Panic. That's the first thing I did after I got engaged. Not because of the guy--he was completely perfect and I had decided that at around midnight on our very first date. Not because of the dress--I figured that would somehow work out. But because of the party. When your day-to-day life involves thinking pretty much nonstop about parties, planning the party to end all parties is quite daunting.
First, I had to have a reception where no other wedding reception had ever been held. (Call it an editor's obsession with what's new). Second, it had to be in a "desirable" location. A loft with a killer view just wouldn't do if there were prostitutes loitering downstairs. Third, of course, I had to serve fabulous food and wine. I networked, researched, whined and scouted. And I finally came up with what I thought was the most obvious but fantastic idea: I would take over one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan, just three blocks from my apartment. I asked restaurateur Danny Meyer if he would let me fill all 150 seats at his Gramercy Tavern for one night in May. Once Danny agreed, I began to relax. With the evening in his hands, nothing would go wrong.
Choosing the menu was the simplest decision I made in six months of wedding planning, in some small part because I didn't have to confer with my fiancé, Barclay Palmer, who loves all food as long as it's good. It took exactly 10 minutes. Tom Colicchio, the spectacularly talented chef at Gramercy Tavern, asked me what I liked to eat. Oh, so many things! Wild mushrooms, artichokes, lamb, raspberries, asparagus, tomatoes. I started tossing out the names of ingredients and Tom immediately strung them together into edible arias. If I wanted lamb, then why not chops with morels? If I liked artichokes, then how about having them with spring vegetables? Instead of treating the event like a Life Changing Moment, he acted as if it were a little kid's birthday party. I felt a surge of relief.
Claudia Fleming, Gramercy Tavern's genius pastry chef, was just as comforting. When we met to discuss my wedding cake, I explained that I didn't want anything tiered. And I was hoping for something that tasted as good as it looked. So we planned a "runway" with 10 cakes in mix-and-match patterns posing on stands. We decided on two types of cake, a chocolate and a classic genoise, and a color palette of pales for the decoration. The rest was up to Claudia. Trust is a beautiful thing.
Everything went perfectly that night at Gramercy Tavern. The food and wine were stellar, everyone agreed, a divine complement to the simple joy Barclay and I felt at being with our favorite people in the world. There was only one difference between what I'd imagined and what I ended up with. After dreaming up my ideal menu, I was so busy table hopping that I didn't get to eat or drink a thing!