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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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!