Several weeks ago, we showered my oldest daughter’s best friend bride-to-be Stephanie with a lovely cocktail hour and sit-down dinner in our city garden back yard.
There were only twelve of us, and it was divine. Caroline, along with Alexis, Marilynn, Taylor and myself, set the scene by moving our square table (composed of two rectangles) out onto the lawn and placed them end to end, creating one long table, with six cushioned chairs on each side. I express shipped the cushions in from California after trying to locally source them with no success, thinking women in dresses at a bridal shower should probably have a cushioned chair to sit on.
The tablecloths I actually picked up at Ollie’s, and they were $7.99 each, machine wash on cold. Lavender linen napkins I sourced last Thanksgiving from one of my favorite entertaining supply spots, Hudson Grace in San Francisco. All of their linens are exquisite, would love to collect multiple color batches. At 22” square, a good gutsy size, I machine wash them on cold, hang to dry. Of course, they come out all professional looking when sent to the dry cleaner, and for this party Alexis handled that runaround detail.
I knew I wanted a to extend the dining table area upward to the sky and stars, so while out on one of my daily walks I thought ‘why not buy the tallest garden trellises I can get, decorate those with fresh greens, and string bistro lights over the table?’, so that’s what I did. Caroline filled her online cart at Home Depot and off Big Red went (our red pickup truck) to fetch our supplies.
Alexis bought buckets of fresh flowers from Trader Joes, and she organized and implemented the fresh floral step and repeat and the fresh floral end cap trellises, in effect making a little enclosed intimate dining area. We did this all the morning and afternoon of the party, even polishing the silver. It was all hands-on deck, even little Peyton got in on the action. To protect the flowers from the hot sun, I brought step ladders out from the garage and hung sheets to shield them a bit until party time. I also bought four large pots of vivid red geraniums, two for the patio to decorate cocktail hour, and two flanked the step and repeat to add another pop of color. I’m not a lover of red in my city garden, much prefer a softer palette, so those pots got moved out to the country house a little after this party.
On another one of my daily walks, I stopped into our local home consignment store and saw some vintage dinnerware that called to me. Never one for vintage, at least not until now, I just couldn’t not take the plunge. Hey, it was service for 21! With soup bowls, luncheon plates, covered vegetable dishes, two coffee pots, the works! I asked the shopkeeper if I could take a photo to consult with Caroline about mood vibe (what we say when we are setting the tone of a gathering, and this was Italian Tuscan countryside), and consult we did. She thought they were great, I called back and said, ‘I’ll take the set’. Now I’m the proud new owner of a previously owned 142 piece set of Royal Winton Summertime Chintz Welbeck Dinner Set, yippee, lots of pretty parties to plan down the road.
So for the long table we had glowy inexpensive tablecloths, vintage china, lavender linen napkins, polished silver, tons of Reidel Performance wine glasses, and bowls of fresh lemons instead of fresh flowers. We bought bags of lemons at the grocery store, lemon leaves at the florist, and Alexis built beautiful full centerpieces. I had ordered large ornate candelabras for the table as well; they just didn’t fit. We really wanted to use them for the party, so after thinking for a bit I decided to bring them out at nightfall, creating a kind of ‘after-party’ mood, they were so great, even with light green wax dripping all over.
Our usual caterer, Giancarlo’s, did a great job with passed hors d’oeuvres and a seated three course dinner. One of our guests provided the wonderful wines, thank you Mary. Caroline ordered a fabulous frou frou cake from Lombardo’s, so delicious
I helped Caroline find her dress while we were in Greenville SC at one of our favorite boutiques August Twenty. She looked so beautiful and fresh in yellow, one of my favorite colors this season. I wore a gold sequined midi dress, a dress I would probably never wear to a party outside of my own house. I think when you are hosting you have a bit of ‘dress liberty’, and can kind of wear something a little unusual, so gold sequins was it. Everyone looked so pretty, and we had such a nice evening, loved having a small intimate group.
In keeping with our Italian Tuscan Countryside Dinner theme, Alexis made batches of scratch Limoncello and bottled it up for take home favors, personalized with custom stickers and tied with festive ribbon.
We partied together through the sun set and into the moon rising, the handsome groom swooping in towards the end for a romantic late-night kiss.
Every day dress, bridal shower for twelve.
ps. really wish we had hired a professional photographer, most photos are from my iPhone, it’s hard to wear many hats.