The Deen family just keeps on growin’. No, we don’t have another grandbaby on the way—yet—but this news is every bit as wonderful and just as miraculous: Bobby’s a married man.
My youngest son has been a bachelor for so long, I started thinking he was gonna make a career out of being single. Then, completely out of the blue, he told me that he had met “the one.”
“The one what?” I ask stupidly.
“The woman I’m going to marry.”
Once I picked my jaw up off the ground, I hugged him with everything I had (and said a silent prayer of thanks to the good Lord). This was something I thought would never happen—and I couldn’t be happier that it has.
Jack and I holding hands at the ceremony.
Bobby met Claudia at the gym a couple of years back, which shouldn’t surprise me because next to cooking, working out is Bobby’s favorite pastime. She was living here in Savannah and working on her master’s degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Once she graduated, Claudia moved to Chicago to work as a producer. She and Bobby eventually reconnected over social media and then he fell. Hard.
Claudia’s originally from Venezuela and she’s as cute as a bug’s ear. I’m not surprised she caught Bobby’s attention; she’s really outgoing, down-to-earth and comes from a close-knit family—qualities us Deens hold in high regard. I wonder how you could not love somebody who loves your child. But Claudia is easy to love.
I told Bobby that I’d waited so long for this that I was gonna throw him a wedding like he’d never imagined.
This proud mama couldn’t help but get a little teary-eyed!
“I’m only gonna do this once, Mama,” he said to me, “and I want to do it right.”
For Bobby, “right” meant something small and personalized with only his closest friends and family. He’s always been such a private person—which isn’t easy in this business—but when he knows what he wants, there’s no changing Bobby’s mind.
There’s a sweet couple exchanging vows.
Where South Meets South
Bobby and Claudia agreed to an indoor/outdoor wedding here at the house on July 13th and then, in March, we’ll celebrate a second religious ceremony in Panama, where Claudia’s family now lives. My assistant Brandon Branch was in full wedding mode as the official planner, and boy did he pull off a beautiful event.
In a bilingual ceremony in front of 75 guests, Bobby and Claudia exchanged their vows. Then the party really started.
Epting Events from Athens, Ga., catered the event, developing a menu that combined Bobby and Claudia’s respective cultures (think mac ’n’ cheese and empanadas) and their favorite: sushi. The gorgeous reception buffet included beef tenderloin, roast chicken, potato and leek pie, heirloom tomato salad and more. They even set up a praline station by the pool where the gooey sweet candy was churning in a big copper kettle. At the end of the night, guests were treated to meatloaf sliders and a chocolate Brule with sea salt. Nobody went hungry.
The moment we all waited for – the kiss!
A Refreshing Start
But boy were we hot. I don’t know if it was the heat, the cocktails, or the sheer joy in seeing his little brother get married, but Jamie suddenly dove into the pool clothes and all. About 10 more people joined him. I was worried Claudia’s family might wonder what she’d gotten herself into, but they were laughing and dancing right along with us until about one in the morning.
Finally! The whole family!
Life doesn’t always turn out as we plan it, y’all. I never imagined that it would take Bobby 43 years to find the right woman, and I certainly didn’t think it would be possible to host such a beautiful wedding right in my backyard. But plans are overrated. As it turns out, Bobby and Claudia’s wedding came at the perfect time—bringin’ our summer some joy and love, which was so appreciated by us all.
Photography courtesy of Christine Hall.