When my parents, Donna and Lanny Norris, were newlyweds, they lived in Greenville, North Carolina, where my dad was on the football coaching staff of East Carolina University and my mom was a school teacher. Having a love for all things history related, they spent time in nearby Williamsburg, Virginia, on occasion and when they moved back to their home state of Alabama the following year, they made plans to build a home influenced by colonial Williamsburg architecture. I grew up in that house that was decorated with Benjamin Moore Williamsburg paint colors and furniture that harkened to that era. So when I was thinking of a place where our family could celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary, Williamsburg was the first place that came to mind.

I love to plan trips and so I got to work several months ago looking for a spot that could house our family of 12 comfortably, but I wanted it to have historical value as well. I eventually ran across a place about 30 minutes outside of Williamsburg in the Virginia countryside. The New Kent Ordinary is a beautifully restored historical home and tavern that was thought to have been built in the late 1600s. My parents’ love of history was passed down to my brother and me, so the fact that four presidents visited the tavern, including George Washington, and that both the Union and Confederate armies were stationed there during the Civil War made it all the more interesting to us. So after a couple of days at the Williamsburg Inn, we headed out to The Ordinary for two days of family fun.

The second night we were there, we surprised my parents with a 50th Anniversary celebration dinner. We hired Chef Julio Opazo of River City Supper Club out of Richmond, who created an incredible menu of courses for us to enjoy and we set the table with Dogwood Hill paper products. The colors we used were inspired by the colors featured at my parents’ wedding – yellow and white – along with blue, which is one of my mom’s favorites and a color I almost always use when decorating. We intended for it to be a garden party but it poured down rain late that afternoon, so we made another plan, which actually turned out better than the original. The parlor of the house is stunning and so we moved the furniture out and set up the table in front of the fireplace. As it turns out, my mom enjoyed being in that room so much and we didn’t have to pull out the citronella candles after all!

This dinner was a surprise for my parents – somehow they didn’t suspect that it was happening – so it was fun for us to see their genuine reaction. I host dinners and events a lot and truly enjoy planning and executing a good party, but this one might take the cake. The memories made on this family trip and this particular night of celebration will last for us all and I’m very thankful we were able to celebrate my parents, the life they created together, the children and grandchildren they have, and their legacy of faith that will endure for generations.

I started the planning of this dinner at Dogwood Hill – I picked out the art I wanted first and then found the pieces I needed to go along with that theme – the menu, place cards and a custom placemat design. It set the tone for the table setting, flowers, vases and dinnerware.

Thank you for letting me share this special occasion with you and memorialize this time together with my family. I hope that whenever we highlight events either here on the blog or on social media, that those moments spark ideas for how you can celebrate with your friends and family.

I’m wishing my parents a very happy 50th Anniversary – we are so thankful for June 15, 1974!

~Jennifer Hunt, Founder and CEO of Dogwood Hill

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