Love Warrior Wedding Wrap-up

I joked with the newlyweds over the holidays, “I’m done” I say.

“No more wedding blogs!”

Also me, “nah, just one more…”

It really was the best day of 2018, maybe even the best day of my life.

Maybe? Yes, it was.

But enough already, right?

This is it, I swear, final thoughts and revelations from this epic celebration of all that is love.

In the last blog, I gave you Allison’s blessing. Hayden’s deserves equal time.

Because, look at them.

 Lindsay’s bookends. They know her intimately.

And just what did her little brother have to say?

“Lindsay and Natalie I see you both as tenacious warriors for love. Lindsay, as your brother I have felt the power of your love my entire life. From collecting bugs on McCollum street to late night conversations on beaches, rooftops and front porches all over California. Your ability to listen, support and provide guiding consolation is unmatched and a special blessing for anyone you come in contact with. Natalie, as I have gotten to know you it quickly became clear that Lindsay had met an amazing person. Your kindness, intelligence and love of life is apparent in even the shortest conversation. You both speak and act from a place of love. You represent and advocate for all the beauty love can bring.”

He went on…

“I hope that you will continue to do the things you have always done so well. Stretch towards goodness, bigness and kindness, learn about yourselves and share that with each other. Continue on as the warriors for love that you so naturally are. I love you both and thank you for letting me be a part of this beautiful ceremony and spectacular day.”

He made the meadow glow…

 Oh this day!

There in front of me, were all three of my children, declaring love as the most powerful and important thing. These fully formed humans  know the secret. It’s all about love and beaches!!

I have succeeded!!

It remains in me today, a glorious feeling of accomplishment.

To know they know, it’s everything.

We are a family of hand-holding, beach forward love warriors!!

Merriment ensued, and the celebration in the barn lasted till the wee hours…

But then, Sunday Funday, clean up the ranch day.

We were all a little worn out, drained from all the festivities, but still connecting, and so much clean up to handle.

Wild Brother Bill from Jackson Hole, loved riding at the top of the truck, bossing out directions, dodging fairy garland.

Goddess bless our friends that came to lend a hand. Goddess, bless them!

I don’t have any pictures, but once the barn was clear, Jillian and Liz guided everyone through a series of yoga poses, with a long savasana, like a cherry on top.

Cousins re-connected.

Everywhere you looked, there was a Jennie. I like that.

My Johnny and I didn’t fight once. (I can be bossy, ya know?)

Everyone showed up with an amazing “get ‘er done” attitude.

There was plenty to do, and we did it.

The excitement of the day?

  Allison doing her first front flip into Veronica Lake!



Everyone was in love. It consumed us. We were welcomed into a new family, that came with twenty other families, we were now Hog Farmers.

Could it be true?  This was now a part of us?

So we went for Thanksgiving to be sure, and fell in love all over again.

Just last week Evan and Irene were in town visiting family. They dropped in for an afternoon tea. Family confirmed.

It’s a wrap!

What a magical event, the blending of two + twenty families.

Thank you newlyweds for having this three-day wedding celebration.

It was the most wonderful experience.

Merry Christmas, Everyone

I promised at least two more wedding blogs before the end of the year. My Q4 was very distracting, full of big surprises and changes for the
Bucks County Corporation.

All the while,  I just wanted to write about the wedding and
these two knuckleheads!

I mean Newlyweds!!

Allison and Hayden were asked to give blessings at the ceremony.

I give you Allison’s blessing today.

As a side note, she’s a hella dancer, as is her sister.

They got the moves.

Have I mentioned how proud I am of my kids?

O yeah, only one thousand times.

 Allison’s Blessing for Natalie and Lindsay’s Wedding Day

“For those of you who don’t know us, we are a family that takes
Christmas very seriously.

My father serves as choir director for a rowdy crew of sixty or so Christmas Eve carolers  – many of whom you find seated beside you – my mother decks out the house and just this year spent many afternoons creating tiny, glittered houses for her seasonal display of miniatures, we eat too much sticky toffee pudding, and wrap all of our presents in pillowcases.

So it is one of the many magical serendipities of their love story that Lindsay would fall hard for Natalie Rose, a woman born on Christmas Day.

At the first Christmas that Natalie Rose spent with our family, Natalie borrowed from the Fleetwood Mac anthem of their romance and made my sister a
perfect piece of embroidery that reads:

You Make Loving Fun.

Lindsay -You make everything fun.

You are yours before you are ever anyone else’s.

You love courageously and approach life with panache and a
deep and honest attention.

And it is possible that there is no truer thing that I could say up here today.
About my sister. About Natalie.

About how they love each other…You make loving fun.

Lindsay and Natalie Rose – You make loving fun.

You also make loving more epic. More generous. More serious.

More ridiculous.

It is filled with rainbows and rust.

Occasional calamities, tooth crushing, and frequent moments of grace.

I’m moved that neither one of you is being “given away”.

That Lindsay asked me and Hayden to stand here and give some sort of blessing that welcomed Natalie into the family, and celebrated the start of a more expanded definition and experience of our family.

It is a testament to how you love each other, but also how you love your family, your friends, this land.

That there is never less, but always more.

And so, my blessing for you is that you feel something akin to the words
of Raymond Carver:

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself.

Beloved on the earth.

Lindsay Cook. Natalie Rose Cook.

You are beloved oh-so-beloved on this earth.

Today and yesterday and all the days. “

A snap of the talented author, taking a break amongst the tablecloths the day
after the wedding.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Go forth and love.

Mama Bear’s Wedding Toast

Part FOUR: A Toast to my Daughter and her Wife

I know I’m off schedule, and I’m supposed to be blogging about the ceremony (still pulls on my heart – so beautiful) but everything changed this past six weeks – my head chef walked out, after twenty -five years and the new chef hurt herself… I’ve been cooking full time.

All in a days work, sure, sure.

Not to worry, we are making beautiful food, of course.

I’m dying to share more deets about the best day of my life, so I’m doing a quickie here about my toast.

All the parents toasted.

Here’s my handsome Johnny.

The Engber’s, Natalie’s parents.

So charming.

Look at how Evan is holding the flashlight for Irene to see.

(It’s hell getting old.)

And me.

I did an activity more than a toast.  I was nervous about it, but I confided in Allison, she told me she loved it and I should do it. Just what I needed to hear.

I talked about how much I love applause and that we all need more of it. I asked everyone to put out their hands and feel all the love in the room, right through their palms.

And when they caught the energy coursing through, I told them we were going to applaud,  rising up in a standing ovation for love and marriage.

It totally worked. All the feels.

Now, zoom in and look at my mom in this picture. Love.

She’s dancing with her grandchildren.

Now, look at my kids, I have a new daughter!

A Delicious Wedding Weekend

LNW  aka “Lindsay & Natalie’s Wedding

Part THREE:  Deliciousness

If you’re following along, You know about the fleas, the fires and the chairs flying away on the highway. Little things in the big picture, and not surprising for mercury retrograde.

Damn planets.

As a clan we’re a pro-active, positive bunch, and it’s hard to take us down.

I however, on this wedding weekend, was preparing for a full on melt down. I was worried about the food for the next day, the capability of the ovens. I was worried about staff. I was worried about my chefs who were in transit from Los Angeles. I was worried about the fish. None of it seemed plausible anymore.

This story is from my point of view, as the caterer, doing her first destination wedding and also, mother of the betrothed.

There was a lot of cooking to do.

We had the rehearsal dinner for one hundred and forty guests, and then the wedding, for one hundred and eighty guests the next day. I knew we would do a great job, I trust in my team, but my anxiety was at an eleven on Friday.

It turned  out, there was nothing to worry about. We did the same menu we did for Erin and Rikki’s wedding – fajitas with corn sensation, The Benton Way zucchini slaw, black beans, Mexican rice, root beer floats, and these gorgeous  rustic blackberry tarts that chef Cate whipped up, with blackberries courtesy of the Hog Farm, picked that morning among the rattlesnakes.

No joke.

Lania, the couple’s sister in law, grilled all the steaks for the fajitas ending in a righteous fire in the barbecue. She’s a fire worker and remained calm, but there was direction to get away from the house and far away from the contained blaze.  All ended well, the fajitas were delicious.

My gal Cate was slaying in the kitchen, and as I was ramping up into my own little trainwreck, she kept telling me it was all perfect.

Around 3:30, she sent me up the to get ready for the supper and the rehearsal. Guests at 5, rehearsal at 4. I gotta get a move on. This is really happening!

I was hyperventilating a bit, as we were coming down the hill from our swank accommodations at the Barsotti’s and  I could tell I was on Johnny’s last nerve. Good for him (and me) though, he remained calm and quiet.

When we got back to the white house for the festivities, the first people I saw were my BFF’s Gwen & Jen. Gwen was super excited because she just went swimming in Veronica Lake (the pond for Camp Winnarainbow)… in her underwear. My first good laugh of the day.

And just like that, all my anxiety and stress and spinning out of control, melted away. Everything was alright.

This is us on wedding day, my two little anchors.

It was wonderful seeing all of Lindsay’s friends from the past three decades. I got a little verklempt. I have such fond memories of feeding all of them. They’re part of her fabric and  they were all there with so much love and support, the entire Hog Farm was vibrating.

It was a wonderful evening. We never got the stringer lights up over the party area, but that made no never mind.
We hung out in the dark. There was also plenty to do inside, too. Tying the napkins,
table assignments, menu displays… still busy.

The next day, Cate absorbed all my anxiety. It was all about the fish. We were all nervous now.

So the chefs did a few fish trials; they were rustic and beautiful! My spirit was back on track.

The one thing Lindsay wanted was whole fish. Branzino, to be specific.  She was specific about the entire menu. Check out her notes.

It was designed around Irene’s growing calendar, which she knows well, because
she worked on the farm last summer.

Lindsay also loves little jars as much as I love little jars, so I did the first course in little jars.  Fig jam, zucchini butter, hummus, harissa, chimmi-churri, all served with Midwife & the Baker’s bread, Manchego, olives and pickles, Humbolt Fog, chevre and medjool dates.

The cocktail hour was upon arrival, with tray passed appetizers.

Followed by the ceremony, then guests got a cocktail and found their seats.

Delicious starters were already on the table, ready to share.

Did I mention that the chefs went to the wrong location? Oh yes, they did. For some reason they had it in their heads that the wedding was happening at their glampsite seven miles away, and not up the hill a half mile. As I’m coming down the hill in my wedding finest, I get a call from Chef Ellie, “Jennie, where is the wedding?  We’re here at Mendocino Magic and I don’t see it”. Yeah.  Come back Ellie.

That put some serious pressure on cocktail hour.

Especially since they had all the ice in the van, too. for the booze.

Not really according to plan, but my daughter’s getting married. It’ll all work out, right?

Of course. It did.

Back to the menu. For the second course we served the sliced tomatoes with balsamic pearls, basil and fresh mozzarella,  watermelon with mint and feta, beets with oranges and pistachios. Roasted potato salad.

Beautiful. Delicious. Fresh. Grown on the farm.

After the first two courses, guests got up, went to the bar, visited other guests. I was just beginning to feel like the pace was lagging and headed back to the kitchen. I was blocked by my dear friend Carlyn, who said “we’re giving them a minute to digest, we just served a lot of food.” Oh. everything is under control.

The pace was actually perfect. Different than my typical wedding. I loved it.

Soon enough, guests were back at their seats and the third course was served.

Roasted branzino, achiote roasted carrots, conchigle pasta in a creamy pea sauce.

Guests were encouraged to use some of the sauces from the first course with the third course.

I had some chicken in the back, my mom doesn’t eat fish, and I knew there’d be others, but no one identified. I served a big plate of chicken to my mom’s table and my brothers finished it off. It wasn’t for nothing.

My eighty-nine year old mom was everywhere on wedding day. Playing with Ella and the florals, Chatting up the hog farmers, hanging in the white house.

I can’t say enough about the wedding cake.

I love cake.

Especially, strawberry shortcake made by Tara, Lania’s mom. She used those tiny wild strawberries that taste like heaven. The filling was whipped cream and berries, and then a cream cheese icing on the outside.

It was a delicious beast. I’m still craving it.

My girlfriend Shelley made the cake topper out of paper!  It’s a work of art!

That’s Lindsay on the left.

Around 11 PM, we busted out the bacon wrapped hot dogs. I’m not sure what time they had them at the barn, the fire was slow going. I packed up two for me and my Johnny and we ate them in silence in the Barsotti’s kitchen around 1:30 AM.

On Sunday, we were back to the white house for breakfast… lucky for us,  one of the hog farmers, H.M. had it all under control.  I was thrilled to walk in and see enough potatoes and baked goods for two hundred people.

Time to EAT! When I’m at an event, I tend to not eat. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Not to worry, I make up for it immediately following. And on this day, it was H.M.’s fine breakfast.

That’s her on the far left, next to Irene, MOB, at rehearsal dinner. Next to Irene is Sharon with her ears on, and Irene’s Sister Colleen from Ireland. Three hog farmers and a sister.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning up, many thanks to Colleen for reminding me to get my clean up crew lined up. I did a family text and let everyone know their help was expected, and they showed up with gloves on. Lots of Veronica Lake breaks, and a taco lunch led way to a leftover dinner I whipped together for any stragglers and the hog farmers.

They loved my figgy bread pudding.


Next up… the ceremony.

Setting a Pretty Wedding Table for LNW

LNW  aka “Lindsay & Natalie’s Wedding

Part TWO:  Table Settings

Always one of my favorite parts of every party, is watching the table come together. It was especially fun at Lindsay and Natalie’s wedding, because I used all my personal collections, of which I have many.

Let’s start with the salt and pepper shakers. I had nineteen sets ready to go, and then the guest count went up. I needed twenty three. The day I left for the celebration, Tara, one of my super hospitality professionals, brought me a prize. Four salt and pepper sets. She saw them and knew I should have them. She was right! Kismet!

I used a family treasure on the couple’s table. It’s a bridesmaid quilt made by one of my great relatives. I nabbed it from my mom years ago and used it on my Easter table. It was perfect for their table for two. There’s also some gold filigree glasses from Johnny’s great grandmother on their table.

They collected napkins for months. The White Elephant Sale in Oakland gave them almost all of their collection. They were tied with garden herbs and butcher twine.

This is a wedding ring quilt I found at the Huntington Collection, one fine day.

Lindsay and Natalie collected tablecloths, too. It was fun to see some retired cloths I sent home with Lindsay in years past.

Of course, Lindsay wanted the shabby chic mixed vintage china. I had another client that same day in Los Angeles who wanted it too, so I managed to do a good bit of shopping and can now serve over 400 people on mixed vintage china.

This basket quilt made a beautiful palette.

The couple collected carafes for water service, and I used all my pounded aluminum cake plates for  the breads.

Every table was a little different, all set with love.

You can see one of my cake plates, repurposed into a breadbasket at this table. I have many more. This one is particularly large.

The barn was wearing beautiful!

I’ve decided every LNW wedding blog must have a picture of the newlyweds.

It doesn’t have to pertain to the post, but it needs to be a good picture.

Check it.

Next up… FOOD. Rehearsal dinner for 150, wedding for 180, and all the while, the Mother of the Broom.  I’ll tell you about my little breakdown.