A Wedding Day Bridal Brunch

It Was Time to Kiss the Miss Goodbye ~ Miss Chloe was getting married!

We awoke to a crystal clear “something blue sky” with birds chirping loudly at the crack of dawn! It’s WEDDING DAY! We just couldn’t believe it was finally here. It was the BIG day, and day #5 of a week of celebration on the island of Nantucket.

The house was in order; flowers flooded every room, the dining room table was set, music billowed softly through the house. There was a beautiful early morning quiet, as the only other person in the house was the bride. Asleep. As tradition has it, we did not want the groom to see his bride after midnight! The morning progressed with a calm, yet spirited, tempo. Our open-door policy soon gave way to a bevy of family and friends coming in and out of the front and back doors with fresh baked goods, iced coffee lattes and lots of excited chatter. The very large bridal party of 13 bridesmaids made for a festive event in and of itself, with all of them coming and going as they excitedly prepared to skirt around the island to various salons to have their hair styled. We had a stylist come to our home for the bride, her Matron of Honor, our other daughter, and me.

Tip #1: Mother-of-the-Bride and Bride should never leave the house on the wedding day!  It was important for us to have a sense of relaxation and feel in control of command central, even though we had 3 wedding planners running the show!

The bride gifted her bridesmaids with lovely floral nightshirts for getting ready and for picture-taking after hair and make-up, being careful not to don their beautiful white dresses for this all-white wedding, too early.  They chatted and laughed and cried. They all contributed to the creation of a beautiful and sentimental scrapbook for the bride, which was ongoing at the kitchen table throughout the morning. Each and every one of these beautiful young women, classmates hailing from Kent boarding school and the University of Virginia, were all so near and dear to Chloe.

Then it was time for brunch! All I kept thinking was we need to feed these beauties before this very long day begins…No fainting at the altar! We were 20 for brunch with guests, wedding party, bride, mother-of-the-groom and me. Classical music played softly throughout the house helping to maintain a sense of calm….until things began to rev up with the realization that this was it! The bridesmaids began dancing and pop music began blasting!

Tip #2: The wedding day is the most special day of a girl’s life. Let it just be organic.

I had set the dining room table up the evening before with everything pink, silver and crystal! Though the wedding theme was all white, I just felt that pink was feminine and bridal. I used my vintage (1982) Marie Claire dishes with large cabbage roses in shades of pink. When I bought them 27 years ago, my dream was to use them for one of my children’s weddings. And FINALLY it was happening!

I set out two large rectangular mirrors on which I placed a silver ice bucket filled with bottles of Veuve Clicquot Rose and filled champagne glasses. The mirrors reflected the pink bubbly, the chandelier above and the candles all over the table.  

The menu was delicate and light, but plentiful, with food presentation at varying heights. As this was no time for me to be cooking, we joyfully had it catered by a lovely organic, natural food eatery. Though I must admit, it was very hard for me to give up control!

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Tip #3: Try to keep “task” activity in your home to a minimum. You never want to appear stressed or over-worked on THE wedding day. And besides, you don’t want to mess up your manicure…

The girls lounged outside taking photos post-brunch, laughing and hugging. Right before the bride was ready to don her wedding gown, they all sat and watched a video made especially for her by all of her friends. It was tearful, emotional, dramatic and so very, very special. Video complete…the girls were dressed and on their way to church in the wedding vans, and we were left to help dress the bride. Once again, a quiet fell over the house. This was the moment we’d all been waiting for. Looking breath-taking in her wedding gown and veil, she put on her white gloves, was handed her bouquet and smiled at my husband and me as she made her way to the 1954 Rolls Royce waiting for us. We were escorting our baby the church to get married …. It’s just one of those moments a mother can’t put into words.

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Menu

  • Heart-Shaped Tea Sandwiches (egg salad with cucumber, hummus with vegetables, Herbed chicken salad)

  • Shrimp Cocktail

  • Cajun Shrimp

  • Lobster Salad

  • Fruit Salad

  • Farro Salad with Roasted Veggies

  • Sushi (California Rolls)

  •  Pink Champagne (Veuve Clicquot Rose)

  • Coffee & Herbal Teas

  • Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

  • Mimosas

  • La Croix Waters in varying flavors

Tip #4: Schedule your housekeepers to swoon in upon leaving for the wedding. You want to come home to a clean house. Our sweet ladies were waiting in their car, waving excitedly to us as we pulled away. We are forever grateful to them for making the week happen. We rose the next morning to graciously greet 150 guests at 10am for brunch at our home! We were ready!


The END…

Tip #5: Take it all in. The day is epic.



Entertaining Tips for 75.4 Million Millennials

My love for entertaining began during my early years as young nurse in Boston, Los Angeles and Washington DC. I loved entertaining friends by creating thoughtful buffets on a very tight budget!  I quickly learned some very basic rules.

Tip #1 “Keep it simple until you gain confidence!” 

My very first soiree was a cheese quesadilla buffet in LA, at which I served one drink, a Tequila Sunrise.  Just imagine 24 year olds drinking tequila in the guise of a pretty red and orange drink sliding down so refreshingly!  My friends enjoyed returning time and time again for the exact same buffet, albeit with minor tweaks and subtle additions, as I grew more confident and as budget would allow. I laugh when I think back, that even as a 24 year old, I had daisies on my table seven days a week, regardless of whether or not I could afford them!  I would eat Kraft’s cheese macaroni if I had to, but I would never sacrifice my bouquet of daisies! (Age 24)

Tip #2 “The power of improvising!”  

The menu selection for one of the very first dinner parties we hosted in Washington DC as a couple, called for stuffing a chicken under the skin with “pate’de foie gras”.  I trotted across the city to a gourmet shop on my way to the hospital to purchase this ingredient I had never heard of.  When I went to pay for the Foie Gras, I practically fainted when the clerk told me it cost $50, Needless to say, I couldn’t buy it because I only had $5!  Uh, oh! Fois gras taste with a Spam budget!  The clerk suggested I substitute chicken pate’.  No one knew the difference, and it was absolutely delicious. The bigger picture was that the chicken was stuffed under the skin! (Age 27)

Tip #3 “Go with the flow!”  

My husband spent an hour creating an Italian buffet centerpiece by artfully carving a super large heirloom tomato and stuffing it with 25 carefully rolled sardines, intertwined with a parsley mixture. Our piece of art was immediately scooped up and eaten in its entirety by the first guest who arrived, before any of the other 30 guests walked in the door!  Stunned, I thought quickly and substituted a couple of artichokes from the kitchen to fill the hole that was left on the platter. It looked beautiful. I learned how to “resuscitate” the art of the platter! And there began my journey to figuring out how to “make it nice” and how to “make the ordinary extraordinary”.  And ps, did I mention that that guest ended up asking for water for the rest of the night?!  (Age 29)

Tip #4, “Think ahead!” 

How many times, have I selected a menu and shopped for the ingredients, only to realize while cooking, that I didn’t have a zester or the double boiler?  Or, I’ve selected a menu that requires three of the same pans when I’ve only had one. Or, ..here’s a good one…….loaded the cookie sheets up with six lobsters only to realize that they don’t fit into the oven and you can’t cook them all at once! Plan your menu, then take kitchen inventory.  You may not always be cooking at home!  If you don’t have the right cooking equipment wherever you are, change your menu. Your wallet will thank you!  (I still do this!) (Age EVERY!)

Tip #5, “Minor Disasters may not always be averted!”  

I was invited to work as a crew member on a dinner party at the home of Martha Stewart, our then neighbor, for 800 guests.  Before I could blink, I found myself in the position of Co-Chairperson of table and tent design. Martha had just partnered with K-Mart and wanted to use her baby blue and white striped sheets as tablecloths.  She had the mill send over bolts of fabric for my committee of 13 to turn into 88 tablecloths.  The day before the event, she asked that we try a couple of cloths on the tables to see how they looked.  I said I didn’t think it was a good idea because it was raining and I was worried these freshly steam-ironed cloths would wilt. Nonetheless, she wanted to see them on.  As my friend and I lay one cloth, then another, carefully on the tables, Martha’s kitty jumped up and ran from one table to another with muddy feet.  The tablecloths came home to be redone, the sun came out the next day and the fundraiser was a huge success.  The party was beyond gorgeous, in all of its blue & white finery, exploding with the simplicity and complexity of gorgeous green topiaries and ivy wrapped tent poles. I learned that minor disasters may not always be averted but certainly can be remedied.  BUT, that it’s always a good idea to have everything ready well in advance (Age 38)

Tip #6, “Always be prepared with back up linens!”  

We had a black tie New Year’s Eve dinner party for 10.  I set each place setting with its own votive and had votives scattered around the table on mirrors. Twenty-four white and silver balloons hugged the crystal chandelier, with cascading ribbons weaved in and out of the flowers and place settings.  At midnight we all stood up and exuberantly exploded our celebratory New Year's poppers!  In a nano-second, the streamers turned into a million little fires which worked their way up ALL of the balloon ribbons en route to the chandelier!.  Stunned, everyone pick up their champagne and every other liquid, and tossed it at the ribbons until the fires were doused! YES, that actually happened.  Everyone was given more champagne and escorted to the living room while the table was reset with freshly ironed white linens which I just happened to have in the drawer.  They returned. The entrée was served, and the party continued into the wee hours of the morning……Maybe this needs to be about safety instead of linens, but I’m pretty sure we all got that… ( Age 34)

A Spur-of-the-Moment Garden Cocktail Party

~Nantucket Island~

The most fun moments are those that just happen at the last-minute.  I decided I wanted to have a party. So I texted invitees a simple “hey come over for sundowners tomorrow night before you go to dinner!”  On Nantucket, dining out is the quintessential end to everyone’s day, as the restaurant excursion sends you into culinary frenzy with one dining experience more fabulous than the next.  Just ask the world.  Because the world vacations there and thinks so, too!  Hence, cocktail parties are very popular, as they are an opportunity to grab your friends, family and acquaintances at the very last minute to come on over for a “sundowner”!

Having a party doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. You can do two parties that look and feel the same, for hundreds of dollars difference in cost.  It’s up to you. Be comfortable. Don’t let the worry of cost stop you from having your friends in. I will show you how…Guests are just so happy you invited them!

I set up two 6 ft folding tables to have 12 ft of space to put out food and drinks. A long table makes for a more dramatic presentation. I used two white queen-sized matelasse' coverlets to cloth the tables to the grass, then placed a 60 inch square overlay in blue paisley on a diagonal to add interest and color. I often purchase bed linens specifically for tablescaping. Sheets and coverlets  provide large pieces of fabrics finished all around, sometimes with a scallop, in a huge assortment of colors and prints!  I love to use pure white matelasse' right up against the natural green of the privet, for its texture-to-texture interest. The chinoiserie ginger jars and vases, pulled it all together, as everything in our garden is blue and white, including  pillows, cushions, umbrellas and hammock!  #blueandwhiteforever

The saturated blue hydrangeas and the 10’ tall privets act as the natural host at all times to the simplicity of the blue and white color scheme. I brought out my blue porcelain ginger jars (as I always do!) to add a bit of garden elegance and height and to further enhance the color scheme.  And of course, you can’t have “sundowners” without having candlelight! I love tall-stemmed globe candleholders, perfect for outside, as the candles don’t blow out.  Another thing I like to do, and something I learned from Martha Stewart’s first book, ENTERTAINING, is to put all the glasses out on the buffet table.  It looks festive and welcoming.  Monogrammed cocktail napkins are always a special and affordable touch.  Here I used blue with the name of our house printed in white ink.  

Grab tall-stemmed globed candlesticks in your travels, when you see them. You can purchase them very inexpensively and you can never have too many. Have you ever been to a party and said, “oh, they have too many candles” ?

I have a collection of chrome ice buckets in all sizes that look nice and “make the ordinary extraordinary”! I used one for the beer and wine, one for champagne and one for carafes of juices for the signature drink of the evening, Sea Breeze.

I only use coolers for the beach or a large tailgate. 

Bar Offerings

  • Wine (Rose’, Pinot Grigio & Chardonnay) Choose your own price range
  • Beer (Cisco Brewers’ Whale’s Tale Pale Ale (The blue can fit into my design scheme!)
  • Champagne (Veuve Clicquot) You can choose to omit the champagne
  • Sea Breezes (I love the color!) I love to serve trays of a signature drink.

Your bar can be anything you want it to be. You can just have beer & wine, or just beer, or just wine. Or, you can go all out and have a full bar. For this kind of a gathering, I prefer beer, wine, champagne and a “signature” drink, passed on trays, which makes it special and says, “I’ve put thought into this”...

Finger Foods

Cheese & Cracker selection with Green and Red Grapes and Red Pepper Jelly
This is easy and affordable. There are a variety of cheeses at a variety of price points to choose from. Offer two choices, different in flavor and texture, if you can afford it. If not, one is perfect. Cube the cheese yourself or leave it whole with a cheese knife in it. Presentation is everything. Serve it on a lovely wooden board with your favorite crackers.  I like the look and taste of grapes, but often serve sliced peaches or plums.

No pre-cut cheese, please!

Watermelon rounds with a blueberry picks
I cut the watermelon into rounds the size of a 50 cent piece, then simply skewered them with a tooth pick and 2 blueberries. They went fast!  Refreshing!

Invest in a set of circle cutters.You will use them forever! You can buy the set for $15 at Williams Sonoma. Mine are 20 years old! I used them for kiddie sandwiches for many years!

Skewers with Salami and marinated Mozzarella Balls & Green Olives
I ordered  thick slices of salami from the deli, approximately1/8 “ and cut them into 25 cent size circles. I threaded a marinated mozzarella ball and a marinated green olive on decorative toothpick to create an attractive and tasty little skewer!  This is labor intensive only, inexpensive to buy and delicious to eat! VOILA!

When you make cut-outs of meat, save the scraps and toss them in an omelette the next day, or cut up into chunks and make a Mediterranean salad!

Shrimp Cocktail
A family must-have in our house!  I usually make my own cocktail sauce with ketchup, lemon and Gold’s horseradish sauce.  But I’ve recently come to love Gold’s Cocktail Sauce, which I used here.

Cucumber Cups with Goat Cheese and Smoked Salmon with Dill
I cut cucumber slices thick enough to carve out with a melon ball scoop being careful not to break through to the bottom ( ¼”).  I mixed softened goat cheese with dill, capers and salt & pepper, then filled each cup and topped with a piece of folded over salmon and a sprig of dill.

Egg Salad in Hot Dog Rolls
In anticipation of children and nannies coming, I made egg salad at the last minute and served it in split hot dog rolls cut into thirds and stuffed with a spinach leaf for color.  I sprinkled them with paprika and stood them up like little soldiers on a cake stand to add a little flair, and to help “make the ordinary extraordinary”. And guess what?  They were the first to go!  The adults were grabbing them up! Lots of replenishing that dish!

Sources

  • 6ft Folding Tables: Costco $59 each
  • Matelasse' coverlets: Ralph Lauren from my linen collection. You can buy at Bed Bath and Beyond for a great price. I love the texture
  • Blue & White porcelain: Private collection. Again, Google to find some that fit your budget to get the “look”.  
  • Tall Candle Holders:  Home Goods $19.99 each
  • Chrome Ice Buckets:  Home Goods $19.99, $29.99, depending on size
  • Dark Wooden Board: Home Goods $29.99
  • Monogrammed Cocktail Napkins: $29 for 100 www.thestationerystudio.com
  • Blue Paisley Cloth: IKEA close-out sale $14.99

 

 

A Summer Engagement Party in Blue & White

There is something “goosebump” worthy about planning an engagement party for anyone, let alone for one of your children.  It’s the grandest celebration of all that love brings….  

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
- Emily Bronte

The proposal took place in the botanical gardens in Los Angeles. From that moment on, and for the next ten months, life was abuzz with daily emails back and forth, sometimes hourly, and as the time grew closer, half-hourly!  As luck would have it, the bride and groom from Los Angeles, and the bride’s friends and colleagues from around the world, were gathering in Connecticut for their 10th year Yale reunion, affording us the perfect opportunity to plan an engagement party we would be so fortunate to have so many attend. The site, a nostalgic one for sure, would be the magnificent 1903 Colonial Revival the bride had spent many of her childhood years in. “Raspberry Hill”, the home of our dear friends, and the bride’s childhood “bestie”, would lend itself to an elegant, yet casually chic, Sunday evening alfresco dinner for seventy guests, the kind we think of when conjuring up visions of Gatsby or Scarlett O’Hara on a lazy summer Sunday.  And thus the planning began...

Design The Invite!

Designing the invitation can be a dizzying challenge today with so many incredible options.  For me, it was easy, as I had already had a vision. I didn’t want it to be  formal, since there would be so many invitations coming down the wedding pike; east coast bridal shower, west coast bridal shower, bachelorette party and the grand finale, the wedding invitation.  But, I also didn’t want it to be an Evite because I feel that people love to open an envelope addressed to them. I also happen to be a big stationery buff, who loves the-art-of-penning on beautiful paper, a practice lost through the ages!  So off I went to our family stationer, the same person who designed the bride’s birth announcement!  She set about turning a beautiful black and white candid photo of the engaged couple, one that I just happened to have, into a 5x7 simple invitation, jazzing the envelope up with a celebratory emerald-green confetti liner.  It was casual and fun with a simple elegance to it .

“Cocktails and Dinner at five o’clock”   “Summer Cocktail Casual”

 

Blue & White Theme

The design theme would be inspired by my collection of blue & white porcelains. And I knew, even before I began, that there would be a bounty of white flowers and beautiful greenery, silver and glass ice buckets and votive candles.  And lots of cobalt glass!  I began my design with the magnificent oversized wrap-around veranda with intricately fluted columns and a robin’s egg blue wainscot ceiling.  I hung ten large fluffy Boston ferns all around.  After meeting with the caterer and deciding upon the necessary rentals, I began by drawing a lay out of the tables, bars, cocktail tables and wicker furniture groupings.  We set about creating an elegant farm table configuration, putting two 8 foot tables together to create 16 feet, seating 12 on each side and one at each end.  We chose comfortable pure white wooden chairs with padded seats.  We had a few café tables scattered around the property to encourage idle conversation and to provide a place for guests to set their drink down.  The tables were clothed in blue & white jumbo check linens to the grass. I'm a stickler about not an inch of table leg showing! I was super-excited to find these table linens, which set the tone and contributed to the elegant country theme I wanted. I just loved these cloths! We covered each table with a white overlay to give it a little more depth. We placed blue and white porcelain urns, vases and ginger jars, along with cobalt vases and cobalt bottles of Saratoga spring water, down the center of each table. The tables were set with pure white china, silver flatware, antique silver ice buckets and several Tiffany glass ice buckets (some from our own wedding in 1979!), filled with chilled white wine, which flowed all evening.

The Flowers

You know no party goes off without at least one glitch…. With all of our years of entertaining, my husband gained a lot of flower arranging experience and wanted to do the flowers himself.  Our dear friend had shared a reliable California wholesaler with us, one he used for his son’s wedding quite successfully.  The flowers were ordered and paid for weeks in advance of the date.  The party was set for Sunday.  By Friday there were no flowers. No one was answering our phone calls.  The same held true for Saturday.  My husband had no choice but to go down to the local floral farm market and load the car up with the most gorgeous selection of roses, hydrangeas, peonies, ivy, lemon leaves, tulips and daisies. He worked all day Sunday getting to the finish line by 4pm and hour before the guests were to arrive!

Lighting the Outdoor Evening

We had over 100 votive candles spread out all over the tables, bars, café tables and lounge areas. We wrapped a large tree, perched over a dinner table and near the bar on the veranda, with little white twinkle lights, the bride’s favorite. The candlelight from the votives was enhanced by larger, globed candles of varying heights and shapes. I scattered bags of crystal drops on all the tables to reflect the glimmer from the candles and to add a sparkling touch of “Midsummer Night's” whimsy.

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The Mixologist and the Caterer! 

The Mixologist is always one of the most key components to the success of any party.  Whether it’s a full bar, a wine and beer bar or a "signature drink" bar, the “must haves” are a sense of pizzazz and a bartender with a great personality!

The bar is the very first thing a guest will see when they arrive; a place where perhaps the momentary awkwardness melts into oblivion as introductions take place and guests begin to mingle. It sets the tone of the party and says, “Welcome, we’re so glad you’re here!” We opted for three bars; a full bar, a champagne bar and a Bellini bar.  Our bars were dressed in all white cloths to the ground and outfitted with bright yellow cutting boards, yellow bar towels, monogrammed cocktail napkins, and navy & white striped straws displayed in silver mint julep cups. The napkins were navy, custom printed with the names of the bride and groom and with two birds carrying a stem of lily of the valley printed in white.  The “burd” had a special meaning for the bride.  

The Full Bar
We located the full bar on the veranda at the entrance, as guests made their way up the driveway, through the porte’ cochere and up the steps….BOOM! BAR! This is rule #1. You never want your guests looking around for a drink. This bar had a full range of liquor, wine, beer and soft drinks with lots of yummy garnishes.

The Bellini Bar
We placed the “Bellini” bar out on the property under a magnificent 150 year old oak tree, with the hope of encouraging guests to explore the beautiful sprawling lawn and to meet other guests along the way. Here we had a bartender who served strawberry, peach and watermelon Bellinis.  The fresh fruit mix was made ahead of time by our dear friend and homeowner who was “Vitamixing” the afternoon away!  We kept the bright and colorful fruit mixes in lovely glass carafes set in a large silver ice bucket. Plenty of fresh strawberry, watermelon and peach slices for garnish were beautifully set on a platter on the bar.  Our Non-alcoholic beverage choice was a selection of Izze Sparkling Italian sodas in raspberry, strawberry & watermelon and clementine flavors, served in their bottles with navy and white striped straws. We also had silver buckets filled with VOSS water.

The Champagne Bar
We chose the beautiful antique round Foyer table as the location for the Veuve Clicquot champagne bar. Bottles were set on ice in a large silver champagne bucket surrounded by champagne flutes, flowers and a large heart made from twigs hanging from the chandelier. The honor of the Champagne toast was given to the father of the bride-to-be, and took place on the Veranda.  The location of the champagne right inside the front door made for easy passing by the staff.  Later in the evening, this location doubled as a dessert buffet and the champagne was moved onto the full bar.  I like to move guests around to different locations. It keeps it fresh and allows the staff an opportunity to keep flat surfaces clean.

The father of the bride-to-be making a congratulatory toast celebrating the newly engaged couple!

The Caterer
After interviewing caterers, I decided upon a caterer I had worked with many times.  Sometimes, you just have to stay within your comfort zone and go with what works.  I knew the food would be delicious, plentiful and nourishing to the souls who pay homage to SUNDAY PASTA!

My preference is always to have hors d’oeuvres passed.  The best way to wait on your guests is to wait on them!  Our hors d’oeuvres were passed on silver, glass and white Portugese pottery serving trays adorned with tiny nosegays of white roses and peonies tied with navy ribbon, and small ivy bouquets tied with raffia.  I like a large selection of hors d’oeuvres and usually choose more than the recommended.  My preference is to order more of a variety and less of a quantity of each when estimating the piece per person rule. 

I’ve found the “rule of thumb” to be 4-5 choices for up to 35 guests and 6-8 choices for 35-60 guests. And then order more than that!  You never, ever, want to run out of food. Every caterer has a different formula for this. Only you will know your guests and how much you think they will eat. 

I've always found that women don’t eat much.  Also take into consideration how much you will be serving for dinner.  You don’t want them to fill up before the big presentation! That said, when it was announced that dinner was served, many of our guests were startled, because they thought the passed hors d’oeuvres was dinner!  So much for that…

Passed Hors d’oeuvres on the Veranda and the Lawn (Nine selections)

  • Mini Crab Cakes with a Remoulade Sauce
  • Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Cilantro dipping Sauce
  • Sesame Seared Sashimi Grade Tuna with a Wasabi dipping sauce
  • Tomato & Mozzarella Skewers with Fresh Basil & Pesto dipping sauce
  • Crostini of Seared Beef Sirloin, Arugula Pesto & Manchego cheese
  • Arancini with Fontina and Basil with Marinara sauce (the Groom’s favorite)
  • Grilled Asparagus Spears wrapped in Parma Ham
  • Devils on Horseback, Dates, with Fresh Goat Cheese and Bacon
  • Pulled Pork Sliders, Au Naturel with Pickled Jalapeno Cabbage Slaw & Spicy Mayo

THE FORMAL BUFFET
Our main course was served buffet style.  I like this more relaxed and casual format where guests can make their own food choices.  And, at this point, after a very long cocktail hour, people are warmed up and happily mingling.  We set the buffet up in the formal dining room under the vintage cut crystal chandelier.  It was wonderful to see guests coming back for seconds!  The food was beautifully and plentifully displayed on my own platters and was attended by two servers.  I printed menus out on navy card stock with silver metallic ink and placed them in silver frames on the buffet table so people would know exactly what they were eating; important to do in today’s world of overwhelming dietary restrictions and allergies. Its always best to include a meat, a fish and a vegetable selection to cover all bases and to have something for everyone! 

Entrée (seven selections + bread baskets)

  • Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish and Sour Cream Sauce
  • Pan Seared Scallops with Pistachio and Mint Pesto over Wilted Greens
  • Grilled Butterflied Chicken Paillards with Lemon, Rosemary and XVOO
  • Baby Arugula Salad with Roasted Pears, Goat Cheese, Olive Oil and Balsamic Glaze
  • Grilled Vegetables of Zucchini, Orange & Yellow Peppers and Summer Squash
  • Rigatoni Pasta with Hot Italian Sausage, Tomatoes & Cream (Sunday Pasta!)
  • Pesto Stuffed Raviolis with Marinara Sauce and Grana Padano Cheese (More Sunday Pasta!)
  • Baskets of Freshly Baked Homemade Breads with salted butter

Desserts
We set a lovely dessert buffet of finger foods in the Foyer, on the same table we used for our champagne bar, and moved the champagne on to the open bar.  Single bite finger foods are more apt to be eaten as guests can just pop them in. I, for one, don’t want to mess up my lipstick, nor do I want to hold something that will have crumbs tumbling down as I munch on it!  Dessert quantity can be tricky because most people either won’t eat dessert or they will take a small piece of something sweet to have with their coffee, after-dinner-drink or champagne. We ordered lots of finger desserts and displayed them on double on triple-tiered plates of varying heights to add interest and a bit of drama. NOTE: In the blink of an eye, what did my wandering eyes see?  The dessert table empty! My husband and I simply could not believe it. I was mortified, needless to say, even though everyone assured me that they were more than satiated. Just when you think you have it down...!  Thank goodness we had take home gifts of more sweets for everyone!

DESSERT (eight selections)

  • Lemon Squares cut into thirds (bite size is always the best)
  • Coconut Macaroons
  • Large tray of the Bride’s Favorite Cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal and fig
  • Chocolate covered strawberries (Bride’s favorite)
  • Mini Chocolate Eclairs
  • Mini Cannoli
  • Mini Fruit tarts
  • Mini Mousse Poppers Assortment
  • Fresh Fruit platter
  • Coffee serving
  • Chilled Limoncello in shot glasses
  • Prosecco

The Take Home Gift
Who doesn’t love chocolate, right? So, I thought boxes filled with locally made, custom truffles would be the best take home gift.  We called upon our friend and master chocolatier, Michelle, owner and creator of Cocoa Michelle of Westport, for her exquisite taste and guidance. She created the most incredible custom flavored truffles:

  • Earl Grey
  • Rose
  • Chai Latte
  • Banana
  • Green Tea
  • Lavender
  • Dark Chocolate raspberry

Following through with our blue and white theme, I purchased 4”x4” white boxes and lined them with navy tissue.  We filled each box with four of these hand-made truffles and tied them with navy grosgrain ribbon, custom printed with the names of the bride and groom.  They were set in a large shallow basket for guests to grab as they left.  NOTE: We almost forgot to put the basket out!  Many of the guests had left by the time we remembered that we were hiding them in the living room until the party was wrapping up.  Good idea to put a person in charge of things like this…Otherwise, the champagne takes over!

Music
Music sets the mood and enhances the theme of any party!  The father-of-the-bride and his best friend, the homeowner, created a playlist brimming with romantic songs from the 1920’s and 30’s, by artists such as Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Natalie Cole and Ray Charles, as well as other favorites such as Etta James and Dinah Washington.  Here is a sneak peek…

  • “I’ve Got The World On A String” 1932
  • “Unforgettable” 1951
  • “What A Difference A Day Makes” 1934
  • “Let’s Do It” (Let’s Fall in Love) 1928
  • “I Get A Kick Out of You” 1934
  • “The Way You Look Tonight” 1936
  • “At Last” 1941
  • “Someone To Watch Over Me” 1926
  • “You Made Me Love You” 1913
  • “The Man I Love” 1924
  • “It Had To Be You” 1924

Conversational Seating Areas
Our friends had a lovely collection of antique white wicker that worked beautifully with the theme of the party and made for comfortable and relaxing, lazy conversational areas.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
As a remembrance of this beautiful magical evening, the bride’s childhood “bestie” created an 11X14 hard-covered book online using MyPublisher.  It was a stunning chronicle of 142 photos from their formal engagement shoot and from the engagement party.  We surprised the bride with it at her east coast shower! We had another copy made for the groom’s parents, and gave it to them as a welcome gift when they arrived in California for the wedding!  They were so thrilled!  Its such a beautiful and treasured idea.

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Other Important Details to Consider

Driveway Monitoring
We preferred that no one park in the driveway, so we parked our 1994  British Racing Green Jaguar XJS at the entrance to avoid having anyone parking and causing a possible traffic gridlock.  We did a fun thing and designed a picnic on the hood, complete with tablecloth, picnic basket and wine, to give it a welcoming feel and of course, also to add to our Gatsby-esque theme!  Spirit is always the name of the game! Have fun with all of it!

Which door do I use?
We roped off the service entrance and the back porch doors with pink ribbon, so no one would mistake them for entryways into the house. You definitely don’t want your guests entering the kitchen only to be greeted by the caterers racing around with food and dishes flying all over the place!

Bathroom Décor
Monogrammed hand towels, printed the same as the cocktail napkins, were placed in the bathrooms, along with Molton Brown hand wash, a candle for ambient lighting and scent and a small vase of white roses with trailing ivy and raffia ribbon .

Be Sure Guests Can Find the Party!
This was fun! While most of the guests were driving either from near or far, many were coming with drivers and taxis from the airports and the train. The last thing we wanted was for them to waste even one minute trying to find the house!  So, the bride's siblings made a humorous over-statement and enlarged the invitation to 2 X 3 feet, mounted it on foam core, double-sided, and placed it at the entrance to the estate!  And yes, it became a conversation piece and no one arrived late or got lost!

SOURCES

  • Photography Credit: Kenn Hopkins
  • Ivory Truffle Boxes: Paper Source
  • Navy tissue lining: Paper Source
  • Navy card stock for menus:  Paper Source
  • Silver Frames:  Personal collection
  • Metallic pens:  Paper Source
  • Truffles:  Cocoa Michelle  Westport, Ct
  • Invitations:  The Write Approach  Woodbridge, CT
  • Navy and white striped straws:  Etsy online
  • Bellini Carafes:  Crate and Barrel
  • White platters:  Home Goods
  • Silver Platters:  Personal collection
  • Stem Candles:  Home Goods
  • Custom Ribbon:  Century Marketing
  • Blue Porcelain:  Private Collection
  • Cobalt:  Private Collection
  • Custom printed cocktail napkins and hand towels:  ForYourParty.com
  • Crystal drops:  Pottery Barn (post Christmas sale)
  • Custom Photo Book:  My Publisher online / Jennifer Witkin McCollum
  • Flowers:  Compo Farms Westport Ct
  • Party Rentals:  MitchCo. Tent and Party, Stratford, CT
  • Catering:  The Pantry