Byline: Aileen Mehle
In New York social circles, they are still talking about the wondrous country wedding at Brook Hill Farm in Kent, Conn., where Eliza Reed, glorious in embroidered white organza and a diamond tiara holding her long veil, married Alexander Bolen, the investment banker. Eliza was escorted down the aisle of the beautiful woodland pavilion (constructed for the occasion) by her adored father, Samuel Pryor Reed, looking splendid in his morning coat. And even though it was a drenching day, the bride, her father, her mother Annette de la Renta, and her stepfather, Oscar de la Renta, managed to look impeccable as, after the wedding service, they and 500 guests swept into the enormous tent set on the grounds of the de la Renta estate for the luncheon (Glorious Food) and for the dancing (Peter Duchin’s orchestra.)
Robert Isabell is famous internationally for his virtuoso decorating, and many thought the multilevel luncheon tent was his apotheosis. It was a towering pavilion several stories high with a striped ceiling pleated and draped in shades of powder blue, sage and celadon. The tent itself was delphinium blue, which matched the blue of the distant mountains — or what you could see of them through the dense fog. From one half of the tent you could have had a sensational view of most of Connecticut (Brook Hill Farm is situated high on Skiff Mountain), if the sun had been shining. But no matter the weather, the guests were thrilled to sip champagne sitting on spring green ottomans and blue wicker settees or reclining on a long awning-striped cushion surrounded by huge terra-cotta pots bursting with pink and lavender foxgloves.
The other side of the tent was a “garden wall” completely covered with clipped boxwood save for three beautiful oval windows carved from the box, which alternated with panels of oak leaves. These oak sections backed the staggering two-tiered buffet tables covered in cornflower blue linen and decorated with baskets of luscious fruits and simple bouquets of country flowers. Adding to the garden decor, boxwood pillars and plinths sculpted to look like topiaries grown in place, held giant arrangements of pink and white full-blown peonies.
The luncheon tables were covered in robin’s egg blue linen with crisp white over-cloths and crowned with a hodgepodge of ceramic bowls and tins and containers from the de la Rentas’ attic, overflowing with pansies, sweet peas, English garden roses and larkspur. There were Irish linen napkins and light blue goblets and the buffet luncheon (Virginia ham and biscuits, fried chicken, sliced beef, crab cakes, etc.) was eaten from enameled tin plates. Country, you know. The first course, Coho salmon and trout mousse, was served at each table where the crowd sat on unpainted Maine ladder-back chairs with rush seats. Country, you know. To end the Glorious Food feast there was peach ice cream and wedding cake, but when guests were asked to leave through the kitchen passage to avoid the long way to their cars through the mud, they were still helping themselves to the desserts. Pat Buckley, in a blue dress and a white eyelet coat of Oscar’s doing and a black straw hat the size of a wagon wheel, asked for a bowl of ice cream to take along on her drive home. As ever, she got what she wanted.
It should be said that all of the 500 guests were good sports about the incredible deluge. There was no whining and sniveling even when 30 cars had to be pulled out of the mud.
And herewith a sampling of the guests: The groom’s parents, Barclay and Richard Johnston Bolen; Mercedes and Sid Bass; Susan Burden; the Carter Burdens; Cecile and Ezra Zilka; Kate Paley and her pair of excited pugs (it was a dog-friendly affair); John Guare; Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera; Diane Von Furstenberg with Barry Diller; Elaine and Jim Wolfensohn; Nancy and Henry Kissinger; Pauline and Dixon Boardman and their two beautiful daughters, Serena and Samantha; Duane and Mark Hampton and their two beautiful daughters, Kate and Alexa; Anna Wintour and Dr. David Shaffer and their beautiful son and daughter, Charles and Bee (Bee was in the wedding party); John Dobkin; Brooke Astor; Countess (Grace) Dudley; Robert Silvers; Shelby White; Casey Ribicoff; Bill Blass; Joe Armstrong; Betsy and Victor Gotbaum; Isabel and Freddie Eberstadt; Emilia and Pepe Fanjul; Virginia and Freddie Melhado; Clare and Vartan Gregorian; Mica Ertegun; Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis; Brooke Duchin; Sean Driscoll; the Alan Greenspans; Barbara Walters; Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols; Susan and John Gutfreund; Gaetana Enders; Anne Ford; Alexandra and Alexander Von Furstenberg; Sarah Giles; Barbara Goldsmith; Sharon Hoge; Marit Gruson; C.Z. Guest; Albert Hadley; Annette de la Renta’s sisters, Sally Pingree and Charlene Engelhard and their children; Mrs. Derek Craighead and her children; Moises de la Renta; Renata Adler; Barbara Black; Mary McFadden; Nina and Dan Baker; Boaz Mazor; Glenn Bernbaum; Nancy Pyne; Jamie Niven; Elizabeth and Alton Peters, and Camilla and Earl McGrath.
Then there were Lynn Nesbit; Helen O’Hagan; Patsy Preston; Nancy and John Pierrepont, Nan Kempner, in a red Valentino and a big straw hat, and Tommy Kempner; Edith and Philippe de Montebello; Shirley and Abe Rosenthal; Mary and Howard Phipps; Paul Wilmot; Blaine Trump; Maisie Houghton; Dr. and Mrs. Paul Marks; Irith Landeau and her beautiful daughter Alexa; Harriette and Noel Levine and their standard black poodle; Robert Tartarini; Jane Holzer; Philip Johnson; David Whitney; Kenneth Jay Lane; Andre Leon Talley; Aerin Lauder Zinterhoffer; Charles Ryskamp; Alfred Taubman; Carolyne Roehm and Carl Lopp; Gil Shiva; Jacquelin Robertson; Lynn Wyatt; the William van den Heuvels; Frank Richardson with the lovely Judge Kimba Wood; the Eben Pynes; Rina and Sami Sindi; the Gerald Schoenfelds; the Nathaniel Reeds; George Trescher; John Richardson; Kosei Hara; Khalil Rizk; Linda and Jim Robinson, and on and on into the afternoon.
The chicest woman there was the mother of the bride, Annette de la Renta, dressed by Balmain (via Oscar de la Renta) in a gray tissue wool dress and coat and a matching gray straw hat. “It’s the color of rain,” said Mrs. de la Renta. From her ruby lips, it was not a four-letter word.