Richmond truly is the mid-sized city that could. While this global event takes place in major cities around the world; Paris, Bangkok, Monreal – Richmond got in the game years ago, and glides along like any major player.
This year did not disappoint, as Diner en Blanc’s secret location, revealed the day of, felt very symbolic. It’s more than the fact that the event took place on the James River, offering a cool breeze and views of the water. It’s the fact that the event took place at the historic Tredgar Iron Works and American Civil War Museum. Diner en Blanc, while open to all people, has become a landmark event for the African-American community. Tredgar Iron Works created most of the artillery for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, hence the perfect site for the American Civil War Museum. One couldn’t help but reflect. Fast forward to 2019, and the black community, empowered, educated and dressed to the nines, was dancing all over this platform. The symbolism was powerful.
And the glamour of it all! Chloe wine was flowing, sparklers lit up the night sky, electric butterflies on stilts danced amongst partygoers, and music pumped through the air. Crowds of onlookers, mostly locals coming back from Belle Isle, stood on the outskirts, admiring the elegant, if not outlandish, white outfits the revelers wore. Guests were happy after a delicious meal, happy to see one another, happy it was summer, and happy to feel connected to a truly memorable Richmond event: Diner en Blanc.
Nothing can disrupt the serenity of a misty mountaintop like a big, loud Arab family. We likely scared the deer and complicated hunting season in the Smokey Mountains.
If a mansion and a cabin had a baby, it would be our grand lodge, which housed multiple generations of our family, and comfortably. There was an indoor pool, hot tubs overlooking the Smokey Mountains, a game room and movie theatre.
If those walls could talk, our names would come up often. We had gambling marathons that went into the wee hours of the morning. There were pancake and mimosa-laden brunches. There was a rather intense Newlywed Game (none of the couples were newly-wed) that ended with an uncle who literally took a pie to the face.
Best of all, we had long talks and belly-aching laughter on those wrap-around porches. We had three stories of porches to choose from. Sometimes on the top level, the boomers shared childhood memories of Ramallah, while on the ground floor, tween cousins told ghost stories. Whether sipping morning coffee and reminiscing, or sloshing bourbon at midnight while running away from an errant raccoon, the mountaintop views kept us on those rocking chairs outside.
I walked away thinking about how every generation improves from the last one. When my father’s side of the family emigrated from Palestine to Chicago, they had nothing. Like most of the immigrant stories you’ve heard, they worked hard so that their kids could get a formal education and a better life. We delivered on that; it’s the least we could do. To think they went from washing dishes in Cicero dives because they couldn’t speak English, to comfortable grandparents, watching multiple generations luxuriate in such accommodations. They felt proud, we felt lucky, and the youngest generation? We’ll see about them.
Attorneys Marcus Lange and Zawadi Brown were already engaged, but when a San Francisco law firm offered Marcus a dream job, he and his fiancée decided to start this new venture as man and wife.
We had two weeks to pull off one of the happiest days of their lives, and it was a success!
Sans Fancy Venue!
Everyone knows that a wedding date is at the mercy of the wedding venue. Since official venues were out, we chose our backyard! Since it’s the East Coast, we got a spacious white tent in case of rain.
Instead of locking down official caterers, the couple cherry-picked their favorite foods, and dishes that highlighted their heritage. The groom is German, which meant schnitzel and sauerkraut potato balls. The bride is from Trinidad with a Rastafarian and vegetarian family, which meant a mix of vegetable patties, jerk chicken and plantains. They also offered one of their favorite dishes: mutton biryani from India. Guests are still raving about the All-Around-the-World menu!
Sans Bakery Cake!
Instead of trying to score a last-minute wedding cake from a bakery, they called on food artist Carol Brown, known for her impeccable baking at Dixie Donuts and beyond. She outdid herself, with a homemade red velvet cake, chocolate brownies and a classic pound cake. For good measure, Marcus and Zawadi provided chocolate-covered strawberries as well.
Rather than hiring a decorator, Zawadi and friends, (including myself) created hand-made decorations in various shades of purple, the wedding color. Silver was the accent color. Billowy tissue paper balls were strung about, wisteria hung from the railings and the ceremony took place under a tree that was positively dripping with colored ribbons and strands of crystals. When the wind blew, it was ethereal.
The couple skipped major florist fees by marrying outdoors, as our yard has a peach tree, fig free, Concord grape vines, a weeping cherry, daisies, hydrangea bushes and more. In fact, every flower from the purple hydrangea was snipped and placed on every table. Adding to the rustic theme were mason jars filled with sand and lit candles, lanterns hung from the trees and burlap runners featured ladylike polka dots.
Rather than hiring a bartender, the couple offered a conveniently pre-mixed signature drink, the Trinimeister. Combining both their heritages, it was a mix of Jaegermeister, coconut rum, pineapple juice and Sprite, which fit right in with the summer day. Beer and wine were also available, though as the party went on, more and more bottles of liquor filled the bar.
Who needs a wedding planner when you have friends?
It was a day with zero humidity, sunshine and a cool breeze. It may well have been the prettiest day of summer. Mr. and Mrs. Lange were surrounded by love, with friends and family who all rallied together to make this day unforgettable.
We wish Mr. and Mrs. Lange the best of luck with their new adventure in San Francisco!