Downton Abbey Luncheon

For the past few months I have been planning the best birthday surprise ever for my in-law Karen.
Karen got me obsessed with Downton Abbey and my husband and I binged watched all the seasons in just a few weeks time.
Immediately after I completed season 5 I knew I had to plan a themed party so I recruited my friend Lori who is another DA maniac and we began brainstorming.
First step:  Pick a date and make a list of all Karen's best friends
Second step: Make invitations
Then once we had a caterer booked we began.
If you are a fan of DA you know that it's all about the attention to detail and one of the biggest details to tend to is the wardrobe and hats.
Lori's daughter is actually a costume designer in college and working for the Shakespear theater company, but Lori didn't need to consult her daughter, she had plenty ideas of her own.
Below Me and Lori today.
Lori who is a prevention drug abuse counselor and motivational speaker and on the road all the time did not hesitate to make two long trips to my home to work on costume design.
We began with the hats because we thought the hats would set the mood.  We went to Joannes, and Michaels and AC Moore and got lace and flowers and broaches and ribbon and feathers and we went to work.  I haven't laughed so much since I could remember.  It was truly a labor of love but by the end    we adopted the saying "there was nothing that a glue gun and velcro couldn't do."
Below Lori and her husband George. This prosecutor  in his own law firm and United States Marine immediately jumped at the chance to be our Carson.  (With some begging and bribery, just kidding.)
Now the hard part was informing all of Karen's friends that they had to be in full period costumes in order to attend.  I think it speaks volumes of who Karen is that none of her friends even questioned the idea.  They all said, when, where and what time shall I come?  They were all thrilled to be part of a day to honor such a wonderful lady.  
My dear friend Lisa, who you might remember her working on the wedding flowers, created our exquisite centerpiece in a matter of minutes.  Isn't is breathtaking.

We began very early this morning setting up the table.  Lori and I climbed up on stools and hooked up the lace table runners from the wedding and made swags under the tent.  

I left to speak to the caterer who had arrived and when I came back outside Lori had also decorated the chairs and draped them with silk flowers and lace.

 Then we added Lisa's flowers and the vision became a reality.
 I pureed raspberries for our champagne toast.
And then it was time to dress and wait for the guests to arrive.
It had been Lori's idea to bring accessories, jewelry and shawls, sashes and extra lace and broaches to adorn the women as they arrived.  We set everything up in my dinning room and when the girls arrived we all quickly transformed into 10 year old little girls playing dress up in their mother's closets.  I will never forget how we all laughed at the excitement of all the ladies as they began reaching for shawls and rushing to mirrors to try on hats and pick out their perfect accessory to their outfits.  
We had extra shoes along with sets of lace gloves and lace fans that was given to each guest .

 Lori's daughter would be proud as she quickly became the groups costume designer.  She adjusted shawls, pinned hats, added broaches and helped with the selection of hats and jewelry.

Here she is adjusting Lady Sherri's shawl with a broach.  
While the ladies primped and accessorized, I spoke to Carson and went over our schedule.

 We posed for a few photos before the guest of honor arrived.

I think if a casting agent had been at our party we would have all gotten a walk on role on DA because of how wonderful each and ever lady looked.  Totally DA correct.  Meg (below in the middle) brought jewelry and accessories to share with the ladies.  Her look was perfect!  Would give Lady Mary a run for her money.
Caitlyn, one of the caterers worked so hard to make everything perfect for our high tea and luncheon.  We had an assortment of tea sandwiches, teas from England and France, petite fours, meranges, and delicate sweets.

Our guest of honor arrived.  
I had found Karen's dress on line from a vintage shop in London and it was perfect for the occasion.  Carson announced us by our Downton Abbey names, title plus middle name, address and county of our birth.  I was Lady Elizabeth Dolington of New York.  

 We raised our glasses and toasted to Karen .

 All I know is I had a ball.  We were all high from our sugar rushes and multiple cups of delicious teas and all waved our fans to cool ourselves from the temperature that was in the 90's.  We enjoyed DA trivia and I gave prizes and favors to all the guests at the end of our luncheon.  They were all excited to find out that their hats were part of the favors and could go home with them to keep.

 Karen said that she still couldn't believe the day and loved the surprise even though she almost fainted at the sight of Carson greeting her at the door.  I was so pleased with the day and so happy to see that it truly was a success.
The ladies from left to right.
Lady Lori, Lady Mary, Lady Sherri, Lady Sally, Lady Lori, Lady Karen, Lady Valerie, Lady Judy, Lady Meg, and me, Lady Lisa.  
In the words of the great Dowager "What is a Weekend?"
This was our Weekend and it was Spectacular!


White Lace and Promises said...

What a great idea! Great costumes and the outdoor catering is fabulous!

Catherine Burke said...

So wonderful! How fun! You are such a good friend to your friends xoxoxoxooxxo

Windlost said...

Lisa, incredible and beautiful and so very generous of you to organize such a perfect day for your friend and friends. A girl would be truly blessed to have a friend as sincere and generous as you. I am also a DA fan, and a huge one at that, and what a total delight it would be to attend a party like that. Everyone looked beautiful, including you!!! As always you. Xo Terri

Cottage Tails said...

Oh you all look fabulous! What a wonderful time you look to be having.

thevintage vixen said...

I love this sooooo much I am sa-wooning!!! I do not watch DA (it is on my list to binge watch this summer) but I always wanted to have a party with a "Somewhere In Time" theme. Your in-law is so lucky to have you in her life!!!

Julia Larino said...

What a beautiful and elegant group of women. Lisa, so happy your party was a success !!!!

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Heavens! I've had this blog in my list of "must visit's" for awhile now..and clicked on it a few minutes ago..WHAT A LOVELY SURPRISE! I LOVED your Downton Abby tea party. How precious everyone looked. The costumes were wonderful and "Carson" was..well..perfect!! I'm so glad I dropped in!

Dori at The Red Feedsack said...

Lisa, all I can say is you are a very, very good friend. What an awesome surprise! And so very, very beautiful!!! - Dori -

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