Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Pittsburgh Tradition

Pittsburgh is a stronghold of a particular wedding tradition that I believe (and please correct me if I'm wrong) is exclusive to the southwestern Pennsylvania/eastern Ohio region: the cookie table.


I had never heard of this custom until I started planning my own Pittsburgh wedding, at which point I realized what a big deal it is; cookie tables are standard wedding operating procedure in good ol' PGH. It's basically exactly what it sounds like. At wedding receptions, in addition to wedding cake, a table is loaded up with dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies, of all different varieties, for guests to enjoy.


Now, I have made no secret of the fact that I am crazy for desserts, so I would welcome the prospect of having an enormous table full of additional sugar at my wedding, but there's an issue with the execution.

Traditionally, cookie tables are a family affair, usually a group effort by the female relatives of the bride and groom. My friends who are Pittsburgh natives report that in their own families, as soon as an engagement is announced, all the various aunts and grandmothers start baking and freezing batches of their specialty cookies in preparation. Adorable, right? The problem, for us, is that we are not Pittsburgh natives, and none of our family members have ever heard of such a thing.

I am lucky enough to be the niece of a batch of glorious aunts who would do anything for me, so I know that if I ASKED them to whip up hundreds of cookies for me pre-wedding, they would. I feel weird about it, though. Like I said, none of my female relatives have ever seen nor heard of a cookie table, and I'd feel kind of like a big jerk requesting that they do a ton of work (including hauling all the cookies down to the wedding from our home region of upstate New York!) in order to participate in a tradition that has nothing to do with them. I think foisting this off on them is pretty much not an option.

Pittsburgh bakeries have seized upon this niche market, of course, so I always have the option of buying a gigantic stash of cookies to stock the table. I don't love this choice either, because my budget is exploding at the seams already. Also, again, I feel weird running out and buying a huge pile of pre-made cookies when they're typically a homemade gift from family members. It seems sort of.....corporate, you know?

The most obvious and logical solution is to scrap the cookie table. I don't want to ask anyone to make the cookies, I don't want to buy the cookies, and 95% of our guests are not Pittsburghers, so no one will know the difference anyway. So why am I hesitating? Oh, because of Crazy Bride Brain, of course. Normal Logical Brain makes the very persuasive points I've listed and caps it off with, "duh, seriously, stop thinking about this." Crazy Bride Brain says, "But this wedding is supposed to CELEBRATE PITTSBURGH and our LOVE of Pittsburgh and this is the PITTSBURGHIEST THING EVER! Also, the New York Times published this article about cookie tables in December, and like, six guests have mentioned it since then, SO OBVIOUSLY PEOPLE ARE EXPECTING IT NOW!!!!"


So, Hive, I turn to you: who should I listen to, Normal Logical Brain or Crazy Bride Brain? (Although I think Crazy Bride Brain is fighting a losing battle already.)

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