields of south Louisiana and seeing that they were filled with birds. Some were eating the crawfish and other critters in the flooded rice paddies, but many birds were eating rice. And we never once saw a bird explode.

Our culture is so pre-programmed to believe that any story that gets repeated enough must be true. So it became universal practice to use birdseed instead of rice. The past few decades have seen couples running through bubbles, rose petals, and sparklers as well.

There are some practical reasons to favor birdseed. Rice can be hazardous to walk on, and a bear to clean up. Many venues banned rice for these reasons…but it had nothing to do with exploding pigeons. And so far no one has exposed a conspiracy by bird seed companies to promote their product this way.

I recently heard of a hazardous birdseed story. Someone purchased birdseed for a wedding that was specially treated to keep squirrels from eating it. After showering the bride and groom with it, they developed a painful burning and itching, as did many guests who came in contact with the seeds. Turns out the active ingredient was capsaicin, extracted from chili peppers. That was a hot wedding!

So now that the truth is out, will we see a return to the rice throwing tradition?

We now have special "Designer Wedding Rice"

There are new, improved rice products being marketed for weddings that are supposed to be safer and easy to clean. Some is even heart-shaped! And it won’t make birds explode – just as regular rice won’t.

Another Aggie Fan’s Cake

Posted in College Traditions, Let them eat cake!, Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! on January 9, 2011 by djscottshirley

This one is not like the classic Aggie Bonfire cake, but it captures the sentiments that many Aggies have for The University of Texas, while at the same time dissing rival Texas Tech:

Bevo with sawn-off horns and a side of Red Raider.

This was the groom’s cake at Jay and Morgan Behrens’ wedding, where my friend Tommy Evans of Specialty Sound was the DJ and MC. Bevo is branded with Jay’s initials and wearing an Aggie banner. For those outside the loop of Texas sports traditions, “Bevo” is the nickname for the UT Longhorns’ mascot, an actual longhorn steer. Many Texas A & M fans have T-shirts and bumper stickers that threaten to “Saw ’em Off,” referring to Bevo’s horns.

In fact, the mascot’s name was born of this rivalry. Many years ago when the Aggies beat the Longhorns, a group of Aggies branded the UT mascot with the game’s humbling score: 13-0. When Longhorn fans discovered the offending brand, the poor bovine suffered another branding that changed the “13-0” lettering to read “BEVO.”

College mascots now have bodyguards to prevent such shenanigans, but they can’t do much about cake bakers.

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 19

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years, College Traditions, Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! on December 19, 2010 by djscottshirley

19) Honor Tradition!

Traditions exist for families, schools, religions, countries and cultures. Many traditions have ancient roots, that have long been forgotten.

One good definition of tradition is “something that must be done a certain way, and nobody can remember why.” Perhaps the most famous explanation of tradition comes from this classic scene from “Fiddler On The Roof,” presented here in its full glory:

I think my favorite part is when he admits, “I don’t know why.”

But traditions add a lot to a celebration. Traditions link us to our past, to our roots, and to our ancestors. They connect us with our faith, with our associations with friends, schools, and clubs…they connect us to each other.

Big Fat Greek Weddings are COOL!

And traditions can be just plain fun. If you have danced the hora at a Jewish wedding, or watched the kalamatiano dance at a Greek wedding (above), or witnessed the Alcatraz dance at a Peruvian wedding, you know what I mean. Traditions add a special element to any celebration.

Many schools and sports are steeped in tradition. Yachting traditions blend the nautical with the military, and there is nothing quite like the blue-blazered spectacle of Opening Day festivities at the Fort Worth Boat Club, complete with the Blessing of the Fleet and the Setting of the Watch by cannon fire!

Yacht Club officers in traditional non-conformist uniforms.

What about a group of Texas Aggies belting out the Aggie War Hymn?

This school has a long list of traditions, from standing up at football games to becoming engaged beneath the Century Tree. We have a Blog category for college traditions, and one just for Aggie Weddings. At one Aggie Corpsman’s wedding, they cut the cake with his sword.

The famous Century Tree at Texas A & M University, where Aggies propose.

Other schools joke that “if the Aggies do anything twice, they declare it to be a tradition!”

Regardless of age or origin, traditions have a special place in our hearts, and will always be honored – in a proper spirit of celebration – at Party Machine Celebrations.

Party Machine Photographer of the Month

Posted in Party Machine Sports, Professionalism, Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! on October 22, 2010 by djscottshirley

I love to work with experienced professionals. It makes all the difference for a smooth flowing, hassle-free celebration. And a great photographer ranks right beside great entertainment for a successful event.

Scott’s Party Machine Standard for Photography:

Anybody is capable of taking a good picture. All of us take a good picture occasionally, especially now that everyone has camera phones. As an old cowboy friend says, “A blind hog will stumble on an acorn from time to time.” A professional photographer should always get good pictures, never missing a shot. But a truly great photographer needs to go beyond mere technical proficiency. After working with lots of them for nearly 35 years, I have found the top photographers have two special traits: First, an artistic “eye” for the great shot, but perhaps more important is a pleasant demeanor with a fun personality, who is enjoyable to work with. Style is really secondary. An experienced professional can adjust the style to your preference.

“What difference does it make, as long as the pictures are good?”

The answer is ALL the difference in the world! I have worked with a few “Nazi” photographers who were so unpleasant, people would hide to avoid having their picture taken! I have done weddings where the Bride sent the photographer home early, because they were upsetting her guests. I have seen photographers start fights with wedding coordinators. The nightmare scenario is the photographer who disappears after the event, along with your memories. I had this happen with a client 4 years ago, who used a “friend of a friend” that looked professional, but turned out, to her horror, to be a crook.

Great Photographers are not costly, they are Valuable!

With this Blog post, I would like to kick off a tradition of recognizing my fellow vendors who are truly outstanding at their craft. Sort of a “Party Machine Seal of Approval” for wedding and event professionals.

Drumroll, please! And the winner is: Kristin Greenlee!

Bookmark her website and “friend” her on Facebook. There is a link to her Blog that I heartily recommend for both good reading, and seeing some mighty impressive images. Better still, call her at 817-683-6838. Great photographers tend to get booked quickly for the most popular dates.

I had the privilege of working with Kristin last year for a wedding at the Petroleum Club of Fort Worth. It was a joyous, fun-filled celebration, with some specially planned Party Machine “showbiz” moments for their Grand Entrance and their spotlight dances. Groom Jeff was a Texas Aggie, and bride Katy graduated from Texas Tech. Jeff is a football coach and they are both big sports fans, so we played up the rivalry to create some memorable moments.

Katy and Jeff made their Grand Entrance with NFL theme music, passed the football, and did a Touchdown Celebration!

Imagine my surprise when, while searching for something totally un-related, I stumbled onto Kristen’s Blog post about Jeff and Katy’s wedding! I remembered how much fun that was, and the humorous moments, but OMG! When I saw Kristin’s pictures, it was as though I could hear their voices. She not only captured the mood of the celebration, but also the personalities of her subjects. Scroll down the pictures in her Blog post, to see what I mean when I say “an artistic eye for the great shot.”

Perhaps my favorite moments at Jeff and Katy’s wedding came about as the result of a strange coincidence. About 30 of Jeff’s family and friends from Chicagoland had taken a bus tour of Fort Worth, and were late returning, so I had to “stall for time” in my role as Master of Ceremonies. Jeff had a Chicago Bears groom’s cake, and half the guests were fans of “Da Bears,” so…I asked that every time they heard the word “Chicago,” everyone there – even the staff – should yell, “DA BEARS!” And they all did.

I love a happy bride!

Lots of laughter at that celebration, and Kristen captured all the memories. That is what a great photographer does.

And it seems she has good taste in Wedding MC Entertainment, as well!

What the Well-Dressed Aggie Wears

Posted in College Traditions, Texas Aggie Weddings on September 21, 2010 by djscottshirley

Another Aggie Wedding Tradition

Posted in College Traditions, Let them eat cake!, Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings! on March 28, 2010 by djscottshirley

The first time I saw one, I thought it was clever.

Then I learned that lots of people have had one.

We’re talking about the Aggie Bonfire groom’s cake. In the 10 years since the bonfire disaster, many good Ags who have never been to an official Bonfire, could at least have one at their wedding.

A properly engineered Bonfire Cake

History of the Aggie Bonfire (courtesy of the Texas A & M Traditions Council)

“The first Aggie Bonfire began in the early 1900’s as a pile of wood and trash next to the train station. The cadets decided to make a Bonfire to congratulate the football team on their win. Although this first Bonfire was held in the early morning hours of November 18, 1907, the first on-campus Aggie Bonfire was not held until 1909.

“Bonfire grew immensely through the years. The largest Bonfire was in 1969 and stood 109ft., which is only one foot shorter than Rudder tower. After that, the administration decided to regulate the Bonfire height to 55ft.

“There have been two years that Bonfire did not burn. First, in 1963, following the death of President John F. Kennedy, the senior class made one of the most difficult decisions of their time at Texas A&M. In honor of their president, they decided to dismantle the Bonfire, which had recently been completed. The head yell leader at the time, Mike Marlowe, was quoted as saying, “It is the most we have and the least we can give.”

“The second time that Bonfire was built and did not burn was in 1999. On November 18th, Bonfire fell, taking 12 of our fellow Aggies with it. This day was one of the most trying days for Aggies everywhere. At this time, Bonfire has been postponed indefinitely and no one knows if Bonfire will return. The Aggie Spirit has created the Aggie Traditions and that Aggie Spirit will thrive through the trying times.”

Lots of good bakeries can make an Aggie Bonfire cake. Call Party Machine Celebrations to find one in your area.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something…Maroon?

Posted in College Traditions, Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings!, Weird Things at Parties on March 11, 2010 by djscottshirley

Both the Bride and the Groom were second-generation Texas Aggies. Both parents of both families were Texas A & M graduates, as were most of the 250 wedding guests.

I knew they had something cooking when I was contacted before the wedding by both the Best Man and the groom’s mother. The big prank? They wanted me to play the “Aggie War Hymn.”

It’s not as if I hadn’t done this at numerous Aggie weddings before, but they wanted the timing to be just perfect. The groom was the chosen victim.

Step 2 fell into place in the Bride’s Room at the church before the ceremony, when the Maid of Honor showed her Texas Aggie boxer shorts to the bridesmaids. The Bride insisted on wearing the boxers beneath her gown for the ceremony.

En route to the Reception, the Groom started taking inventory: “Something Old, check, Something New, got it…what do you have that’s Borrowed?” The Bride just smiled and answered, “You’ll see!” No doubt the groom envisioned something a little different from what he would encounter.

The evening progressed and the dancing was fierce and hand-to-hand, until time for the Bouquet and Garter toss. Both the Best Man and the groom’s mother had put me on notice to have the Aggie War Hymn cued up, and to start it on the Best Man’s signal.

As the groom started moving to remove the garter, our Aggie bride stood up, jumped on top of the chair, and raised her dress over her head, exposing the Aggie boxers for all to see!

What every Aggie bride should wear!

That was when the “WHOOP” of the War Hymn kicked in, and over 200 Aggie wedding guests all joined in, rattling the windows of the Fort Worth Club.

The groom’s face was a deep shade of Maroon.