Fishpan warning! This post is most certainly not about the necessities in life. So skip it if previous entries on single-use sterling silver implements raised the hairs on your neck, or a post on beluga caviar gave you allergic reactions or festive family activities turn you into a Scrooge. You have been warned. And any inappropriate and/or obnoxious comments will simply be deleted. The event was the wedding of my niece, and godchild, in New York City. She had just graduated with a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from a school in the Northeast, and the groom was working in the city for a highly regarded boutique investment firm. They wanted a small but elegant wedding and cocktail reception for 120 guests. While I am certain they were less concerned about the elements of a “traditional” wedding, some facets of one were retained, including classic engraved invitations, formal attire, floral arrangements and a wedding cake and individual sized fruitcakes as giveaways for all of the guests. Flowers and cakes were done by Sister, and I assisted as best I could, in my somewhat impaired sickly state to put together some arrangements just hours before the event…
The setting was the Harold Pratt House, a beautiful large townhouse at 58 East 68th Street, on Park Avenue in Manhattan. Originally built for the Pratt family, they later donated it for the use of The Council of Foreign Relations, which has occupied the property since 1945. Several large rooms on the ground floor, a sweeping marble staircase to a ballroom and library on the second floor, seemed like a terrific place to hold a wedding ceremony and reception afterwards. The scale of the home was impressive for its location, but as I was just then in the middle of reading Michael Gross’ fascinating book entitled “740 Park, The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building,” it was like seeing one of the grand homes described in that book. And Harold Pratt made his fortune in oil and his company merged into Standard Oil, so the whole relationship with the Rockefeller family which also later figured strongly at 740 Park, was just a historical coincidence/tidbit that kept me a little more intrigued by the venue than most. And since my niece had just finished a Master’s in Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, it definitely seemed like the perfect choice for the couple…
The actual ceremony and vows were done in a large room with sparkling crystal chandeliers and magnificent views onto Park Avenue. Seats for 120 made this a snug but intimate set-up.
Marketman earlier in the day making sure the two large arrangements of white hydrangeas (the long type, not the usual ones you see on this site) were balanced and photogenic. Arranged in huge fluted silver vases, acquired at auction, these were simple yet festive, and flanked the minister and couple as they took their vows.
Small tight arrangements in square silver “bowls” with roses, freesias, tulips, etc. were placed on side tables, cocktail tables, etc.
The mantels of all the fireplaces were also decorated with small arrangements, and several candles, as were the window sills.
This sitting area with enormous leather couches had an arrangement of white and blue hydrangeas.
A brief but meaningful ceremony presided over by a superior court judge and long-time family friend…
…to music by violinists from the Julliard school played in the background.
A brief program lay on a side table next to another small white and green floral arrangement…
…which mentions a special rendition of a Leonard Bernstein song by Monique Wilson, a member of our extended family of cousins, who flew in from London to attend the wedding.
Monique waits patiently above, listening for her cue to enter…
At the base of the marble staircase is a large arrangement of dozens and dozens of huge white roses with white hydrangeas, all set in a blue and white ceramic umbrella stand, that sister crafted in the wee hours of the morning.
The bride, smacking her husband for the first time, probably after an amusing wisecrack immediately after exiting the ceremony and making their way up to the second floor reception area. The bride’s gorgeous lace dress is by Vera Wang. There was some difficulty walking with the long skirt, I gather… :)
Side tables in every room…
…cocktail tables, balconies in double height ceilinged libraries…
…and enormous limestone fireplaces were decked with short and tall candles, white butterfly orchids and potted white azaleas.
One of two bars set up in the green ballroom and the smaller library. This one had a guest bartender serving up the reception’s signature drink, a sazerac, a cocktail from New Orleans that has rye whisky, bitters and absinthe; the latter now legal again in the United States. There was a whole process to the mixing of the drink, and it got to you literally “smoking”… serious alcoholic content, and though I had a sip or two, not the best thing to pair with flu medication! For the younger crowd, it flew off the bar like hotcakes!
Hors d’oeuvres and a more substantial buffet was catered by Daniel Boulud’s events arm called Feasts & Fetes, whose chefs and waiters did a superb job throughout the evening. As for details, details, I was stunned that sister provided her own linens, and those in the room with green drapes included light green tablecloths and those in library tan colored tablecloths and napkins, all from Frette. She even brought a housekeeper along with steam iron to ensure each tablecloth was ironed before use.
A quartet played jazzier music during the reception in the upstairs foyer, note the large arrangement of blue delphiniums and assorted pots of orchids in the background.
Another view of the bride’s gown.
The top of the wedding cake, covered in fondant and festooned with sugar icing peonies.
A shot of the wedding cake, baked by Sister, and included some icing/sugar flowers brought as luggage from Manila!
One of the bouquets made by Sister, laid beside the guestbook.
A few cousins in “kodak-kodakan” moments as we waited downstairs to distribute favors as guests departed.
Individually boxed and iced fruitcakes waiting on a side table…
…and were handed out to each guest in a little bag with blue papel de japon.
And finally, the morning after the wedding, the top layer of the wedding cake ready to be put away for ONE YEAR, so that the newlyweds can enjoy it on their first anniversary. We ate our little fruitcake giveaway and it was utterly superb! Phew. I collapsed the next day and stayed in bed for most of the following 48 hours to recover! But as always, another family wedding to remember! Congratulations again to the bride and groom!