(Tom's favorite picture from that day.)
Thirty-one years ago today, Tom and Mary Ann became official. It was a crisp, clear and very cold February day, and family and friends gathered at High Noon (I almost let Tom sing the song from Sons of The Pioneers) in the Irish Channel at St. Mary’s Assumption Church.
From there we went only a few blocks to the home of Tom’s dear friends Kit and Billy Wohl, whose gorgeous property sits atop a parking lot. I’m not a girlie girl, so planning a big wedding was not something I relished, Like dogs, it just sort of came to me. One night we were visiting the Wohl’s at their home and they inquired about wedding plans. When I had no answer, they offered the place where we were sitting. It was a jaw-dropping generous offer, and we immediately accepted.
Chef Andrea was working on his first cookbook with Tom at the time, and he also made us an offer we couldn't refuse. So after the ceremony that day, everyone made their way to a place no one would expect, accessed only by a single unmarked door from the street. I'm sure a lot of them kept checking the address, wondering what this was.
The elevator opens into a gorgeously-appointed room, with outdoor balcony spaces on both sides that are very large. One balcony space has a pool, and that is where the cake was set up, along with a lot of tables and chairs for seating. Even though it was cold, the sun was warm and by midday, it was very pleasant out there.
On the other balcony, Chef Andrea had set up an enormous buffet under a large white tent. He and his staff were inside the eight table square, with the likes of Vitello Tonnato and charcuterie spreads, and miscellaneous pasta dishes. These were the halcyon days of Andrea’s, and the food was spectacular. Andrea and Tom nixed my requests for mini muffulettas and meatballs, two regulars from weddings in my sphere. But it was certainly not the sphere into which I had landed, so the spread was pure gourmet. Adding to our good fortune was the brand new product on the market, Choupique Caviar. Also known as Cajun Caviar, it looks and tastes exactly like Beluga. We had pounds of it, sending the gourmets among us into convulsions of delight. They were mightily impressed with our $25/pound caviar presentation.
Inside, the grand piano had its ivories tickled by a local pianist who was a friend of Tom’s. At one point a media friend who was a movie critic gushed to Tom, “Tom, this isn’t New Orleans. This is Hollywood!” And it definitely was.
It was such an interesting mix of people. My gang from Kenner, and the media elite and others from New Orleans society. One of my father’s friends came to him and remarked about the party. My father joked, “Only the best for my friends!” At one point Billy Wohl, who has often been known to smoke a good cigar, was ready to light one in his house. One of my father’s friends said to him, “How can you do that in a beautiful place like this?” Billy replied, “Easy, it’s my house.”
After hours of fabulous gourmet food and wines, a friend gave us a ride to the Windsor Court, where we stayed in the Penthouse suite for two nights before leaving for Belgium. It was the beginning of a long and wonderful association with that hotel, which has become our personal pied a terre.
February 11th, 1989 was a wonderful day for us, and a spectacular way to start a life together. We have been blessed the same way ever since.