A relaxed, elegant summer engagement dinner…in the rain

My sister and her long time (and definitely part of the family) boyfriend announced their engagement this past summer while holidaying in Barbados! To celebrate they hosted an intimate dinner party for their bridal party and immediate family and they asked me to style the event.

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We originally planned to have one long table out on my parents’ front lawn on Sydney’s leafy North Shore, with fairy lights twinkling over the entire table. However, the weather was not kind and on the morning of the event we made a
decision to move the party indoors. Once the decision was made the stress levels dramatically decreased.

Tip: make wet weather plans in advance and decide early whether you are going to risk it or abort for the wet weather option.

I redesigned the table layout to have two shorter tables side by side, which luckily fit well into the lounge room (once all furniture had been removed by my team of helpers (dad, brother, husband and soon to be brother in law!)

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I wanted to celebrate my sister and her fiancé as a couple. They have been together for 8 years, travelled the world and seen each other through university, jobs, career changes, work & uni stints overseas, deaths in the family and so very much more. My starting point was a long “gallery” of photographs of the two of them, displayed in clear acrylic frames of various sizes. I love acrylic frames as they look sleek and neat and, because they are clear, they don’t take up any visual “space”.

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I hired tables with crisp white linen and white Italian wedding chairs. This was a small expense and really made the whole styling. It is often tempting to use the tables and chairs you have at home. When catering for a large group this often means a mish mash of chairs from different rooms and borrowed from family or friends.

Tip: If you have the budget I strongly recommend splashing out on hired linen, tables and chairs. The cohesive look of hired tables and chairs means that from the moment the guests enter a feeling of celebration and special occasion is achieved.

It is often possible to save money on the styling and decorations once you have the right table and chair base.

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Along the centre of the tables I placed square mirror tiles to reflect the light around the room and add to the celebratory feel. White flowers in trough vases echoed the length of the tables as did the display of photographs in rectangular and square frames. Small LED tea lights in frosted votives gave subtle flickering light without the risk of guests tipping over an open flame. They also helped to steady the acrylic frames.

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On side tables where guests could leave gifts, I placed wooden initials, a heart and a XO, together with some more tea lights and photos.

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Everyone, especially the newly engaged couple, had a fantastic time, which really is the only measure of a successful evening!

xx catherine and grace

The details:

* Florals – Floreat Floral (my fav fav fav florist!)

* Table, chair & linen hire – Party Hire Group

* Mirror tile hire – Floreat Floral

* Acrylic frames – purchased at Papier D’Amour warehouse sale, similar styles available from the Digidirect store at Westfield Bondi Junction

* LED tea lights – Wedding Bling

* Frosted tea light votives – available from Pink Frosting

* Wooden letters & heart – Typo

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