Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One Couple ~ Two Parties!

This past week brought two events for the same couple with some unusual circumstances. The family of the Groom contacted me because they were responsible for the rehearsal dinner. In their family it's also customary to host a "family day" the day after the wedding to invite all of those who are still in town or those who couldn't make the wedding and reception the day before. The Mother of the Bride had completed all the needed details for the wedding so they had these two events, one the day before the wedding and one the day after, to host themselves and they were hoping to get a little help.

First off was the Rehearsal Dinner. One of our biggest tips is to find a place that is already beautiful and then you save on the cost of decorating. If you can save costs anywhere else then it just gets better. In our area we have a wonderful chain called The Old Spaghetti Factory and this is a chain I can highly recommend for several reasons.

 The first reason is obvious. It's gorgeous. The entire restaurant is decorated to look like an ornate Victorian home. Lovely antiques are to be found everywhere and the feeling is one of pure elegance.
Because of this all I needed to do was to add some place cards to the single long table.
This is the other reason I love this place. They are able to set one very long table up, perfect for an event like a Rehearsal Dinner or Anniversary Party, in a semi private room and it looks beautiful! They easily accommodate a large group.

 In this case I just added a place card but we have, in the past, set the tables ourselves with tablecloths, centerpieces and other decor items. Spag (as we lovingly call them) allows you to do this and gives you access to the room so that you can decorate the tables as you wish.
But with details, such as this gorgeous chandelier hanging over the tables, you really don't need to do anything at all to have a beautiful space.
The last two reasons we love Spag? There is no room fee. The only cost is that of the food, which is very reasonably priced, and there is no "venue fee" or "rental fee" for the space. The food is very good but the service is amazing! We have never hosted a party there where the service hasn't been exemplary. Our clients were thrilled with their party here!

The second event was themed along the lines of "Country Wedding".  A casual "luncheon" where all of the family drops by during the afternoon to hang out with the Bride and Groom. Many of the Groom's side of family and friends were not able to attend the wedding so this "After Wedding Party" was a very important part of their three day celebration.
 To begin with the property was absolutely gorgeous. There were beautiful flower gardens in each section of the yard.
To guide the guests to the home we used hand painted signs to direct and set the mood. We used six signs in total. The Father of the Groom made them for us out of scrap lumber he had sitting around. We white-washed them and hand painted the words on the signs that began at the top of their long driveway with "Celebrate". Then there was a "Parking" sign to direct guests to the open field set aside for parking. The next three signs said "Happily" "Ever After" "Starts Here". 
The final sign, placed on the lawn directing guests to the front door just had the happy couples names on it with a big heart. And, yes, Greg does love Lauren!
 A grouping of very bright and colorful Adirondack chairs were set out under the huge shade tree welcoming guests to take some time, hang out in the cool shade and enjoy the breeze.
 Their view? This lovely pond surrounded by flowers. Just a really gorgeous location for the party.
 Inside we added the "country charm" touches. Setting the scene with checkered table cloths, checkered ribbons around the simple main centerpiece and a sign welcoming hungry guests to the table are inexpensive details that really count for your theme. We decided to add the wire "cookie rack" as another layer of detail and loved how it looked!
 Sturdy sectional plates and white plastic flatware wrapped up in checkered napkins and tied with red and white raffia before being placed in this lovely basket added more decor to the food table while also making it easier for the guests to carry their food out to the tables.
 We matched the sign on the food table with one on the drink table! Simple 8x10 frames, a computer printed sign backed by more of the checkered napkins made this detail an inexpensive one to add to the day. 
And speaking of inexpensive. Over on our Facebook Fan Page we are always talking about simple ways to save money. Centerpiece containers can cost between $8 and $40 each. But why pay that much money when you can get totally adorable containers from the Dollar or 99cent Store for so much less? It cost us just $8 for all of the containers, another $2 for the ribbon to make these theme matching "vases" for this event!
 Whenever we can we save money for our clients by loaning them pieces that we have purchased previously. This tin tub has been used for many events and just seemed to fit right into the decor for this party too! Filled with ice and water bottles it was easy to maintain throughout the party. Red Solo Cups, ice in an aluminum roasting pan and huge gallons of party punch rounded out our drink table. We set this station up in their extra wide hallway which leads out onto the patios were more tables were available for guests. One happy detail was that his hallway is filled with family photos for guests to enjoy. Lovely.
 The flowers were the best buy of the day. With the $10 spent on the containers already saving us a bunch we were hoping to find some deals at the local grocery store. Yup, Grocery Store. When you are buying flowers for your Sweetie you want them to last for several days. Use a florist for those. The flowers are high quality and fresh and will last for days. But if you are throwing an event you really only need your flowers to last a day or two so why not save money? We got 5 bunches of flowers, 1 hydrangea bunch for the food table centerpiece, and 4 mixed flower bunches for the other containers, for just $5 each at Safeway on our way up to the event. So for just $30 we were able to have fresh flowers on the tables!
 Every shady spot on the patios was dressed up with seating. Each table got a tablecloth and a centerpiece but extra chairs were set out in the shady spots all over the patios in order to give guests a choice on where they could sit and enjoy the shade.
 One of the patios was quite sunny so they set up a pop up shade to give their guests a break and make for a cooler area to enjoy their food.
 Want to know a secret? These glasses come with a lid and straw. Using containers that can be used again is a big part of saving money for your events. Pitchers, glasses, and bowls, all make for wonderful vases. 

 The food was amazing! We used Smiley Guys Smoke House for this event because they were local to the venue and their food is incredible! They even pre-packaged our order into these easy to serve aluminum roasting trays which fit right into our decor. Our client chose the Tractor Pulled Pork and we have to say that it was simply delicious!
 There was also their Uncle Jessie's Chicken which was tender and moist and definitely a hit with the crowd. Two sauces were served. Their regular sweet Bbq sauce as well as a very good peach flavored sauce.
 The Sweet Potato Chips didn't stay crispy for long but, Oh My, were they good! Even soft they were SO yummy! The cole slaw and potato salad were big hits as well. 
Corned bread was served on the side in tins that we set down the middle of the dining room table along with some paper towels in case the guests needed a little extra! (you can just see the drink table to the right of the tables in this photo)
 After everyone had grabbed at least one plate of "Grub" they took a few minutes to have a "Dave's Top 10" for the Bride and Groom, giving the Top 10 reasons why Greg loves Lauren and why Lauren loves Greg. Very cute! While they were doing that we removed the food from the table and replaced it with the dessert. The Groom's sister created easy to eat cupcakes for this event. These were Honey Bun cupcakes and were some cinnamon honey goodness for the guests...not to mention beautiful!
For those chocolate lovers she created these raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes and topped them with mini chocolate chips to make them extra yummy!
Finally there were even cupcakes for the Gluten-Free crowd. This way everyone got a chance to celebrate!

A couple of notes about having a home event. This family gives large family dinners all of the time so they already had tables and chairs for this event. If you do not have these items then you will have to rent them and have them delivered. For an event such as this one where you have a large amount of your guests that come and go throughout the entire day, not just during set hours, this is a great idea but it is an added expense. With an "At Home" event you may end up needing to rent quite a few of your items so while you can save on your budget it's not a "cheap" way to go. Fortunately, between our clients and what we already have in our supply closet, we were able to have this event and keep it very affordable. 

And it was a very lovely event. It was wonderful to be able to set up and then greet all of their guests as they arrived, to be able to actually spend some time with some of them as they sought us out to speak to us about the event and to be involved with both of these celebrations. We are some lucky party planners!

Congrats again Lauren and Greg! We were thrilled to be part of your special days!



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  2. Wow!! Great arrangements were done for the birthday party. Lobster and Feta Pizza looks really yummy! The cake choice was really wonderful too. Well I want to book a nice but small venues in Chicago for birthday party of my little son. Can you help?

    1. Hi there! I'm not sure what party you are talking about...I don't think I've ever worked an event with Lobster and Feta Pizza. However, I may be able to help with Chicago. How old is your son? How many guests? What is your budget? And lastly, any particular area of the city and when is the event?