Piccata, Paella and Other Secrets to 10 Years of Marriage

by in Food Network Chef, June 6th, 2013

Melissa and Philippe d'Arabian's WeddingToday is my wedding anniversary. It all started with my 4-Step Chicken Piccata, the first dish I ever cooked for Philippe (I made it with veal and served it on a bed of sauteed spinach). And it culminated in a crusty paella, a d’Arabian family tradition, served alfresco on a June evening a couple of years later to about a hundred of our friends and family who had traveled to our wedding in the village where Philippe grew up.

Since we had so many tourists visiting from as far as Hawaii, our wedding stretched into a two-week vacation, filled with meals, toasts and sightseeing that started in Paris and made its way south to Aix-en-Provence. By the time our actual wedding arrived, it seemed as though our guests had become a community, connected by something more than just being on our short list of special people in our lives. One of my favorite snapshots caught by a guest is of my (American) stepmother talking animatedly with Philippe’s (French) grandfather, both heads are thrown back in laughter, totally understanding one another, even though neither spoke a word of the other’s language.

Our wedding incorporated both of our cultures: We recited our vows in French and English, and we had a classic tiered American wedding cake as well as a French croquembouche (an impressively tall cone of cream puffs held together by spun caramelized sugar). We were married by a priest and a pastor in small stone church at the top of a hill, surrounded by the people who matter most to us. The whole experience is etched in my heart as the just-right start to my life as a d’Arabian.

Melissa d'Arabian's WeddingThe fact that I remember my wedding so fondly this week doesn’t mean it was snag-free. Instead of the rich roses (no greenery!) I had painstakingly chosen from Martha Stewart Weddings, carnations, baby’s breath and what I can refer to only as moss were delivered. My bouquet itself was a white plastic (!) spray that actually eclipsed my hip-span. Yet somehow this didn’t bother the wedding me, as much as it would have sent the engaged me through the roof. And let’s just say that it’s a good thing the experience was “etched in my heart” because the photo processing house that had our negatives went bankrupt (this was before digital was standard), leaving us with only some proofs and a few snapshots for wedding pictures (a situation that would haunt us a year later during Philippe’s final green card interview when he failed to produce a suitable photo album to match the wedding we had described in separate interrogations). Did I mention our wedding band was the French equivalent of Beatlemania? Not because we are huge Beatles fans, but it was the only band I could find locally that could sing convincingly in English. (What bride doesn’t imagine herself swaying dreamily in her wedding dress to “It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night”?)

The engagement, the wedding and the marriage — all three are special to me. But my favorite by far is the marriage. Ten years have flown. And (spoiler alert) we’re renewing our vows this year! Our four daughters will be flower girls, and I’ll probably put it together in about one-tenth the time it took me to plan my wedding. We’ll take pictures this time, and I’m going out on a limb here to say that we probably won’t hear more than a tune or two by the Beatles. For the food, maybe we’ll do something whimsical (and easy) like food trucks — as long as there’s paella.Melissa and Philippe's Wedding

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Comments (26)

  1. Monica says:

    Love the article, thank you for sharing.

  2. Cheryl says:

    Happy Anniversary! Love your recipes-thanks for sharing with all of us!

  3. Nancy says:

    Happy Anniversary Melisa to both you and Philipe. Whenever you mention you kids on the show I've always wondered how many and what sex. Wow! I'm sure they are going to make four beautiful flower girls.
    Rooted for you when you were on Food Networks next chef and thought I'd never see you. Finally one, then the second one a few years later with Artie and guests. Love the Good Housekeeping Show which is the one I catch Saturday mornings here in Fl.
    Agin, here's to making more wonderful memories.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Happy anniversary !

  5. Guy Rules says:

    What a sweet story, congrats! Wishing you ten more years of happiness.

  6. Elaine says:

    Thank you for making us all aware and envious of your fairytale wedding, your fairytale life together of a whole 10 years. Showing what it takes to stay together for that length of time-wow. Did you happen to notice inbetween your fairytale life that there are about 250 million other Americans who have gotten married and spent far, far longer time together than 10 years and never make a big deal about to except to each other. Since you started this conversation, let me ask, why would you need to renew your vows? Once is everything-and why would you be so compelled to have to tell the world? Look up the word narcissistic!

    • Catherine says:

      And, Elaine, you should look up the word bitter! Wow.

      • Rules of Eggagement says:

        You go Catherine! Very few marriages last one year let alone ten. I think it is wonderful any couple makes it this far. And aside many couples renew their vows, it's a common tradition at ten years.

    • Robin says:

      wow…are you the kind of person who just has to find something negative in everything…people sharing nice stories should be a pleasant change from the news and depression..sorry you can't find the simple pleasure in someone's story telling.

    • Eluwene says:

      Elaine, Elaine, Elaine,,,,,,,,,,,you sound more then envious like maybe a little jealousy in your comments. Be happy for Melissa and her family .I so enjoy her show and I liked hearing a bit of her personal life.She is Real. YOU GO MELISSA!

    • MET says:

      Gosh Elaine,
      Maybe making the effort to celebrate life and things like being ten years together are what makes this marriage a success. 55% of all marriages end in divorce. I would say they are beating the odds and should celebrate.
      Sorry this is such a bitter pill for you to swallow!

    • MRS TLC1128 says:

      Well aren't you just a sour pickle……………….

  7. Vickie says:

    Loved you sharing your wedding with us. Makes you and your family even more special when we view your show. Our 45th anniversary is on the 15th and it's wonderful to see that there are many happy marriages out there. Congratulations.

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