Happy Anniversary, Honey! Scenes from the Rehearsal Dinner

I did promise you pictures of the wedding, and here they are a year later. Didn’t want to rush you. Yes dear readers one year ago today my sweetheart and I were fixin’ to get hitched.

Here we are for the rehearsal in the olive grove by our house at Rancho La Zaca, in Los Olivos, California. I am wearing my happy-dork face…

Rehearsal Dinner - Rehearsal - Frances and Tom

… and the dress Lee Anderson made for me, in the spirit of Barbie meets Can-Can girl. It is very poufy-outy. It has its own zip code.

The dinner afterward was in the barn. I have to tell you, His Grace (my husband for new readers) was dead against the barn-as-venue. He just couldn’t see through those stalls and straw bales and what not to the the sexy, 1950s-El Morocco-inspired night club we knew it could be. We being the uber-talented and ultra creative team of Mindy Rice and Lisa Vorce, with me tagging along.

But he had a point, seeing as how this barn has all the charm of an army barracks.

Oh ye of little faith, we said. It’s nothing 72 thousand yards of gray polyester won’t fix.

Rehearsal Dinner - barn entrance, night

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Club El Rancho!

You see what I mean about the gray polyester.

Rehearsal Dinner - Entrance

If anybody needs any gray polyester, please let me know.

The seating cards were on a table just outside

Rehearsal Dinner - Seating cards

What is prettier than Yves Piaget roses? I can’t think of anything.

Rehearsal Dinner - Seating cards

The mirrored table was a hint of things to come. This crazy mirrored bar was right at the front. It was a knock-out.

Rehearsal Dinner - Mirrored Bar

But I think my favorite thing was the shiny zebra dance floor. Woo-hoo!

Rehearsal Dinner - Dance floor

That and the Club El Rancho sign. No home should be without one, right? Although finding exactly where in the home was kind of a problem. We eventually hung it in HG’s office. You can ’bout see it clear from Santa Maria.

Rehearsal Dinner - Club El Rancho

Did I mention the 72 thousand yards of gray polyester?

In keeping with a night clubby feel we did banquettes along the sides where the horse stalls are. We let the horses out first.

Rehearsal Dinner - Tables

At least I think we let the horses out.

I have been having a zebra moment for sometime now. I may be in a permanent zebra moment. There are worse things I reckon. Like what if you were in a permanent Hello Kitty moment. That would be awful.

The banquettes had zebra pillows. To match the gray polyester.

Rehearsal Dinner - zebra pillows

Very cool how the mirrored plinths reflected the dance floor. Roses, orchids and palms, simple and elegant.

Rehearsal Dinner - Roses and Palms

Here are Preacher and Partner. And Ike, who goes everywhere with them and I mean everywhere. He is very well behaved and does not eat much.

Rehearsal Dinner - Preacher and Partner, with Ike

I know. Don’t say it. Goodness gracious heavens above we do love caviar.

Rehearsal Dinner - caviar

In order to move things along, we passed the first course before sitting down for dinner. My favorite in the world cauliflower soup, recipe here. So delicious this time of year. Our own Stephanie Valentine did every morsel of food for this dinner. She is a genius and an angel.

Rehearsal Dinner - Cauliflower soup - first course

The main course was roast lamb.

Rehearsal Dinner - Main Course, Lamb

If only my friends knew how to have fun. This is Richard Keith Langham with Haffye Coxe all the way from Tarboro. Haffye was one of my mama’s best friends.

Rehearsal Dinner - Keith and Haffye

My beautiful sister Duvall Fuqua, left, with our beautiful daughter-in-law Allison Dittmer. I think that nose on the right is attached to my handsome cousin Bill.

Rehearsal Dinner - Duvall and Allison


Not to brag, but my cowboy is the best dancer in the universe.

Rehearsal Dinner - Frances and Tom dancing. Mike Carney at the piano.

Meanwhile one more shot of Club El Rancho, nestled among the oaks. And horse stalls and hay bales and what not.

Rehearsal Dinner - Barn at night

All photos by the amazing Aaron Delesie. Coming up… pics of the big day. Til then, if you are curious or have entirely too much free time, please visit my darlin’ friends Nina Griscom and Carolyne Roehm, both of whom wrote about our happy day, which was so sweet of them.


  1. BEAUTIFUL! Happy anniversary to the most beautiful and wonderful couple. Wishing you many more years of love, laughs and health! Xx

  2. If only I could send these beautiful chock full of personality photos to my sweet mama. I often forwarded your blogs to her and she would have adored this one! X

  3. Oh, Frances,
    How fabulous! After pulling that off, I am sure His Grace realized there is nothing that his beautiful new bride cant do! You actually topped El Morocco!
    The photo of Duvall is so fab! And I agree , Bill is such a handsome young man! I know your Mama was looking down and is so proud of both of her beautiful girls. I just so wish she could have lived longer to have enjoyed more time with you two and your families. She did such a fabulous job of raising her girls! I am so so happy for you that you met and married this wonderful man! Hugs, CC

  4. Oh, how I wish I could have been there!! The pictures here are as beautiful as the ones I saw last year!! Happy, happy first year!
    And I have heard that you will be speaking in Greenville next May– it is a wonderful event that I have been attending for the past four years. You will fit right in with the grand speakers that they have had- Lee Wooruff, Marlo Thomas, Vicki Lawrence, etc. Cannot wait to hear and see you!
    Much love to you both.

  5. LOVE the photo of you two dancing – makes me all teary. And of all the good things you’ve ever mentioned about your cowboy sweetheart, the fact that he’s a great dancer is the best of the best!Is there ANYTHING more fun than dancing with someone who’s got the moves?

  6. Happy Anniversary and a bazillion gazillion more! Magnifico! The photo of you two dancing, the way you are looking at each other reminded me of my parents’ wedding portrait and they were one of the happiest couples ever. Wishing you and His Grace many, many years of joy and health!

  7. Showing this to my daughter Frances….she says please, please, please just leave it all there, especially the zebra dance floor, so she can get married there in a few years! But her friends don’t know how to have fun either so may not work 🙂
    xo c.

  8. So wonderful to revisit that magnificent evening… Still hard to believe – like a mirage… or Brigadoon.

  9. Frances,
    Haffye and I are sitting in her living room looking at your fabulous pictures. She is absolutely ecstatic and loves you to pieces.
    Haffye says hello to Tom and Happy Anniversary tomorrow! Hugs from us both! Haffye and CC

    PS Thank you for a reason to come by to see Haffye!

  10. So beautiful! and I love the zebra floor and the caviar and the roses…I loved every picture…you look so happy..can’t wait for the next installment..
    hope you can make it to NAC on 11/7

  11. Thank you for sharing the photos and I can’t wait for more. You are indeed the “transformer.” Kudos to you and His Grace for enjoying your first year of marriage. Happy day and night to you both. xox, Nancy

  12. Happy Anniversary! You are too hilarious. I love your description of your dress. Everything was styled so beautifully. You certainly know how to through a fabulous bash. Going back now to get that Cauliflower soup recipe. His Grace is a lucky fellow indeed.

  13. Wow, what a fantastic transformation, what a party. Stunning!
    Think you all could sell the gray 72,000 yards to Christo?
    Happy Anniversary and wish you many great years together.
    XO, Linda

  14. Happy Anniversary you two love birds! His Grace LOOKS like an amazing dancer. Love the gray! can’t wait to try the soup and see more photos. Thank you for sharing.

  15. This puts Mickey and Judy “putting on a show” in the Barn to serious shame! You look beautiful! And.. Your sister looks just like you! Thanks for letting us in on the fun and Happy- Happy Anniversary.

  16. Jim and I were discussing your wedding, today and wishing we could do it all over again.Bill and I never had a better time in our lives.Happy Happy Anniversary xoxoxMW

  17. Happy Anniversary to you and your cowboy!! The photo of the two of you dancing is stunning. The entire party is just over the top. A dress with a zip code….the best.

  18. Such a great night- had so much fun helping Chef Stephanie…always fun to help out at Rancho La Zaca- it is such a privilege to come on to the Ranch and feel the history. <3

  19. 72 thousand yards of polyester??? Are you serious or just making a point. The venue looks fabulous and with my daughter’s wedding coming up next spring, I might just take you up on the extra non-biodegradable fabric in storage – recycling at its best.

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