Event planner Rachel Hollis gives new life to old wedding china
Recipes for this story
When making wedding preparations, brides often go with classic white. Not only for the dress, but for their wedding china, too. But as their design preferences evolve, so do their personal styles. As a result, their white dinnerware may be retired to the back of the cabinet just as the wedding dress is relegated to the back of the closet.
Los Angeles event planner Rachel Hollis, shown above, was asked by friends to update the white china they chose at the time of their wedding. Things have changed--the couple now has three grown children and different tastes. For a family gathering, Rachel surrounded the pretty but simple china with table linens in a warm palette and complemented it with patterned service plates, creating an interesting layered and up-to-date ensemble.
"I often find that my clients stop using their wedding china altogether because their tastes change, which is sad--it's such an important part of family history," says Rachel. "But it's simple to pair existing china, especially if it's white, with accent plates and chargers to make it more current."
For this occasion, Rachel chose service plates in a paisley pattern made up of tiny mosaic-like squares of snappy turquoise, burgundy, yellow, and burnt orange.
The service plates inspired the new linens. Together, they're not overly matchy, but they come from the same color family. A runner in a large floral pattern layers over a rich burgundy tablecloth. Linen napkins in turquoise pull another color from the service plates. Each napkin is gathered at its center by a simple hammered-brass napkin ring.
As a nod to the past, Rachel used Waterford's "Lismore" pattern water glasses, a classic for brides since 1952. But she also used gold-flecked Murano wineglasses and champagne flutes to add sparkle.
"There's no need to keep old things in a box because they don't fit your design sensibilities anymore," says Rachel. "Everything can be repurposed or given new life if you use your imagination."
Photography: Dominique Vorillon
"Berber" linen table runner and "Brera Alta" linen napkins; fabric through Osborne & Little (osborneandlittle.com ). Vino cotton tablecloth in "Ascot"; fabric through Clarke & Clarke (888/861-0366).
Rachel pours champagne as Cindy Chapek shares a toast with her three children, who will dine on the transformed wedding china in its dinner debut.
Rustic iron lanterns from the homeowner's garden were moved inside for the centerpiece. Their weathered finish produces an interesting tension with the formality of the plates and glasses.
Instead of placecards at the head of each place setting, embossed cards with names hand-written in calligraphy from Orange Spot Pink Nose (orangespotpinknose.com ) were tied to the back of each chair.
Rachel Hollis found the elements for the table's centerpiece on the homeowner's lemon and lime trees. The fresh fruit and leaves are colorful, cost-effective, and less fussy than a formal arrangement.
Vanilla and poppy seed macarons from Bottega Louie (bottegalouie.com ) were packaged in clear bags and tied with ribbon that matches the tablecloth as favors for all of the guests to enjoy.
Strawberry & Spring Onion Salad
- 1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon snipped fresh dill
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound small strawberries, hulled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
- Mixed spring greens
In small bowl combine vinegar, chives, mustard, salt, dill, pepper, and sugar. Whisk in olive oil to form an emulsion.
In medium bowl combine strawberries and onions. Lightly toss strawberry mixture with enough dressing to coat. Lightly toss greens with enough dressing to coat. Top greens with strawberries; serve immediately. Serve remaining dressing on the side. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Rosemary Lamb Chops
Ask the butcher to french and separate the chops to ensure even cuts. Serve the chops with mashed red-skin potatoes (cook skin-on for a heartier side dish) and steamed broccolini. Grill lemon slices along side the lamb chops to squeeze over broccolini.
- 18 baby lamb chops, cut about 1 inch thick (about 3 racks)
- 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 tablespoons butter
Separate and trim fat from chops, if necessary. Place chops in self-sealing plastic bag set in shallow dish. Add wine, 3 tablespoons chopped rosemary, garlic, vinegar, pepper, and salt. Seal bag. Marinate in refrigerator 1 1/2 to 2 hours, turning bag occasionally. Drain chops, reserving marinade.
Heat grill pan over high heat. Grill lamb chops (in batches if necessary)--5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare doneness or 7 to 9 minutes for medium, turning once. (Or grill chops on rack of uncovered grill directly over medium coals until desired doneness, turning once halfway through grilling.) Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, place reserved marinade in small saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat about 5 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup. Strain solids; return marinade to saucepan. Whisk in butter and remaining 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary; cook 1 minute. Serve with chops. Makes 6 servings (3 chops per person).
Lemon-Thyme Sorbet with Lemon-Coconut Cookies
This dessert is both crisp and cool. The lemon in the shortbread-style cookies complements the lemony herb-flavored sorbet.
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon snipped fresh lemon thyme or thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
In small saucepan bring water and sugar to boil. Remove from heat; cool thoroughly. Cover and chill. Combine sugar syrup, thyme, peel, and juice in 9x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cover; freeze 3 to 4 hours or until almost firm.
Break frozen mixture into small chunks. Transfer to chilled mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy but not melted. Transfer to 4- to 6-cup freezer container; cover and freeze until firm.
To serve, let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving. Makes 9 (1/2-cup) servings.
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
To make cookies preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9-inch baking pan.
Combine flour and salt in medium bowl. In large bowl with electric mixer beat butter with 1 cup confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. At low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture until blended. Stir in 1 cup coconut and lemon peel (batter will be thick). Spread in prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until deep, golden brown.
Make Lemon Glaze:
Immediately stir remaining 2 cups confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in medium bowl until smooth. Spread Lemon Glaze evenly over warm cookies. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup coconut. Cool completely. Cut into 1-inch triangles. Makes 5 dozen small cookies.