Marriage Material: Step Inside Claire’s AMAZE Backyard Wedding
I’d never really harbored any wedding fantasies before I got married, except for one: I’ve always wanted it to happen at my childhood home in Wilmington, Delaware. It’s such a personal space: My dad has poured countless hours and his whole heart into the garden, and my mom’s design sensibility is evident everywhere you turn. So when it came time to do the damn thing with Chris, I wanted all of the elements to feel just as personal as the setting. —claire
Here’s how it went down:
My Grandma Shirley was an amazing artist whose work perfectly embodied her personality. She died in between the time we got engaged and got married, so using her paintings of my parent’s house on the invites and program ended up being a really special way to give her a presence. My cousin Anna (who also designed the Of a Kind logo!) did the graphic design and layouts of them, so they were 100% a family affair.
My dress is by (CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist!) Juan Carlos Obando. I had a vision of nineties, Calvin Klein-style minimalism in my head, and this really delivered. It’s not a wedding dress—just a white cocktail dress pulled off the rack at Barneys—which is the first piece of advice I give all my friends who are stressing about their wedding dresses: Go try on fancy dresses somewhere that is not a bridal salon. It’s a laid-back and low-pressure way to figure out what types of silhouettes actually look good on you. If you’re lucky, you might even find the dress, but if nothing else you can go into the rest of the process with a much clearer idea of what you’re looking for.
The so-sweet and so-talented Lauren Wolf custom-designed our rings and, man, do I love them. That’s a gray diamond on my engagement ring. Right after I said “yes,” I excitedly pointed out how well it would go with my collection of chambray shirts. And the wedding band is a bunch of tiny white diamonds in Lauren’s signature stingray setting.
Armed with my new favorite technology, the curling wand, I styled my own ‘do—if you have curls, you know that basically nobody else can be trusted. My girl Chelsa Crowley is the best makeup artist I know, so I roped her in for my face. We came up with a term to describe her signature look: “aggressively natural.” She kills it every time.
My dad made that trellis from two of these $15 bad boys from Home Depot and some lathes of wood. The musicians who played during the ceremony are my dad’s community-orchestra posse—he plays the french horn. Cute, right?! And the tall guy is our friend the filmmaker Ben Nabors, who officiated.
My attitude about party decor is that if you pick three or four elements and repeat them over and over (and over!), it’s gonna look good. We brought in a bunch of peonies, ranunculus, and baby’s breath and stuck ‘em in brown glass bottles from SKS. Farah Sit of Light + Ladder told me Russell’s Bromeliads has the best air plants around (and she would know!), so we got 100 and scattered them all over.
Caroline Z. Hurley made metallic-printed table runners for us—which I’m now having cut and sewn into cloth napkins for everyday use.
But let’s get real: I let my dad’s garden do most of the heavy lifting when it came to decoration.
What we didn’t do:
We didn’t have a photo booth, but I passed around my Fuji Instax and adore the shots we got from it. They’re a totally different feel from the professional pics, and they’re just so…tactile.
We didn’t have a set dinner hour or assigned seating, which I was a little worried would throw people off, but it turns out everyone was psyched about not being told where to sit or when to eat. The pros at Talula’s Table served everything buffet-style and we bought lightweight, disposable, and earth-friendly plates and bowls from Verterra that were sturdy enough for people to eat standing if they wanted, and they also helped convey a more casual vibe.
We didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen (my brother and Chris’s sister served as our witnesses), but our friends did come over to keep us company beforehand—which turned out to be one of my very favorite memories from the day.
We didn’t luck out with the weather. But we did have 50 white golf umbrellas that created a really pretty scene when they were all opened up. And by the time the dancing got going, barely anybody noticed what was falling from the sky.
And, speaking of dancing: we did not sit still. We danced so hard the cops came to shut us down at the end of the night. And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
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Sophie Monet Throws a French Dinner Party…in Venice Beach
Pull up a chair.
When she’s not getting all creative in her woodshop, whipping up pieces for her nature-fueled jewelry line, Sophie Monet Okulick is probably getting fresh in the kitchen. Proof: Check out the a delicious evening she hosted for her buddies that was inspired by a trip to the South of France—with a pit stop at the Cannes Film Fest on the way, naturally. —genevieve ang
“I went to France two weeks ago upon invitation from my best friend (and neighbor!). We went to Paris for four days and then headed south, where we stayed in a château in Vence, a small medieval city. It was basically a culinary tour—we love food so much, and there was just so much eating to be done. We would be eating one meal and already discussing what to eat for the next! We had heaps of mussels, grilled fish, cheese, ham, and lots of fresh produce and berries all day. We actually snuck a gigantic roll of cheese past customs on the way home.”
“I’ve lived in Venice Beach for four years now, and my best friends are the people who live around me. We are all creative people, and we love to cook—we have a very open-door policy and cook together almost every night. I also invited some French friends. There’s actually a big French community in Venice Beach. My friend Louis took these pictures—he’s also my food-taster, to test for French authenticity!”
“I think the trick to a good dinner party is lighting. For this party, I obsessed over these five stemmed, silver candelabras that I bought at a flea market in Pasadena—super-high-impact and whimsical, and they added a classic French touch. I also used linen napkins and Crow Canyon enamelware. They are white enamel plates with blue trim that have a very rustic, French feel. And of course we had to have flowers! Peonies are my favorite right now.”
“Father John Misty for a mellow, low-key party, and then Disclosure after dinner to really get the party started. I also really like some old-school Hawaiian music on vinyl—something about the island music and Venice Beach goes together so well.”
Sophie compiled everything into a handy Spotify playlist here!
“For drinks, it’s rosé wine all the way—I love Côtes de Provence ones because they are drier and super-yummy.”
“The highlight of the meal was the mussels. It’s a super-simple and summery recipe that anyone can make. I ate so many of them in France.”
Classic Moules Mariniere
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups dry white wine
6 pounds mussels, rinsed and scrubbed
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 warm baguette
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and add olive oil. Add onion, shallots, and garlic and stir until soft and aromatic. Add red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and stir for 1 minute. Add wine, mussels and parsley, and stir together, coating mussels in sauce. Cover for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan periodically to combine the flavors. Once all the mussels have opened, serve in deep bowls with a fresh baguette for dipping. Discard any mussels that don’t open! Serves 6.
“We end the night with a neighborhood stoop party—everyone’s invited!”
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How Caroline Z. Hurley Throws a Dinner Party
Feel free to single white female her hosting style.
Not only does the girl make downright amazing scarves, jewelry, and paintings, but Caroline Z. Hurley also throws a hell of a party—and in a tiny Manhattan studio no less. Here she gives us some advice on how to entertain, her way. —raquel laneri
“I really love simple recipes—not only do they taste the best, but if the food is simple, I can enjoy my guests rather than stress over the cooking. I’ve done Mexican and Moroccan food, but I’m Italian, so I’m really good at pasta. This is by far my favorite recipe for dinner parties—t’s a modified version of a pasta dish my mom made growing up. You can use any type of pasta—orecchiette, rigatoni, fusilli, whatever your heart desires. I buy mine from the Italian store at Chelsea Market in Manhattan.”
Caroline’s Kale and Tomato Pasta
1 pound of pasta (whatever you like!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 bunches kale, roughly chopped
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and grated parmesan cheese to taste
Boil water and a teaspoon of salt for the pasta. While you’re waiting to add the pasta, heat a large sauté pan with the olive oil and add the garlic. Turn heat to low so that the garlic does not burn. Stir in a sprinkling of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cayenne pepper; the mixture should have a reddish tint to it. Throw the tomatoes and kale into the sauté pan and cover with a lid or aluminum foil so that the kale begins to cook. Sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top and stir well again. Let cook until kale is soft. Drain cooked pasta and mix into kale mixture. Serve hot with cracked pepper and more parmesan cheese.
Setting the table…
“I sort of like to follow the theme of whatever food I am cooking. So, for example, for the rustic Italian meal I had I did a farm table with no tablecloth. I used jam jars – I save all my old jam jars to use for mixing paint and for around the house – as cups, and I used old scraps of my fabric for napkins. I bought the flowers I used at the local deli, and I mixed and matched them in different jars when I get home. I hardly ever buy things specifically for a dinner party. I try to use what I have. So for example, when I had a Mexican dinner party, I used tissue paper I had gotten during a two-month stay in San Miguel. If you don’t have Mexican tissue paper, you can just buy regular colored tissue paper and cut it like you would a snowflake. I like to pick up little things when traveling, or at flea markets; the stuff you find is so much cheaper and more interesting and each item has a story behind it.”
…And setting the mood.
“I love music. I’ve really been into Tune-Yards, First Aid Kit, and Yellowbirds this summer. But for dinner parties, sometimes I use Pandora and Spotify to help go along with the theme. I will program Buena Vista Social Club for Mexican parties, and for the Moroccan-food party, I found this weird Pandora station that played Moroccan instrumental guitar music!”