Everything would’ve been perfect, they joked, had they not forgotten one thing—to order a shark fin for the dog.
“Bob was going to get one from Amazon,” says Terry Edwards, as chefs from Atlanta bustled in the kitchen and wait staff from The Ritz-Carlton readied tables. “When you have a theme, you want to thread it throughout the party, from the invitations to the music to the decor.”
And, in this case, to the Great Dane. (Maybe next time.)
The Naples couple, who live in an art-filled home on three acres in Pine Ridge Estates, are frequent hosts who welcome guests to events ranging from Naples Winter Wine Festival vintner dinners—tonight’s theme is Sea of Change—to Halloween parties that have become legend. They met while Terry was working as an art gallery director in Naples and were married in 2007. “I was going down the list of clients calling people to introduce myself, and he liked my voice so he came over to meet me,” the St. Louis native recalls, adding with a smile that Bob had to make “several purchases” before she’d go out with him. A Picasso and Renoir later, the pair began dating and discovered a common passion not only for art but also for sharing it with others through entertaining at home.
“I’m always on the lookout for tabletop finds,” she says, noting that the Murano water glasses at tonight’s dinner came from a trip to Italy, and the embroidered napkins, folded atop Hermès plates, from a flea market in France. “It’s always fun to look for things that are either beautiful or oddball.”
Bob, who grew up in Naples and is president of Edwards Asset Management, says that despite having plenty of party decor (so much so that they keep it at a storage facility), the Murano glasses are the one item they use at every party. “We got them on our honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast, and even though they all have red designs, each glass is different,” he says. “We love things that have a story behind them.”
Case in point, literally: The eight Dale Chihuly glass sculptures lined up along the soaring two-story window of their lakefront living room, which they transformed into a dining room for tonight’s event. “The sculptures came from Paris, and homeland security wanted to know why we were shipping spears into the country,” Terry says, laughing. “They had to build wooden crates for them, and fortunately, they all arrived intact.”
In addition to incorporating pieces that have personal meaning, successful hosts maintain a sense of fun, according to the couple. “We try to come up with something silly for Halloween every year,” Terry says. “One year, Brain Roland [a Naples chef who owns Crave Culinaire] and I did the seven deadly sins, and we had a great time doctoring the tables. People showed up as greed, envy, gluttony, and so forth, and it was a blast. I have some friends who don’t like to dress up so I try to be sensitive to that, but this is one occasion where you can express your sense of humor and creativity through your theme.”
Tonight’s ocean-oriented soiree began when guests arrived and were photographed under a white coral chandelier, then were beckoned to poolside cocktails by sea maidens on stilts. Marine sculptures by artist Ed Koehler and seashell mermaids created by family friend Candace Raveis topped tables, while projected images of sea life “swam” on white sheer curtains inside the dining room. DJ Travis MacDonald added whale sounds to the evening’s repertoire, and—it goes without
saying—seafood was on the menu. Chefs Gerry Klaskala and Kevin Rathbun, of Atlanta restaurants Aria and Kevin Rathbun Steak, served Louisiana jumbo lump crab and olive-oil poached halibut paired with selections from Emily and Paul Michael of Peter Michael Winery in Calistoga, California.
“I’m not sure if my dress looked ‘under the sea,’ but I felt like yellow went with the colors we were using, and my boots had stars on them, which made me think of starfish,” Terry says. “We naturally try to blend into the theme, and for us, part of the fun of being a host is expressing the theme in every way, some that your guests might not expect.”
Terry, who serves on the boards of the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, was once a professional floral arranger for events. “I was lucky to have clients like Artis—Naples, where I’d have to deliver 15 centerpieces, and I’d be wearing jeans, and in between that event and another, I’d change into something formal. These days, I much prefer entertaining on a smaller scale at home.” Bob, meanwhile, is a board member of Artis—Naples, The Baker Museum, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a modern art museum in Venice, Italy.
In addition to the nautical-themed artwork on display for their tenth vintner dinner, which they co-hosted with fellow Naples Children & Education Foundation trustees Linda and Tom Koehn, the Edwardses’ contemporary home is filled with framed paintings. But perhaps most revealing about their attention to detail are the empty silver frames in a bedroom upstairs. Pictures taken when guests arrived will be processed during dinner and inserted into the frames, which will then be tucked into bow-topped gift bags. White cotton gloves await the couple’s assistant so that the photos can be inserted fingerprint free.