It’s no wonder that Matt and Anne Hamilton longed to extend their time in Newport after Labor Day last year. After all, locals always say early September is the best time of year in New England. Grandchildren are back in school, and the soft caressing weather makes it an irresistible idea.
So when they decided to tarry, it felt totally natural to plan back-to-back parties as a last hurrah to a surprisingly wonderful season. They invited a group of 10 for a “cozy, sit-down friends’ dinner party” on Saturday evening, then Anne corralled her Newport girl pals for brunch on Sunday afternoon.
For Saturday’s event, tabletop décor included charming dinnerware by Robert Haviland & Parlon, paired with delicate Fern stemware by William Yeoward, Tahiti periwinkle napkins, and Dahlia napkin rings. Silver-plated snails held place cards. “Never be too timid to use fine china and crystal outside,” she says. “The natural beauty of the outdoors sets the perfect mood for a casual, yet sophisticated celebration.”
If Anne’s successive signature parties often follow the same theme or color scheme, this time was different. She dressed her brunch table in Michael Aram Butterfly Gingko dishes and chiseled Estelle colored glassware. Then she dropped a kaleidoscope of Baccarat Lucky Butterflies that seemed to flutter among the Yeoward vases filled with simple ranunculus, seeded eucalyptus, and cosmos.
As guests ate, bay breezes filled the sails of hundreds of boats offshore, propelling them to shoot across the waves like children’s toys. A selection of bite-sized hors d’ouvres was followed by Anne’s favorite lunch of Tomato Pie, assembled by her “forever Newport helper” Mary Hanos. The main dish was paired with a crunchy arugula salad with walnuts, goat cheese, and local Rhode Island farm produce. A peach cobbler baked by Chef Jack Cosgrove was pronounced “perfection.”
If the afternoon event felt like a stage set, it was actually better than that. “Mother Nature pulled out all the stops for the party,” Anne says. “As the sun glittered on the water, we enjoyed tomatoes, salad fixings, and herbs from our seaside garden. It was a day we wanted to last forever.”
By Marion Laffey Fox
Photography by Kindra Clineff