Elegance and fantasy… with a few surprises. That describes not only Mary Kay and Chuck Nabit’s new home, but also their May 10, 2003, wedding held there as well. In fact, you can’t talk about one without the other. The massive renovations the couple undertook at the 40-room Roland Park mansion were targeted for completion by their wedding date, and the wedding plans were equally dependent on aspects of the house and grounds.
Immediately after purchasing the house, the couple decided the rear garden – complete with reflecting pool and fountain – would be perfect for the ceremony. The tennis court could be tented for dinner and dancing. And longtime favorites Ory Webster and Carlton Walker would handle the flowers/decor and catering.
As architects, contractors, landscapers and interior designers got down to the business of restoring Cedarwood (see September/October 2003 Style for details), special event/wedding planner Anne Berman came aboard with a different kind of blueprint.
“Anne gave us a timetable and a timeline,” says Chuck. “She really paced the wedding. She’s got great organizational skills, which kept us in line and where we needed to be.”
Much like the workmen dealing with different aspects of fixing up the house, Chuck and Mary Kay laid claim to their own areas of specialties.
“Thematically, what was most important to me was the music,” Chuck explains. “I wanted to fill the entire evening with it.” Anne put him in touch with D.C.-based musician/agent Stephanie Myers, whose company, Crystal Strings, arranges entertainment for many of the Capital’s big political “do’s,” including those at the White House. In addition, Chuck went on a hunt for some musical “big game” to give the wedding party an extra kick.
img src=”http://www.baltimorestyle.com/images/affairs/nabit5.jpg” width=“200” height=“134” border=“0” align=“right” alt=”“>Mary Kay took over the decorating end of things – the flowers, the linens, the cake – the look and feel of the evening. After going through piles of wedding-themed magazines and books, Mary Kay found her jumping-off point in a book by wedding planner-to-the-stars Colin Cowie.
“We loved the simplicity and elegance of all white,“says Mary Kay. “So we went totally sheer. Totally whites, bisques, ivories. No color scheme. A variety of whites, with silver accents.”
The couple decided that, while the house and its grounds could hold a large crowd, they wanted to maintain a feeling of intimacy, and so limited the guest list to 160.
Five days before the wedding, the reception tent went up, and Ory Webster went to work – draping yards and yards of sheers on the tent walls, and creating three-tiered chandeliers of carnations to hang above.
The rehearsal was held at the house the day before, with the rehearsal dinner across Charles Street at Evergreen House. The 52 guests were treated to a cocktail reception while they awaited the arrival of Chuck and Mary Kay.
And arrive they did, not only in a horse-drawn carriage, but in full Renaissance regalia. Chuck was dressed as King Henry VIII and Mary Kay as her fantasy Queen Guinevere – with costumes rented from A.T. Jones. Never mind these two characters were eons apart in real time – this was pure fantasy. The Medieval Feast theme was one that Chuck worked on for months with Fandango Special Events.
Now, it was time for the guests to get into the act – and into costumes the couple had selected for them. There were cloaks and hats in multiple colors and styles. Chuck had researched what kinds of foods were eaten in “days of yore” and asked Barry Fleischmann of Innovative Gourmet to put his own twist on it. One thing was mandatory: everything had to be eaten by hand, as utensils were not period-appropriate.
The meal began with roasted potato and leek soup – drunk from the bowls – and various finger foods. Next came the poultry course, with roast pheasant and grilled Cornish game hens. The meat course followed – roasted veal chops and racks of lamb. Dessert included figs and pears in syrup, small tarts and candied and fresh figs. All the while, the “court” was entertained by strolling minstrels and musicians.
After a wet wedding day morning, the rains finally stopped and the sun appeared. When guests began arriving late that afternoon, a harpist and flutist serenaded them in Cedarwood’s main gallery. A pianist playing on Mary Kay’s baby grand provided musical background as guests made their way through the living room and into the wedding garden. There, a six-piece “mini-orchestra” continued the soft, romantic feel. Guests were seated along either side of the reflecting pool, facing a small canopy swagged with sheers and dressed in purple, pink and white blossoms – under which Mary Kay and Chuck recited their vows.
As the ceremony ended, the couple kissed, turned to face their happy guests – and perfectly timed fountains leapt up in a congratulatory spray.
Hors d’oeuvres were served in the foyer and on the back terrace. This time, a group of violinists and an accordionist kept the warm feelings flowing right along with the champagne. When it was time for guests to make their way into the tent, musicians lined the walkway leading to the next stage of the party.
Inside the tent, just as Mary Kay had hoped, the room glowed ethereally, and at one end, the Gene Donati Orchestra was in full swing.
Dinner – filet mignon with bernaise sauce and rockfish with mango salsa – was followed by a dessert that had been given special attention by Mary Kay. Instead of pieces of the wedding cake, every guest got their own: miniatures done by Patisserie Poupon in four different styles and colors with chocolate and hazelnut fillings.
After dinner, the dance floor filled. And just when the assemblage might have thought the night could not have gotten better, it did, courtesy of one of Chuck’s signature surprises.
“There was a backstage curtain, so people couldn’t see behind it,” recalls Chuck. “As the Donati orchestra wound down, we went over to cut the cake. Then Mary Kay and I got up on stage and said ‘This is our wedding gift to you all’ – and we introduced [‘70s rockers] Little Feat.”
The reaction? “Surprise and awe,” remembers Mary Kay.
“Shock!” adds Chuck with a smile.
But the surprises weren’t over. As a long dance set by Little Feat ended, a Dixieland band entered the tent. Mary Kay and Chuck led their guests – in a long conga line – to Cedarwood’s front lawn for the evening’s fireworks. With firefighters on hand, the Nabit wedding guests – and all their Roland Park neighbors – got the full pyrotechnic treatment. Fizzing fountains of sparks below and exploding colors above.
At that point, Chuck lifted Mary Kay to officially carry her over the threshold for the first night in their magnificent new home.
One final surprise still awaited the guests. Inside the goodie bags each couple was given were custom-made bobble head figures of Chuck and Mary Kay in their wedding attire.
Not that everyone needed a physical memento of the incredible night. “My favorite moment was when Chuck and Mary Kay turned around when the fountains went off,” Berman fondly recalls.
“To see those enormous smiles on their faces. Just a true look of happiness … I’m sure five years from now, I’ll still remember this wedding and how much fun it was.”
“It was 100 times more wonderful than I ever could have imagined,” says Mary Kay.
“Everything worked flawlessly, exactly according to plan,” Chuck enthuses. “And we were surrounded by friends and family. That was the best way to spend the most important day in our lives.”
Event planning Anne M. Berman Special Event & Wedding Consultant, 410-243-4500
Carriage Diana’s Classic Carriages, 410-795-0743
Event decor Fandango Special Events, 410-539-7236
Rehearsal caterer Innovative Gourmet, 410-363-1317
Costumes A.T. Jones, 410-728-7087
Music Stephanie Myers/The Crystal Strings, 301-464-2828
Flowers Ory Custom Florals & Decor, 410-531-7787
Reception caterer Carlton & Co., 410-484-6110
Wedding cake Patisserie Poupon, 410-332-0390
Tenting Loane Bros., 410-686-9200
Fireworks Zambelli Fireworks, 800-245-0397