I love to entertain at home. It’s often not the easiest or most cost-effective way to throw a party, yet the mood you can create is entirely in your hands, and your guests can linger as long as the candles stay lit and the wine flows.
My niece Erin was married on August 20th in Jackson Hole, WY. Several months ago, at the end of July, I hosted an intimate dinner for 28 guests at our summer house to celebrate her.
After choosing the date, (she lives in Jackson, and we had to pivot around her calendar as she travels the world for her work), I started working on the invitation. The invitation is so important as it sets the mood for the party, and I’m all about a handwritten invitation if the group is small. For this party, I used Karen Adams Designs, choosing a flat note in Robin and lettering all the details in gold pens I picked up locally at Hyatt’s, a family-owned creative arts store. I’m also super particular about postage and always search out the best stamps that most match the mood I try to create. As her wedding reception will take place in the mountains of WY, I chose Mountain Flora Stamps and bought them by the book. Writing out these invites with an early morning cup of coffee was soulful.
As I don’t have matching table-top goods on my hands for a group larger than twenty, my first phone call for party planning was to Eileen of Petunia Rose, Vintage China Rentals in Rochester, NY. She provided all the beautiful details for Caroline’s at-home wedding reception in August of 2018, and she is an absolute delight. We corresponded by email, and she sent me a few vision boards after I explained the country garden look I was after. I quickly chose a yellow and green theme as I wanted something fresh and new rather than my usual blue and white go-to’s. Her team was flawless, delivering and retrieving all the goods, saving me a trip to and fro to Rochester and back.
I booked tables and chairs through Buffalo Party Rental. I chose the Oak Crossback Chair with a cream cushion and seven 4′ round tables, seating four guests at each table. Buffalo Party Rental does not deliver for smaller events. I had to pick up all the goods on Friday, the day before the party, using our Big Red pickup truck (one of my handsome nephews decided that Friday golf was way more interesting than an agreed-upon table and chair delivery, and superman doesn’t usually show up, so table and chair delivery were all me). It took me two trips to gather all the supplies, driving on the back roads as I was too tentative to go on the highway with chairs stacked three high and tied down with velcro cords. It was an experience I won’t soon forget, and I can now add table and chair delivery to my diverse skill set.
Friday was supposed to be prep and cook day, yet I lost that day as I was out on deliveries. I had all the groceries on hand as I had made a detailed list of recipes and ingredients while flying home from St. Petersburg on Thursday, the day before. Once I landed, I quickly stopped at home before running out to make the grocery rounds, sourcing all the best produce, fish, and meat I could find. While superman might not save me, superwoman did, and her name is Jackie. She, like me, can most often be found in the kitchen. She gallantly arrived Friday evening at six o’clock and helped me prep until eleven pm, stopping only to share a burger dinner with me on the back deck. She’s a beautiful friend. Thank you, Jackie.
Caroline and Peanut flew home from Boston, MA, late Friday for the party, and they helped me put it all together on Saturday morning. We loaded two cars and drove out to the countryside, getting our hustle on.
Party day is always a go day, and I need to remind myself that I’ve done this before and it will all be okay. I gave great thought to the menu, choosing items that I could serve warm or at room temperature; I had made two batches of scratch strawberry jam weeks before as party favors; I booked The Bubble Bar for a festive and fun drinks center, and I had a barn on the property for the rain plan in case of inclement weather. I deliberately went without ordering a tent as I often prefer an open-air atmosphere.
My mom came out for an afternoon swim and afterward applied handwritten labels to the jam jars and tied them with orange gingham ribbons. Friends of a friend were on hand to help in the kitchen and garden; thank you, Joe and Angela. We set the buffet under two trees, covering it with white linen duvet covers I stripped from our beds (I always try and make do with things I have on hand). I had Joe string a strand of market lights between the two trees to add a bit of mood lighting. The bride-to-be’s sisters made a playlist; Caroline had interviewed the groom for fun ‘who knew’ game. Sarah baked and decorated beautiful cookies; I made two pies and a tart and whipped some fresh cream.
It was a lovely summer evening. Entertaining at home is never the easier way out, yet the details and the atmosphere you provide are all in your hands. Creating beautiful moments for those you love and hold dear is fun.