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RSVP / THE SOCIAL CITY : Deep Roots and a Happy Marriage

August 13, 1995|MARY LOU LOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"It's important to root a marriage, and we stand in the midst of the most enormous roots I have ever seen," said the Rev. George Frank Regas. He was the celebrant when John Finlay Hotchkis Jr. and Courtney Elizabeth Tunney said their vows at Rancho Los Alamitos, part of the largest Spanish land grant ever bestowed in California. In 1790 the original rancho spread from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

An Historic Landscape: The groom's great-great-grandparents, John and Susan Bixby, moved to the rancho in 1878. In 1906 their son Fred inherited the working ranch and with his wife, Florence, raised a family of five. Florence developed the lovely gardens surrounding the adobe and barns--palms, pepper trees, cacti. But Susan Bixby had planted the two small Morton Bay fig trees on the front lawn that she could not have imagined would grow so large.

It was underneath those figs, with pink lights enhancing the long row of canary palms to the left, that the newlyweds said "I do" before 220 friends.

Arches of the front screened porch of the house were wreathed in lights as well. "I don't think I've ever been in a place more captivating," Regas said.

Front Yard and Barnyard: White chairs were set out for the wedding. Bridesmaids in white pique with organdy bows walked between borders of daisies to the outdoor altar where the couple took communion.

Afterward, friends toured the ranch house, now owned by the City of Long Beach (and open to the public), and gathered for cocktails on the barnyard green, home to ducks, heifers, a pony and Belgian horses.

Later the newlyweds, in a carriage drawn by "Big John," a vanilla Belgian, led guests back to the fig trees, where tables covered in yellow checkered cotton had been set up for dinner and dancing to West Coast music.

Say It Again: There was applause when the bride made her toast, with emphasis--"I would like to introduce myself. I am Mrs. John Finlay Hotchkis Jr." John and Courtney had dated for seven years, and she says, "He did propose. And when he did, I said, 'Say it again.' "

The couple will live in Arcadia after two weeks in the Caribbean.

The groom's parents are John and the late Carolyn Hotchkis, who died of cancer. Carolyn was baptized by Regas and wore the diamond wedding ring that Courtney now wears. His stepmother is Joan Hotchkis.

The bride's mother, Joan Prestin Tunney, and her stepmother, Anian Tunney, were in the front row, while father Peter William Tunney of Piedmont escorted his daughter over the fig tree roots.

Family Ties: Among guests were the elder John Hotchkis' pals--Guil Babcock, Tad Williamson and Alyce and Spud Williamson, who attended ranch parties as teen-agers. More were the groom's brother, Mark Bixby Hotchkis (he was best man), and sisters, Sarah Hochkis Ketterer and Carolyn Ross Hotchkis. Also his uncle and aunt, Pres and Maurine Hotchkis and aunt Joan Hotchkis. Readers at the service included Susan Hinman Babcock and Henry Lea Hancock. More enjoying the balmy night were Alan and Mindy Polley, Frederick Burrows, maid of honor Adrienne Requa Tunney, Mike and Alegra Morphy, Bob and Laura-Lee Woods, Bernie and Lenny Greenberg, Don and Ann Petrone, Mimi Jones (the groom's godmother), Tamara Asseyev and Bitsy and Dick Hotaling.

Elsewhere on the Social Circuit:

* What a thrill last week to view the new Saks West, five floors of elegance occupying the former Beverly Hills I. Magnin. Philip B. Miller, chairman and chief executive officer; Tom Voltin, vice president, general manager-Beverly Hills, and Rose Marie Bravo, president, shared the ribbon-cutting on Wilshire Boulevard. The first three floors are dedicated to men's fashions, the fourth to women's petites and the fifth to larger women. The original Saks Fifth Avenue at 9600 Wilshire has been renovated, and will be known as Saks East. Said Miller, "This expansion is part of Saks' ongoing commitment to the West--a commitment that began six decades ago." Voltin said Saks has been a part of the Beverly Hills tradition since Adam Gimbel came to Southern California to recuperate after a skiing accident; he opened Saks in 1938.

* Eli and Edythe Broad hosted a lovely summer dinner with friends at their Brentwood home.

* Norma and David McIntyre illuminated their Hancock Park home to announce that daughter Mary will marry Kenneth Jacquin of Baltimore. Nearly 140 danced to J. Sterling's band. Among the crowd were many of Mary's former Marlborough classmates, including Sarah Keller, Sarah McCourt and Hilary Crahan. John and Dorothy Shea drove over from Pasadena. Don and Judy Tallarico danced steadily. Also: Penne and Bill Durst, Janice and Bob Carpenter, Sally and Paul Conn, Caroline and Art Gimbel, Joann McGarty with retired Superior Court Judge Dick Wells, Bob and Cheryl Baker and Jim and Brooke Young. Later, the McIntyres were off to Jackson Hole, Wyo., thinking about the wedding Jan. 27 at St. Brendan Catholic Church.

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